Real estate market begins year on positive note

Northwest real estate professionals said there is cause for celebration regarding the local economy. Home sales for the beginning of 2014, though not overly impressive, show promise for the months ahead, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Services (NWMLS).

“We are finally going to be looking at the ‘housing crisis’ in the rear view mirror. In 2014 we are definitely in full recovery mode,” said Mike Gain, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate in a press release issued by NWMLS.

There were over 7,000 pending sales in the month of January, a 35 percent increase from the holiday season. A drop in the market is expected each December, according to NWMLS, but the January numbers also show consistency from one year prior, as opposed to the steady decline seen during the housing crisis.

What’s holding the market back at this point is a lack of inventory for buyers but that won’t be the case for much longer, according to Gains.

“(There are) lots of buyers and not enough of the right inventory to satisfy our buyers’ wants and needs,” Gains said. “A very active market is anticipated once the number of listings increases.”

NWMLS serves 21 counties in Washington, 13 of which report greater inventory than one year ago, while eight are report less. Analysts suggest four to six months of inventory represents a stable market and local areas average approximately 4.2 months, according to NWMLS. King County struggles with the lowest supply, clocking in at only 2.5 months.

Frank Wilson, NWMLS director, reiterated that 2014 should bring positive changes in the market but recovery is a slow process. Desirable listings with reasonable prices will reel in multiple offers, he said.

“We are not yet fully recovered from the recession and sellers need to be realistic in expectations of the value of their homes,” he said.

Specific data for Pierce County includes an 8 percent increase in listings, a 1 percent increase in closed sales, and a nearly 12 percent increase in average closed sale home prices from one year ago.

King County saw a 6.7 percent listing increase and 15.8 percent increase in average home prices.