Although Kitsap County's housing market has been firmly balanced in the favor of sellers for most of the year, buyers are now finding they have regained some bargaining power heading into summer, as more houses are coming onto the market.
"We have a lot more listings, which means there will be more competition between sellers," said Silverdale-based John L. Scott broker Shelley Morritt.
Although the number of active listings on the market reached a five-year low for May, the number of homes that were newly listed on the market last month reached a new high, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The service tracks homes on the market and newly listed homes separately.
Prospective home buyers only had 519 active listings to consider last month, down by more than 22 percent from the 671 homes listed on the market this time last year.
All the while, 693 newly listed homes went on the market last month, compared with 660 homes in May 2017, which indicates an uptick in supply is around the corner, Morritt said.
"In May, June, July through to the beginning of fall, we'll continue to see homes listed on the market," she said. "Several people are putting homes on market now, trying to get sold before school starts."
Home prices are continuing to rise as demand for housing in Kitsap County continues to grow. Median home prices continue setting post-recession records. In May, the median home price was $360,000, a 17 percent increase from May 2017, in which the median price was $307,250
Morritt said buyers from outside the county continue to seek homes in Kitsap County, especially those coming from the Seattle metro area who are seeking relief from congestion.
"Their commute has just gotten to be terrible," she said. "They say they'd rather have the hour on the ferry rather than an hour in traffic."
Morritt said she's closed on deals with buyers who paid above the asking price for their new homes.
Although last month's median price increase was one of the largest jumps the market has seen in a while, Morritt thinks market conditions will start to even out.
"The more listings we get on the market, the more it's going to change to a buyer's market rather than a seller's market," she said. "But as long as we're really short on inventory, it'll stay the way it is."
Economists consider the housing market to be balanced and favor neither the buyer nor the seller when there is four to six months' of supply, which is based on how long it would take to sell all of the homes currently listed on the market if no new listings were added. Kitsap's market has about five weeks of supply.
Morritt said stiff competition for properties under $300,000 will likely continue heading into the summer. Sellers will likely continue to see multiple offers for the right property if it's at the right price, she said.
For those above the $300,000 price point, Morritt said sellers shouldn't be concerned if their properties are staying on the market for a bit longer than other comparable homes that sold earlier this year. The market conditions have changed.
"If it takes longer than a couple of weeks in this market to get an offer, it's because you're overpriced. There's a lot of greedy sellers," she said. "They'd be better off pricing it to what you think it will sell for rather than what they'd like to make. Don't price yourself out of the market."
For prospective buyers, Morritt said they needed to be ready to jump on a home they like.
"Buyers are learning that if they want a house, they have to give it all they can," she said. "They can't offer less, and if they have to be ready to offer more if they need to."