Housing Prices in Western Washington Still Rising Despite Fewer Sales, Expanding Inventory

By
Real Estate Agent with Better Properties Kent

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 6, 2007

FOR INFORMATION............Jack Johnson, NWMLS president & CEO, 425.820-9200

 

...............................................................................................................................

For statistical information or assistance with interviews.. Cheri Brennan (Alliance Communications), 425.957-0654

Housing Prices in Western Washington Still Rising

Despite Fewer Sales, Expanding Inventory

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Aug. 6, 2007) - Fewer homes sold last month around Western Washington compared to 12 months ago, but they fetched higher prices, according to a new report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Its figures show both inventory and prices are still rising.

NWMLS members reported 8,614 pending sales across the 19 counties in its market area during July. That volume of offers made and accepted (but not yet closed) is down 6 percent from a year ago when members notched 9,165 pending sales.

Prices are still rising, but at more moderate rates in most areas. Area-wide, the median price for last month's closed sales of single family homes and condominiums rose 6.3 percent from July 2006.

In King County, the median sales price for last month's completed transactions of single family homes and condominiums (combined) jumped nearly 9 percent from a year ago, rising from $390,000 to $425,000. The median selling price for a single family home rose 10.6 percent to $481,000.

Members added 14,875 new listings of single family homes and condos to the inventory during July - the smallest number since March when they added 14,281 new listings. Those additions brought the system-wide total to 47,106 offerings across 19 counties. The current selection is about 48 percent larger than a year ago when there were 31,910 active listings.

Homes that are well-priced and well-prepared for showing will stand out from the competition and command top dollars, brokers emphasize.

"The prettiest homes with the most reasonable prices on the block are selling - and some are getting multiple offers," said NWMLS director Kathy Estey, managing broker of a John L. Scott office in Bellevue.

Contrary to many areas with slower activity, Bellevue remains robust. The volume of closed sales surpassed year-ago totals and prices are rising at a faster clip than the MLS average. The median price for last month's closed sales of single family homes (excluding condos) with a Bellevue address was $750,000, a jump of $80,000 (11.9%) from 12 months ago.

"It's a nice time to buy and sell," Estey commented. "The market feels a lot more peaceful as the frenzy cools and a more balanced market takes its place. We are healthy on the Eastside," she exclaimed.

Sam Pace, the South King County housing specialist for the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors® and a Realtor with Executive Real Estate, agreed. "We've got a very healthy, positive, stable market in South King County and north Pierce County - one of the best in the nation," he stated, adding, "Homes that are well-priced by serious and savvy sellers are continuing to be snapped up rather quickly."

Pace said the South Sound area offers some of the best opportunities for single family buyers in the central Puget Sound Region, "but only if buyers are pre-approved and ready to act expeditiously."

In contrast to the eastside of King County, where last month's median sales price for single family homes and condos was $550,000, dwellings that sold in southeast King County had a median price of $350,000; in the southwest section of the county, the median selling price was an even more affordable $310,000.

 

 

Pierce County continues to have the most affordably priced inventory in the four-county region, with more than 40 percent of current listings of single family homes priced under $300,000:

County

 

# current listings (as of 8/4/07) (single family homes only)

 

Median list price (asking price)

 

# priced under $300,000

 

% priced under $300,000

 

King

 

 

9,199

 

 

$513,443

 

 

745

 

 

8.09%

 

 

Kitsap

 

 

2,288

 

 

$361,000

 

 

828

 

 

36.2%

 

 

Pierce

 

 

7,228

 

 

$329,950

 

 

2,947

 

 

40.8%

 

 

Snohomish

 

 

5,166

 

 

$419,945

 

 

684

 

 

13.2%

 

 

NWMLS director Dick Beeson said despite a rising frustration level for some agents who "are not keeping their head in the game," and the slower market, "There is still a lot of business being done." Beeson, the broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates in Tacoma, noted buyers are still seeking bargains and many sellers remain unrealistic in their pricing. Buyers are getting good values, he acknowledged, but overpriced properties are languishing on the market.

"The market has settled into a steady rhythm," Beeson remarked, who said he believes the market will actually pick up toward the end of summer and into fall.

Condos Outperforming Single Family Homes

The condominium market remains active, with the volume of both pending sales and closed sales out-gaining year-ago totals. Pending sales rose about 3.7 percent. Prices for last month's completed transactions were about 10.5 percent higher than for condos that sold a year ago.

Condo buyers have a wide choice of styles across the price spectrum. Inventory is almost 75 percent bigger than twelve months ago. According to New Home Trends, a Bothell company that tracks new construction, there are approximately 29,000 condos in various stages of development and construction in the four-county Puget Sound region, with only a fraction of them currently in the MLS database.

Nearly half the condo inventory in the NWMLS system is located in King County. Of the nearly 3,000 listings currently offered for sale within the county, about one of every five is classified as new construction.

Fallout from Risky Loans

Lawrence Yun, senior economist at the National Association of Realtors®, said tightening lending standards are continuing to hamper sales, but fewer risky loans will put the market on a healthier path. Mixed signals about the housing market are causing some hesitancy among consumers, Yun believes. Although general buying conditions remain favorable for long-term home buyers, he said it appears "some buyers are looking for more signs of stability before they have enough confidence to make an offer."

Both Beeson and Estey commented on more restrictive lending practices. "The subprime market failures have hurt the re-fi market and this could eventually mean more properties will come up for sale," Beeson stated. Lenders are tightening the reins on qualifying, Estey remarked, adding, "But rates are good."

