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December’s arctic blast of snow and cold, combined with record low home inventory, chilled housing activity in Pierce and Thurston counties, with closed sales dropping 5.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, from a year ago, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) reported today.

Pierce County’s inventory of homes available last month stood at 0.32 months and Thurston’s at 0.31 months. Both were tighter than the total 26-county NWMLS region, which stood at 0.40 months, or less than two weeks of supply.

Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Realtors, said the slowdown in sales last month was to be expected considering fourth-quarter inventory was sharply lower than a year ago.

“You can’t sell what isn’t there,” he said in a news release.

Pierce County’s median sales price of a single-family home (excluding condos) was $520,000 last month, up 18.5 percent from December 2020.

In Thurston County, the median single-family home price was $482,000, up 20.1 percent.

Other South Sound counties’ median sales prices were: Grays Harbor, $330,000, up 29.2 percent; Lewis, $390,000, up 34 percent; and Mason, $379,975, up 13.4 percent.

Beeson expects 2022 will be similar to last year, saying, “The buying and selling process will not become any easier. Once again, we start the real estate dance where buyers are chasing sellers. Sellers are chasing their replacement home, and brokers are chasing those elusive listings.”

He expects prices to rise this year, but not as quickly as during 2021.

Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, predicts single-family home prices will rise by more than 10 percent in Pierce County.

Pierce County’s priciest single-family home market in December was Fox Island, at a median sales price of $970,000, down 0.3 percent from a year ago.

Boston Harbor was Thurston County’s priciest area, with a median sales price last month of $822,500, up 8.9 percent from a year ago.