Back from my busy week of travel and recharged over the Easter weekend, it’s time to post the March roundup.
As usual, let’s kick things off with Seattle’s #1 real estate cheerleader, Ms. Rhodes, with her fawning article about all about how great and wonderful it is that median prices increased last month.
After stalling for two months, home prices in King and Snohomish counties perked up last month, disappointing potential buyers who thought slowing price appreciation had presented an opportunity.
Brian and Jennifer Rutherford are experiencing King County’s strengthening real-estate market firsthand as they shop for a Bellevue home in the $500,000 range.
“We were just hoping things would cool off. It might have cooled off from its highest point, but not too far,” he said. “Now we’re making more of an effort to step up our looking.”
Thursday’s news that Microsoft is leasing 1.3 million square feet of Bellevue office space, enough to house 4,000 employees, is a near guarantee that Brian Rutherford is correct about home-buying prospects.
Lennox Scott, chairman of John L. Scott Real Estate, said a shortage of affordably priced homes will keep the local market strong.
Wait, what? Am I the only one that sounds like utter nonsense to? Less affordable = strong market? Hmm.
Surprisingly, Mr. Cohen of the P-I chose to focus primarily on Seattle proper, where the picture is somewhat more grim.
There are more homes on the market in Seattle these days — and their prices slowly are creeping up.
The number of homes increased by nearly half in March from March 2006, according to data the Northwest Multiple Listing Service released Thursday. The median home price was $418,000 — up 2.7 percent from a year earlier and 3.2 percent from February 2007.
The median price for a Seattle single-family house went up 4.5 percent from a year earlier, to $460,000, while the median condo price was up 5.8 percent, to $316,950.
Of course, a Cohen article wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t end on an upbeat with the same-old “strong market” arguments repeated yet again:
In a statement accompanying the Northwest MLS numbers, Mike Skahen, owner of Lake & Co. Real Estate, called the market for close-in Seattle neighborhoods “hotter right now than it was at this time last year,” with homes in virtually every price range attracting multiple offers.
Dick Beeson, owner of Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates in Tacoma, said, “It just feels like a normal market with well-priced homes seeing offers in 30 days or less and sellers of overpriced properties having a gut check and a motivation check to see if they really are serious about selling.”
Recent revelations about failing loans in the subprime market, which serves those with poorer credit, have caused trepidation about the national housing market.
But the Puget Sound region is fairly well protected from this because of its healthy economy, continued home price appreciation and fewer subprime loans compared with other parts of the country, said Erik Hand, president of John L. Scott Real Estate subsidiary Response Mortgage Service, in the MLS statement.
Ahh, that’s better.
Down in Tacoma, it’s getting harder to ignore the picture that the numbers are painting:
The median price was $274,950, up 5.8 percent over the same month a year ago, though down from February, according to figures released today by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Sales, however, continued to fall as the number of listings skyrocketed to 6,554 – up 48.6 percent from March 2006.
Bob Niehl, an agent for Crescent Realty, said Thursday that it’s not uncommon for the kind of house that once would draw multiple offers to sit for more than 100 days.
The Everett Herald appears to be doing somewhat of a victory dance, proudly proclaiming Snohomish County as immune to supply and demand.
Prices for homes and condominiums in Snohomish County continue to soar, even as sales of both in March continued to be down compared with a year ago.
The median price for single-family homes hit $382,550 countywide last month, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service report issued Thursday. That’s nearly 16 percent higher than the median of $330,000 in March 2006.
Prices rose despite a 44 percent increase in the number of homes listed for sale from year to year and a nearly 18 percent drop in pending sales.
Finally, down in Olympia, slowing sales are all too obvious.
Thurston County single- family home and condominium sales dropped 7.5 percent in March, though last month’s results were softened by a surge in the condo market, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Thursday.
Other year-to-year March home sales data for Thurston County:
• Total active listings for single-family homes increased 38 percent to 1,802, up from 1,303.
• The median price of a single-family home rose 4 percent to $254,950, up from $244,900.
• Total active listings for condos increased 133 percent to 49 units, up from 21.
• The median price of a condo dropped nearly 6 percent to $171,203, down from $182,000.
Sounds like a stellar spring bounce all around the Sound, wouldn’t you say?
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 04.06.2007)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 04.06.2007)
(Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune, 04.05.2007)
(Eric Fetters, Everett Herald, 04.06.2007)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 04.05.2007)