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Western Washington on the edge of a housing market slowdown

Realtors: Market can't sustain double-digit growth

Home sales in western Washington state are predicted to slow down the rest of the year and into early 2016 due to scarce inventory, new rules for mortgage closings and affordability concerns, the latest report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service said.

“We simply can’t sustain double-digit increases in sales when inventory levels continue to drop every month,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “We’re on the cusp of a housing market slowdown.”

According to the most recent statistics from the MLS, there’s a double-digit drop in inventory, a double-digit jump in closed sales and a near double-digit increase in prices from a year ago.

And the new TILA-RESPA integrated disclosure rule isn’t helping.

“With the introduction of the new TRID banking and closing disclosure requirements, we will see longer closing timeframes for the foreseeable future. This will lead to a slowdown in closings and thus may slow the market until early or mid-2016,” said Northwest MLS director Darin Stenvers.

Meanwhile, closed sales through the first nine months of this year are running 16.6% ahead of the same period a year ago, with median prices up 9.2%.

Northwest MLS members reported 9,574 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) in September for a 7.9% increase from the year-ago figure of 8,875. Compared to August, pending sales fell 9.7%.

Additionally, closed sales jumped 17.5%, with year-over-year sales rising from 7,020 finished transactions to 8,245. Twenty of the 23 counties reported double-digit gains from a year ago.

The median price on last month’s closed sales of single-family homes and condos was $312,000, up nearly 9.5% from the year-ago figure of $285,000, but down slightly from August.

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