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:
Region’s housing activity still "speeding along," but pace slowing as seasons change, uncertainty looms amid government shutdown
September tested the housing market’s resilience around Western Washington with fluctuating mortgage rates, record-setting rains, and persistent inventory shortages in some areas. By month’s end, however, both pending and closed sales outgained the same period a year ago, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Prices also increased compared to 12 months ago, but fell slightly from the previous month. Year-to-date figures through nine months show prices for homes and condominiums that have sold in the 21 counties served by the MLS are up 12 percent from a year ago.
With uncertainty about the duration of the government shutdown, brokers say the positive momentum could stall.
It’s the perfect scapegoat! When things slow down from the unreasonably hot market we had this spring and summer, they can now blame it on the “shutdown.” How convenient!
Northwest MLS director John Deely said the Seattle market shows no signs of slowing down and house-hunters seem undaunted by soggy weather. “Buyers continue to flood open houses and multiple offers rain down on competitively priced properties,” he commented.
I see what you did there.
Northwest MLS director George Moorhead, the branch manager at Bentley Properties in Bothell, said market activity “waned just a bit” towards the end of August and during September, a pattern he said is normal with students going back to school and last-minute vacations. He expects interest rates will climb to 5 percent by summer 2014, and says the big message is “If you want to capitalize on the current lower interest rates, don’t delay any longer.”
Coincidentally, that has been the same “big message” home salesmen have been driving home for the past three years, at least.
Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.
Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times: King County home prices dip; shutdown threatens closings
Single-family home prices in King County saw a remarkable run from January to July, when the median price hit $434,000, a 24 percent increase in just seven months.
“That’s way too fast. That’s a 2006 market,” said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.
Hah! As if Dick Beeson is worried about home prices rising too fast. Good one.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Home selection the best since February
Frustrated would-be homebuyers should be able to find a little more selection, according to a report released Friday.
February home inventory at the current sales pace was 2.2 months in King County and two months in Seattle, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported. Those were the highest numbers since February, although they’re still well below the four to six months of inventory generally considered balanced.
“It’s still a short inventory,” said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington. “It’s good to see that inventory level picking up a little bit, though, giving prospective buyers a little more choice in the marketplace.”
J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said the area’s market is going through its third “mini power surge of sales activity” this year.
“With interest rates suddenly coming off their peak for the year, we’re having another surge of activity, which is keeping the inventory at the shortage level in both King and Snohomish counties,” he added.
I like the contrast between the sensible, logical statements from Glenn Crellin and the marketing mumbo-jumbo hype from J. Lennox Scott.
As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been an article posted on the Everett Herald yet.
Kathleen Cooper, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce County home prices rise again last month, data shows
Pierce County home prices ticked up again in September, data released Friday showed, continuing the trend it has followed all year.
The median sale price for homes and condos in Pierce County last month was $220,000, up almost 10 percent from the same time a year ago, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listings Service. At the median sale price, half the homes sold for more than that amount, and half sold for less.
It looks like the online edition only gets the lightweight version of the story this month, with a few numbers and a couple of direct quotes from the NWMLS press release.
Kathleen Cooper, The Olympian: Thurston home prices, sales climb in September
Thurston County median home prices rose by 8 percent to $228,497 in September, data released Friday from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service showed.
Aside from that one sentence, the rest of The Olympian’s article is literally identical to the article in the News Tribune.