Reporting Roundup: Seller’s Market Edition

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:

Brokers report brisk sales, but rising frustration for home buyers

Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring is showing up in the latest housing activity report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Its statistics for January showed a 14.4 percent year-over-year increase in pending sales and a 23.6 percent jump in closed sales amid a 31.3 percent decline in inventory.

“I personally have never seen the ratio between active buyers and available inventory in Seattle’s close-in neighborhoods so out of balance,” remarked Mike Skahen, owner/designated broker at Lake & Co. Real Estate in Seattle. Skahen, a real estate professional since 1976, said multiple offers and bids well over the list price are common. “Even homes that were hard to sell for various reasons are being snapped up so those sellers were wise to list,” he added.

Lena Maul, a new member of the Northwest MLS board of directors, and the designated broker/owner at Windermere/North in Lynnwood, agreed now is a good time for sellers to list. “Sellers who are considering a spring or summer listing may want to consider listing now as demand is outweighing supply,” she noted, adding, “This has given well priced sellers the advantage with the benefit of quick sales and multiple offers.”

I actually agree with that last part. While it’s become a fairly lousy time to try to buy a home, it is currently a pretty great time to sell. We haven’t seen a market with supply and demand this skewed toward sellers in a long time, if ever, and it won’t last forever.

Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.

Eric Pryne, Seattle Times: King County home prices dip to March lows

A change in the mix of houses sold also played a part in the drop in the median, an analysis of listing-service data by online brokerage Redfin suggests.

“Distressed” sales — bank-repossessed houses and “short sales” for less than what sellers owe lenders — accounted for a bigger share of sales last month: 24 percent, compared with 19 percent in December.

That’s meaningful because distressed houses generally sell for significantly less than “non-distressed” properties.

As usual, great work from Eric at the Seattle Times. Such a dramatic contrast with the “reporting” that used to be printed over there during the bubble years under the reign of Rhodes.

Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Low home inventory driving up prices

The Seattle area continued to have incredibly few homes for sale in January, according to a new report.

thanks to fewer homes hitting the market and more selling, Seattle itself had 1.9 months worth of homes on the market in January, at the current sales pace, while King County had 2.2 months worth of homes, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That’s down from 4.2 months and 5.2 months, respectively, a year earlier.

“I personally have never seen the ratio between active buyers and available inventory in Seattle’s close-in neighborhoods so out of balance,” Mike Skahen, owner of Seattle’s Lake & Co. Real Estate, said in a news release. “Even homes that were hard to sell for various reasons are being snapped up.”

Somewhat of a short piece from Aubrey this month. No much more than a rehash of the press release. I guess he’s busy with other projects.

No story has been posted in the Everett Herald again. Perhaps I should give them a call to see if they need some help with real estate reporting.

Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune: Prices, sales improve in Pierce County home sales

Fewer homes to choose from, combined with steady demand, is thought to stimulate home prices.

Home sellers, though, might be sensing an improved market because the number of new listings for January rose compared with the year-ago period. New listings just in January rose to 1,260 units from 1,043 units in January 2012.

Of course, in January of 2012, the whole Seattle area was covered with inches of ice for a week, which might have caused listings to be somewhat depressed. I wouldn’t put much stock in year-over-year comparisons of new listings for January for that reason.

Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Thurston County housing sales, prices up

Fewer homes to choose from, combined with buyer demand, is thought to stimulate prices.

Thurston County Realtors Association President Pat Pieroni didn’t go so far as to say the turnaround in the housing market is complete, but it is a sign that the market has hit bottom and is beginning to rise again, he said.

“There’s just a good feeling out there right now,” Pieroni said Tuesday, adding that prospective buyers are a little more motivated than they were a few months ago.

January also was much busier than it typically is, he said.

Nothing like “just a good feeling” to drive the market. Or something.

(Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, 02.05.2013)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 02.05.2013)
(Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune, 02.06.2013)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 02.06.2013)

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.