You don't need me to tell you the market is great! The market is really back! Media is buzzing with positive housing news complete with rising prices, inventory shortages & bidding wars coupled with low interest rates and a strong economy! What's not to like? It is great, but like so many things there's two sides to the coin and the answer is, "it depends!" First, a look at the numbers for Pierce County as measured on March 31st.
Inventory – DOWN – 35%
Closings – UP – 16%
Median Price – UP – 9%
New Pending Contracts – UP – 28%
These year over year numbers are astounding. We have over 1/3 fewer homes offered for sale while at the same time we have an increase in the number of closings by nearly 1/3 creating a classic demand exceeding supply scenario. Pierce County houses are selling in an average of 59 days, the shortest length of time measured since July 2006.
In the past I've referred to sales ratios as being one of the most accurate way of describing the strength of the market. (To read a past description of Sales Ratios click here.) We know a balanced market has a sales ratio of 55%, currently the numbers give Pierce County a 95% sales ratio. We have nearly as many houses Pending as we do Active. Yikes! Another key measurement of a housing market is Months of Inventory. The target here for a normal "breathe through your nose" market is 3-5 months….Survey Says!! 1.4 !!
Most would say, "This is a great time to be a seller and a challenging time to be a buyer". There is some truth to that, but in reality, it can be a challenging time to be on either side of the table. Sellers naturally want to price their home accordingly to take advantage of the favorable market conditions and not leave any money on the table but proper pricing strategies right now can be elusive. Meantime, no buyer wants to "get in a bidding war" and the result is a tension from both sides that can get interesting. Consider this scenario that recently played out;
Our new listing just hit market – Within days we have two offers! No, wait three! Buyers are notified, "we have multiple offers!" First one raises offer – second stays put – third one goes dark! Aghh! Then, just before time to review and sign off, first one lowers to original amount…..oooookkkkayy! So second one goes away to chase another house. Wait!, first one has gone dark now too! What the..?! day goes by….first one is out! Good grief! Word is #2 didn't get the other house they were chasing….so go get #2, right?! Ohhhhh we can't! #2 has now decided house is too close to a relative she doesn't want to be so close to!
Day 15 – still on the market.
With the added tension of this fast paced market sometimes decisions have to be made quicker than we would like and the resulting flip flopping can be hard on everyone!
Despite the obvious inventory shortages and low market times it is not hard to find homes that have been on the market for 100 days or more. That shows us the market is not all forgiving and throwing any high price on a property will fail. For sellers it is a delicate balance between pushing the envelope and being realistic. For buyers, the last house is not the last house. Find good counsel in a trusted Realtor, have a pre-approved loan in your pocket, and the right house will come to you at the right time.
Markets seek balance and the current shortage of good homes will not last forever, it never does. Yes, prices are going up, and that erodes buying power. In the process new neighborhoods evolve as qualified buyers gentrify more affordable areas. The dream of having the right home to call your own is still obtainable.
The Pierce County real estate market continues to lag behind King County, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and values are approaching 2004 – 2005 levels. For more details see the full article that was on yesterday's front page of the News Tribune.