Housing Update for Washington State

News from NW Multiple Listing Service


Housing recovery continues with prices rising as inventory dips to lowest level since 2006

KIRKLAND, WA, November 5, 2012 – Last month’s housing inventory around western Washington fell to its lowest level since February 2006, according to statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The MLS report covering 21 counties also shows year-over-year prices on closed sales area-wide increased by double-digits for the first time since March 2007.

Brokers reported 6,000 closed sales of single family homes and condominiums last month, outperforming the year-ago volume by 1,236 transaction for an increase of nearly 26 percent. Last month’s activity in the areas served by Northwest MLS marked a rebound from September when members reported 5,535 completed transaction.

Prices on October’s sales were up 10.4 percent compared to twelve months ago. The median price for last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $251,625; a year ago the figure was $228,000.  The last time the multiple listing service reported an area-wide double digit hike in prices was March 2007 (up 11.3 percent).

Prices for single family homes, which accounted for more than 86 percent of October’s sales, rose more than 11 percent, while prices for condominiums jumped 16.6 percent.

The shortage of inventory is helping propel prices. J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, commented on the correlation of sharply reduced inventory and rising prices. “The rise in prices is derived from seasonally strong sales activity in a shortage of inventory market,” he remarked.

Scott’s analysis shows 95 percent of all sales in King County were for homes priced under $1 million.
A similar pattern exists in Snohomish County, where inventory is down 51.6 percent compared to a year ago. He found that 95 percent of sales there were for homes priced under $500,000. In Pierce County, his breakdown shows about 89 percent of homes sold for under $350,000.

Northwest MLS members added 6,979 listings to inventory during October, the fewest since January. The additions included 6,108 single family homes and 871 condominiums.  With those new listings, the selection at month end totaled 23,115 homes and condos. That’s down about 30 percent from the year-ago total of 33,094 listings.

Pending sales outpaced brokers’ ability to replenish inventory.  Northwest MLS reported 8,312 pending sales during the month, a 22 percent increase from the year-ago total of 6,187 pendings. Last month’s number of mutually accepted offers also surpassed September’s total by 818 transactions.

The brisk sales activity is creating imbalanced markets in some Northwest MLS counties. Area-wide there is less than a three month supply of homes based on the pace of pending sales when matched with inventory. (Many industry experts consider 5-to-6 months as the indicator of a balanced market.)

At the end of October, five counties in the MLS system have less than four months of supply:

County Active Listings Pending Sales Months Supply
King 5,437 3,400    1.60
Snohomish 1,960 1,325    1.48
Pierce 3,539 1,383    2.56
Thurston 1,218 320    3.81
Clark 213 54    3.94
NWMLS total (21 counties) 23,115 8,312    2.78

NWMLS director Frank Wilson said Kitsap County is continuing its “slow and sane” recovery. “October continued the trend of increased sales activity,” he noted, pointing to a 23 percent increase in pending sales of single family homes last month versus a year ago. “We also have fewer houses on the market,” added Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate Poulsbo/Kingston. MLS figures show inventory of single family homes and condos (combined) is down 12.4 percent.

Wilson said fourteen of the 19 Northwest MLS map areas in Kitsap County have less than a 5-month supply of homes and condos. Among areas with limited supply are Bainbridge Island, Chico, Indianola, Port Orchard and Poulsbo.

Wilson also cited extremely low interest rates as a contributor to healthy activity. “Where there is activity there is recovery and appreciation,” he remarked.

In King County there is only 1.6 months of supply for the county overall and even less in the MLS areas covering the Eastside, north King County and Seattle.

Closed sales rose more than 33 percent in King County last month, led by the Eastside areas, which posted a 48.5 percent increase from a year ago. Prices for homes and condos that sold last month in King County increased 19 percent compared with the same time a year ago, and rose 2.2 percent from September.  The biggest gains occurred on Mercer Island (up 49.4 percent), Dash Point/Federal Way (up 46.7 percent) and Renton-Highlands/Kennydale (up 38.4 percent).

Brokers also reported solid gains in condominium activity during October. Year-over-year pending sales increased nearly 19 percent for MLS areas overall.  Prices rose 16.6 percent, while the selection shrunk. The number of listings was at about half the inventory offered for sale at this time last year.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 21,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary – October 2012

+ Condos
# Pending
King 2,606 5,437 3,400 2,474 $420,345 $342,250
Snohomish 967 1,960 1,325 937 $265,631 $245,000
Pierce 1,150 3,539 1,383 877 $221,858 $199,950
Kitsap 348 1,480 345 279 $297,732 $225,000
Mason 94 692 95 63 $203,329 $170,000
Skagit 152 819 182 120 $250,018 $212,450
Grays Harbor 126 769 101 84 $126,828 $116,500
Lewis 111 665 105 53 $163,941 $160,000
Cowlitz 115 504 114 76 $144,355 $142,000
Grant 97 532 71 57 $184,278 $170,000
Thurston 308 1,218 320 297 $237,440 $220,000
San Juan 27 380 29 31 $399,485 $327,600
Island 130 748 147 109 $322,407 $269,950
Kittitas 67 446 52 61 $222,334 $185,000
Jefferson 58 461 56 44 $277,767 $235,000
Okanogan 35 404 30 24 $186,349 $149,450
Whatcom 310 1,353 312 242 $278,791 $257,625
Clark 43 213 54 41 $224,738 $195,000
Pacific 44 379 47 20 $91,950 $80,000
Ferry 5 78 3 3 $60,967 $39,900
Clallam 48 398 36 29 $241,847 $216,650
Others 138 640 105 79 $188,920 $164,500
MLS TOTAL 6,979 23,115 8,312 6,000 $316,505 $251,625

