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Market Update for May May 8, 2007

Posted by W. Keoki McCarthy in market conditions.
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Housing Market in Western Washington Remains Relatively Healthy

KIRKLAND, Wash. (May 7, 2007) – Unlike many regions of the country, the Puget Sound area continues to enjoy a healthy housing market, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Condominiums are showing steady – and in some areas very strong – demand.

Pending sales fell short of year-ago volumes, inventory is still growing, and prices are still rising to continue the pattern of recent months. Northwest MLS brokers tallied 9,156 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) during April, about 5.6 percent fewer than the same month a year ago.

That total includes single family homes and condos.

Viewed separately, sales of single family homes slipped 7.5 percent from twelve months ago, while sales of condominiums increased by more than 4 percent.

Six counties in the NWMLS service area reported double-digit drops in pending sales. King County, which accounted for almost forty percent of NWMLS transactions, had only a 5.4 percent decline compared to a year ago.

Prices for last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums area-wide rose 9.5 percent from a year ago. For the first time, the median selling price for single family homes and condos combined topped $400,000 in King County. Residences that sold and closed last month had a median sales price of $407,265.

Single family homes that sold in King County last month had a median sales price of $465,000, up almost 10.9 percent from the year-ago figure of $419,500. For the condo segment, which accounted for 29 percent of the county’s sales, prices surged 19 percent, rising from $247,900 to $295,000.

In the four- county Puget Sound region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties), the storyline was similar. Pending sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) were down 9.7%, with Pierce County experiencing the sharpest drop (13.1 percent). Prices were up almost 9.6 percent in the region, led by Snohomish County, where prices for last month’s closed sales jumped 12.2 percent.

Inventory continues to expand, with MLS members adding 14,930 new listings during April, boosting the month-end total to 38,408 offerings. The selection is 52 percent bigger than a year ago, when brokers represented 25,215 listings system-wide.

For would-be homeowners, one bright spot may be some slowing in home-price appreciation.

The year-to-date median asking price for single family homes only (excluding condominiums) is $369,950 – only $20,000 more than a year ago (a 5.7 percent increase). In King County, the year-to-date median listing price is $525,000, up $25,050 (5 percent) from twelve months ago.

An analysis of King County’s current inventory shows scant selection at the lower end of the price spectrum, while those seeking luxury have far more choices:

King County Inventory by Price Range (as of 5/5/07)
(includes single family homes and condominiums

Price Range

# of listings

% of total

Under $200,000

231

2.6%

$400,000 to $599,999

2613

29.8%

$800,000 or higher

1873

21.4%

Most industry watchers expect prices will continue to rise, with job growth, population gains and growth management controls being factors.

The Puget Sound region’s resiliency in housing is illustrated by a report issued last month by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller® Home Price Indices. Its analysis of 20 cities found 15 of the metropolitan areas showed declines in home prices from a year ago. Seattle was the only area to register a double-digit gain in house values.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Based in Kirkland and owned by its member brokers, it currently encompasses nearly 2,100 companies with more than 26,000 sales associates. Together, they serve 19 counties, mostly in western Washington, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state.

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