Home buyers who are searching for a house or condo in Seattle often lament "There's nothing for sale." It's a statement repeated by many agents as well. Frankly, most of the reports we write about the scarcity of inventory exacerbate the notion that no new listings are coming on the market.
In reality, there are plenty of homes for sale every week. There are just as many new homes coming on the market today as there were two years ago. There are actually more than last year.
The number of new listings for sale seems to remain fairly constant. In Seattle, we peak at around 900 new listings per month in Seattle in the early summer, and we hit bottom in December at around 300 listing per month. So if there are just as many new listings available today as there were the last couple of years, why doesn't it feel that way?
The difference in today's market is how quickly homes sell. One out of four homes in Seattle is sold within 7 days of listing. The speed with which Seattle houses and condos are selling can frustrate a buyer who is moderately motivated to buy. The casual weekend browser, or the open house visitor, is rarely moving quickly enough in this market to buy a home, as the aggressive buyers are writing offers and snatching them up as soon as they're listed.
This is what creates the "1 month of inventory" and "housing inventory drops again" headlines. At any point in time, there may be just as many new listings coming on the market as in previous years. They're selling so quickly, however, that the inventory of lagging, long-term marketed homes is significantly lower.
The takeaway for the frustrated home buyer should be that a change of mindset may be necessary. When losing out on a home to another buyer, there will still be another listing tomorrow, as there was always in years past. This year, though, it's a requirement that buyers have an aggressive home buying strategy. Go visit the new listings the day they come on the market, and make a confident offer as soon as the decision has been made that this is the right home.
© SeattleHome.com: - Sam DeBord, Managing Broker, Realtor
Source: NWMLS Stats - The Northwest Multiple Listing Service did not compile or publish this information.