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Lack of Seattle-Area Inventory 'Overwhelming' the Market

Image: J Brew

Every month we get an update from NWMLS on regional housing prices and inventories and they're always laced with shocked reactions from people in the industry as to the lack of inventory and the rising prices. We're starting to wonder if these people have their memories erased every month Men In Black-style. The January update is in and according to one MLS member the low inventory across the board is "a 2016 game changer" that is creating "overwhelming" interest in open houses to grab the homes actually available. A quick look back at the numbers and trends in 2015, however, makes us wonder what's actually changed.

Absolutely, buyers continue to face tougher and tougher conditions. Housing inventories for sale in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties are down a whopping 31 percent, (6,321 active listing). That number is roughly 2,900 less than January 2015.

If you actually zero in on King County, inventory actually crept up month-to-month, with a gain from 2,427 listings from 2,196. That inventory must have been house-heavy because condo inventory dropped 42 percent in the county. Overall, King County is looking at 1.41 months of inventory, down from 2.09 last year and way below what would be considered a balanced market (4-6 months).

Just in case you took the inventory gain as a good sign, sales actually dipped 36 percent from December in King County, which may reflect the value of the residences that hit the market. Median price of all sales in King County checked in at $431,502 with a single-family home median price at $490,970.

According to NWMLS, the lack of inventory had led to "overwhelming" traffic at open houses, escalating prices and more multiple offer situations than they've seen even in the last year. Some of the numbers are shocking, sure, but it's certainly not anything new. Just ask buyers.
· Shortage of homes for sale pushes prices upward, buyers outward [ST]
· January Stats Preview: A Glimmer of Hope for Inventory [SB]
· The 10 Most Shocking Numbers in NWMLS's 2015 Summary [CS]