Pierce and Thurston county homeowners sold more single-family residences in 2014 than the year before — and at higher prices, too — reflecting the continued healing of the housing market after the Great Recession’s gut-punch.
Data released Thursday from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which represents 23 of the 39 counties in Washington, recapped last year’s activity in the residential real estate market. Only King County has hit pre-recession levels on some markers. The data show consistent improvement for everyone else.
Pierce County saw almost 3 percent more homes sold in 2014 than the year before, with a median sales price of $230,000 — a 6 percent increase. In Thurston County, more than 5 percent more homes were sold with a median sales price of $229,995 — a 2 percent increase.
Those numbers still are lower than the statewide median price of $295,000. King County’s median sales price last year was $440,000, further demonstrating that everywhere in Washington has less expensive housing.
The year’s worth of data also show the market continues to favor sellers. Industry professionals use a range of 4-to-6 months’ supply as an indicator of a balanced market, with anything less favoring sellers by decreasing the supply of homes that could be sold, thereby driving up prices.
Many brokers also believe the reason for the tight inventory is the continued presence of distressed properties, including foreclosures, and homeowners who can’t sell because they owe more than their house is worth.
In Pierce County, the data show last year’s inventory was about 3-and-a-half months. In Thurston, it was 4 months. In King County, the epicenter of the state’s recovery? Not quite two months.
Statewide, members of the NWMLS had 77,276 closed sales during 2014, an increase of 1,759 sales over 2013 to mark a 2.3 percent increase. In dollar terms, sales volume increased by some 9 percent from $25 billion to $28 billion.
Pierce County accounted for just more than $3 billion of that; Thurston, $878 million. King County? $15 billion.
Median sales prices bottomed out in 2011. While King County showed an uptick the very next year, it took until 2013 for Pierce and Thurston to move back up the ladder.
Using prices from 2008 — the height of the market — as a benchmark, only King County passed it. That year, the median sales price in King was almost $430,000. Last year it was $440,000.
Pierce and Thurston still lag. In Pierce, the height-of-the-market price was $258,000, compared with last year’s $230,000. In Thurston, it was $265,000 compared to $230,000.