Warmer and dryer weather usually triggers the busy season for home buyers and sellers, but March showed a decline in home sales for 2016 (565) versus 2015 (632). This should have meant good things for overall supply, but with only 968 homes listed for sale last month, supply on the Eastside remains sparse at only 1.3 months.

Photo by Julia Sumpter.

NWMLS reported that Eastside condo prices were up 7.26 percent in March 2016 versus 2015. Photo by Julia Sumpter.

The tight market is caused in part by potential sellers waiting to list their current home for sale until they secure a new one. This means the Puget Sound’s real estate market is as gridlocked as Downtown Seattle with an overturned seafood truck on Hwy 99.

“In today’s market, sellers want to find their next home before they list their current home, but because of the severe inventory shortage it’s hard to win in a multiple offer situation,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, Inc. “It’s a Catch 22 situation.”

Multiple offers for one property also mean buyers might be less likely to ask that repairs be added to the contract. Sellers are less likely to engage in a negotiation in favor of a potential buyer waiting in the wings, especially if those buyers are offering cash.

The pool of potential homeowners is broad and diverse, according to NWMLS, including first-time buyers scrambling to purchase before prices go higher, overseas investors, those paying cash, and homeowners who are finally right-side up after the housing crash. Which makes this a sellers’ market.

The decrease in sales is due also to ever-increasing asking prices. The median price of homes closed on the Eastside is $739,440, up 16.9 percent over last year. The tight market extends to condos as well, with the number of sales being comparable to last year, but prices up 7.26 percent on the Eastside and up nearly 15 percent in King County.

MLS director George Moorhead said homes in popular neighborhoods continue to draw multiple offers, and offers over asking price. But buyers are becoming more savvy and unwilling to overpay.

“Home pricing is critiqued at a much higher level now with all the information available to buyers,” Moorhead said. “The conversations we have with buyers today are totally different than in years past. We’re discussing pricing in greater detail, along with school ratings, neighborhood trends, and future values.”