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:
Competition among home buyers "still fierce;" rising interest rates adding to fury
With inventory apparently improving, some would-be buyers are staying on the sidelines. The increased inventory is “cooling some buyers,” reported George Moorhead, managing broker at Bentley Properties in Mill Creek and a member of the MLS board of directors. “We also have buyers who are stepping back as they are frustrated with current inventory and multiple offers going well above asking price,” he added.
Okay wait. That makes no sense at all. They’re trying to claim that an increase in inventory is causing buyers to get out of the market? When the big story for the last year-plus has been buyer frustration at record low inventory? That does not pass the sniff test. I can see higher interest rates being a reason that sales might soften, but increase inventory? Nope.
Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.
Marissa Evans, Seattle Times: More buyers than sellers push King County home prices up
Lack of homes for sale has been the major reason behind rising home prices in the Puget Sound area.
Glenn Crellin, of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington, said the shortage is happening for a combination of reasons. Some homeowners are waiting for prices to rise even more, while others owe more than what they could get for their home. This prevents owners from being able to sell unless they can make up the difference out-of-pocket.
Despite the shortage, Matthew Gardner, principal for Gardner Economics, said this is the kind of report he’s been looking forward to seeing. The number of listings increased 21 percent for Seattle in the past month.
“We are seeing a late increase in spring listings,” Gardner said. “It’s going to be a busy summer now.”
Whoa. Accurate insight from Matthew Gardner? Okay then.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Surging home prices fuel fears of a new bubble
Shoppers fighting over the few homes listed for sale in the Seattle area pushed up prices again in May, prompting fears of a fresh housing bubble, according to a new report.
“We certainly can’t sustain 15 percent annual price increases,” said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.
“Traditionally, during the initial phase of a rate uptick we see a flurry of activity,” Crellin said.
After that initial flurry, Crellin said, rising rates “will tend to slow things down a little bit.” They’ll also moderate median price increases, as the same monthly payment will buy less, he added.
I held this post until this late because I was hoping a story would appear on the Everett Herald, but so far there’s nothing. If they post one tomorrow I might update this space.
They did finally post a story: Kurt Batdorf, Everett Herald: Fewer county homes listed, so prices rise
Median sale prices on homes and condominiums in Snohomish County jumped by $40,000 in May from a year ago, due in no small part to the continuing decline in active listings.
“There are still home owners who want or need a higher equity position in order to sell their home, so they may continue to wait and watch,” said Dan Gunderson, broker with Windermere Everett.
“We currently have significantly less inventory of bank-owned and short-sale properties,” Gunderson said. “New construction is currently about 15 percent of the inventory, and we would like to see it at 20 percent. Supply is certainly a driver of the increased property values. Affordability, low interest rates and the job market in this region are contributing to the increased value as well.”
[End of Update]
Kathleen Cooper, Tacoma News Tribune: Seller’s market pushes home prices higher in Pierce, Thurston
Prices are rising as more buyers enter the market and fewer homes are listed for sale. Inventories in both Pierce and Thurston counties dropped in May, 20 percent and 16 percent respectively. Pierce County has just under two months’ supply of homes for sale, according to the NWMLS – a number so low only King and Snohomish counties beat it, with about one month’s supply there.
Reasons for owners not putting their house on the market vary but probably include people still suffering the hangover of the market collapse, now five years past.
Well, it’s been five (almost six) years since the local housing market began to collapse, but the collapse only really ended a little over a year ago.
Unfortunately literally the exact same story ran in The Olympian, so instead of the usual five reports this month, we only really got three.
(Marissa Evans, Seattle Times, 06.05.2013)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 06.05.2013)
(Kurt Batdorf, Everett Herald, 06.07.2013)
(Kathleen Cooper, Tacoma News Tribune, 06.06.2013)
(Kathleen Cooper, The Olympian, 06.06.2013)