Ms. Rhodes follows up yesterday’s admission that the Seattle market is actually (gasp) slowing, with a softened article full of reassurances that the market from here will surely be “steady.” She kicks off the article with a paragraph that just cracks me up.
At the beginning of the year, local housing experts predicted the Puget Sound area’s super-heated real-estate market would slow. What they couldn’t predict was exactly when or how much.
It’s now, and the drop-off has been marked.
Hmm, that’s interesting. Does anyone here recall any articles by Ms. Rhodes about the predictions of these “local housing experts”? Let’s see, what was Ms. Rhodes saying about the housing market earlier this year?
It’s also keeping King County prices climbing, putting to rest any notion that ours is a “bubble market” where prices will stall or even fall.
– Elizabeth Rhodes, 04.30.2006
Oh yes, that’s right… Ours is not a market “where prices will stall.” It seems that she’s singing a slightly different tune now.
And, after rising for seven consecutive months, King County’s median single-family home price hasn’t risen since June. In fact it declined $10,000 from August to September, to $425,000. Month-to-month declines are not unusual — it happened four times in 2005 — but four months without an increase is a signal of a trend.
Plus, inventory is building and homes are selling more slowly.
Granted, it’s only a slightly different tune. There’s still a huge helping of everything is fine, nothing is ruined-style reporting.
“This doesn’t mean that a ‘bubble’ has burst and property values are declining,” said Redmond appraiser Alan Pope. “It means we’re moving to a more-normal market where buyers have more choices. If buyers have more choices, they’re less likely to pay in excess of the list price to obtain a property.”
Bill Riss, Coldwell Banker Bain’s CEO, said we are starting to see signs of a slower market. A real-estate veteran who has been through many housing cycles, Riss says he’s not upset by the cooling because “there’s nothing to push it dramatically down.”
“All the mechanics are in place to have a steady market,” he said.
Those mechanics include strong local job growth, which feeds housing demand, and moderating mortgage rates.
There’s nothing to push prices down? What about the turning of mass psychology against housing? What about the fact that the median home price in the county comes in at about seven times the median household income? What about the rapidly increasing inventory? What about the California equity river drying up? What about boatloads of resetting ARMs?
Yeah, we’re all set for “a steady market.”
King County houses and condominiums combined have appreciated 8.6 percent in the past year, below the regional average.
In the central Puget Sound region, Pierce County reported the highest annual price increase — 12.9 percent — followed by Snohomish County’s 10.4 percent. Kitsap County’s annual appreciation came in at less than 1 percent.
While it’s true that Kitsap’s “appreciation” of -0.33% (yes that’s negative zero-point-three-three percent) is “less than 1 percent” that kind of word-twisting makes it seem as though Ms. Rhodes just can’t quite bring herself to admit in print the fact that home prices in a nearby county have actually decreased year-over-year.
Pauling says the slowdown is a relief for buyers.
“We have more inventory than we’ve had in the past, so buyers can pursue the home that meets their needs without having to make a decision based on fear that someone else is going to get their house,” Pauling said. “They can actually make a thoughtful decision.”
Compared with a year earlier, September buyers had 32 percent more properties to choose from in King County — some 9,890 properties compared with 7,496 in September 2005.
Oh, I get it. So now suddenly we’re on the side of the buyers. That’s cute. After months and months and months of “rah-rah double-digit appreciation” reporting, I’m finding the sudden concern for buyers hard to swallow.
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 10.07.2006)