Governor Inslee extended the Stay Home Stay Healthy order through the month of May but tight supply combined with strong buyer demand in the Walla Walla Valley kept home values stable. Spring is typically the active listing season but many sellers delayed bringing their home to market while under the economic lockdown. Listing inventory remained 12% below the number of homes listed for sale 12 months ago. With inventory falling to approximately just one month, sellers who chose to list in May experienced strong buyer demand with very little competition from other listings. Buyers often found themselves competing with other buyers making offers above the seller’s asking price.
While the number of closed homes sales through the pandemic has been an encouraging economic sign for Walla Walla, it has not been business as usual. May’s home closings declined 24% from the closings that occurred in May of last year. The decline was largely due to the lack of inventory.
As our economy opens up there are some positive signs. May saw an 18% monthly increase in home closings and a 9% monthly increase in listings with buyers continuing to write new contracts. Pending sales – homes under contract but not yet closed – grew 20% over the previous month. And even with the 2nd quarter slow down, annual home sales are just 4% behind last year’s pace due to an active pre-pandemic first quarter. Home values have been stable and have likely increased. This year’s median sales price has risen 7.6% above last year. And finally, there are indicators that listings are on the way. The National Association of Realtors’ recent survey indicated the 77% of prospective home sellers were making their homes ready to list as the economy opens up. All said, we expect Summer to be the new Spring market.
May’s Listings: 232
The month’s listings increased 9% over the previous month but remained 12% behind last May’s numbers.
May’s Closed Sales: 53
The months closed sales increased 18% over the previous month but fell 24% behind the number that closed in May of last year.
May’s Median Price: $289,900
The month’s median price declined 3% from the previous month but was 1% higher than the median price for May of last year. Year-to-date the median price is up 7.6% above last year’s median price.
Watch weekly economic updates with Matthew Gardner – Windermere Chief Economist
April’s real estate activity surpassed expectations but it was far from business as usual. The Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order deemed Real Estate an “essential business” due to the importance of housing during these challenging times. Necessary property viewings were allowed under strict safety protocols and all other real estate activities were conducted remotely through the use of virtual tools.
There was strong buyer traffic during the month. New listings were often met with multiple offers by buyers looking to capitalize on low-interest rates. However, seller traffic remained low. Some sellers delayed listing due to family members staying home and showing safety concerns. But new tools are helping some sellers move forward. Virtual tours and open houses along with strict showing guidelines have reduced sellers’ exposure to the public and increased confidence regarding safety.
Some have questioned whether or not the pandemic will negatively impact home values. Here is what we know. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item. Thus far the Walla Walla Valley has experienced low listing supply and high buyer demand. A “seller’s market” continued through April with the median sales price remaining 7% above last year. And we expect these conditions to continue. Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, predicts “prices will remain stable throughout 2020”.
April’s Listings: 212
The month’s listings actually increased by 8% over the previous month but remained 9% below the number of homes listed for sale in April of last year. Inventory remains at historic lows.
April’s Closings: 45
Closed home sales dropped 26% from the previous month. Still, year-to-date sales remain 2% ahead of last year’s pace due to the strong market of Q-1.
April’s Median Price: $297,998
The month’s median price remained on par with the previous month. Year-to-date, the median sales price has increased by 7% over last year.
As we report first-quarter real estate activity for the Walla Walla Valley, our state remains under Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. And through these challenging times, our highest priority is the safety of our brokers, our clients, and our community.
Although our local economy felt the impact of COVID-19 in late March, real estate is off to a great start in 2020! First-quarter home sales surged 20% ahead of last year’s pace and the median price increased 6% above 2019’s median price. Most buyers were able to take advantage of low interest rates prior to the volatility experienced in late March.
Enough new listings came on the market during the quarter to replace the ones that sold. This left the number of active listings at the end of the quarter on par with the beginning of the year.
First Quarter’s Average Listings: 193
Number of homes available for sale during the first quarter averaged 9% less than the number available during the first quarter of last year.
First Quarter’s Closed Sales: 155
Closed sales during first quarter increased by 20% over closed sales recorded during the first quarter of last year.
First Quarter’s Median Sales Price: $298,900
The first quarter’s median sales price increased 12% over the median price for the same quarter a year ago. 6% higher than 2019’s median price.
How housing will be impacted due to COVID-19 remains to be seen. Understandably, some buyers and sellers are choosing to wait for these challenging times to pass. Others are choosing to cautiously proceed with their plans to buy or sell.
