A look inside Seattle's competitive housing market

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 11:40 PM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 11:54 AM

A real estate rebound is now taking place in Washington, but just how strong it it?  KING 5 took that question to experts at the University of Washington.

The state's housing market has improved steadily for three quarters in a row, and is showing no sign of slowing down.

Currently, home sales are about 15% higher than they were at this time last year.

"It's classic supply and demand," said Glenn Crellin, who is the associate director for research at the school's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.

He says Seattle and King County are experiencing the biggest shortage of listings he's ever seen.

That lack of inventory is helping sellers, like Noble Hendrix and Anna Dukes.

The couple put their three bedroom house on the market in the fall of 2011, and watched seven weeks go by without a single bite.

"At the time when we were looking to move, the market was in such a low point," said Dukes.  "It was looking like even if we did sell, it would be well below what we originally paid for it, so we decided to hold on to it."

They decided to try again this month, and were stunned by the difference those 18 months made on the housing market.

"You know, it was just astounding, the number of realtors that were coming by or people that were looking on their own," said Hendrix.

After just a week on the market this time around, they had three solid offers.  The one they eventually accepted was 10% more than their asking price.

"Yeah, this is definitely a much different market," said Hendrix.

Crellin says sellers can expect that trend to continue as long as the inventory remains where it is.

"The industry generally says a five to seven month supply of homes available for sale, both new construction and re-sale, is what's normal - and we're sitting at less than a two month supply in King County," he said.

Because of that, he said buyers can expect to pay a bit more.

Fortunately, low interest rates are helping make those purchases more affordable.

Crellin says quarter-to-quarter home sales increased in 28 of Washington's 39 counties at seasonally adjusted annual rates.

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