Home sales in western Washington fell for the seventh straight month in September, as rising inventory slowed price appreciation, according to the latest report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Brokers reported 7,906 sales last month, down 15.7 percent from a year earlier when 9,380 sales were recorded, according to MLS statistics.

In September, the median price paid for single-family homes and condos (including those in Okanogan and Whatcom counties) increased 9.4 percent from a year ago, rising from $282,500 to $309,000. This is the first time in 24 months that year-over-year price growth has not been in double-digit territory.

Brokers added 12,656 new listings to inventory during September, nearly matching the year-ago volume when they reported 12,929 new listings. Last month’s additions included 10,697 single family homes and 1,959 condominiums to boost the total inventory to 34,443 listings, a 41 percent increase in supply from a year ago.

The growing inventory is giving buyers a “much better chance to selectively and judiciously make buying decisions without the frenzied attitude of the last four years,” according to Dick Beeson, broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates in Tacoma. But there’s a flip side for sellers, said Beeson. “Sellers are getting frustrated by longer marketing times with some now offering more buyer incentives than they would have previously offered,” he noted.

“Things have changed, and it’s now edging toward a buyer’s market,” Beeson said. “Sellers can’t remain frozen in time, place or price when it comes to selling their homes.”

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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