Seattle’s median price jumped to $535,000 in March, rising much faster in the past 12 months than the median price in Bellevue.
The median price of Seattle homes sold in March rose 18.9 percent over the year to $535,000 — the biggest jump in at least five years.
The number of available homes for sale has been at historic lows in recent months, helping drive up prices.
While the level of homes listed for sale dropped almost 23 percent in March from the same month last year, the number of pending sales — mutual purchase agreements that haven’t closed yet — jumped 19 percent for the same period, according to figures reported Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Seattle median prices
“The frenzy market has returned and is in full bloom,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, in an interview. “We are selling more homes than new listings that come on the market.”
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Meredith and Adrian Geffert listed their Seattle home in Matthews Beach on March 26 for $420,000. Within six days, the couple had three offers and accepted one for $460,000.
“In this market, it seems like the buyers are desperate,” Meredith Geffert said.
Multiple offers have become commonplace across the region because of the shortage of homes for sale. In March, King County had 1.3 months’ supply of homes, while Seattle had less than a one-month supply.
Housing inventory is considered healthy when the supply of listings is equal to about five months’ worth of sales, according to John L. Scott Real Estate.
As the start of the spring season, March is typically a very good month for sales, Scott said. But coming out of a mild King County winter where sales didn’t slow down as they usually do, March’s sales have made the lack of inventory more severe.
“We are virtually sold out,” he said.
When listing their house, the Gefferts were not looking for a new Seattle-area home to replace it. The couple are moving to Ireland.
But not many local homeowners are in that situation.
OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, says current homeowners often are unwilling to put their homes on the market until they can secure their next one, whether it is an upgrade or a downsize.
“It is a little bit of a chicken and an egg thing,” he said. “People know their home is going to sell, but they don’t know that they will find a place … so they are not willing to put their house on the market.”
Some brokers expect the pressure on Seattle prices will continue with Expedia’s announcement of plans to relocate about 3,000 employees from Bellevue to its new headquarters in Seattle.
For King County as a whole, the median price in March rose 6.1 percent over the year to $440,250. Active listings dropped almost 16 percent, while sales increased 18 percent.
While Seattle saw the largest gain in median price for single-family homes in King County, the Eastside saw the smallest, increasing only 5.4 percent to $632,554.
But active listings on the Eastside dropped 13.5 percent in March while sales and pending sales both increased more than 15 percent. Inventory stood at only 1.5 months — better than Seattle’s, but not by much.
Southeast King County saw the largest gain in home sales, jumping 43.5 percent, with a median price of $319,251.
Snohomish County’s median price was $340,000, up almost 8 percent from a year ago, with 1.7 months of inventory. Pierce County was up 6.5 percent at $244,950, and 2.6 months of inventory. Both counties’ closed sales were up about 15 percent while pending sales were up more than 30 percent.
In the condo market, meanwhile, the median price among closed sales in King County last month was $269,600, up 7.8 percent over the year.
In Seattle, King County’s most expensive submarket for condos, median price was up 15 percent over the year to $328,000. The Eastside increased 11.3 percent to $305,000. North King County, on the other hand, fell almost 30 percent to $155,000.