OLYMPIA – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) brokers added the fewest new listings since February, according to a new report.

MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,” said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.

“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of 8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7 percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Mike Grady, the president and Chief Operations Officer of Coldwell Banker Bain, commented on the current “win-win” conditions.

“We’re entering that time of year when historically the market slows a bit as we head into the holidays,” Grady said. “Buyers continue to see an improving market compared to last year with the inventory increasingly to 2.4 months of supply in King County, compared to the year-ago figure of less than a month.”

Area-wide there is nearly 2.3 months of inventory, slipping from more than 2.5 months in September, and improving on the year-ago figure of about 1.5 months of supply.

There were 301 active listings in Okanogan County in October last month. Year to date, there have been 659 homes listed. The average asking price last month was $375,163, up from $363,611 last year at the same time.

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