When a real estate agent shows a home in Western Washington, we all use a nifty little electronic keybox that tracks who and when the keybox was accessed. The Northwest MLS has begun publishing statistics on how many times keyboxes were opened each day, so that we can see trends in showing traffic. There is no better indicator of buyer activity in the market than the number of homes they are toured each week, so these statistics should be a leading indicator for future offer and sales activity. This is a much stronger indicator of buyer activity than the press releases from local brokers talking about “more traffic at open houses.”
Unfortunately the statistics are only available in the entire NWMLS service area, which includes ~19 counties in Western Washington. We are unable to break out the data by city or county, but still this is quite educational to track buyer activity in our region, and we assume that these same trends exist for each county and city in our region.
There are a few key events here that drove changes in weekly showing traffic. The Easter holiday on April 4 definitely detracted from showing activity by buyers. The week of April 5-10 included the “National Open House Weekend”, which was a nationwide open house event that has driven the most showings so far this year on a weekly basis. Lastly, the tax credit for first-time and repeat home buyers expired on April 30, 2010. Showing traffic decreased rather dramatically in the week immediately after the tax credit expiration, declining by ~21% from the week prior. That week had an additional challenge for sellers in Western Washington, as there were no new listings being published to external websites during a lengthy NWMLS data outage.
Looking at monthly showing traffic, it is clear that traffic was up dramatically in March and April, compared to February of this year. This is expected as we enter the spring buying season and more buyers were out looking to take advantage of the tax credit. Follow the findwell blog, where we’ll continue to track this data as a “pulse” on buyer activity.
(Note: Statistics not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.)