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South Sound home sales soar in May as inventory continues to fall

Single-family home sales jump by double-digits in Pierce and Thurston counties in May.
Single-family home sales jump by double-digits in Pierce and Thurston counties in May. The Associated Press

It’s not summer yet, but it might as well be, because the South Sound housing market is in mid-summer form.

Sales once again jumped by a double-digit margin in May, according to data released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

It was particularly hot in Thurston County, where single-family residence sales rose 32 percent between May 2015 and May 2016.

But the torrid pace of sales could soon slow because months of inventory — an estimate of how long it would take to exhaust the number of single-family residences on the market at the current pace of sales — fell below two months in Pierce and Thurston counties.

Months of inventory in Pierce County fell to 1.54 months in May, while Thurston County dipped to 1.94 months. That means buyers don’t have much to choose from, and sellers have the advantage, which is why prices continue to rise. The median home price jumped 8 percent last month in Pierce County, while it rose 7 percent in Thurston County.

“With less than two months of inventory, every new listing seems to draw multiple offers,” said Frank Wilson, a branch managing broker for John L. Scott, in a statement. Homeowners who want to move up in this market face a conundrum, he said.

“If we sell today, will we be able to buy tomorrow?” Wilson said.

The best example of what low levels of inventory can do to the housing market is in King County, where months of inventory stood at 1.07 months in May. Prices soared as a result, rising 16 percent to $560,000 last month from $480,942 in the same month in 2015, the data show. But the lack of inventory also meant that sales fell 6.5 percent over the same period in that county.

A closer look at the South Sound single-family residence data for May 2016/2015:

▪ Pierce County: Sales rose 12.8 percent to 1,357 units from 1,203 units. Median price rose 7.8 percent to $275,000 from $255,000. Pending sales rose 11.4 percent to 1,959 units from 1,759 units.

▪ Thurston County: Sales rose 31.98 percent to 454 units from 344 units. Median price rose 7.3 percent to $265,000 from $246,850. Pending sales rose 13.94 percent to 621 units from 545 units.

Pierce County condo data for May 2016/2015

▪ Sales rose 32.81 percent to 85 units from 64 units.

▪ Median price rose 13.7 percent to $214,000 from $188,250.

▪ Pending sales rose 28 percent to 123 units from 96 units.

▪ Total number of condos for sale fell 21 percent to 144 units from 183 units.

▪ New condo listings in May rose to 132 units from 88 units.

Thurston County condo data for May 2016/2015

▪ Sales rose to 15 units from nine units.

▪ Median price rose 8 percent to $147,900 from $136,890.

▪ Pending sales rose to 13 units from seven units.

▪ Total number of condos for sale fell 20 percent to 28 units from 35 units.

▪ New condo listings in May rose to 16 units from nine units.

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service

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