For Sale Signs

A 'For Sale' sign is seen in a lot Wednesday morning in Centralia.

A shortage of homes on the market has resulted in a seller’s market in the real estate industry, both in Lewis County and throughout Washington State.

“I was working with a client today, a buyer, who said ‘I cannot find anything. As soon as I find something I like, it’s gone,’” said Dan Keahey, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty. “They’re getting more and more frustrated.”

In Lewis County, according to a June 2019 report compiled by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, standing inventory has declined nearly 7 percent from this time last year — an all-time low for June. The report stated that 255 homes were currently for sale in the county. 

With fewer homes to choose from, buyers have to be competitive. June saw 146 homes under contract and 114 close — the third best June on record in the county. Overall, the Lewis County market has a two and a half month supply of inventory, far from the four to six month supply that indicates a balanced market. 

The result of that diminished supply is a record median home price of $245,000, a 12.6 percent increase from June of 2018. That’s an increase of more than $100,000 since March of 2014. Still, Lewis County remains one of the more affordable markets statewide, a far cry from King County’s skyrocketing prices. 

One factor, Keahey said, is that the lack of listings makes sellers less likely to list. 

“I have a seller that’s saying, ‘How come there’s not more homes on the market?’” he said. “A lot of that is that people are afraid that they won’t have any place to go if they put their house on the market. It’s a catch-22.”

In a release accompanying the data, NWMLS said the current market represents a slight tapering off from the extreme seller’s market that’s been seen in Washington recently.

“Clearly we now see that the market is moderating — that is we’re definitely moving from a ‘hyper-market’ to one where a correction is underway compared to last year,” said Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “While it’s the best time to buy that we’ve seen in some time, and buyers are getting some relief, it is still a seller’s market.”

In the 23-county region that NWMLS surveys, overall prices were up 3.5 percent from last year, increasing from $425,000 to $440,000. Inventory totaled nearly 17,000 active listings statewide in the region, an increase of nearly 10 percent from this time last year. Nearly 12,000 of those listings were added during June. 

Area-wide, the report says there is only 1.76 months of inventory, a number even smaller than Lewis County’s supply. Experts predicted a strong summer housing market, based on interest rates, the economy and consumer confidence. Keahey said that expectation holds true in Lewis County.

“Good numbers, good activity,” he said. 

For buyers, Keahey advised having financing lined up before looking, to enable making a solid offer immediately. Sellers, he said, need to price right, as buyers are well-informed and unwilling to overpay.

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