It’s time once again for the monthly reporting roundup, where you can read my wry commentary about the news instead of subjecting yourself to boring rehashes of the NWMLS press release (or in addition to, if that’s what floats your boat).
To kick things off, here’s an excerpt from the NWMLS press release:
Multiple offers are “the new normal” for housing market around Puget Sound
“Multiple offers have become the new normal,” remarked MLS director Diedre Haines, the Snohomish County regional managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “We have literally gone off the charts in absorption,” she stated, adding the dip in pending sales in that county “is all due to lack of inventory.”
Prices will continue to rise as current market conditions are sustained, predicts J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. Among the conditions he mentioned are historically low interest rates, pent up buyer demand, and a shortage of available inventory.
Whether the market becomes more balanced may depend on listings. Northwest MLS figures show every county in its service area had year-over-year gains in new listings during April. “Let’s hope this is the start of a positive trend for inventory,” commented Mike Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, but then added, “Considering the overall market landscape, it’s likely there won’t be enough sellers to fill buyer demand, at least for the short term.”
For once I’m on the same page as at least one of the real estate agents quoted in the NWMLS release (Mr. Grady). Of course, I’m hoping for more inventory so the market becomes more balanced, while they’re most likely motivated primarily by the additional commission checks that come with additional listings, but I’ll take what I can get.
Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.
Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times: County home price back to $400,000
The double-digit percentage gain in home prices is triple the inflation rate and isn’t sustainable in the long run, [Glenn] Crellin said.
“We need inventory for the market to really stabilize,” he said.
Eastside broker Mike Chaffee said he represents a buyer who wants a house that will ensure her son attends popular Newport High School in the Bellevue School District. His buyer is well qualified, with a 30 percent down payment.
They’ve been looking for a year.
At homes in the neighborhood, Chaffee has sprinkled fliers with unsolicited offers for “top market value,” vowing to close a deal in 30 days and save the seller money on closing costs. Chaffee said it’s an example of how buyers are getting creative.
“I’m doing my best to get this buyer a house,” he said. “If I can do it without 10 other people putting in an offer, it relieves a lot of stress on the situation.”
Two people responded to the flier: One wanted $50,000 over what the house was worth, Chaffee said, while the other asked for $100,000 over the house’s market value.
His buyer didn’t bite.
Another month of great reporting in the Seattle Times. Kudos to Sanjay Bhatt for doing a great job filling the void left by Eric Pryne’s retirement.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: King County house price back up to $400,000
“I’d been hoping to see an increase in listing activity, and I really can’t figure out what everybody’s waiting for,” Crellin said. “It’s been tight now for several months, and that doesn’t bode well for stable prices.”
It looks to me like inventory did begin to show signs of life in April. We’ll know in a few months whether we’re finally heading toward a more normal market, but I was encouraged by April’s inventory.
Kurt Batdorf, Everett Herald: Supply of homes for sale tightens in county
It’s 2007 all over again for the county real estate market as antsy buyers rush to buy what’s available in a tight supply of homes for sale.
Several factors are contributing to a “recipe for a frenzied May real estate market,” said John Deely, another member of the Northwest MLS board of directors and the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.
“The market pace has not subsided from previous months with low inventory and low interest rates being the primary drivers,” he said.
Wait, that does not make sense. Low inventory is driving the “frenzied market pace”? Um, no. If anything, low inventory is holding back sales.
Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce housing sales, prices continue up
The Pierce County housing market enjoyed another good month, with both sales and prices rising again and extending a streak that started last October, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.
Another characteristic of the recent housing market has been fewer homes to choose from, and that continued into April as well.
Here we go again with the qualitative language, describing the market as “good” when it is clearly only good for sellers and is in fact quite frustrating for buyers. Boo.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Thurston home sales, prices rise in April
Thurston home sales and median prices rose in April, the fourth consecutive month of an improved housing market, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.
Once again, the full story from The Olympian is only in the print edition, so all we get online is a brief rehash of the press release.
(Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times, 05.07.2013)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 05.06.2013)
(Kurt Batdorf, Everett Herald, 05.07.2013)
(Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune, 05.07.2013)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 05.06.2013)