Amid falling inventory, brokers predict a return to 2017 ‘hotness’ in Puget Sound housing markets. See what’s happening near you.

By Katherine Khashimova Long Seattle Times business reporter

If current trends hold, spring may bring a return to the housing market frenzy of two years ago, brokers say, spelling bad news for affordability around Puget Sound.

In December, buyers had fewer homes to choose from in King County than any time since February 2018 — back in the days of bidding wars, weeklong listings and double-digit price growth.

To some extent, seasonal factors are at play: Housing markets generally contract in December.

What makes this more than a seasonal trend is how quickly buyers are snapping up those homes that are on the market, said J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. Historically low mortgage rates and predictions of job growth in 2020 appear to be driving demand.

Especially among homes priced under $1 million, which make up 81% of sales, “we’re at what I call multiple-offer everything. We’ve entered an instant-response market,” Scott said. “We’re approaching the level of hotness we were at in late 2017.”

Price growth isn’t quite at the eye-boggling levels of 2017 and early 2018, but spurred by a crunch in inventory, it’s higher than winter buyers might expect.

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