Home sales in western Washington declined for the sixth straight month in August amid surging inventory, while home prices maintained double-digit annual growth, according to the latest report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Brokers reported 9,479 sales last month, down 7 percent from a year earlier when 10,197 sales were recorded, according to MLS statistics.

For last month’s closed sales of single-family homes and condos, including those in Okanogan and Whatcom counties, the median sales price was $320,000, up 14.3 percent compared to the year-ago median of $280,000.

MLS members added 14,077 new listings to inventory during August, 5.4 percent more than the year-ago total of 13,358 residential properties. At month-end, the volume of active single-family and condo listings was up 43 percent from a year ago, rising from 23,260 properties to 33,316. In July, there were 31,910 active listings by month-end, according to last month’s report.

Based on current indicators, there is about a 3.3-month supply of available inventory in the MLS system, NWMLS reported. In King County, the number drops to about 2.3 months, and in Snohomish County it’s about 2.5 months.

In Pierce County, the “biggest story is the multitude of choices buyers are enjoying,” according to NWMLS director Dick Beeson. “Many buyers feel empowered and are waiting to see if prices will start to fall,” said Beeson, the broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates.

What these buyers might not realize is even though inventory has expanded, prices have continued to climb, so their indecision can be both costly and frustrating when the house they’re considering gets sold to someone else, NWMLS reported.

Beeson expects prices will continue to climb, but at a more modest rate, probably in the range of 4 percent to 7 percent annually. Interest rates will remain very reasonable, he believes, and may even drop slightly.

“While we aren’t coasting yet, the market has shifted from fourth gear into third gear,” Beeson said, adding, “It’s an excellent time for well-priced properties — but overpriced means overlooked in today’s market.”

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. Together, they serve 17 counties, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state. NWMLS recently added service to Clark County with the opening of an office in Vancouver.

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