It’s that time of the month again—time to check in with our trusty local real estate
mouthpieces “reporters” in the local press. What do Rhodes, Cohen, Benbow, Boone, and newcomer Dan Beekman (with the Tacoma News Tribune) have for us this month? Read on to find out…
Warning: Sarcasm Ahead
Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times:
Housing prices defy logic, keep climbing
Economics 101 teaches that prices should drop when the supply increases dramatically, but the Seattle area’s housing market keeps confounding that conventional wisdom.
Prices of King County houses and condominiums last month increased 9 percent compared to a year earlier — even while the number of available properties grew 51 percent.
This continues a trend that has persisted for several months.
Why rising inventory isn’t having the anticipated effect is hard to pin down, but there are theories.
All revolve around the idea that an increase in the number of for-sale homes isn’t necessarily a negative factor that would cause prices to fall.
Ms. Rhodes’ “theories” are nonsensical and misleading. They’re not even worth quoting and wasting time debunking. However, I’ve got a theory of my own, but I’m saving it for a post all its own later this week. Stay tuned, I think you’ll find it compelling.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I:
Condos driving the housing market
Condominiums increasingly are driving Seattle’s housing market, according to new information released Monday.
The number of Seattle homes for sale in July shot up 50 percent from a year earlier, while sales increased 6 percent and the median price bumped up 1.8 percent to $427,453, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data. Condos accounted for 39 percent of homes on the market and 32 percent of July sales, up from 32 percent and 28.5 percent a year earlier.
With Seattle’s single-family-home neighborhoods basically full, condos and townhouses are about all that’s getting built these days, meaning they’re quickly becoming a bigger and bigger share of the market.
What does this mean for overall market? For one, condos are driving up inventory and sales, which increased 34 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, among Seattle homes alone, excluding condos, in July, compared with a year earlier.
And, because condos tend to sell for less, they drag down the median price for all sales. The median house price excluding condos in July was up 5.7 percent from a year earlier, while the median for condos alone was up 4.7 percent. Townhouses have a similar effect.
Is it just me, or does Aubrey’s article this month seem like little more than a slight rewrite of last month’s piece? Okay. We get it. Condos sales aren’t slowing down as much as single-family homes. Woop-dee-do.
Dan Beekman, Tacoma News Tribune:
County home prices inch up
Home prices in Pierce County rebounded slightly in July after appreciation sputtered in June.
The median sales price for July was $281,400, according to figures released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The price represents a 1.4 percent increase over June and a 3.31 percent jump from July 2006. In June, median prices grew less than 1 percent from the year before and declined from May.
East Pierce County has a surplus of empty new homes.
“When you give people so many choices they can’t make a decision, they won’t,” [Windermere broker Dick] Beeson said. “When there are fewer homes, people make quick decisions and buy.”
According to Beeson, Lakewood’s housing market has begun to rebound. North Tacoma homes are selling within four months, on average, and the University Place market remains strong.
Others in the industry agreed.
Looks like Mr. Beekman is a “quote the salesmen” kind of real estate reporter. It’s a pity. Personally I prefer Devona Wells’ slightly more frank style.
Mike Benbow, Everett Herald
County housing boom finally fades
If you can trust the numbers, Snohomish County’s red hot real estate market of the past six or seven years is officially over for now.
Consider these digits released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service for July sales:
57. The percentage rise in the number of homes available on the market during the past year.
17. The percentage that home sales have dropped in Snohomish County between now and a year ago.
4. The percentage increase in home prices since July 2006.
“It’s transitional,” said Vern Holden, a Windermere broker in Mill Creek.
Holden described the old market in the county as a “pure sellers market” where buyers had to act fast, had few choices, found getting a mortgage to be easy and were pretty much stuck with rising prices.
Things are clearly different now, he added.
“It’s moving to a more balanced market, maybe even a buyers market in the near future, he said.
Oh, it’s transitional, all right. I predict it will transition straight on through the “balanced market,” past the “buyer’s market,” and end up somewhere in the general vicinity of the “everyone hates real estate” market.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian
Sales tepid for homes, condos
Thurston County sales of single-family homes and condominiums are struggling to measure up to last year’s hot real estate market as sales dropped about 15 percent in July, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Monday.
In July, 396 houses and condos sold, compared to 464 for the same period last year, the data show.
Meanwhile, combined house and condo median prices continued to rise, up 7 percent from $257,278 to $275,174, according to the data.
Besides higher inventory levels, other factors that have slowed down the South Sound housing market include higher mortgage interest rates, more new construction and slower rates of home price appreciation, Abbey Realty real estate agent Ted Leland said.
“A lot of people got spoiled with low mortgage interest rates and the high rates of appreciation,” Leland said.
Now that home prices aren’t appreciating 20 percent a year as they did two summers ago, some buyers aren’t nearly as excited to invest in property, Leland said.
And while first-time home buyers have more homes to choose from, some are back on the sidelines because of tighter lending standards, he said.
Five of Leland’s real estate transactions this year have fallen apart because the buyers couldn’t qualify for home loans, he said.
A year ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem qualifying, Leland said.
You don’t say. Who could have predicted such a thing. And what’s this about buyers “investing” in property? I thought everyone in the Puget Sound bought their houses purely as a place to live, not due to speculation of future gains. What an odd statement to hear from a real estate agent…
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 08.07.2007)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 08.07.2007)
(Dan Beekman, Tacoma News Tribune, 08.07.2007)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 08.07.2007)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 08.06.2007)