Home sales in western Washington fell 7.9 percent in May compared to a year ago, as prices continued to climb by double digits, according to the latest report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Brokers reported 8,568 closed sales last month, down from 9,307 reported in May 2005. Last month’s decline is the third consecutive month of slower sales, according to NWMLS statistics.

The MLS report for May reflects a hefty gain in the number of active listings compared to the same month a year ago — 27,660 versus 21,499.

The snapshot at month’s end shows inventory of single-family homes and condominiums is up 18.3 percent across the 17 counties served by NWMLS. In King County, however, the increase in active listings was less than 8.4 percent, with several Seattle- and Eastside-area neighborhoods reporting sharp declines.

“We continue to see a lack of viable inventory in those areas close to the job centers in Bellevue and Seattle, while the outlining areas have leveled out and now have more than enough supply for the demand,” observed Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Home prices system-wide jumped 13.7 percent from a year ago, with every county registering a double-digit increase. For last month’s completed transactions of single-family homes and condominiums, the median sales price was $302,500, up from $266,000 in May 2005.

In King County, the overall median selling price of single-family homes and condos rose 16.9 percent in May to $385,000 from the year-ago figure of $329,389. For single-family homes only (excluding condominiums) the median sales price was $427,950, up 15.5 percent from the year-ago price of $370,500. Condo prices in King County increased almost 17.9 percent, rising from the year-ago figure of $209,145 to $246,500.

Kirkland, Wash.-based Northwest Multiple Listing Service covers most of western Washington and encompasses more than 2,000 companies with approximately 26,000 sales associates.

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