 

Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate loan dropped slightly last week to an average of 6.71 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. HSH Associates, Financial Publishers reported a slightly higher rate of 6.87 percent.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, based in Kirkland, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. The MLS is owned by its member brokers and currently encompasses nearly 2,100 companies with more than 26,000 sales associates. Together, they serve 19 counties, mostly in western Washington, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state.

###

 

 

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for July 2007

July 2007

Single Fam. Homes + Condos

 

 

LISTINGS

 

PENDING SALES

 

CLOSED SALES

 

New Listings

 

 

Total Active

 

 

# Pending Sales

 

 

# Closings

 

 

Avg. Price

 

 

Median Price

 

 

King Co.

 

 

5357

 

 

12902

 

 

3412

 

 

3417

 

 

$529,773

 

 

$425,000

 

 

Snohomish

 

 

2242

 

 

6408

 

 

1342

 

 

1261

 

 

$385,138

 

 

$348,250

 

 

Pierce

 

 

2337

 

 

8700

 

 

1249

 

 

1141

 

 

$313,398

 

 

$281,400

 

 

Kitsap

 

 

704

 

 

2714

 

 

368

 

 

383

 

 

$382,783

 

 

$303,000

 

 

Mason

 

 

223

 

 

908

 

 

107

 

 

97

 

 

$270,788

 

 

$239,999

 

 

Skagit

 

 

327

 

 

1256

 

 

182

 

 

183

 

 

$302,281

 

 

$252,569

 

 

Grays Harbor

 

 

268

 

 

1019

 

 

105

 

 

91

 

 

$194,006

 

 

$179,900

 

 

Lewis

 

 

179

 

 

792

 

 

100

 

 

71

 

 

$236,791

 

 

$231,400

 

 

Cowlitz

 

 

197

 

 

749

 

 

120

 

 

96

 

 

$205,823

 

 

$195,000

 

 

Grant

 

 

162

 

 

590

 

 

101

 

 

71

 

 

$204,643

 

 

$165,000

 

 

Thurston

 

 

693

 

 

2379

 

 

472

 

 

396

 

 

$321,557

 

 

$275,174

 

 

San Juan

 

 

49

 

 

370

 

 

22

 

 

23

 

 

$687,109

 

 

$420,000

 

 

Island

 

 

290

 

 

1192

 

 

141

 

 

131

 

 

$378,798

 

 

$305,000

 

 

Kittitas

 

 

150

 

 

598

 

 

74

 

 

87

 

 

$311,571

 

 

$265,650

 

 

Jefferson

 

 

105

 

 

567

 

 

38

 

 

50

 

 

$344,841

 

 

$320,000

 

 

Okanogan

 

 

66

 

 

396

 

 

38

 

 

34

 

 

$257,730

 

 

$162,500

 

 

Whatcom

 

 

596

 

 

2496

 

 

376

 

 

356

 

 

$323,438

 

 

$270,000

 

 

Clark

 

 

502

 

 

1348

 

 

172

 

 

143

 

 

$336,572

 

 

$294,000

 

 

Pacific

 

 

92

 

 

424

 

 

26

 

 

20

 

 

$189,984

 

 

$161,000

 

 

Others

 

 

336

 

 

1298

 

 

169

 

 

159

 

 

$241,308

 

 

$210,500

 

4-county Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)

 

(totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)

Jan

 

Feb

 

Mar

 

Apr

 

May

 

Jun

 

Jul

 

Aug

 

Sep

 

Oct

 

Nov

 

Dec

 

2000

 

3706

 

 

4778

 

 

5903

 

 

5116

 

 

5490

 

 

5079

 

 

4928

 

 

5432

 

 

4569

 

 

4675

 

 

4126

 

 

3166

 

 

2001

 

4334

 

 

5056

 

 

5722

 

 

5399

 

 

5631

 

 

5568

 

 

5434

 

 

5544

 

 

4040

 

 

4387

 

 

4155

 

 

3430

 

 

2002

 

4293

 

 

4735

 

 

5569

 

 

5436

 

 

6131

 

 

5212

 

 

5525

 

 

6215

 

 

5394

 

 

5777

 

 

4966

 

 

4153

 

 

2003

 

4746

 

 

5290

 

 

6889

 

 

6837

 

 

7148

 

 

7202

 

 

7673

 

 

7135

 

 

6698

 

 

6552

 

 

4904

 

 

4454

 

 

2004

 

4521

 

 

6284

 

 

8073

 

 

7910

 

 

7888

 

 

8186

 

 

7583

 

 

7464

 

 

6984

 

 

6761

 

 

6228

 

 

5195

 

 

2005

 

5426

 

 

6833

 

 

8801

 

 

8420

 

 

8610

 

 

8896

 

 

8207

 

 

8784

 

 

7561

 

 

7157

 

 

6188

 

 

4837

 

 

2006

 

5275

 

 

6032

 

 

8174

 

 

7651

 

 

8411

 

 

8094

 

 

7121

 

 

7692

 

 

6216

 

 

6403

 

 

5292

 

 

4346

 

 

2007

 

4869

 

 

6239

 

 

7192

 

 

6974

 

 

7311

 

 

6876

 

 

6371

 

Sources quoted (Beeson and Estey are members of the NWMLS Board of Directors)

Dick Beeson, broker/owner, Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates(Tacoma) 253.671-8900

Kathy Estey, managing broker, John L. Scott Real Estate, .................................(Bellevue) 425.688-3678

Sam Pace, South King County housing specialist, Seattle-King County Association of Realtors® and Realtor with Executive Real Estate...................................................................(Kent) 253-630-5541

 

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