Okay let’s try to group the rest of the March articles into one post. The Seattle P-I assures us that everything is perfectly normal.
Pending home sales in Seattle and King County fell again in March, while home prices continued to climb. Real estate experts said the declining sales shouldn’t be cause for concern and likely reflect a “normalizing” of the market after many years of strong sales.
More significant, some say, is the reduction in home listings, a reflection of the housing shortage that is also helping drive up prices.
Cute. “Normalizing.” Well at least they didn’t say that there’s a buyer frenzy. And I love how a 3-5% reduction in listings is “more significant” than a 8-10% decrease in pending sales. Yeah, I’m buying it… wait, no—I’m not.
The King County Journal takes it a step further and leads the cheer for the supposedly still-booming market:
Median home sales prices jumped more than $20,000 in one month’s time in southeast King County and almost $12,000 on the Eastside, shattering housing market records.
In southeast King County, the median price for closed sales of homes and condos in March rose to $314,975, up from $294,000 in February and the previous record high of $309,000 set in January.
On the Eastside, the median price of single-family homes and condominiums whose sales closed in March rose to $476,475, smashing the “old” record median price of $464,500 set just the month before.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service officials, who released the March report Thursday, and local real estate agents attribute the surge in home sales activity this past month to the growing economy, relatively low interest rates, “attractive financing” options, and an increase in available properties to choose from.
“Attractive” if you don’t care about prudent investing for the future, I suppose. And what’s with the phrase “surge in home sales activity”? Again, pending residential home sales in King County were down 10.6% from March ’05. I guess since it’s a smaller negative number than February (-14.56%), that constitutes a “surge.” Weee!
Bucking the trend, the Tacoma News Tribune actually dares to report signs of the slowdown:
Homes are coming onto the market and basically sitting there in many parts of Pierce and King counties, according to a new report released Thursday.
But being on the market longer doesn’t mean the homes are any cheaper.
That’s a refreshing bit of relatively balanced reporting on this month’s numbers. Of course, the slowing signs are a bit harder to ignore in Pierce County, with a 27% increase in listings and a 10% decrease in pending sales.
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You can run, but you can’t hide, Seattle. The real estate slowdown is at your doorstep and you can only deny it entrance for so long.