Here’s the NWMLS press release that accompanied yesterday’s numbers: Home Buyers Starting to Seize Opportunities in Some Western Washington Areas
“Home buyers in Pierce and Kitsap are starting to recognize the opportunities that exist for first-time buyers and those looking to buy a home in the more affordable price ranges,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “These areas were the first to feel the housing market adjustment, so it’s natural that they would lead the road to recovery,” he added.
MLS director Dick Beeson, broker/owner of Windermere/Commencement Associates in Tacoma, agreed. He estimates one in four pending sales in Pierce County last month were short sales (a sale in which the proceeds are less than the balance owed on a loan; such sales are typical to prevent foreclosure). Beeson attributes the uptick in pending sales to short sales along with low interest rates and a buyer pool that’s “finally waking up to the excellent values in the marketplace.”
“There’s no question that buyers are being educated and coached by agents in how to craft offers within lender approved guidelines that garner good price values along with seller concessions for closing costs and needed repairs to the property,” according to Beeson. Given the pent-up demand, he believes passage of a stimulus package with key elements for housing would spur a housing rebound.
I’m not so sure that Dick Beeson is the best person to be “coaching” home buyers, but maybe that’s just me.
“It’s pretty clear that the real estate train came to a complete stop over the past few months,” acknowledges NWMLS Pat Grimm, owner/broker of Windermere Real Estate/Capitol Hill, Inc. “The good news is that the train was moving pretty fast before and now people have an opportunity to get aboard.” Affordability is the key, according to Grimm. “With interest rates and prices down, dream properties are within reach again and we’re starting to feel the train building up steam.”
“I have heard several reports of a dramatic increase in buyer activity,” said Pat Grimm, owner/broker of Windermere Real Estate/Capitol Hill, Inc. “Buyers are anticipating a window of opportunity where prices are low, inventory is plentiful and financing is both obtainable and inexpensive,” the MLS director noted, adding, “In Seattle, well priced and well positioned properties are getting multiple offers.”
Oh wait, whoops. That second paragraph from Pat Grimm was actually from January 2008. Sorry about that.
So this month’s theme is apparently travel metaphors. We’re on “the road to recovery” and “we’re starting to feel the train building up steam.” If we keep saying it enough, eventually it will become true, right?
Karen Gaudette, Seattle Times: King County home prices down nearly $100,000 from peak
When we’ll hit bottom is anyone’s guess. What’s clear is that the Seattle-area residential real-estate market has fallen a long way from its peak and is still headed down.
The median price of a single-family home in King County has tumbled nearly $100,000 — or 20 percent — from the high point of $481,000 in July 2007, according to figures released Wednesday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
“Do we think the bottom of the housing market will be this year? I believe it will be. But when this year, that’s another question,” [Matthew Gardner] said. “Right now we’re still hit by paralyzing news with monotonous regularity. It’s a very tough economic environment.”
Have I mentioned that I miss Elizabeth Rhodes? Reading the monthly real estate reports in the Times just isn’t fun when they’re so down-to-earth and lacking in blind optimism. Oh well.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: King County’s house prices, inventory drop
“I think we’re going to continue to see pressure on prices throughout 2009,” said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University. That’s because he expects a lot of distressed sales from the many 2006 buyers who used mortgages due to reset to much higher payments after three years.
The drop in the number of homes for sale “is reflecting some stabilization in the market,” Crellin said. “We’re getting some of that excess inventory out of there, which we really need for the market to stabilize.”
I don’t think many of us would mind things “stabilizing” at ten to twelve percent yearly price declines for a while. I say bring on the stabilization!
Mike Benbow, Everett Herald: Home prices in Snohomish County tumble 14%
Prices for single-family homes in Snohomish County dropped significantly in January, news that distressed owners and sent more buyers out looking for bargains.
Bob Maple, broker owner of the John L. Scott office in Everett, noted that the forces driving prices down are short sellers —people whose homes are worth less than what they owe — and banks that have foreclosed.
“Price is the key,” he said. “There are a lot of (bank- or builder-owned homes) and they are priced to sell. They just keep dropping the price to get them off their books.”
“Our pendings were way up … they were the highest they’ve been in six months,” he said. “There’s a new president and a new attitude and people are feeling better about things.”
Are there seriously people out there that base their home-buying decision on who is sitting in the White House? Really?
Kelly Kearsley, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce County median home price stays stable
Both the shrinking inventory and increased pending sales in Pierce County are signs that the market might be stabilizing, said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research in Pullman.
“I’m delighted the numbers are as good as they were, but I’m not sure it’s going to be maintained especially with the national economy in as severe of a recession,” he said.
More foreclosures could be on the way in Pierce County as adjustable-rate mortgages continue to reset. The real estate market was still chugging along in 2006, meaning people were still getting loans. Those rates will likely reset this year, translating into higher payments, Crellin said. (The foreclosure rate is much higher in other parts of the country, such as California, where prices fell farther and faster.)
I love the parenthetical addition. True, but totally unnecessary and useless information.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Deals boost home sales
Year-over-year Thurston County home sales rose for the first time in nearly two years in January as South Sound buyers took advantage of bargain prices for single-family residences and condos, according to home-sales data released Wednesday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Real estate agent Andrew Oczkewicz said business picked up right after Christmas. One of his listings, a house on 3.69 acres in Olympia that had been on the market since June, suddenly received renewed interest in the form of 12 showings and three offers.
“Mortgage interest rates are low, great bargains on houses are still out there and they decided to come to the table,” he said about his prospective deal.
Oh, well if Andrew Oczkewicz’s listing in Olympia got twelve showings and three offers, we must have hit bottom! What more evidence could you need?
(Karen Gaudette, Seattle Times, 02.04.2009)
(Karen Gaudette, Seattle Times, 02.05.2009)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 02.04.2009)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 01.07.2009)
(Kelly Kearsley, Tacoma News Tribune, 02.05.2009)
(Rolf Boone, Olympian, 02.05.2009)