Windermere brokers are committed to safely helping their clients move their lives forward during these challenging times. To do so, we are following Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order that allows certain real estate activities to occur under the following restrictions:
- In-person customer meetings are prohibited except where necessary to view a property or sign documents
- No open houses
- Property viewings, inspections, and walkthrough must be arranged by appointment
- Limits of no more than two people on-site at any one time, exercising social distancing at all times
To minimize personal contact, we strongly encourage using virtual tours, video chat, and other forms of technology to view homes, stay connected to your broker, and conduct business.
Walla Walla Valley’s home sales and pending sales experienced annual increases during the month of February despite historically low inventory levels. Through the first two months of the year, closed home sales were up 18% above last year’s pace and pending sales increased by 23%. Low interest rates fueled buyer activity. Enough new homes came on the market to replace those that sold, leaving inventory at the same level as the previous month. However, there were still 8% fewer homes listed for sale than in February of last year. Thus far in 2020, there have been more buyers than sellers in our market.
At the time of this posting, the coronavirus is creating lots of personal and economic uncertainty. New listings are arriving daily and buyers are taking advantage of historically low interest rates. Yet, some buyers have become nervous about the overall economy and some sellers have delayed listing their homes due to these uncertain times.
While it is wise to take the Coronavirus and economic chaos very seriously, may we suggest that this will all pass. Sooner….or later. In the meantime, we expect the market to remain tight as our valley and our country works through these challenging times.
February’s Listings: 192*
The month’s listings remained the same as the previous month but were 8% below the number of homes listed for sale in February of last year.
February’s Closed Sales: 40*
Home sales dropped 13% from the previous month but were 14% higher than the number of homes sales in February of last year. Year-to-date totals are 18% ahead of last year’s pace.
February’s Median Price: $277,500*
February’s median price remained on par with the previous month and was 3% higher than in February of last year.
*WWMLS WA Data
Homebuyers got a head start over home sellers in the month of January. January’s real estate activity saw home sales surge 20% above the number of sales that occurred in January of 2019, but the real story was the continued decline in the number of listings. For the first time in more than 20 years, the number of homes listed for sale in the Walla Walla MLS dropped below 200 – a 12% decline from the number of homes listed for sale a year ago. Historically, the 2nd and 3rd quarters are the busiest listing periods in the Walla Walla market, but right now more listings would be a welcome sign for buyers.
The median sales price jumped 17% above the median price for the same period a year ago but favorable interest rates kept buyers active. And while there are signs that more sellers are preparing their homes for market, January’s low inventory levels indicated that the seller’s market will continue well into 2020.
January’s Listings: 192*
The month’s listings dropped 11% below the previous month and ended 12% below the number of listings at the same time a year ago.
January’s Closed Sales: 53*
The months closed sales declined 2% from the previous month but was 20% above the number that closed in January of last year.
January’s Median Sales Price: $276,000*
The month’s median price increased 6% above the previous month and was 17% above the median price of the previous January.
*WWMLS WA Data
Walla Walla Real Estate – 2020 Forecast:
So what will 2020 bring? To help answer that question, here is a summary from Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner:
US Economy: Despite some concerning signs, the likelihood that we will enter a recession in 2020 has dropped to about 26%. If we manage to stage off a recession in 2020, the possibility of a slowdown in 2021 is around 74%. That said, Gardner fully expects that any drop in growth will be mild and will not negatively affect the U.S. housing market.
Home Sales: Home prices in the new year will continue to rise as mortgage rates remain very competitive. Look for prices to increase 3.8% in 2020 as demand continues to exceed supply and more first time home buyers enter the market.
Mortgage Rates: 2020 will be very positive from a home-financing perspective, with the average rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage averaging under 4%. That said, if there are significant improvements in trade issues with China, this forecast may change, but not significantly.
Conclusion: In 2020, affordability issues will persist in many markets around the country. The market will continue to favor home sellers, but we will start to move more towards balance, resulting in another positive year overall for housing.
2019 finished 4th best for home sales
The Walla Walla MLS (WWMLS) reported 795 closed sales in 2019 making it the 4th most active year ever. Despite an active 4th quarter, annual home sales ended up just short of the previous year’s numbers. The record high of 838 closed sales was hit in 2016 followed by 807 sales in 2018, and 799 sales in 2017. All in all, 2019 was another strong year for real estate in the Walla Walla Valley.
Listing Inventory remained low
2019’s average listing inventory was 1.5% higher than 2018 but remained at historic lows. The year began and ended with the lowest inventory of the decade. Throughout the year, the market was categorized as a seller’s market, especially for homes under $600,000. Although inventory remained low, favorable interest rates kept buyers active.
Walla Walla’s median sales price experienced an annual gain of 7%
As reported throughout the year, low inventory levels continued to put upward pressure on price. The 2019 median sales price was $267,704, a 7% increase over the previous year.
