Low inventory depresses county home sales

Another month, another drop in home sales.

Pending sales for homes and condominiums in Snohomish County dropped in March from the same period a year ago, according to according to numbers released Thursday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Sales fell to 1,481 last month, down from 1,576 in March 2013. That’s a 6 percent drop.

It was the second month in a row that pending home sales lagged what occurred in 2013.

Real estate agents blame a lack of inventory.

One home listed at a fair market value drew more than 40 offers, John Deely, a member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service board of directors, said in a news release.

“The only thing holding back sales is the lack of inventory,” said Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.

Sales of houses saw the biggest decrease year over year. A total of 928 single-family houses sold in March, compared with 1,034 in March 2013.

Home sales also declined in nearby counties. King County saw a 3.2 percent decrease in pending sales year over year. Sales in Pierce County fell by 5.2 percent. And Skagit County saw a 3.4 percent decrease.

Pending home sales in Snohomish County did see a jump month over month.

There were 301 more sales in March than February, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That’s a 25 percent increase month to month.

The MLS said there is about 3.6 months of supply in the region, which is down from the end of February when the service reported about 4.6 months of supply. King County has only about 1.8 months of supply, while Snohomish County was slighter better with 2.2 months of supply.

In general, industry analysts say four to six months is the supply needed for a balanced market.

“There are many reasons potential sellers should consider selling now,” said Mike Gain, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate in Seattle, in the release.

There is less competition now at the beginning of the spring selling season, usually the busiest time of the year and interest rates are still very low but will likely rise, he noted.

The biggest drop came in the sale of single-family residential houses. The number of pending sales was down to 928 from 1,034 for the same month last year, according to the listing service. That’s a 10.25 percent drop.

The number of pending sales for condos actually increased year over year. The listing service reported 252 pending sales for condos compared with 202 the year before — a 24.75 percent increase.

The number of closed sales fell only slightly to 668 from 673 the year before, a drop of less than a percent. The sales prices for houses and condos increased by 13.04 percent year over year. The median price in the county was $294,000 for the month, up from $260,000 in February 2013.

With higher prices, more people will be willing to sell their homes this year, said John Deely, the Northwest MLS director and a principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.

“People who didn’t have enough equity in their house, or didn’t have enough confidence in the economy, didn’t move the past few years,” Deely said. “We’re going to see these people start to come to the market this spring. This is going to be a phenomenal year — not just an average year — a phenomenal year.”

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