2020 Washington Year in Review


KIRKLAND, Washington. (January 19, 2021) – Northwest Multiple Listing Service member-brokers reported 95,760 closed sales during 2020 valued at more than $56 billion. Both the number of transactions and dollar value eclipsed the totals for 2019.

Last year’s sales of residential (single family) homes and condominiums outgained 2019 by 3,257 transactions for a 3.5% increase. Of the total completed sales, around 87% (83,410) were single family homes and the remaining 13% (12,350) were condominiums. The activity in the Northwest MLS report reflects the work of more than 32,000 brokers in 23 counties. Collectively, these counties encompass more than 82% of the state’s population.
The area-wide median price for last year’s sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $475,000, a year-over-year (YOY) gain of nearly 11.8% from 2019’s figure of $425,000.

Prices for single family homes (excluding condominiums) increased about 12.6% system-wide, jumping from $435,000 in 2019 to last year’s median price of $490,000. A comparison of counties shows King County with the highest median price for single family homes at $724,950 (up 7.4% from 2019); Ferry County had the lowest median at $161,500 (up 7.7% from the prior year). On a percentage basis, Kittitas County experienced the largest price gain at nearly 21% (jumping from $351,200 to $424,925).

Condo prices area-wide rose about 7%, from $355,000 in 2019 to $380,000 for last year’s sales. In King County, which accounted for 55.7% of all condo sales, the median price was $430,000, up $25,000 (6.2%) from 2019.

Inventory was sparse throughout the year as brokers scrambled to replenish supply. The number of pending sales (mutually accepted offers) exceeded the number of new listings added to inventory in all but two months (March and April, when strict pandemic-induced restrictions were imposed). At the start of 2020 there was 1.5 months of inventory but as the year closed, supply dwindled to 0.53 months (about two weeks), well below the 4-to-6-month range industry insiders use as an indicator of a “balanced” or neutral market, favoring neither buyers nor sellers.

Sales of high-end homes surged compared to 2019. Single family homes that sold for $1 million or more during 2020 topped the previous year by 2,014 units, rising from 6,299 to 8,313 for a jump of nearly 32%. Included in last year’s tally were 82 homes that sold for $5 million or more. The highest priced sale, at $17 million, was in Medina.

Condos that sold for $500,000 or more also outpaced 2019 with brokers reporting 3,552 such sales versus 2,951 for a YOY increase of 20.4%. Last year’s luxury sales included 576 condos that commanded $1 million or more, topped by a $9.5 million residence at the Four Seasons in downtown Seattle.

Among other highlights in its annual compilation of statistics, Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported:

  • Brokers added 110,595 new listings during the course of the year, just shy of the 2019 total of 110,940. July was the busiest month with members adding 12,514 new listings to the database.
  • Pending sales totaled 118,600 for the year, for an average of 9,883 per month. Last year’s total was about 3.7% higher than 2019.
  • Eight counties ended 2020 with double-digit gains in closed sales, led by San Juan County (up 46.6% and Chelan County (up 15.26%) – two areas dubbed as “Zoom towns” as sought-after destinations by migrating “work-from-home” (WFH) workers.
  • The median price for a 3-bedroom home ranged from $212,000 in Ferry County to $745,000 in San Juan County.
  • For the new construction component involving Northwest MLS brokers, newly built condos that sold last year continued to fetch higher prices than single family homes. Last year’s closings included 11,134 newly built single family homes that sold for a median price of $569,993 and 1,289 condos that sold for a median price of $647,700.
  • Prices vary widely when comparing school districts in the MLS service area. In six districts, the median sales price for single family homes was $1 million or higher, led by Mercer Island at $1.7 million. Other districts in this seven-figure segment were three others in King County: Bellevue, Issaquah and Lake Washington, along with Bainbridge Island (in Kitsap County), and Shaw Island (in San Juan County).

Tri-county comparison of average prices since 1990