Is the housing market rebounding?

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service is pleased to report "brisk" activity during July with home buyers scrambling to take advantage of attractive financing while encountering shrinking inventory and, in some areas, rising prices.

Pending sales jumped more than 17 percent from a year ago, according to new figures from NWMLS. Nineteen of the 21 counties in its service area reported double-digit increases in the volume of mutually accepted offers.

Prices are also rising in many areas. The median sales price for single family homes and condominiums (combined) that closed area-wide last month was $254,900, up more than 7 percent from the year ago figure of $237,975.  July's closed sales outgained year ago volumes by 918 transactions. Last month, brokers completed sales for 6,098 buyers and sellers for a year-over-year increase of 17.7 percent. That total marked the third consecutive month when closings topped the 6,000 mark. Prior to May 2012, the last time sales reached the 6,000-plus level was September 2007 when brokers tallied 6,262 closed sales.

Single family homes that sold last month had a median selling price of $269,900, up more than 10 percent from the year-ago figure of $245,000.  In King County, which accounted for 40 percent of the single family sales, prices were up 7.2 percent.

For condominiums, closed sales soared 26.5 percent, but prices were mostly flat. The median price on last month's completed transactions was $179,331, down slightly from the year-ago figure of $180,000.

Northwest MLS statistics show the number of pending sales of single family homes and condos (8,416) nearly matched the number new listings (8,632). Pending sales outpaced new listings in Clark, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, resulting in inventory shortages and bidding wars in some price ranges.

The selection, including the combined inventory of single family homes and condominiums, totaled 26,747 listings at month end. That volume represents a decline of 28.6 percent from a year ago, when MLS brokers reported 37,465 active listings.

A check of the Northwest MLS database indicates the current selection of homes with asking prices under $300,000 is very limited in parts of King County, notably within Seattle and on the Eastside. Only about one of every five single family homes (21.5 percent) in Seattle is listed at $300,000 or less, while on the Eastside only about seven percent of the single family homes are priced under $300,000’.

In general, the Northwest MLS directors are optimistic about the rebounding housing market.