Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – October 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

Contact Me


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

 

October 15, 2008

*Pending Sales up 4.1 Percent from Year Ago – Total Inventory Unchanged*

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Oct. 6, 2008) – Home sales around Western Washington during September rose 4.1 percent from a year ago, reversing a 19-month pattern of declines. Members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported 5,982 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed), a gain of 234 transactions from a year ago. The totals cover 19 counties in the MLS service area.

NWMLS data show the last system-wide uptick in pending sales was February 2007 when members reported a 4.8 percent gain from the previous year.

In other key indicators of housing activity, Northwest MLS reported tightening inventory with a double-digit drop in the number of new listings added during September compared to 12 months ago, and total inventory at month end that matched year-ago numbers. Figures also show area-wide softening of prices compared to a year ago.

The median price for last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $295,000, a drop of 8.3 percent from a year-ago when the median price was $321,600. King County prices fell about 3.7 percent from a year ago, from $395,000 to $380,315. For the four-county Puget Sound region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap), the median price for last month’s closed sales dropped from $349,950 to $324,000, a decline of 7.4 percent.

Brokers and lenders say the recent economic turmoil is taking a toll on activity, but also suggest negative news reports are keeping buyers on the fence and creating misunderstandings about the availability of home loans.

“Forget the news. Mortgage loans are readily available, at excellent rates and you can still get 97 percent loan to value,” said Mike Welty of Liberty Financial Group in Bellevue. “There is a lot of flexibility in programs, qualification and opportunity,” he emphasized, while acknowledging (with a chuckle), “Underwriting is tougher – you need a down payment and you need a job!”

A residential and investment specialist at Windermere Real Estate, echoed Welty. “I’m loving FHA,” he exclaimed, calling the largest mortgage insurer in the world “the answer to a lot of people’s credit problems.” He has used the program for first-home and move-up buyers, as well as with investors. “Investors use the program to buy everything from fixer-uppers to 4-unit buildings,” he said. Among features the agent said his clients find to be most appealing about FHA loans are easy credit qualifications (typically one year of “clean credit”), low closing costs and low down payment requirements (as low as 3 percent of the purchase price).

Buyers still have plenty of choices, according to NWMLS data. Members added 10,889 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to inventory during September – about 1,500 fewer than a year ago for a 12 percent drop. When added to existing inventory, the number of active listings at month end totaled 48,665, slightly fewer than the year-ago number of 48,969 listings.

“We are definitely starting to see more buyers that have been waiting months to get off the fence,” said NWMLS director Mike Skahen. As for the dip in prices, he attributes that in part to limited availability of jumbo loans for high-end homes, “Not surprisingly, with fewer high priced homes selling, the median price would be lower,” he noted. “I’m convinced that as the national financial crisis subsides and with Seattle’s good economy, buyers who have been waiting for the bottom will return and wish they had bought now.” Commenting on the relatively low sales numbers over the past year, he remarked, “There must be substantial pent-up demand.”

“The latest NWMLS numbers validate what our agents report from the field — sellers that are truly motivated to move are dropping their prices, and many buyers are recognizing the opportunity this creates,” said a managing vice president of a real estate brokerage Bellevue. Increases in pending sales are a “good indication that our market is adjusting to current buyer attitude and demand.” He acknowledged price declines aren’t particularly good news for sellers, but said most sellers can be thankful the drops are really quite modest compared to other markets, where prices have recently dropped 30 percent or more. “It’s apparent that home prices, both locally and nationally, are becoming irresistible in some instances,” he remarked. As a result, he noted markets such as San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are seeing the same increased buyer activity as our local market. 

“While things in the real estate world may not be perfect right now, things are, and will continue to get better and better. The medicine tastes terrible but the cure will be worth it,” NWMLS director Dick Beeson believes. Beeson saw a 21.8 percent surge of pending sales in Pierce County last month compared to a year ago and a notable shrinkage in inventory (down 11.2 percent from twelve months ago).

“We’re moving toward a market place with fewer properties for sale — and fewer and fewer choices for buyers. What a time to buy, low rates, low prices, low costs, and decreasing inventory — all ready for those smart buyers who act now,” he noted.

NWMLS director Kathy Estey said “September felt like we were gathering steam and back on track,” but as economic news worsened during the month buyer confidence tumbled. “The news made it sound as if buyers need 20 percent down to get a loan — and fear become our worst enemy again,” she remarked.

On a more optimistic note she added, “The Puget Sound remains a great place to own property and there are opportunities to buy low and ride the rising prices that are around the corner in a year or two.”

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 October 2008

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for September 2008

September 2008

Single Family Homes

+ Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

New

Listings

Total

Active

#

Pending Sales

#

Closings

Average

Price

Median

Price

King

4377

15438

2295

1872

$448,387

$380,315

Snohomish

1660

7070

813

692

$342,247

$318,000

Pierce

1689

7710

994

763

$274,288

$241,950

Kitsap

479

2629

343

232

$314,550

$260,318

Mason

147

892

75

79

$219,797

$185,000

Skagit

208

1300

117

116

$307,224

$239,250

Grays Harbor

157

1000

91

75

$169,977

$160,000

Lewis

145

821

68

41

$186,855

$174,800

Cowlitz

167

787

99

71

$182,634

$180,500

Grant

147

710

80

75

$207,140

$172,000

Thurston

574

2062

352

269

$271,605

$248,000

San Juan

34

447

17

13

$598,154

$440,000

Island

164

1220

99

91

$348,025

$285,000

Kittitas

61

758

30

48

$385,608

$222,000

Jefferson

81

577

45

23

$321,041

$265,950

Okanogan

45

528

34

36

$223,126

$182,450

Whatcom

365

2101

241

224

$294,198

$257,500

Clark

119

767

64

49

$277,555

$229,900

Pacific

39

455

29

17

$159,097

$153,000

Others

231

1393

96

91

$198,739

$183,480

MLS TOTAL

10,889

48,665

5,982

4,877

$350,033

$295,000

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

   

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 October 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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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.