Real estate update

Median sales prices of single-family homes and condominiums combined fell 1.1 percent and 4.8 percent last month in Pierce and Thurston counties, respectively, from February 2022, according to figures released today by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Pierce County’s median sales price last month was $519,997. Thurston County’s was $475,000. Pierce’s median was up, though, from January’s median of $509,997, while Thurston’s was essentially flat versus $474,500 in January.

Other South Sound counties posting declines in February from a year ago: Kitsap, $499,950, down 4.8 percent; Grays Harbor, $297,000, down 15.1 percent; and Lewis, $382,500, down 0.7 percent. Only Mason County managed to see an increase with a median sales price of $382,200, up  1.6 percent.

New listings, pending sales, and closed sales were down in each South Sound county from a year ago, but total active listings were up, a story seen throughout the 26-county NWMLS region, where aggregate median sales price slipped 1.7 percent from February 2022.

“One could say a modicum of balance is returning to the market,” Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest, Tacoma/Gig Harbor, said in a NWMLS news release on the 26-county report. “Buyer demand remains at reasonable levels considering the high interest rate environment we’re in. Multiple offers are still seen on the right properties.”

Inventory of homes for sale has improved, but the market still favors sellers.

Also, mortgage interest rates remain high compared to a year ago. The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 6.65 percent as of March 2, up from 3.76 percent a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

In Pierce County, the median sales price of single-family homes only was $529,900 in February, down 1 percent from a year ago. The county’s Fox Island and Artondale areas had the highest medians, $1 million each. Fox Island was down 34.5 percent on just four sales and Artondale was flat on six sales.

In Thurston County, the median sales price for single-family homes only was $489,000, down 2.2 percent from February 2022. The county’s Boston Harbor area carried the highest median sales price, at $790,000, up 5.3 percent from a year ago on three sales.

“Although the number of homes for sale in the tri-county area of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties is more than double from a year ago, there were still fewer homes available to buy in February than in January,” Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, said in the release. “Furthermore, listings were more than 40% lower than pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that homeowners may be holding off on selling until the market stabilizes.”

Listings are not coming to the market as quickly as in recent years, John Deely, executive vice president of operations at Coldwell Banker Bain, added in the release.

“Low inventory is once again creating multiple offers where good inventory is absorbed quickly,” he said. “As we move into the spring market, more competition tends to drive pricing down slightly. Sellers getting into the market now have less competition.”