More evidence that King County is nearing the top of its market comes this weekend from a report that places King County’s appreciation in the bottom third of 15 counties across Western Washington.
Fueled by bidding wars and a shortage of houses for sale, King County’s single-family home prices shot up 15.43 percent last year, better than 1 percent a month.
With prices climbing so fast and so furiously, the county’s homeowners can be forgiven if they assume they’re leading the appreciation parade.
But they should think again.
While King County is indisputably Western Washington’s economic driver, its home appreciation was only middling last year compared with surrounding counties.
Leading the pack was Skagit County, where single-family homes appreciated 26.93 percent, followed by Mason County at 24.55 percent and Thurston County at 23.31 percent. Granted, the base prices were lower in the counties that appreciated more, but for buyers there, that meant even greater sticker shock than King County buyers experienced.
Of 15 mostly Western Washington counties, King County ranked in the bottom third, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which recently released its annual analysis of home-sales data.
As buyers are priced out of King County, they’re just shifting into Snohomish, Pierce, and even all the way up to Skagit County, where many homes have climbed up into the $400,000 to $600,000 range.
But it’s not deterring some buyers, particularly those from outside the county.
“They’re willing to pay a high price because they’re able to afford more here than where they came from,” Reichert said. “We know there are a lot of people who live here and commute to Everett or even to Seattle. And for a lot of people, this area is desirable because it’s a rural, small-town atmosphere with strong schools.”
It seems that home “ownership” is so ingrained in some people that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to avoid renting. I wonder what it is going to take to knock some sense back into these people.
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 01.28.2006)