Housing Market Eases, Stays Strong

Posted: November 15th, 2013 by Brad

Pending sales during October dipped 2.7 percent when compared to the same month a year ago, but rose nearly 3.2 percent from September’s volume. October’s decline was the first negative change in year-over-year comparisons since April 2011. (That drop-off was attributed in part to a frenzy during April 2010 when buyers were scrambling to take advantage of a federal tax credit that was expiring.)

Brokers point to the federal shutdown during the first two weeks of October, below-normal inventory, and shaken consumer confidence as factors in the slowdown.

Consumer confidence “deteriorated considerably” in October as a result of the shutdown and debt ceiling squabbles, according to The Conference Board. A recent Gallup poll found some improvement in Americans’ economic confidence, but reported it is still well below mid-September, before the shutdown.

For single family homes only (excluding condos), King County prices topped the list. The median price for last month’s completed sales was $426,000, or 15.1 percent higher than the year-ago selling price of $370,000.

Northwest MLS director George Moorhead agreed, saying more moderate and balanced growth helps “mitigate huge home price fluctuations.” The slowdown is also reflected in the time it is taking listings to sell, he noted. “We are seeing inventory staying on the market longer, which will continue through the holiday season until late January to mid-February,” said Moorhead.

Three counties – King, Pierce and Snohomish – have less than three months of supply, well below the 4-to-6 month level that is generally considered to be an indicator of a balanced market.

“It still looks like a potential housing shortage in Puget Sound come 2015 if building doesn’t increase,” said Dick Beeson, past chairman of the Northwest MLS Board of Directors.

NWREporter contributed to this report.

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