Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – September 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 September 2008REAL ESTATE NEWS & INFORMATION

 

September 14, 2008

*Housing Inventory Leveling Off in Western Washington Despite Slowdown in Sales*

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Sept. 9, 2008) – Inventory showed signs of leveling off around Western Washington, with pending sales comparable to totals during the past four months, according to the latest report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Tighter credit is inhibiting activity, and the forthcoming elimination of nonprofit downpayment assistance programs is creating “more of a problem than many anticipated,” according to a veteran broker and NWMLS director. (Beginning October 1, seller-funded downpayment assistance programs are banned under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which President Bush signed on July 30.)

On a brighter note, brokers and lenders suggest the September 7 announcement by the Treasury Department to place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under federal control could ease the U.S. mortgage market crisis and help lower mortgage costs.

Locally, the housing market lags year-ago benchmarks, but continues to fare better than most other metro markets around the country. One local industry leader said move-up buyers have “an amazing opportunity” right now.

Northwest MLS members added 11,415 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to inventory last month – the fewest number since December 2007. A year ago (August 2007), brokers reported 14,500 new listings.

At month end, the Northwest MLS database of available properties included 50,772 residences in its 19-county market area, about 4.5 percent more than a year ago when there were 48,585 single family homes and condos offered for sale. On a percentage basis that’s the smallest increase since February 2006, when the total number of active listings rose about 2 percent from the previous twelve months.

Pending sales lagged year-ago volumes, but nearly matched the totals for June and July. Brokers reported 6,248 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) for August, which compares to 6,350 pending transactions for July and 6,470 pending sales during June. Compared to 12 months ago when there were 7,751 pending sales, last month’s volume declined about 19.4 percent.

With the current inventory and pace of sales, there is an estimated 8.1-month supply of homes system-wide and a 7.4-month supply in the four-county Puget Sound region. Nationally, there is an 11.2-month supply. Six months is considered normal.

Prices also dropped from a year ago, although seven of the 19 counties in the MLS system notched gains from July. The median selling price for sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) that closed during August was $302,500. That’s down about 8 percent from a year ago, when the MLS reported a median sales price of $329,000.

In King County, the median price for single family homes and condos that sold and closed during August was $388,350, about 6.4 percent less than a year ago when the median price was $415,000.

For single family homes (excluding condos) the median price for last month’s completed sales was $314,000, about 10 percent less than a year ago when the median price was $349,900. Condo prices are down about 4.8 percent from a year ago, dipping from $260,000 to $247,500.

A comparison to July shows seven counties with price gains. Median selling prices in Clark, Grant, Island, Kitsap, Mason, Okanogan, and San Juan counties rose in August from the previous month.

“I cannot stress enough what an amazing opportunity exists right now for move-up buyers,” said another NWMLS director. “The price gap between the more affordable price ranges and higher price ranges has narrowed which means these buyers can afford to “price jump” into a new home at a premium value,” he added.

NWMLS director Dick Beeson agreed low interest rates and abundant selection makes now a very good time to buy, but acknowledged the new environment for borrowing is hindering some would-be borrowers. There is pent-up demand, he stated, but said, “Buyers are stymied by the lending world’s inability to get their collective heads around making loans instead of running scared to the nearest disapproval letter.”

Beeson, a broker for Windermere Real Estate, said his market area, which encompasses Pierce County, will suffer from the October 1 ban on seller-funded downpayment assistance. Ending these programs will stall market recovery, he suggests, noting prices are such that the average first-time buyer lacks the resources to meet a 3 percent downpayment and additional 3 percent in closing costs.

Asked about the potential impact of the Boeing strike, Beeson said it could have a ripple effect long-term, but does not expect the market to change “too dramatically” for now.

One local lender expressed optimism about the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “The announcement by the Treasury Department to take control of the GSEs marks a significant turning point in the credit crisis, said Erik Hand, president of Response Mortgage Services (John L. Scott’s in-house lender). “Although some are already pointing to this action having the potential to cost the U.S. taxpayer billions, I feel the opposite is true,” he commented, adding, “To sit back and watch the GSEs flounder would prolong the credit crisis, placing further pressure on housing, resulting in increased foreclosures, and ultimately damaging the economy much more than what a takeover of the GSEs will cost.”

National analysts anticipate improving markets around the country.

Richard F. Gaylord, president of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., said the up-and-down pattern may break soon. “We hope the new tools in the hands of home buyers from the recently enacted housing stimulus package will spark a sustained sales uptrend in the months ahead,” he said. “Buyers who’ve been on the sidelines should take a closer look at what’s available to them now in terms of financing and incentives.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home prices in some regions could soon increase. “Sales have picked up significantly in several Florida and California markets. Home prices generally follow sales trends after a few months of lag time,” he said. “Still, inventory remains high in many parts of the country and will require time to fully absorb. We expect more balanced conditions in 2009 and will eventually return to normal long-term appreciation patterns.”

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 September 2008

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for August 2008

August 2008

Single Family Homes

+ Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

New

Listings

Total

Active

#

Pending

Sales

#

Closings

Average

Price

Median

Price

King

4182

15875

2313

1980

$477,877

$388,350

Snohomish

1800

7360

929

763

$357,337

$320,000

Pierce

1871

7958

1049

736

$279,452

$250,975

Kitsap

503

2769

293

242

$337,447

$277,000

Mason

141

955

86

64

$239,518

$201,500

Skagit

251

1401

128

105

$277,649

$254,935

Grays Harbor

183

1062

101

72

$166,670

$149,450

Lewis

148

859

60

51

$176,672

$173,000

Cowlitz

136

816

86

61

$211,525

$194,300

Grant

179

735

100

79

$208,969

$172,500

Thurston

514

2185

367

303

$277,432

$248,000

San Juan

45

484

29

23

$645,261

$515,000

Island

207

1311

93

88

$349,164

$285,000

Kittitas

121

806

42

49

$260,640

$209,900

Jefferson

89

595

26

24

$376,246

$270,000

Okanogan

67

560

36

39

$208,551

$175,000

Whatcom

462

2286

293

255

$316,880

$260,500

Clark

136

816

63

65

$317,802

$254,900

Pacific

67

497

31

24

$160,642

$134,200

Others

313

1442

123

100

$238,513

$188,200

MLS TOTAL

11,415

50,772

6,248

5,123

$368,889

$302,500



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    


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 September 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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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.