Home sales in western Washington fell for the fifth straight month in July, as year-over-year prices continued their impressive double-digit growth, according to the latest report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Brokers reported 8,496 sales last month, down 15 percent from a year earlier when 9,999 sales were recorded, according to MLS statistics. Realtors report that the consistently rising inventory has been a major factor in the sales slowdown.

Area-wide there are about 9,000 more listings now than at this time a year ago, NWMLS reported. Five counties (Island, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit and Thurston) reported inventory increases of 50 percent of more from 12 months ago. At month-end, NWMLS brokers represented 31,910 active listings of single-family homes and condominiums, up 39.7 percent from 22,839 listings a year ago. In June there were 29,856 active listings on the market, according to last month’s report.

For last month’s closed sales of single-family homes and condominiums, including those in Okanogan and Whatcom counties, the median sales price was $317,500, up 15.5 percent compared to the year-ago median of $275,000.

For single-family homes only, the price increase was 14 percent, while prices for condominiums that sold last month jump 20 percent from a year ago.

Although both prices and inventory are up compared to a year ago, J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, emphasized the importance of keeping those figures in perspective.

“One year ago, King County (Seattle) had only 1.7 months supply of housing inventory available; today we have approximately 2.3 months of available inventory,” Scott said. “While this represents an increase, we are still well below the national average of five to six months. This is especially true in the markets close to the job centers where competition and demand for homes are still strong, causing prices to continue to appreciate at a steady pace.”

D’Ann Jackson, president of the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors and the broker at John L. Scott’s Mercer Island office, expects the market will continue to level out. Commenting on the slower sales, she said, “I think buyers who entered the market a little later this spring either bought already or got frustrated with the lack of inventory and multiple offers.” Move-up buyers are having difficulty finding the right properties, she observed, noting some are spending more to get “at best something comparable,” and others may be waiting until after vacation to resume their search.

Kirkland, Wash.-based Northwest Multiple Listing Service covers most of western Washington and encompasses more than 2,000 companies with approximately 27,000 sales associates.

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