The Thurston County housing market had another red-hot year in 2018, with more than 5,000 single-family homes exchanging hands, according to year-end data released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

But 2018 wasn’t as strong as 2017 — the best year on record for the county — after the market slowed toward the end of year. Sales of single-family homes fell 4.5 percent from 2017, the data show, and that trend is expected to continue in 2019. 

The market still favors sellers because of low inventory levels, but slowly the market is beginning to shift. A healthy balance between buyers and sellers is thought to have inventory levels of four to six months. The last time the county had a four months supply of single-family homes for sale was January 2014, the Northwest MLS data show.

But after inventory in the county was around 1.5 months during the first half of 2018, it began to climb higher and ended the year closer to two months, the data show.

Windermere Olympia owner and broker Steve Garrett said the “feeding frenzy,” which was characterized by sharply escalating prices and multiple offers on homes, is over.

“The market is settling down,” he said. “There is more inventory and more options for buyers out there.”

It was such a seller’s market, but now we are getting out of that realm, he added.

Here’s how the county housing market shaped up for 2018:

  Sales of single-family homes fell 4.56 percent to 5,217 units from 5,466 units.

  Median price rose 10.4 percent to $313,500 from $284,000.

  Of those 5,217 single-family homes that sold, 700 were newly constructed homes with a median price of $399,950.

• Nineteen single-family homes in the county sold for $1 million or more. In King County, more than 5,000 single-family homes sold for $1 million or more.

  Three condos in the county sold for $500,000 or more. In King County, more than 2,000 did.

As for 2019, Garrett expects a more balanced market between buyers and sellers, which is a “healthier place to be,” he said.

However, the county’s relatively affordable homes will continue to make it a magnet for buyers who have been priced out of other counties, such as King County.

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