Severe inventory shortage sends Seattle-area housing prices higher PSBJ

by Marc Stiles

Staff Writer-Puget Sound Business Journal

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The median price of houses and condos that sold last month in King County was 8 percent higher than in March 2013, a new report states.

Homeowners, if you’re thinking about selling, real estate agents have a message for you: Get off the dime already.

A report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service on Thursday said housing prices in the metro Puget Sound area rose in March compared with a year ago. The main reason is an inventory shortage.

The listing service said that in King County, there’s only a 1.8-month supply of houses and condos for sale. Industry analysts say a four- to six-month supply is needed for a balanced market.

The shortage is less acute in other areas, but supply is still tight. For single-family houses, Snohomish County has a 2.3-month supply, while Pierce and Kitsap counties’ supplies are around 3.5 and 4.5 percent, respectively.

The lack of inventory has sent housing prices higher. Compared with March 2013, the median price of condos and houses that sold last month was up 8 percent to $378,000 in King County, and up 9.3 percent to $295,000 in Snohomish County. In Pierce, prices rose 11.5 percent to $222,950. The median price fell 2.4 percent to $225,000 in Kitsap.

In Snohomish County, condos are especially hard to come by. The county has a supply of only 1.8 months. As a result, the median sale price last month was $193,500 — 29.4 percent higher than in March 2013.

If you’re looking for a place where there’s plenty of inventory, head to Ferry County. There, in northeastern Washington, you’ll find a 50-month supply of houses, though there’s hardly any demand. Only one house sold last month, and the price was $82,500, according to the multiple listing service.

Marc Stiles covers commercial real estate and government for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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