Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – February 2008

 

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Bob Chapman
Managing Broker

Windermere Real Estate
Lake Stevens, Inc.

9327 4th St. NE, Ste #3
Lake Stevens, WA 98258
USA
Ph: (425) 268-2940
Fax: (425) 335-1838

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Bob's Bugle Real Estate Newsletter February 2008REAL ESTATE NEWS & INFORMATION

 

February 14, 2008

*Prices Edge Up Slightly for January’s Home Sales in Western Washington*

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Feb. 6, 2008) –   Prices for homes that sold last month in western Washington edged up slightly from a year ago, according to new figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. In its recap of January activity, the MLS reported inventory, while still plentiful, reached its lowest level since April 2007 (with the exception of the holiday month of December).

Pending sales still lagged year-ago volumes and the number of listings is up about 35 percent from January 2007, but MLS directors point to several indicators of rising activity, including:

  • A significant increase in open house traffic
  • Higher volumes of inquiries from first-time buyers
  • Financing that is both “obtainable and inexpensive”
  • More multiple offer situations

One broker even described the current market as the “best buying opportunity in four or five years.”

“I have heard several reports of a dramatic increase in buyer activity,” said Pat Grimm, a owner/broker at Windermere Real Estate. “Buyers are anticipating a window of opportunity where prices are low, inventory is plentiful and financing is both obtainable and inexpensive,” the MLS director noted, adding, “In Seattle, well priced and well positioned properties are getting multiple offers.”

Across the Northwest MLS service area, which encompasses 19 counties, the price on last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums rose 1.05 percent, from $312,975 to $316,250.  In King County, which accounted for about four of every 10 closed sales, prices increased nearly 4 percent.

Prices for single family homes (excluding condos) rose 1.3 percent from a year ago, climbing from $329,950 to $334,288.  In the four-county Puget Sound region, only King County notched a gain, with prices rising from the year-ago figure of $429,495 to $435,000, an increase of about 1.3 percent.

Condo prices showed signs of softening after registering double-digit gains during most months of 2007.  For the MLS overall, the median price for last month’s closed sales was $249,950, down less than a percentage point (0.71 percent) from the year-ago figure of $251,745.  In King County, where nearly 60 percent of condo sales occurred, prices dipped 1.6 percent, from $274,900 a year ago to $270,500. 

MLS members reported 4,499 pending sales of single family homes and condos during January, improving on December’s total of 3,950 pending sales. That volume is off about 31 percent from twelve months ago when brokers notched 6,522 pending sales.

On the listing side, members added 13,186 new properties to the inventory, bringing the month-end total to 41,498. That’s about 35 percent more than the selection of a year ago when there were 30,700 active listings of single family homes and condos.  It also marks the lowest level since April 2007, with the exception of December, when inventory typically shrinks. (At the end of 2007, the MLS reported 38,440 active listings.)

The number of single family homes rose about 31 percent from this time last year, while condo inventory surged about 61 percent. Of the condo listings, about one-third are newly built.

Recent interest rates cuts by the Federal Reserve Bank and the presidential campaign may also be factors, suggests Dick Beeson, also a broker/owner at Windermere Real Estate. Cutting the discount rate has helped maintain low interest rates and so has the forthcoming election, with the candidates looking to grow the economy, some by tax cuts for small business, others by rebates, he observed. Beeson added he does not expect a stimulus package to have much direct effect on the local market, other than giving a sense of positive movement.   

Agents are receiving more inquiries about buying homes than in the last several months, open house traffic has increased, the mood is elevated among buyers, with both entry level and mid-range homes getting a fresh look, according to Beeson.  “Homes that are “spot on” in condition and pricing are receiving offers and going to closing,” he reported.

MLS director Ken Bacon, an associate broker at Windermere Real Estate, believes the Fed’s rate reduction has and will accelerate buyer interest.  He attributes the recent leveling off of the Seattle area market to an exodus of investor buyers and tighter mortgage qualifying standards that eliminated many first time buyers.

“The ongoing appreciation in King County is fueled by our good job market,” Bacon commented. “This creates stability in the marketplace, changing the motive of buying to “the need for housing” and the pride of home ownership,” he stated. Attractive mortgage rates and rising rental costs could also fuel sales, he noted, while emphasizing the job element is critical.

Another Northwest MLS director, Mike Skahen, also reported a “significant increase in buyer activity” since the first of the year, coupled with “very strong” open house activity, with 25 to 35 visitors common at many of them.  “Listings that were sitting are now getting offers and selling, making this feel like the first truly normal market we’ve had in many years,” Skahen commented.

Having slightly lower prices in some areas, negotiable sellers and lower interest rates combined with Seattle’s strong economy are pushing buyers into action, according to Skahen. This is especially noticeable with first-time buyers looking for homes priced under $450,000, he reported.  “We just had a $375,000 Matthews Beach listing sell well over the list price with 18 offers,” Skahen said.

Bacon expects a pick-up in activity, starting mid first quarter, with local appreciation in the range of 3 to 8 percent through 2008, depending on location. He believes location will have a growing impact on appreciation as buyers face longer and more expensive commutes.  Condos will also be an attractive option, he added.   

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!

Thank You!

Bob Chapman

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter February 2008

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for January 2008

January 2008

Single Family Homes + Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING SALES

CLOSED SALES

New Listings

Total Active

# Pending Sales

# Closings

Avgerage Price

Median Price

King

4937

12,370

1681

1403

$479,993

$395,000

Snohomish

2239

5979

728

579

$365,987

$344,500

Pierce

2158

7524

659

563

$290,236

$260,000

Kitsap

709

2342

223

167

$333,998

$279,000

Mason

175

727

46

39

$205,009

$190,000

Skagit

257

1165

114

76

$313,934

$257,000

Grays Harbor

172

839

51

36

$210,473

$186,750

Lewis

161

664

40

42

$197,414

$195,500

Cowlitz

169

729

56

29

$205,996

$181,000

Grant

145

567

55

47

$203,268

$165,000

Thurston

616

1880

271

174

$288,815

$262,500

San Juan

29

294

12

13

$770,269

$675,000

Island

251

973

73

73

$412,213

$299,950

Kittitas

84

522

28

27

$257,579

$205,900

Jefferson

50

424

30

19

$491,547

$396,500

Okanogan

39

382

14

19

$195,553

$170,000

Whatcom

448

1784

237

165

$306,308

$256,000

Clark

191

779

69

58

$292,291

$276,250

Pacific

66

338

15

17

$217,026

$188,300

Others

290

1216

97

76

$199,899

$169,118

MLS TOTAL

13,186

41,498

4,499

3,622

$376,729

$316,250

 

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

5580

4153

4447

3896

2975

2008

3291

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 February 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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