Housing TrendsSelling September 2, 2018

Broker’s Perspective: Housing Inventory Increase

Our brokers are deeply connected to the issues that face local home-buyers and sellers. In this series of blogs, “The Broker’s Perspective” Windermere Stanwood and Camano Island brokers provide insight into current market trends and topics. This week, we discuss the King 5 feature on increased housing inventory with broker, Jill Vail.


King County home buyers saw relief in July, but it’s not the same story across the region. King County’s real estate market continued to see a cooling effect in July with year-over-year inventory up and sales down, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Monday.

Housing inventory – or how long it would take to sell all houses on the market without more being listed – improved 6.5 percent since last July, according to the Northwest MLS. At the same time, pending sales and closed sales are down 7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

“It has been a long time coming, but we finally have some solidly good news for buyers in the Puget Sound area,” OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said in a statement.

In July, Seattle and King County saw the highest housing supply levels since 2015, according to Robert Wasser, owner of Prospera Real Estate.

Industry leaders said the increased inventory has had a calming effect on prices as sellers have had to let go of expectations of multiple offers or massive price escalations.

However, it isn’t the same story across the state. Of all counties in Western Washington, King County saw the largest gains in inventory year-over-year. Snohomish County inventory improved slightly, but Pierce County saw a decrease in inventory coupled with more pending sales and increased prices. “Pierce County has, for a handful of years, been the affordability solution for buyers who would otherwise buy in King County,” Northwest MLS director Mike Larson said. “I think the craziness of the King County market has magnified that fact even more.”

Industry leaders cautioned that while the market has cooled, it is by no means cold. King County still only has 1.57 months of inventory, which is below a healthy inventory of four or five months, according to President and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain Mike Grady. “We are still a seller’s market,” Broker Keith Bruce said. “Much more inventory is needed to meet the overall demand for quality homes in Seattle.”


Jill’s Perspective

I often have clients asking if we are seeing the same craziness in our real estate market as they are in King County. The good news is that our market was never as frenzied as it was for our urban neighbors. We had multiple offers and escalated prices but never to the tune that they did in Seattle. Our market still needs some corrections, but we are not seeing the significant increase in inventory that Seattle is seeing. No market can sustain the kind of price increases they saw in Seattle, so some adjustments were due.

Even though reports indicate that housing inventory has increased in King County, Camano Island inventory has actually decreased since the same time last year. Listings are down almost 20%, from 124 to 100 residential listings. Inventory in Stanwood is a little different, though. It has increased by 10%, from 94 to 103 homes at this same time last year. Stanwood’s market is affected by the new construction communities that have been popping up. Some new homes have come on the market over the past year, making up for a lack of new construction over the last 10 years, which is great for buyers.

While the market is slowly correcting itself, make no mistake—it is still a seller’s market. The average days on market has decreased sharply. A year ago, the average days on market for sold homes was 60. Currently, we are down to only 43 days. There are still some strong upward pressures on prices, too. A year ago, Camano Island’s months of inventory was at 2.4. Currently, we are seeing only 2/3 of that, at 1.6 months. Stanwood is up to 1.5 months from 1.2 this time last year. A balanced market should be 3-6 months and we have a way to go before we get to that level.

So, it’s still a great time to sell in Stanwood and Camano Island. I have buyers out there waiting for the right home to come on the market for them. We are starting to see an improvement in conditions for buyers, but they still need to act fast when they see that great house come on the market. Some buyers are still learning that the hard way. It is important for buyers to keep an eye on the market and hire a professional who can help them act quickly and be competitive.

Jill Vail | Windermere Stanwood and Camano Island Broker