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How Long Are Seattle Houses on the Market, Anyway?

Even with low inventory, many sellers must be patient

Seattle’s housing market is Very Hot, or Booming, or Accelerating, or some other adjective that wants to be capitalized, which is an image that can make buyers and sellers think that every house is going to get trade owners hours after the listing hits the internet. Why put up a sign when deals are happening so quickly? The truth is a bit different.

Data from Zillow.com

According to Zillow.com, over 17,000 houses, condos, apartments, and townhomes sold in King County in the last six months. Over 5,000 of them were in Seattle. Currently, there are about 2,000 for sale in the county, 500 of which are in the city. Roughly ten times as many homes have sold in the last six months as there are on the market. That agrees with the record low inventory we continue to hear about.

That doesn’t mean all of the houses on the market now are new listings. Hundreds of came onto the King County market within the last week, but over 1,500 have been on the market from before that, with over a thousand being on the market for over a month. In Seattle the numbers are smaller, but the trend is similar.

In both cases, the big bump in listings came within the last week or so. The stereotypical buyer who puts their house on the market during the first business day of the year isn’t as common as the buyer who is a bit more cautious. Of course, it may also take some folks two weeks to clean up the house after the holidays.

Months from now we’ll know whether this is the beginning of a surge of inventory thanks to valuations rising above pre-Recession peaks, or just a blip. The realization that hundreds of houses take months to sell may at least reduce some anxieties, and provide opportunities to exercise patience. If it takes a while, you aren’t alone. If you want to wait a while, some houses are waiting for you.

Though, we’ll understand for sellers who want multiple, escalating, cash offers the morning after the house is listed. Why wait when you don’t have to?

Note: The last time we wrote about this was less than two years ago. In May of 2015 there were twice as many houses on the market. Let’s see how this spring will match up.