Mar 09

A Spring Market to Remember

Supply at its lowest level since May 2005 during the peak of the housing boom

Washington state real estate brokers agree today’s market is far different than two years ago.  Key indicators “are in perfect alignment for a spring market to remember,” with agents commenting that they have never seen a time when the inventory of homes for sale was so low and the demand so high with anxious buyers seeking to take advantage of low interest rates.

The number of active listings system-wide is down 29%  from a year ago with three counties reporting even more contraction: Snohomish County (-47.7 percent); King County (-45.3 percent); and Clark County (-44.7 percent).

Compounding the housing shortage is the 25% of inventory that is distressed, i.e., short sales or bank-owned. Such homes can be needing significant repairs or have prolonged transaction times making them less desirable.

Multiple offers are the “rule rather than the exception”

This is especially for well-priced new listings in core urban areas, e.g., Seattle, Bellevue. The month’s supply of homes in King County has dipped to about 1.2 months, well below the ‘normal’ six-month threshold, resulting in stiff competition among buyers and homes selling for well over asking price.

Perhaps the most bullish person on housing is Warren Buffett: “… I would load up.”  

February median price up

February’s closed sales jumped more than 9% from February 2012, and median sales prices are up 13% according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS).

For single family homes the median price was $255,000, up about 11.4% from the year-ago figure of $229,000. King County homes commanded a median price of $365,000, rising from $308,125 for a year-over-year gain of about 18.5%.

Condo prices jumped 22.7% area wide (from $150,000 to $184,000) and more than 31% t in King County (King County accounts for nearly two-thirds of  transactions). Condos selling last month in King County had a median selling price of $210,000; a year ago it was $159,950.

 And, as one expert recently commented: “We’ve had the gas crisis, we’ve had the fiscal cliff crisis, we’ve had the meltdown of banks and the resulting loss of confidence on Wall Street. Yet look at the facts… The real estate market has not only survived, but it has shown marked improvement.”


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