Thanks to PAX and the holiday weekend, our regular schedule is all messed up. So here’s the reporting roundup a couple days late.
First up, an excerpt from the NWMLS press release: Northwest MLS brokers report brisk activity, multiple offers, "irrational delays" by lenders
Pending sales around Western Washington during August jumped nearly 21 percent from a year ago and inventory dropped more than 18 percent, according to new figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. MLS member-brokers say those indicators, along with signs of stabilizing prices, set the stage for brisk activity in the next few months as first-time buyers try to take advantage of the Nov. 30 deadline for tax credits.
“The typical August cool down in the market did not happen this year,” observed NWMLS director Kathy Estey, managing broker at John L. Scott’s office in downtown Bellevue. She said agents are busy with both first-time and move-up buyers and they’re reporting multiple offers on homes priced up to $700,000.
Brokers reported 7,539 pending sales (offers made and accepted but not yet closed) for August, up 20.7 percent from a year ago. That volume outgained July’s total by 260 transactions.
In the four-county Puget Sound region, pending sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) surged 25.7 percent from a year ago.
I’m only going to say this once in this post, since I get tired of repeating myself. The “pending sales” statistic published by the NWMLS has become virtually useless. It has of little to no use in reliably predicting actual closed sales volume this year.
That said, given that the NWMLS led off their press release with the big headline pending sales nonsense, it is (sadly) no surprise that a number of lazy local media outlets dutifuly repeated their breathless claims.
Read on to find out which local press outlets were basically just press release rehash factories this month, and which ones spent some time to do some actual reporting.
Eric Pryne, Seattle Times: August home sales strong in Puget Sound region but median prices continue to sag
Pending house sales — offers that have been accepted by sellers but haven’t yet closed — were up 31.5 percent from August 2008, continuing a trend that began in April. But there is growing skepticism about the significance of that number, because more sales are taking longer to close or aren’t closing at all.
Another month of solid reporting from Mr. Pryne at the Times. He also digs a little more into the numbers in his Saturday story: Pricey areas see big growth in home sales. Kudos to Eric.
Gerry Spratt, Seattle P-I: Pending home sales spike, according to MLS report
Pending sales for single-family homes in August were up 31.5 percent in King County and 23.9 percent in Seattle over the same period last year, the biggest jump of the market recovery that started last fall, according to a report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Michael Simonsen, chief executive of Altos Research, in Mountain View, Calif., said the increase in pending sales is not a strong indicator of a long-term recovery, but rather is the result of the federal government’s $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and low interest rates.
“It’s the same trend we’ve seen nationally,” Simonsen said. “There’s some organic change there, but it’s largely driven by the stimulus.”
A disappointingly lazy headline and lead-off paragraph, but at least Gerry Spratt did go out and talk to someone who isn’t selling homes. Mike Simonsen’s a nice, level-headed numbers guy, and it’s good to see him being quoted. Still though, on balance, I miss Aubrey Cohen.
Amy Rolph, Everett Herald: Snohomish County home sales holding steady
Pending sales were up 28 percent in August over the same month in 2008 as buyers take advantage of tax incentives.
The Snohomish County housing market seems to be saying one thing: Recovery is coming. It’s just not here quite yet.
Home sales stayed the course in August, with listings and median prices down from 2008 and pending sales increasing.
That means trends mostly held steady through spring and summer months, real estate’s prime selling time.
Wow, what an insight. Recovery is… coming. Someday. Eventually.
C.R. Roberts, Tacoma News Tribune: Monthly home sales look positive
More homes sold in Pierce County in August than a year before. More sales were pending. The median price was down.
“It’s good stuff,” said Dick Beeson, a real estate broker and a director of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
“It really starts to show some higher confidence,” Beeson said. “It’s the best overall month I’ve seen. Pending sales are up, inventory down, closed sales up, median price as well.”
He characterizes the local market as being U-shaped.
“We are at the far right end of the U,” Beeson said. “We’ve done the hard work. We’re not out of the trough, but definitely everything points up.”
Another super quote for those collecting vintage Beesons. “Definitely everything points up.” Better buy now, or you’ll be priced out forever! Again!
Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Home sales end long fall
August was the best month for Thurston County home sales in more than two years: It was the first month since early 2007 that the number of homes sold increased from the year before.
Home sales here last month rose 10.8 percent to 336 units from 303 units in the same period last year, the first year-over-year increase in combined sales of single-family residences and condominiums since February 2007, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Friday.
“We are back to a healthy market trend,” said Mark Kitabayashi, president-elect of the Thurston County Realtors Association.
I always find it odd that one would define as “healthy” trends that point toward high-priced items getting even more expensive and out-of-reach for potential buyers.
Here’s a bonus link for our readers up north out of Whatcom County: Whatcom County sees another quiet month in home sales
(Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, 09.04.2009)
(Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, 09.05.2009)
(Gerry Spratt, Seattle P-I, 09.04.2009)
(Amy Rolph, Everett Herald, 09.05.2009)
(C.R. Roberts, Tacoma News Tribune, 09.05.2009)
(Rolf Boone, Olympian, 09.05.2009)