I’ve got an all-day seminar thingy today, so here’s a super-condensed version of this month’s reporting roundup. I’ll probably come back this evening and add some commentary.
Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times:
Home prices slip to ’06 level
The Seattle-area housing market is in a pronounced slump, with fewer houses selling, inventories climbing and prices returning to year-ago levels.
While it’s typical for monthly house prices to fluctuate, King County’s median price has fallen four months in a row.
What’s more, last month’s median price for detached houses, $435,000, is back where it was the previous November, according to numbers released Thursday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Home sales are highly seasonal, and that’s one reason for last month’s sluggish sales.
However D’Ann Jackson, managing broker of John L. Scott Real Estate’s Mercer Island office, senses this year is different.
“I feel we’re in that typical holiday market we’ve seen in past years — it just hasn’t been in the past couple of years,” Jackson said.
And from his desk in the downtown branch of U.S. Bank, loan officer Tom Ward said he’s definitely sensing buyer reluctance.
“Some people are sitting back,” Ward said. “They think if this thing clears, they’ll start [looking] again.”
He thinks potential buyers are delaying decisions because of sharply falling house prices in other parts of the country and the subprime-mortgage mess, which has caused concerns about the availability of loans.
“It’s negative news, and they pick that up,” Ward said. “The true story is things are tighter, but they’re reasonable. If someone wants 100 percent financing, they’d better have good credit.”
I love the increasingly bizarre reasoning we’re hearing from real estate salespeople.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I:
Home prices down, mortgage troubles up locally
The typical house that sold in King County last month fetched nearly 10 percent less than the typical sale in July, according to statistics released Thursday.
Meanwhile, Washington’s rate of troubled mortgages rose in the third quarter, but was increasingly better than the country as a whole, which saw record-high foreclosures and a mortgage delinquency rate that was the highest since 1986.
Rob Cockerill and Michele Meyers bought a Broadview house at list price last month and weren’t worried about prices dropping.
“We’re thinking it’s not going to get any better than this,” Cockerill said. “We’re San Francisco II up here.”
Just keep telling yourself that, and it’ll all be okay.
Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune
Lower home prices, again
Year-over-year median home prices in Pierce County declined for the third consecutive month in November as sales remained slow.
Countywide, the median price dropped 4.4 percent to $262,950, according to figures released Thursday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Sales of homes, including houses and condominiums, decreased by 31 percent for the same month in 2006.
Consecutive local price drops can be attributed to homes listed competitively so that they attract buyers and sell, said Coldwell Banker agent Margo Hass Klein.
Dipping prices aren’t a concern, she said, because they primarily hurt older homeowners who are selling for the last time or those who borrowed against their equity and owe more than they can sell for, she said.
Mike Benbow, Everett Herald:
Condo numbers cut sale prices
The combined median home price in Snohomish County dropped last month for the first time in years, mostly due to a big boost in condominiums on the market.
The median price, $335,000 for both single-family homes and condos, dropped 0.88 percent from the year-ago median of $337,970, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Thursday.
The drop, however, was a little misleading because viewed separately, prices for both condos and single-family homes rose last month. The median for houses was $360,000, a 0.7 percent increase from November 2006. The median just for condos was $238,000, a nearly 14 percent hike from a year ago.
Combined numbers showed that inventory rose by 50 percent, sales not completed by the end of the month dropped by nearly 30 percent and completed sales dropped by nearly 27 percent.
Real estate agents have been saying for months that sales here have been strongly affected by national news stories about the mortgage crisis and about the drops in value of homes in many parts of the country.
That darn national news.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian:
Homes in Thurston see prices inch up
Thurston County median home prices outperformed many Western Washington counties in November and remained steady on a year-over-year basis, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Thursday.
The combined median price for Thurston County homes and condominiums in November rose 0.89 percent from the same time last year, Northwest MLS data show.
Though combined median prices were essentially flat on a year-over-year basis, prices fared much better here than in King, Pierce, Mason and Lewis counties.
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 12.06.2007)
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 12.07.2007)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 12.06.2007)
(Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune, 12.07.2007)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 12.07.2007)
(Rolf Boone, Olympian, 12.07.2007)