Housing Inventory in King County
Within the past few years, the inventory of housing for sale in western Washington has done a 180, returning to degrees of shortage not seen since the year 2005. The low housing inventory is most visible in the Greater Seattle area of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Since January 2015, this region of central Puget Sound has remained a seller’s market. Housing inventories remained below four months for nearly the entire year.
King County is by far the most populous county in the state, an estimated 150% larger than second-ranked Pierce County on its southwest border. It is also home to Washington State’s largest city, Seattle.
King County is home to all ten of Washington State’s Fortune 500 companies, with five of them headquartered in Seattle: Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Expeditors International, and Alaska Air Group. Areas in where these employers are located enjoy employment-related housing demand, which keeps housing inventories down and prices up.
There were $20.37 billion in single-family home sales in King County in 2017 (14.9% more than the $17.73 billion sold in 2016) at a median price of $630,000. The median price grew at a slightly lesser rate than selling volume, up by 14.6% from the 2016 price of $550,000. There was little difference in the number of transactions in 2017: just up 0.7% from 2016.
The slow growth was attributable to a lack of inventory, which has been tightening with every year. The median cumulative days on market in King County reached 7 in the second quarter, and never rose higher than 10. King County has been a strong seller’s market for six consecutive years. The average monthly supply of homes for sale remains lower than any other county served by the NWMLS, averaging 0.9 months in 2017, down from 1.11 months in 2016, 1.4 in 2015, and 1.9 months in both 2014 and 2013.