PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — On Friday, real estate firm Redfin confirmed what most buyers already knew about Tacoma home sales.
The market was the fastest-selling one in the country in January, according to Redfin’s analysis of sales data.
The main reason for the speed: Lack of inventory.
The number of homes for sale in Tacoma was down nearly 24 percent year over year in January, according to the report.
Half of all homes for sale in Tacoma went pending in just seven days last month, down from 23 days a year earlier, Redfin noted.
“Denver and Grand Rapids, Michigan, were the next fastest markets with 9 median days on market each, followed by Seattle (10) and Oakland, CA (12),” according to the report.
Tacoma’s sales are tracking with a national trend for the four-week period ending Feb. 14, where a record 42 percent of homes nationally were on the market one week or less, according to Redfin.
“The most competitive market in January was Oakland, California, where 67.1 percent of homes sold above list price, followed by 57.7 percent in Tacoma,” according to the report.
None of that surprises local agents.
Narva Walton is the office leader of John L. Scott Real Estate’s Tacoma-University Place Office. In response to Friday’s news, she told The News Tribune via email: “Tacoma has been off the charts in terms of housing sales for several months now. It’s put us on the map nationwide and out of the shadows of Seattle.
“As an affordable alternative to our big sister up north, more and more buyers are shifting their focus to our market. ... We are a happening city that’s catching on fast to those who want a wonderful place to live and an alternative to the bigger city. This is very evident with our record sales and lack of inventory.”
January home prices in Tacoma were up nearly 16 percent, and sales up about 8 percent from the previous year, according to Redfin’s data. Comparatively, nationwide home prices were up 14 percent and sales up 20 percent.
“Oakland, California (91.5 percent) had the largest share of homes predicted to sell at or above list price, followed by San Jose, California (86.7 percent) and Tacoma (81.2 percent),” the report stated.
As demand soars, so do prices, as median prices increased from the same time in 2020 in all 85 of the largest metro areas the company tracked.
“The smallest price gains compared to a year earlier were in San Francisco (+3 percent) and New York City (+5 percent). The largest price increases were in Camden, NJ (+29 percent), Allentown, PA (+26 percent) and Detroit (+25 percent),” the report stated.
Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather told The News Tribune in an interview Friday that the uncertainties of the pandemic have heightened buyers’ desire for more housing at less expense than what can be found in Seattle.
“Even before the pandemic started, Tacoma was a really hot housing market. ... and that has only increased during the pandemic as people seek out more affordable places where they can get more space for their money,” Fairweather said.
For those who don’t have to be in the office “every single day, or at least right now, and probably not after the pandemic, that makes Tacoma a much better option for people who don’t want to do that commute to Seattle,” she noted.
She added Tacoma has consistently stayed in the hot market category in Redfin’s analysis for some time and compared it to Sacramento, California, in terms of people seeking affordable housing outside the San Francisco Bay Area market.
“Both those markets actually have a decline in homes for sale,” she noted, with Sacramento’s inventory declining 34 percent from same time last year.
One thing helping buyers make quick decisions is the explosion of 3-D walkthroughs.
According to Redfin’s data shared with The News Tribune, views of 3-D walkthroughs on Redfin.com have increased 581 percent since February 2020.
The downside of the frenzy is lack of affordable housing for even more people looking to buy, pushing them to look in more outer suburban or rural areas to find something.
“There’s lot of money on the housing market right now, people wanting to buy bigger homes, and it does make it more expensive for people who are first time homebuyers especially when the market moves so quickly,” Fairweather said.
Walton offered advice for those who’d like to help the market regain some balance:
“It’s an absolutely great time for sellers to list their homes. Buyer demand is definitely there.”
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