I would have posted the reporting roundup on Saturday, but I was out of town for the weekend, and my only Internet access was dial-up (*shudder*). The tone of this month’s reporting isn’t too much different from last month, except that we’ve got a small dose of optimism thanks to a slight spring improvement. Of course, we’ve got still more bottom-calling as well, so that’s fun.
Also, Seattle Bubble gets yet another mention on TV.
Chris Ingalls, KING 5 News: A tale of two first-time Seattle home buyers
Real estate agents say that now is the time to buy in Seattle, especially for first-time home buyers.
But others say the latest data on home sales in the region suggests home prices could fall even more.
A recent report on the month of March says that home prices are stable — not dropping — and that means maybe they’ve hit the bottom.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, sponsored by the realty industry, says housing prices have stabilized for six months — a signal of the end for falling home prices.
But [potential first-time homebuyer Brendon] Duran isn’t convinced that the price drop is over.
“I think we’re content to wait and see what happens,” he said.
Analysts outside the real estate industry aren’t either.
Seattle Bubble, a real estate blog site, uses multiple listing service data to conclude the stabilization in home prices now is seasonal and that “now is not a good time to buy a home in Seattle.”
You can watch video of this report here. It would seem that Seattle Bubble is becoming a go-to source for King 5 News on the local real estate market. It’s good to see at least one news outlet getting quotes from someone other than real estate insiders. Thanks, King 5!
Click below for the rest of this month’s reporting.
Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times: Home sales dive in King County, but prices don’t
Last month King County saw 37 percent fewer houses sell and prices fall 3.3 percent compared to March a year earlier. The real-estate market was no stronger in surrounding counties, the March sales-activity report released Friday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows.
But here’s the riddle: With buyers edgy and more homes for sale, why aren’t prices dropping more? In fact, after being essentially flat since November, King County’s house prices actually ticked up $10,000 from February to $439,900.
The reason for the relatively modest year-over-year price decrease, real-estate economists say, is sellers’ unwillingness to cut prices. Economists call it “stickiness.”
It seems that “stickiness” is Ms. Rhodes’ angle this month, as she spends nearly the entire remainder of the article going on about it. The feeling I got from the article is that her message is “home prices won’t fall much, thanks to this amazing ‘stickiness’ thingy, and anyway we’re practically at the bottom.” Low on substance, high on wishful thinking.
Jennifer Langston, Seattle P-I: Home prices remained steady in March
Seattle single-family home prices in March were unchanged from the previous month, but sank 2.2 percent from the same time a year ago.
The median price for in-city condominiums was 4.9 percent higher than in February with a 4.1 percent increase from the same period in 2007, according to figures released Friday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The numbers reflect continued pickiness on the part of buyers, who are benefiting from an abundance of homes on the market and slower sales.
The local market “has reached bottom — or pretty darn close” and although inventory continues to grow, so does optimism among buyers, Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson said.
But Ashley and Brian Yarno, who both work for Boeing and have been looking for a fixer-upper around Green Lake for six months, think the window to buy might be smaller.
“If we don’t buy within the next five months, we’re stupid,” said Ashley Yarno, whose aunt is a real estate agent and advised the couple, in their mid-20s, that the time to act is now, before prices start climbing again.
I love it. That “we’re stupid” quote is priceless. I also notice that we’ve got another bottom-caller this month. I am going to start keeping a list of all the local real estate agents that call the bottom, so I can put them on a graph of declining home sales and prices.
Mike Benbow, Everett Herald: Home prices continue to tumble
Home prices dropped nearly 7 percent in Snohomish County in March, the biggest fall so far in the area’s slipping market, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The combined median price for single-family homes and condominiums in March fell to $335,000, down from $359,950 a year ago.
The March market was similar to that of previous months, with a strong increase in home listings and drops in pending sales and completed sales.
It’s not surprising that we’re seeing the real softness in the market showing up in Pierce and Snohomish counties first. This is great news for people like me, that would like to eventually buy further out.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Real estate agents say drop in home prices not a worry
The median price of a single-family Thurston County home fell last month compared with the same period a year ago, but South Sound real estate agents said they were not worried about it.
Combined sales of single-family homes and condominiums dropped nearly 21 percent last month compared with the same time a year ago, while median sale prices held steady. Single-family home prices fell 1.71 percent to $250,585 from $254,950 in March of last year, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported.
Monthly sales prices generally have been rising during South Sound’s housing boom of the past three years, but real estate agents said they were not concerned about last month’s slight price drop.
“I would classify it as unusual, but I’m not alarmed by it,” Northwest MLS area services manager Jerry Wilkins said. “I continue to be fairly positive about our future. Those that price their properties appropriately are seeing a fair amount of (buyer) activity.”
South Sound broker Jeff Crandell said he isn’t sure prices will continue to drop, but he acknowledged that the housing market has slowed.
“We’re not going to set any sales records in 2008, but I don’t think it will be a bad year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thurston County home sales fell more than 20 percent on a year-over-year basis in March.
Meanwhile, local real estate agents continue to work against themselves by making unrealistic optimistic predictions.
I couldn’t find a story this month from the Tacoma News Tribune. If anyone saw one, shoot me the link and I’ll include it.
Update: Apparently Ms. Wells was on vacation this weekend as well. Here’s her story in the Tribune.
Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce County home prices keep falling:
Median home prices in Pierce County continued a year-over-year slide in March as nearby counties also saw price declines.
Pierce County’s median price for houses and condos was $258,405, amounting to a 6.02 percent decrease from March 2007, according to figures released last week by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Prices declined for the sixth time in the past seven months.
Price drops here, however, pale in comparison to areas around the country seeing double-digit decreases, including communities in Florida, Southern California and the Midwest.
I suspect we’ll be seeing more of this as the decline continues here. We’re always going to look good compared to Southern California and Florida. Duh.
(Chris Ingalls, KING 5 News, 04.04.2008)
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 04.04.2008)
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 04.05.2008)
(Jennifer Langston, Seattle P-I, 04.04.2008)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 04.05.2008)
(Rolf Boone, Olympian, 04.05.2008)
(Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune, 04.08.2008)