Thanks to the reader / college mate that sent this in. Seattle got a mention in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal story: Home Prices Keep Sliding; Buyers Sit Tight.
The air continues to seep out of the U.S. housing market, according to the latest data, and some economists are warning that prices will keep declining through much of 2007.
The National Association of Realtors yesterday reported the biggest drop in home prices since the trade group began compiling price data in 1968. Specifically, the association said the median price for home sales completed in September was $220,000, down 2.2% from a year earlier. That matched a revised 2.2% decline in August. In addition to being the largest price drops in at least 38 years, the back-to-back declines are the first time median home prices have fallen since 1995.
Seattle has been one of the strongest markets in recent months but is showing signs of losing some steam as inventories of unsold homes rise. In 17 counties of western and central Washington State covered by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median price in September was up 9.4% from a year earlier, the first single-digit increase in two years.
Mike Skahen, owner of real estate brokerage Lake & Co. in Seattle, says inventory is still lean in good neighborhoods near the area’s biggest employers. But the overall market is slowing to a more normal pace as “buyers are feeling they can be more selective.”
That seems to be the line I’ve been hearing a lot around here lately. We’re just “returning to a normal market.” That is certainly possible, but with the increasing rates of declining YOY sales and building YOY inventory, I’m not quite ready to accept that assertion.
(James R. Hagerty, Wall Street Journal, 10.26.2006)