Real Estate

Summer sales of single-family homes in Thurston County ended with a bang in August as sales nearly matched last year's red-hot results and the median price climbed almost 10 percent over August 2018.

That's great news if you're selling a single-family home. But the Northwest Multiple Listing Service data, released Monday, also showed that if you're a buyer in this market, August was likely just another frustrating month.

The inventory data for August was stark. The total number of single-family homes for sale was 30 percent lower than last August, and new listings coming to market still can't keep pace with last year's new listings, the data show.

All of this means that months of inventory in the county last month stood at one month, which translates into a market that heavily favors sellers. A healthy balance between buyers and sellers is thought to have inventory in the range of four to six months.

Frank Wilson, a managing broker with John L. Scott Real Estate, said buyers need to get their ducks in row.

"Meet with a lender for pre-approval (on a mortgage) before looking for homes, be clear as to what you can live with or without in your next home, and, if at all possible, use cash or a conventional loan," Wilson said in a statement.

That's one of the harsh realities of being a first-time buyer in this market: who can come up with that kind of cash?

Those leaving King and Snohomish counties -- two counties where median prices are greater than $490,000 -- continue to push median prices higher in other communities along the I-5 corridor, including here, said James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington.

Young said first-time buyers are leaving King and Snohomish counties, and existing homeowners are cashing out and moving on, he said.

A closer look at the single-family home data for Thurston County in August compared to August 2018:

-- Sales fell 2.7 percent to 568 units last month from 584 units in August 2018.

-- Median price rose almost 9.6 percent to $348,500 from $318,100.

-- Pending sales fell 4.9 percent to 602 units from 633 units.

A closer look at the condo data:

-- Sales fell to 13 units last month from 19 units in August 2018.

-- Median price rose to $230,000 from $185,000.

-- Pending sales fell to 11 units from 14 units.

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