King County Real Estate Hit Historic Inventory Lows This January 2022

Last year’s King County real estate numbers were eye-popping to say the least, with all that suburbs fawning holding steady till the end. But according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s January housing market stats, it seems like 2022 is about to get in on this one-upmanship game.

Inventory in King County hit historic January lows, leaving would-be home buyers with less than two weeks of active listings from which to choose. J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, called the market “virtually sold out.”

The picture is a little less bleak when you focus only on condos—there’s about two-thirds of a month of inventory in King County—but comes back into stark focus when you compare numbers year over year. King County’s total active listings were down nearly 59 percent in January compared to this time in 2021. 

A shrunken inventory pool combined with anxious buyers hoping to lock in a home before the impending interest rate increase makes for prime bidding-war conditions, and the sale prices for the month reflect that. The median sale price for homes sold in January hit $720,000, up 11.64 percent from last year.

In Seattle specifically, inventory took an even steeper nosedive: down 65 percent. In Queen Anne and Magnolia, only 17 single-family homes closed during the entire month (last year, that number was 72). The median sale price went up 8.44 percent accordingly to $970,000.

Here’s the good news for buyers: It’s not all up across the city. Central Seattle, North Seattle, Ballard, and Greenlake had modest dips in median sale prices of single-family homes, despite pretty dramatic year-over-year tanks in active listings. As a whole, in fact, Seattle’s median sale price for single-family homes was slightly down (-0.19 percent) compared to January 2021.

Now the bad news: These are all the makings for a truly bonkers spring in real estate. Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate’s chief economist, notes current homeowners are waiting to ride out omicron and hazy return-to-work policies before listing their homes. Many are likely waiting until this spring, he predicts.

Remember those eager buyers looking to lock a home down? Chances are many weren’t able to go pending in January…and won’t be able to in the coming weeks if low inventory lingers. So when listings start pouring in this spring, it’ll basically be a buying frenzy.

Well played, 2022. Well played.

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