Even when we have direct access to the hard facts of the local real estate market, it’s still fun to see what kind of spin the local papers put into their report of the data. So, it is time yet again to continue our monthly tradition of rounding up all the local “mainstream” articles about last month’s housing data.
How many ways can you print “now is a great time to buy”? Read on to find out…
Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times: Homes sales, prices fall around Puget Sound
Real-estate agents increasingly are spreading the word that it’s a great time to buy, but judging from last month’s King County home-sales numbers, the message isn’t being universally received.
Scott Jarvis, director of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, was among those suggesting that the time is right to buy.
In a statement, Jarvis said excellent financing options exist for those with decent credit, including great programs for first-time homebuyers. Generally stable prices and a relatively strong economy also pointed in favor of buying, Jarvis said.
The great thing about describing the economy as “relatively strong” is that as long as things don’t get as bad as the Great Depression, you can keep calling them “relatively strong.” And as long as things are “relatively strong,” it’s a great time to buy, right?
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Housing inventory might be starting to level off
Listings for all homes (houses and condos) were up 26.4 percent in the county and 27.4 percent in Seattle from a year earlier. The increases were the smallest since January 2007 in the county and December 2006 in Seattle, suggesting inventory might be starting to level off.
“I think it’s beginning to indicate that the inventory level is stabilizing, if nothing else,” said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University.
But he noted that sales have not shown signs of picking up.
The new federal housing measure made it easier to buy smart in the current market, said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive of John L. Scott Real Estate.
“The passing of this legislation marks the beginning phase of the next 10-year housing cycle in which prices in the more affordable markets will only continue to appreciate,” he said.
I wonder what standard Mr. Scott is using that defines the Seattle area as one of “the more affordable markets”? I would think that title would go to places like Raleigh, Minneapolis, and Austin. Also, I am curious how the recent housing bailout will “make it easier” for people to “buy smart.” Is it the $7,500 government loan?
Also check out Aubrey’s neighborhood-specific story: Southeast Seattle struggles with sluggish housing market
Mike Benbow, Everett Herald: Snohomish County home sales stronger in July
Home sales in Snohomish County appeared to improve in July as sales and prices were both stronger than they were in June, according to numbers from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The combined median price for condominiums and single-family homes in July was $332,500, or $3,000 more than what homes sold for in June. That $332,500 figure was 4.52 percent less than prices were a year ago. In June, the median price had fallen 7.2 percent from the year-ago figures.
The numbers were lower than real estate agents had hoped. But the single-digit changes in home values remain lower than in most areas of the country.
“Considering the market adjustment because of the subprime mess, we’re doing better than expected,” said Dick Beeson, owner of Windermere/Commencement Associates in Tacoma.
Beeson’s claim that “we’re doing better than expected” is interesting, in light of this quote from him in June: “I expect both temperatures and the market to heat up as summer approaches.” I guess we’re doing so good at the temperatures heating up part that it offsets the fact that the market is still in the dumps.
Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce County home prices fall again
Months of annual home-price declines in Pierce County deepened in July with a drop that neared double digits. New figures released Wednesday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service showed the median price of a home in Pierce County decreased to $255,000, a change of 9.4 percent compared with the same month last year.
July’s price drop was the 10th in the last 11 months and the largest.
Windermere managing broker Wanda Coats said buyers waiting for the lowest possible price run the risk of finding higher interest rates down the road.
“If you’re trying to time it and the interest rates go up, you just negated many times over what you just saved in the long term of a 30-year loan,” she said.
I guess Wanda didn’t get the memo. “Rising interest rates” was last month’s scare tactic.
I was unable to locate a story on the July data from The Olympian. If anyone sees it let me know and I’ll add it here.
Update [08.14] – I guess Rolf Boone was on vacation or something. The Olympian’s story finally posted: Home sales dip again in July
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 08.06.2008)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 08.07.2008)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 08.07.2008)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 08.07.2008)
(Devona Wells, Tacoma News Tribune, 08.07.2008)