April statistics released by Northwest MLS – pending sales on the rise

The Northwest MLS released their monthly statistics today for April 2009. The number of pending sales surged substantially rising 11.4% from twelve months ago and 21.3% from March. (A pending sale is where an offer is made and accepted, but not yet closed.) This is the highest level of pending sales since the peak of the market in August 2007.

Inventory is also down, with a 18.3% reduction from year-ago levels. Closed sales for King County are still down ~35% from a year ago, but did experience an increase of 4% from March.

Is this a sign that the market has bottomed out? It is still too early to tell. Springtime brings a natural increase in buyer activity, so of course the number of pending sales should be rising. However the increase is substantial and higher than many would have predicted, so it is a glimmer of positive news for the Seattle housing market. It also remains to be seen what percentage of these pending sales translate into closed sales. Some homes that go pending are failing to close because of financing difficulties, short sale negotiations or buyer remorse. If we see continued increases in pending & closed sales, plus further inventory reductions, we should see price stabilization in our market.

From our perspective, there has been a substantial uptick in buyer activity, both in terms of the number of buyers in the market and the number of buyers placing offers, including more multiple-offer situations. This experience seems consistent with the other brokers we deal with, so hopefully we’ll be seeing some more positive statistics through the rest of the spring and summer, provided that the overall employment market doesn’t worsen.