February 17, 2006
KIRKLAND, Wash. (Feb. 7, 2006) – Call it the “S” factor: soggy skies, Seahawks playoffs and shortages of listings. Together, they’re blamed for stalling a quick start for 2006 housing activity around western and central Washington.
Even with the sluggish start, members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service finished the month with positive numbers for listing activity, pending sales and closed sales. Prices are also up from a year ago.
Figures just released from Northwest MLS show:
- Pending sales for January (offers made and accepted but not yet closed) across 17 counties rose 3.2 percent compared to the same month a year ago.
- The volume of closed sales climbed 8.7 percent from twelve months ago;
- Members added 170 more listings last month than during January 2005 for a modest 1.7 percent gain.
- Inventory is more plentiful than a year ago, with the number of active listings up 9.3 percent.
- Prices area-wide jumped 14.1 percent from a year ago.
“The lack of inventory coupled with bad weather has delayed some of the normal buildup of activity we usually see in January,” said NWMLS director Ken Bacon, the broker at Windermere’s Redmond office. Bacon reports considerable improvement in activity in the past few weeks and said his office is still experiencing multiple offer situations.
“Last week we sold four homes in the $1 million to $2 million range, including one that drew three offers and sold for more than the listing price,” Bacon remarked. He predicts continued increases in market activity and believes inventory shortages will prompt bidding wars on many listings throughout 2006. MLS figures show inventory in many Eastside communities down 20 to 40 percent from a year ago.
MLS figures show pending sales slipped in seven counties during January compared to a year ago, with most of those areas reporting modest, single-digit declines. Results were mixed in the four-county Puget Sound region with Kitsap and Snohomish counties reporting gains, while King and Pierce counties had fewer pending sales. Seven counties – Cowlitz, Grant, Jefferson, Okanogan, San Juan, Thurston and Whatcom – had double-digit increases in pending sales last month.
Inventory, while improving in some locations, is still a concern in many areas and for some price ranges. The number of active listings in both King and Snohomish counties is down from a year ago, but inventory improved significantly in several other counties, including Pierce (up 19.7 percent) and Kitsap (up almost 28 percent).
NWMLS director Mike Skahen, owner/broker, said his office is seeing many multiple offers and “no sign of prices dropping.” Last month started on a promising note as many “good new listings” came on the market in close-in Seattle neighborhoods, he stated.
Skahen believes January’s near record-setting rainfall contributed to a brief slowdown, but said a longer-term worry is inventory shortages. Last month, he noted, there were 900 fewer listings in King County than at this time a year ago (down 13 percent), but compared to January 2004, there are 35 percent fewer listings.
“Buyers are definitely getting more selective but a well priced house in a good location still has them lining up,” Skahen commented. He said his office just represented a buyer who won a competition on a home in Ballard that was priced at $399,000 and drew 11 offers. He expects such competition to persist until “all these new condo projects get completed,” adding, “In 30 years in real estate I’ve never seen our market drop when the job market was increasing.” Keeping interest rates under 7 percent is also important, he remarked.
MLS members logged 5,775 closed sales during January, improving on year ago totals by 462 transactions for an increase of 8.2 percent. System-wide the median price of last month’s closings of single family homes and condominiums was $282,995. That represents a 14.1 percent increase from the year-ago figure of $248,000.
Single family homes accounted for 85 percent of last month’s closings. The median price on those sales was $299,000 (up 15.8 percent from 12 months ago), with considerable variation across the MLS market area. The more affordable homes are in Grant County, where the median price was $113,926, and Grays Harbor County, where the median price was $139,950.
At the other end of the price spectrum, home sales that closed during January in San Juan County fetched a median price of $910,000. Three counties reported median selling prices above $300,000: King County ($390,000), Snohomish County ($317,000) and Jefferson County $305,300.
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Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter February 2006
Statistical Summary by Counties:
Market Activity Summary for January 2006
|LISTINGS||PENDING SALES||CLOSED SALES|
This information is from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which is based in Kirkland, WA and owned by its member brokers, encompassing approximately 2,075 member brokerages, with more than 26,000 sales associates. The MLS covers 17 counties, including most of western Washington, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state.
Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter February 2006. Copyright 2006. 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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