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Real estate sales, listings down - but prices are up 6.4%

Series: Coronavirus | Story 92

Last updated 5/6/2020 at 2:29pm

Residential real estate activity around Western Washington experienced an expected decline during April with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic taking its toll.

A new report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows year-over-year (YOY) drops system-wide in new listings, pending sales and closed sales, but prices increased nearly 6.4%.

“With the first full month of post-COVID-19 data in hand, it’s clear the Puget Sound housing market has been hit but not knocked out,” said Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardener. “The normally active spring market is significantly slower than normal due to COVID-19, but it has not come to a halt. In my opinion, it is responding to the current circumstances exactly as expected.”

The Northwest MLS report for April shows area-wide inventory fell nearly 21% from a year ago, dropping from 12,955 listings to 10,282.

The volume of new listings added during April was off 34.7% compared to the same month a year ago. Brokers added 7,641 new listings last month, down from both March when 10,291 new listings were added, and April 2019 when brokers added 11,697 new listings.

Despite the slower activity, the months of supply improved only slightly, rising from the March figure of 1.4 months to 1.75 months of inventory at the end of April.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, described the market as “virtually sold out everywhere locally in the more affordable and mid-price ranges. We are seeing buyer demand coming forward. With historically low interest rates, the local market needs additional listings to meet pent-up demand from the backlog of buyers.”

In comparing April to March in the tri-county area (King, Pierce and Snohomish counties), economist Gardner noted the total number of active listings rose (up 14,8%), but new listings dropped (down 25.5%), which he said suggests sellers may be waiting until the shelter-in-place order is over.

In King County, prices rose 4% from a year ago, from $625,000 to $650,000. Snohomish County prices were up nearly 6% from $479,000 to $507,500. System-wide, prices were up about 6.4%, rising from the year-ago figure of $424,950 to last month’s figure of $452,030. Year-to-date prices are up nearly 9.3% compared to 12 months ago.


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