You know the signs of a slowdown in Seattle must be reaching critical mass when even Inman News is unable to ignore it. (Article becomes subscription-only after today.)
Home sales in western Washington fell for the fifth straight month in July, as year-over-year prices continued their impressive double-digit growth, according to the latest report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.Of course, they still managed to slip in a few of the usual qualifiers. I love how they try to explain fewer sales than a year ago by saying that buyers are "frustrated with the lack of inventory," which happens to be significantly higher than it was last year. Also, I wonder if Mr. Scott will ever get tired of the "strong demand around the job centers" line that he's been using rather frequently since May. I know the news outlets won't get tired of quoting it.
Brokers reported 8,496 sales last month, down 15 percent from a year earlier when 9,999 sales were recorded, according to MLS statistics. Realtors report that the consistently rising inventory has been a major factor in the sales slowdown.
Area-wide there are about 9,000 more listings now than at this time a year ago, NWMLS reported.
Although both prices and inventory are up compared to a year ago, J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, emphasized the importance of keeping those figures in perspective.
"One year ago, King County (Seattle) had only 1.7 months supply of housing inventory available; today we have approximately 2.3 months of available inventory," Scott said. "While this represents an increase, we are still well below the national average of five to six months. This is especially true in the markets close to the job centers where competition and demand for homes are still strong, causing prices to continue to appreciate at a steady pace."
D'Ann Jackson, president of the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors and the broker at John L. Scott's Mercer Island office, expects the market will continue to level out. Commenting on the slower sales, she said, "I think buyers who entered the market a little later this spring either bought already or got frustrated with the lack of inventory and multiple offers." Move-up buyers are having difficulty finding the right properties, she observed, noting some are spending more to get "at best something comparable," and others may be waiting until after vacation to resume their search.
Anyway, nobody worry. Our inventory is still "well below the national average," and we're just "leveling out." Sales will pick back up when buyers get back from vacation, or recover from the heatwave... or... something.
(Inman News, 08.08.2006)