4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)
(Totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000 3706 4778 5903 5116 5490 5079 4928 5432 4569 4675 4126 3166
2001 4334 5056 5722 5399 5631 5568 5434 5544 4040 4387 4155 3430
2002 4293 4735 5569 5436 6131 5212 5525 6215 5394 5777 4966 4153
2003 4746 5290 6889 6837 7148 7202 7673 7135 6698 6552 4904 4454
2004 4521 6284 8073 7910 7888 8186 7583 7464 6984 6761 6228 5195
2005 5426 6833 8801 8420 8610 8896 8207 8784 7561 7157 6188 4837
2006 5275 6032 8174 7651 8411 8094 7121 7692 6216 6403 5292 4346
2007 4869 6239 7192 6974 7311 6876 6371 5580 4153 4447 3896 2975
2008 3291 4167 4520 4624 4526 4765 4580 4584 4445 3346 2841 2432
2009 3250 3407 4262 5372 5498 5963 5551 5764 5825 5702 3829 3440
2010 4381 5211 6821 7368 4058 4239 4306 4520 4350 4376 3938 3474
2011 4272 4767 6049 5732 5963 5868 5657 5944 5299 5384 4814 4197
2012 4921 6069 7386 7015 7295 6733 6489 6341 5871 6453

Copyright © 2012 Northwest Multiple Listing Service
This material may not be copied, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior permission.

Get Ready For Old Man Winter!

Winterize your home – now!

You’ve started to look for a sweater in the evenings and found yourself wearing jeans again. You’re ready for winter, but what about your house? Take these easy few steps to save yourself money and possibly damage to your home in the coming cold winter months.

  1. Clean your gutters – Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, grab a ladder and gently remove the debris from the gutters. Then, rinse the bottoms of the gutter to ensure good flow of water for those winter showers.
  2. Stop the draft – The cold winter draft that is leaking in around your doors. Take a candle or piece of incense around your home on a windy day and go near doors and windows looking for wind making its way into your home. Also check recessed lighting, door frames and electrical outlets. A variety of caulks, gaskets and weather-stripping is available at any local hardware store.
  3. Insulate your attic – If your attic has less than 12” of insulation, regardless of where in the country, you should consider adding more. It is an easy do-it-yourself project.
  4. Check the furnace – The furnace can run much more efficiently if it has a clean filter in it. Consider changing your filter once a month. They are inexpensive and pay for themselves in efficiency gains.
  5. Check your ducting insulation – Ducting in homes can become exposed from being bumped in the attic or crawlspace over time and there are huge efficiency losses from this. Ensure your ducts are covered with insulation and not exposed. Also, check for any leaks in connections while the system is running.
  6. Single-pane windows – Add an inexpensive window insulation kit to add another “pane” to the glass. This keeps the cold air trapped between another layer instead of entering your home.
  7. Get your chimney swept – A cleaned chimney will remove creosote, a flammable byproduct of burning wood. Keep your home safe from chimney fires by hiring a professional chimney sweep to remove any build-up.
  8. Reverse your fans – Who knew? You can change the direction your fan spins to push warm air downwards. When you look up to your fan, it should be turning clockwise.
  9. Wrap exposed pipes – If a pipe bursts in winter it can cause thousands of dollars in damages. Protect any exposed water pipes with insulation. Pipe insulation is inexpensive and can be applied in minutes.
  10. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors – It is always a good idea to check your batteries in the smoke detectors a couple times per year. Count this as one.
  11. Do you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home? As of April 2012, in Washington state, it is mandatory for the selling of a home that it contains a detector on each floor and in proximity of bedrooms. Winter we spend most of our time indoors so make sure you protect yourself and your family.

Take A Drive This Fall

Cascade Loop, North Cascades Highway, Wash.

Fall — that blissful period before inclement weather sets in — is the perfect time of year to go for a scenic drive. Snowstorms have not yet blocked roads, and you won’t have to avoid summer’s heat. But the best thing about taking a scenic drive during fall is that you will get to see leaves that are turning gold, crimson and amber. Take most of these drives from the beginning of October through the middle of November, when the weather is just right: warm and sunny during the days and crisp — but not too cold — at night.

Text by Tricia Romano | Photo editing by Mike Hipple

The stretch between Newhalem and Winthrop is about 70 miles of twisting and winding road along Highway 20, which runs parallel to the gorgeous Skagit River. A warning: Views may cause serious distraction from driving. You’ll pass lakes galore, including Ross Lake and Diablo Lake. Waterfalls abound, and mountaintops and evergreens dot the view on all sides. This part of the pass closes during the winter, so head out before the weather turns too cold.

Happy Halloween!

Just for fun, My friends over at Z57  put together a Pinterest-style list of some of our favorite things they have found around the web this October. It includes everything from cute costumes to awesome pumpkin carvings and even some great food and drink ideas! Each image is linked back to the website we found it on so feel free to click on anything you want to learn more about. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Fun Pumpkins:

So creative!

Marshmallows as teeth – what a great idea!

Costume Ideas:

For your little one…

Going to a costume  party as a couple?

super hero dog costume

Don’t forget Fido!

Food and Drink:

Halloween Cookies Recipe

Great for a halloween party, open house  or to take to the office!

Candy Corn Drink

For the kiddos – Candy Corn Punch!

Halloween Punch recipes for your Halloween party

And let’s not forget the grown-ups – Vampire Punch!

Crafts and Party Favors: 

Monster Centerpice

Spool ghouls!


Martha Stewart party favors

Halloween Jokes:

Bookmarks you can print out for the kids!

Har har har…

Happy Halloween Black Cat Clip Art Comment