Real Estate The Ticker

Dwindling inventory creates 'Pac-Man' market in the Northwest housing market

Buyers begin looking further west

Seattle

To say the Northwest housing market is tight would be an understatement, as homebuyers snatch up homes as fast as they come on the market, despite rising home prices.  

Home prices in King County hit new highs in February as buyers tried to outbid each other for the sparse inventory in much of Western Washington, the latest report for Northwest Multiple Listing Service said. 

“We’re in for another crazy spring real estate market,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott.

The number of homes on the market in King County is down almost 30% from a year ago. Sales prices rose last month by 19.8% from $429,900 to $514,975. Ten other counties in the area also reported double-digit price gains last month.

“Buyers who are looking for houses cannot start looking at the top of their affordability range -- they should look 15% or 20% below their limit and be prepared to go over list price if they have any hope of success,” said Frank Wilson, immediate past chair of the Mint Northwest MLS board.

By the end of February, active listings in the database dropped to 12,107, falling from 16,946 the previous year.

Whereas four to six months of supply is what the industry experts suggest for a balanced market, the current market only holds 2.4 months of supply.

In addition, Northwest MLS members reported 9,052 pending sales, up 5.3% from last year’s 8,599.

Scott described current activity as a “Pac-Man” market – “Houses are being gobbled up as soon as they come on the market,” he stated.

“This is the type of market that has people who work in Seattle thinking more seriously about moving west,” said Wilson, who is also John L. Scott’s Poulsbo office branch managing broker. “Typically people who have a Seattle area job look north or east, but with lack of inventory in those areas and prices that have gone through the roof, they are now considering a ferry commute and shopping for homes in Kitsap.”

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