RE/MAX National Housing Report for March 2019

March Sales Signal Slowest Start to Spring Homebuying Since 2014

Kicking off the spring homebuying season, March sales climbed almost 29% over February, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. But this remains the slowest start in five years, with March sales 8.6% lower than March 2018.

March was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines and the sixth straight month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 5.3% gain. Housing activity in the report’s 54 markets nationwide also saw the Median Sales price grow by 3.4% year-over-year – notably smaller than the year-over-year increases in February (5.5%) and January (4.6%).  However, the median sales price has risen by more than 3% year-over-year in 17 of the last 18 months.

From 2015 to 2018, the housing market’s spring sprang to life with an increase in sales from February to March averaging 37.0%. March 2019’s month-over-month increase of 28.8% was the smallest since 24.6% in 2014.

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Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for March 2019

Both pending sales and new listing activity around Western Washington surged during March as buyers, sellers, and brokers emerged from February’s record snowfall.

Brokers added 10,516 new listings of single family homes and condos to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service inventory last month, the highest monthly volume since August 2018. Compared to the same month a year ago, new listings across the 23 counties in the report were down slightly (79 fewer units).

MLS members also reported 10,261 pending sales during the same timeframe, the highest number of mutually accepted offers since July, and nearly matching the year-ago total of 10,311.

Year-over-year prices area-wide were up 3.5 percent, rising from $401,761 to $415,950, with most counties reporting gains. King County was an exception. Prices there were flat (down 0.4 percent), slipping from the year-ago median of $625,000 to last month’s figure of $622,500, but rising from February’s price of $604,000.

Compared to February, prices rose 2.2 percent system-wide. The four-county Puget Sound region had larger month-to-month increases, led by Kitsap County, up 5.9 percent from February. Prices in Snohomish County jumped nearly 5.5 percent, while King County’s median prices rose more than 3 percent when comparing February to March.

At month end, there were 12,017 active listings of single family homes and condos in the Northwest MLS database. That represents an increase of more than 36 percent from a year ago when there were only 8,825 active listings. Inventory more than doubled in King County compared to a year ago, rising from 2,060 active listings to 4,263 at the end of March. Nine counties reported less inventory than 12 months ago.

Even with improving inventory, there is less than two months of supply overall and in seven counties, including Pierce (1.2 months), Snohomish (1.3 months), Kitsap (1.4 months) and King (nearly 1.9 months).

How Will the Housing Market Fare This Spring?

Real estate pros often anxiously await for the spring selling season, a time known for an uptick in home sales. But will spring be as hot for the housing market this year as it has been in the past?

Since the end of last year, home sales have slowed (a decline of 10 percent in December compared to a year prior), and properties have been sitting on the market for longer (46 days compared to 30 days a year ago).

Nevertheless, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that “multiple data show definitively improving conditions” heading into the spring selling and buying season.

Consumer sentiment about home buying is turning more upbeat, and there have been greater reports of foot traffic at open houses, according to recent NAR surveys. The number of openings of lock boxes—which real estate pros use to access a key prior to unlocking a home for a showing—is “measurably higher” in January and February compared to the second half of 2018, according to NAR SentriLock data.

Further, the number of consumers applying for a mortgage to purchase a home is on the rise. “After the weak conditions of late last year, mortgage applications have picked up notably in 2019 with more consumers evidently searching for a home compared to one year ago,” Yun writes in his latest real estate column at Forbes.com. Also, contract signings to purchase a home rose 4.6 percent in January—another healthy sign about the market Yun points to.

With mortgage rates staying low, Yun expects more home buyers and sellers this spring. So far this year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to under a 4.5 percent average. That means a typical home buyer could save nearly $100 per month due to the drop. In addition, wages are up 3.4 percent year-over-year on average, the hightest rate in a decade, .

“The slump is over” in the housing market, Yun notes. “Better times are ahead for home buyers.”

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

RE/MAX National Housing Report for February 2019

Declining Sales, Growing Inventory Continue to Move in Direction of Buyer’s Market

Riding two trends – declining sales and growing inventory – the U.S. housing market continued to transition from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market in February, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report.

Home sales in the 54-market report have declined year-over-year for seven consecutive months, though February’s downturn of 4.2% was the smallest since the 1.1% drop that started the streak in August 2018. At the same time, inventory grew 5.8% over February of 2018, marking the fifth consecutive month of growth following a decade-long trend of shrinking inventory. The Months Supply of Inventory also grew in February from 3.1 in 2018 to 3.4 this year.

Bucking these trends, the Median Sales Price increased to $240,000, a year-over-year gain of 5.5% and a February record in the 10-year history of the report. That followed January’s upturn of 4.6%.

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Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for February 2019

Heavy Snowfall Iced February Housing Activity Around Western Washington

RE/MAX National Housing Report for January 2019

Housing Inventory Posts Record Increase as Declining Sales Extend to Sixth Month

A sixth consecutive month of declining home sales in January contributed to the largest year-over-year inventory increase in at least 10 years, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report.

While year-over-year home sales dropped 11% – extending a streak that began in August – inventory grew year-over-year by an average of 6.4% across the report’s 54 U.S. metro areas. January marked the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year inventory growth – further reversing a decade-long trend of shrinking inventory. December 2018’s year-over-year inventory growth of 4.7% was the previous record in the report’s 10-year history.

The median sales price of $234,000 was a report record for January, increasing 4.6% over January 2018. But the rate of sales price increase was considerably less than the 6.7% posted from January 2017 to January 2018. December 2018 was the only month since January 2012 to show a year-over-year decline in median sales price.

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Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for January 2019

Homebuyers around Washington state are making their way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and more approachable sellers.