Real Estate News

July was good, August a little better for South Sound home sales

The South Sound housing market continued its upward trajectory in August, with monthly home sales rising to new highs for the year, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Thursday.

Pierce County home sales rose about 1 percent to 1,264 units in August from 1,250 units in the same month last year, while Thurston County home sales rose more than 3 percent to 373 units from 361 units in the same period, the combined single-family residence and condo data show.

The number of homes sold in both counties were highs for the year, the data show.

Median prices also rose in both counties, up slightly more than 4 percent in Pierce County to $235,000, while Thurston County rose nearly 2 percent to $239,000.

King County’s housing market, meanwhile, ran headlong into the realities of not having enough homes for sale.

Home sales fell nearly 7 percent in August, while median prices inched up about 1 percent. The challenge? King County has only a two month’s supply of homes for sale, the combined data show.

And that’s increasingly the challenge in Pierce and Thurston counties. Although the number of homes for sale rose nearly 12 percent in Pierce County and 5 percent in Thurston County, that still equates to less than a four month’s supply of homes on the market at the current pace of sales.

For August, the months of inventory was 3.34 months in Pierce County and 3.83 months in Thurston County, the combined data show.

But Mike Larson, president and designated broker of Allen Realtors in Lakewood, wasn’t too concerned about the lower inventory level in Pierce County because at one time a two-and-a-half month to three-and-a-half month’s supply of homes was once considered the norm.

“It’s slow and steady and trending in the right direction,” he said about the market. “Balanced and moderate is a lot better than the ups and downs we saw for years.”

But Steve Pust, a managing broker at Van Dorm Realty in west Olympia, has noticed the lower inventory level in Thurston County, saying buyers in the market are having trouble finding a home, he said. That has resulted in some multiple offer situations, Pust said.

Low levels of inventory typically pushes median prices higher, but the county still has about 60 bank-owned home sales a month, and not every buyer can qualify to purchase such a property, he said.

In that situation, banks get very particular about the type of buyer they want, shutting out contingency buyers — those selling a home while trying to buy another at the same time — or requiring that their financing be in order, Pust said.

If inventories get leaner, sellers will drive median prices higher, he said.

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