South Sound home sellers remained in the catbird’s seat in April as a lack of inventory and rising prices continued to favor them, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Thursday.
But if prospective buyers can’t find the houses they want or get outbid, guess what happens? Sales slow. That was the case in Pierce County, at least, as sales were essentially flat, rising only 1 percent last month compared with April 2015.
Inventory has been trending lower in Pierce County since the beginning of the year, and the lack of choice finally showed up in the monthly sales data. Sales rose 18 percent in January, 9 percent in February, 20 percent in March, but only 1.14 percent in April, the single-family residence data show.
Pierce County months of inventory — an estimate of how long it would take for the supply of single-family homes for sale to be exhausted — was less than two months in March and April.
Thurston County has had a little more breathing room, but not much. In April, months of inventory was 2.06 months, the data show.
The lack of new home construction and pent-up demand means the seller’s market will likely continue for some time, said Ken Anderson, Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty president, in a statement.
In King County, a lack of inventory — inventory levels have been well under two months since the start of the year — has caused sales to fall for the fourth consecutive month, the single-family residence data show. Sales fell 2 percent in January, 4 percent in February, 8 percent in March and 8 percent in April.
A lack of inventory, though, drives up prices. In April, median prices were up 11 percent over April 2015 in Thurston County, 8 percent in Pierce County and 12.5 percent in King County, the single-family residence data show.
The median price of a single-family residence in King County last month was $540,000, compared with $269,925 in Pierce and $259,900 in Thurston.
A closer look at the South Sound data:
▪ Pierce County: Single-family residence sales rose 1.14 percent to 1,242 units from 1,228 units in April 2015. Median price rose 7.99 percent to $269,925 from $249,950. Pending sales rose 4.72 percent to 1,884 units from 1,799 units.
▪ Thurston County: Single-family residence sales rose 16.6 percent to 387 units from 332 units. Median price rose 11 percent to $259,900 from $234,000. Pending sales rose 17 percent to 622 units from 532 units.
Pierce County condo data for April 2016/2015:
▪ Sales rose 32 percent to 104 units from 79 units.
▪ Median price rose 13.3 percent to $191,500 from $169,000.
▪ Pending sales fell 6.4 percent to 103 units from 110 units.
▪ Number of condos for sale fell 30 percent to 122 units from 174 units.
▪ Number of new condo listings rose to 97 units from 71 units.
Thurston County condo data for April 2016/2015:
▪ Sales rose to nine units from six units.
▪ Median price rose to $179,000 from $129,450.
▪ Pending sales rose to 20 units from 13 units.
▪ Number of condos for sale fell 28 percent to 23 units from 32 units.
▪ Number of new condo listings rose to 13 units from 10 units.
Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service