Home sales remained active in November. With one month left to report, the Walla Walla valley’s 4th quarter’s home sales surged 16% ahead of last year’s 4th quarter and year-to-date home sales have now pulled within 1.5% of last years pace.
Low interest rates and a slight annual increase in listings kept buyers active. November became the sixth month in a row to experience year-over-year gains in the number of homes available for sale. There were 6% more homes available for sale than in November of last year. However, most of Walla Walla’s market continued to be a seller’s market and applied upward pressure on prices. Year to date, Walla Walla’s median sales price has increased by 7% over the previous year.
The number of pending sales – homes under contract but not yet closed – remained the same as the previous month as new contract signings during November kept pace with the number of homes that closed. The number of pending sales indicates that year-end activity will remain quite brisk.
November’s Listings: 251*
Monthly listings dropped 12% from the previous month but remained 6% above the number of homes that were listed for sale in November of last year.
November’s Closed Home Sales: 76*
Closings slowed 10% from the previous month but were 17% higher than the number of closed home sales in November of last year.
November’s Median Sales Price: $275,000*
The month’s median price increased slightly over the previous month but was 6% higher than the median sales price for November of last year.
Click here for a FULL REPORT FOR NOVEMBER
*WWMLS WA Data
Over the last month, sales, listings, and prices continued to trend upward in the Walla Walla Valley. October became the 2nd most active home closing month yet this year and brought total annual home sales within 4% of last year’s pace.
October also became the 5th month in a row to show annual monthly gains in the number of homes listed for sale. The month ended with 6% more listings than there were at the same time last year. However, the market continued to be a sellers market and more listings will be needed to reach balance. Walla Walla’s low inventory continues to impact prices. Thus far, the Valley’s median sales price has increased by 7% over the previous year.
We expect low-interest rates to keep buyers active through the remainder of the year, but there are signs the pace will pull back a bit as we move towards year-end. New contract signing slowed during the past month and pending sales – home under contract but not yet closed – declined by 20%.
October’s Listings: 286*
The number of homes listed for sale dropped 7% from the previous month but remained 6% above the number available 12 months ago.
October’s Closed Sales: 82*
The number of closed sales jumped 19% over the previous month and ended 6% higher than the number of closings that occurred in October of last year.
October’s Median Price: $270,000*
The month’s median price was on par with the previous month but was 4% higher than the median sales price for October of last year.
Click here for the full October Report
*WWMLS WA data
September became the fourth month in a row in the Walla Walla Valley to post year-over-year monthly gains in listing inventory. With approximately 2.5 months of inventory, Walla Walla’s market is still best categorized as a seller’s market. However, annual inventory gains indicate the market is moving towards balance. Should this trend continue, it will take pressure off increasing prices. This year, Walla Walla’s median sales price has increased 7% over last year.
Closed home sales slowed a bit during the month. While a slow down is typical for this time of year in the Walla Walla Valley, there are signs that the market should stay busy throughout the rest of the year. Historically, low interest rates have kept buyers active. The number of pending sales – homes under contract but not yet closed – grew 30% over September of last year. And strong buyer activity is expected to continue. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, commented that “with interest rates expected to remain low, home sales are forecasted to rise in coming months and into 2020.” We anticipate a busy fourth quarter for the Walla Walla Valley’s real estate market.
September’s Listings: 309*
Monthly listings declined 3% from the previous month but remained 12% higher than the number of homes available for sale during September of last year.
September’s Closed Sales: 63*
The months home sales slowed 13% from the previous month and ended 7% below the number of closings during the same period a year ago. With one quarter to go, closed sales are 9% off last year’s pace.
September’s Median Sales Price: $269,900*
The months median sales price settled 7% from the previous month but was 5% higher than September of last year.
Click here for September’s charts.
*WWMLS WA Data
Monthly home sales slowed a bit in the Walla Walla Valley as many focused on back to school activities. However, both pending sales and the number of homes listed for sale increased. The number of pending sales – homes under contract but not yet closed – grew 6% over the previous month. While annual home closings are 10% behind last years pace, the number of pending sales are 28% higher than August of last year. This indicates that the market should be quite busy for the remainder of 2019.
So far, this year’s median price has increased 6% over the previous year. However, interest rates remain historically low and most brokers expect favorable conditions for both buyer and sellers to continue through the fall.
August’s Listings: 320*
Monthly listings grew 6% over the previous month and 13% above the number of homes available in August of last year.
August’s Closed Sales: 70*
Monthly closings fell 24% off of the previous month’s pace and 18% below the number of closing for the same period a year ago. The number of pending sales indicate busier closing months are ahead.
August’s Median Price: $261,600*
August’s Median Price jumped 9% over the previous month and 11% above August of the previous year.
Click here for the FULL MONTHLY REPORT FOR AUGUST
*WWMLS WA data