Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – March 2009

 

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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 March 2009REAL ESTATE NEWS & INFORMATION

 

March 7, 2009

*Western Washington Home Buyer’s Starting to Grasp “Unique Housing Opportunities”*

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Mar. 4, 2009) – Home buyers appear to be in a “mental filibuster,” according to one real estate executive upon seeing the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report on February activity for 19 counties across Washington shows slight gains in pending sales and selling prices from January, but brokers say many would-be buyers remain on the sidelines, paralyzed by the uncertain economy.

“I believe these results are reflective of what might be called a “mental filibuster” for potential home buyers — they are struggling between the desire to buy a home and the uncertainty of what might come next in the way of government stimulus, tax credits or lower mortgage rates,” observed Ron Sparks, a real estate broker in western Washington State. Agents are reporting “tremendous activity” at open houses, with the last few weekends generating the best activity in several months. Despite the high interest, what’s stopping buyers, according to Sparks, is weak consumer confidence.

“Buyers don’t yet understand what the stimulus package means to them,” said NWMLS director Kathy Estey. “Good houses at good prices that are affordable are getting attention,” she remarked, noting her office had four multiple offer situations the last week of February for homes priced under the median cost. “Open house activity is up and attendees are serious,” Estey reported.

Northwest MLS brokers reported 4,559 pending sales during February for a 4.7 percent improvement over January. That total, which includes single family homes and condominiums, was the highest volume since September 2008 when MLS members notched 5,982 pending sales. Last month’s pending sales total (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) was down about 18 percent from twelve months ago.

Price changes were mixed across the counties in the Northwest MLS service area. The median price for last month’s completed sales of single family homes and condos combined was $278,000, up slightly (1.8 percent) from January, but lagging the year-ago area-wide median price of $316,950 (down about 12.3 percent). Ten counties reported increases in median prices for last month’s sales when compared with January.

For single family homes only (excluding condos), the median selling price was $283,000, up about 2.5 percent from January. Condo prices dipped slightly from January, dropping from $250,000 to $248,250.

Inventory levels are shrinking in many counties in the NWMLS system. Broker-members added 9,421 new listings to inventory, down more than 22 percent from a year ago when they added 12,104 new listings to the database.

At the end of February, MLS members reported representing 39,299 active listings (32,811 single family homes plus 6,488 condominiums). That’s down 10.5 percent from the year-ago total of 43,927 active listings. All but three counties (Grant, Jefferson and San Juan) reported drops in total inventory.

“What we need most is a continued reduction in inventory coupled with a huge reduction in foreclosed and short sale properties on the market,” said NWMLS director Dick Beeson. “It could take some time to absorb so many of these types of properties,” Beeson, a Realtor since 1979, acknowledged.

Beeson also reported a noticeable increase in open house activity in Pierce County, attributing part of the surge to more transferees moving into the area who are looking to buy rather than rent. “Home values are finally at a point where affordability has returned and the market is slowly beginning to respond to the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers,” he observed. That incentive “could make a huge difference in the final quarters of the year,” Beeson suggests. 

Ron Sparks also commented on housing affordability, saying it’s at its best in decades. “This certainly appears to be a once in a generation home buying opportunity, but it’s also coupled with a once in a generation economy,” he stated. The question for all potential home buyers is not whether the current economic troubles, or the unique housing opportunities they now possess, will end, Sparks suggested, adding, “Rather, they might ask where they will be living once they do.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS, who was in Bellevue last week to keynote a Realtor meeting, said he expects buyers will respond to much improved affordability conditions and to the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit. In a statement accompanying NAR’s latest report on pending sales of existing homes, Yun said, “Conditions have been aligning very favorably for home buyers with the exception of consumer confidence. But I am hopeful that sales will turn around by late spring and early summer because history suggests that home sales can rise even in times of job losses when housing affordability rises.”

Yun cautioned it will take a while for the stimulus to show in housing data. From the time a buyer starts looking for a home until it is reported as a closed sale, it can take as long as five months, including time for the search, closing the transaction and reporting the data. “This means improvement from the economic stimulus isn’t likely to show as closed home sales before summer, although we may see an earlier lift from lower mortgage interest rates,” he said.

Check out my website(s): www.washingtonrealestatepage.com or www.washingtonlandandhomes.com.

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 March 2009

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for February 2009

February 2009

Single Family

Homes + Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

New

Listings

Total

Active

# Pending

Sales

#

Closings

Average

Price

Median

Price

King
3652
12787
1611
866
$430,813
$348,000
Snohomish
1495
5697
663
374
$316,916
$301,750
Pierce
1480
6262
866
426
$265,935
$239,950
Kitsap
418
2014
267
139
$261,892
$225,000
Mason
112
693
58
20
$175,632
$147,075
Skagit
272
1174
90
52
$266,481
$252,500
Grays Harbor
143
782
86
34
$150,000
$131,200
Lewis
102
665
51
31
$186,780
$162,000
Cowlitz
110
626
67
36
$188,175
$151,250
Grant
135
630
44
22
$198,917
$166,539
Thurston
384
1603
283
147
$269,154
$259,000
San Juan
46
388
7
6
$625,283
$520,000
Island
188
955
74
39
$265,671
$247,000
Kittitas
99
503
40
16
$285,188
$210,000
Jefferson
66
469
23
9
$342,000
$325,000
Okanogan
37
288
16
8
$171,225
$137,450
Whatcom
418
1770
192
104
$295,411
$246,218
Clark
75
572
53
24
$251,652
$236,375
Pacific
57
349
23
16
$142,931
$122,500
Others
132
1072
45
38
$193,272
$193,372
MLS TOTAL
9,421
39,299
4,559
2,407
$328,125
$278,000

 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

4167

4520

4624

4526

4765

4580

4584

4445

334628412432
200932503407          

This information is from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service which is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes approximately 28,000 brokers and agents. The organization, based in Kirkland, currently serves 19 counties in western and central Washington. 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 March 2009, copyright 2009. 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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Let a trained professional Windermere agent, Bob Chapman, assist you in your Snohomish County real estate home or vacant land buying or selling transaction.

This Snohomish County real estate website page also has a home loan or mortgage calculator.

Please visit the links pages in the navigation bar. There you will find links to:  Snohomish County & Washington State School Districts information which includes the official websites of School Districts in Snohomish County and Washington State; The official Washington State government website, Snohomish County & City government websites and Valuable Real Estate Informational and Resource links.