It’s time once again for the monthly reporting roundup, where you can read my wry commentary about the news instead of subjecting yourself to boring rehashes of the NWMLS press release (or in addition to, if that’s what floats your boat).
To kick things off, here’s an excerpt from the NWMLS press release:
Northwest MLS brokers say market stays "extremely competitive;" some industry experts believe "housing affordability may never be better"
Current market conditions — including rising mortgage rates, tight inventory and declining unemployment — are driving even more buyers into what is already an “extremely competitive housing market,” reported OB Jacobi, a member of the board of directors for Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
“With higher interest rates and potentially going higher, more resale listings are coming on the market,” observed J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “Many potential sellers are now realizing if they are going to purchase another home, they will be purchasing at a higher interest rate, so they are choosing to move forward now,” Scott continued. “The additional inventory is appreciated by the backlog of buyers trying to purchase a home, though we are still in a quick action market. “
An industry expert whose career dates to 1976 said he’s been through many “hot markets,” but never one quite like the current one. “I’ve never seen the in-city market so stressful for buyers because there is such intense competition on anything priced well,” said Mike Skahen, a past chairman of the Northwest MLS board and the just-retired owner/designated broker at Lake & Co. Real Estate in Seattle.
Commenting on the current market, Skahen said what’s relatively new is buyers doing pre inspections before they make their offer so it is not subject to inspection. “Often, buyers are even waiving financing and risking low appraisals where they have to make up the difference in cash,” he reported.
While pre-inspections aren’t really news (they’ve been relatively common since things heated up last year), it is interesting to note that when I’ve been looking at Redfin data around the country for the monthly Bidding War Report, I discovered that pre-inspections are apparently just a Seattle thing. Note in the second table in the report that they’re virtually non-existent in other markets.
Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.
Marissa Evans, Seattle Times: King County median home price up 12.5 percent from June 2012
June was the third consecutive month the median price topped $400,000 and the 15th straight month of year-over-year price increases.
But the traditional summer buyer enthusiasm has already dampened, says Tim Ellis, founder and editor of Seattle Bubble, a real-estate news site.
Mike Gain, CEO and president of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates in Seattle, says with so many prospective buyers out there, bidding wars have intensified.
False. They’ve actually decreased in the last couple months.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Buyers fighting for homes as mortgage rates rise
June was only just a little less hot than May, at least as far as the area’s real estate market was concerned, according to a new report.
Mike Gain, president and CEO of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates, added: “We desperately need more properties to sell to satisfy the current demand.”
Gain and others said rising interest rates are spurring buyers to act now.
Thankfully we’re already seeing more properties hit the market, and sales are easing. We’re heading back toward a balanced market, despite the increasing volume of hype from real estate salespeople.
It looks like the holiday threw off the Herald’s calendar, because there’s still no article about Wednesday’s number, just an article from Wednesday about May’s CoreLogic data.
Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune: June was another hot month for homes in Pierce County
It’s not just the weather that’s been sizzling — it’s also the Pierce County housing market.
[Allen Realtors of Lakewood president Mike] Larson recently listed a home for $140,000 in Tacoma that was in a great location but needed a lot of work. Once listed, the front door quickly became a turnstile as it had 20 showings over the next couple of days, finally selling for $149,000 after two competing offers.
“That’s a snapshot of what’s going on,” Larson said.
Only two offers? Compared to a few months ago, that’s nothing. Definitely a sign that things are calming.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Thurston home sales rise again, but not their prices
But while sales are on the rise, median prices were flat in June compared with $226,000 in June 2012, the combined data show.
Although home sellers are on better footing in this market than in past years, the market hasn’t completely shifted in their favor because buyers are still sensitive about prices, Washington Realtors Association president Mark Kitabayashi said.
Other factors that might have dampened prices last month include the recent increase in mortgage interest rates — making the cost of borrowing money a little more expensive — and higher inventory levels, allowing buyers to be choosier about a prospective home.
Inventory levels remain low, but new listings have outpaced last year’s listings since March.
Interesting that home prices were flat from a year ago down in Olympia. It’s also nice that this article highlighted some of the recent cooling.