April 16, 2008
*Northwest MLS Brokers Report Stable Prices, “Great Opportunities” for First-time Buyers*
KIRKLAND, Wash. (Apr. 4, 2008) – Stable housing prices and strong real estate fundamentals are creating an attractive market for buyers, according to officials from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Commenting on just-released figures for activity for the month of March, MLS director Matt Deasy noted prices have been stable for six months and conditions have changed to a buyer’s market.
Abundant supply and a slower pace of sales are among factors favoring buyers. Brokers added 13,274 new listings of single family homes and condominiums during March. With those additions, there were 46,358 active listings in the NWMLS market area, which covers 19 counties. That inventory is about 34 percent larger than a year ago, when there were 34,463 active listings.
Seattle differs from many U.S. cities, Deasy emphasized, citing “more moderate price appreciation, fewer subprime loans, fewer foreclosures, a strong local economy and geographical and land use issues that make supply more limited.”
Prices have been stable for six months. “The year over year price decrease the press is reporting is old news,” Deasy suggested, noting that price correction happened in August and September of 2007.
MLS figures show the median price of a single family home in King County has fluctuated by only $4,050 over the past six months. The median price for a single family home that sold in King County last month was $439,900. That’s down about 3.3 percent from a year ago, but up $10,000 (2.3 percent) from February. Last month’s median selling price in King County reversed a downward or flat trend that started in July. For the MLS area overall, prices have fluctuated during the past six months.
Pending sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) in the MLS system topped the 6,000 mark for the first time since October. Brokers notched 6,040 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) last month, improving on February’s figure of 5,563 transactions. Compared to the same month a year ago, the volume was down about 35 percent.
“The current market offers great opportunities for first time buyers,” said J. Lennox Scott, a broker/owner in the Seattle area. “Home values in our area are still holding strong, yet there is less competition for homes, so buyers can afford to be more selective and less aggressive,” he added.
Continued low interest rates combined with new government-backed loans are providing first time buyers with more options for reliable mortgage products, according to Scott. “Prices are predicted to increase in the coming years due to population growth, a strong local economy, and the highly anticipated impact of Generation Y — many of whom will soon be entering the housing market,” he commented.
“Gen Y” and other first-time buyers, along with empty-nesters (all among market segments that are prime prospects for condominiums) currently have an unprecedented selection across a wide price spectrum.
According to NWMLS figures for March, there were 7,708 condominiums offered for sale at month end, about 64 percent more than a year ago. Despite plentiful inventory, prices have been trending upward since October. At that time the median sales price area-wide was $259,950. For last month’s sales, the median price climbed to $263,000. That’s up nearly 4.4 percent from the year-ago median selling price of $252,000.
In King County, the median price for a condo that sold last month was $294,000. That compares to the year-ago figure of $281,000 for a 4.6 percent increase.
NWMLS director Dick Beeson believes the local market has “reached bottom – or pretty darn close.” Even though inventory continues to grow, Beeson acknowledged, “so does optimism among buyers, sellers and agents.”
Beeson, a broker/owner at Windermere Real Estate, points to the pace of pending sales in Pierce County as a positive sign. The number of pending sales in the first quarter of 2008 increased at a faster pace (53 percent) than first quarter of 2007 (45 percent), he noted.
Renewed interest in higher end properties is also notable, according to Beeson. This bodes well for properties at or below median prices, he suggested. “Trickle down or up really works in real estate.”
Despite some challenges with credit markets that make it difficult to qualify some buyers, Beeson said there is “vigor and energy in the local markets that we have not seen in more than six months.”
Referrals are a “very” important part of my business. Please let me know of anyone that you know who may be considering Buying or Selling real estate – or please give them my name and contact information!
Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter April 2008
Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for March 2008
# Pending Sales
4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)
(totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)
This information is from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service which is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Based in Kirkland and owned by its member brokers, it currently encompasses more than 2,100 companies with approximately 31,000 sales associates. Together, they serve 19 counties, mostly in western Washington, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state. NWMLS recently added service to Clark County with the opening of an office in Vancouver.
Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter April 2008, copyright 2008. All material contained herein is owned and protected. Any attempts to reproduce this information without the express written consent from the owner will be prosecuted.
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