Home buyer frustration continues due to limited selection;
Like many other months of 2016, December was frustrating for buyers across Washington state as they encountered depleted inventory and rising prices. Post-election hikes in interest rates - with more on the horizon -- added to would-be homeowners' worries.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service statistics for December show year-over-year drops in new listings, but gains in pending sales, closed sales and prices. Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) in the four-county Puget Sound region reached their highest level since 2005.
At month end, MLS figures show inventory (10,571 listings) was nearly 15.6 percent below year-ago levels (12,522 listings), with about 90 percent of the selection being single family homes.
Seventeen of the 23 counties in the MLS report had double-digit drops in active listings at the end of last month compared to December 2015.
NWMLS members reported 6,401 pending sales during December, up from 5,970 for the same month a year ago for a year-over-year gain of 7.2 percent.
King County recorded the biggest year-over-year jump in pending sales of single family homes, surging nearly 11.3 percent, well ahead of Kitsap (up 4.5 percent), Pierce (up 4 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.2 percent).
Prices area-wide also continued trending upward, rising nearly 9.2 percent from a year ago. The overall median price for single family homes and condominiums that sold during December was $343,950; a year ago it was $315,000.
King County prices jumped 12.2 percent, from $450,000 in December 2015 to $505,000 for last month's sales. For single family homes (excluding condominiums) the median price for December's sales was $550,000, unchanged from October and November. Prices peaked this year in King County in June, reaching $573,522.
Consumers should expect prices to continue edging upward as the pattern of low inventory and increasing prices continues.