Published August 2005

Home sales go
from 'hot' to 'simmer'

By SCBJ Staff
Months of skyrocketing prices and declining inventories — especially for condominiums — slowed home sales dramatically in the central Puget Sound area in June, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which represents real estate businesses throughout Western Washington.

In King County, which accounts for 40 percent of the area’s home sales, sales rose by only 1.5 percent in June in comparison with the same month last year. In Snohomish County, sales were even flatter, rising 0.01 percent. In Island County, sales also slowed, rising 0.08 percent in comparison with a year ago.In other areas, sales continued to soar, up 32 percent in both Lewis and Grays Harbor counties.

While home sales slipped from “hot” to “simmer,” prices continued to rise as they have for the past several years. In Snohomish County, the combined median price for both condominiums and single-family homes rose to $282,600 last month, an increase of 16.7 percent.

In Island County, prices jumped nearly 20 percent over year-ago figures. For single-family homes, the median price in Snohomish County in June was $299,000, a 19.6 percent rise from June 2004.

For condos only, the median price was $184,990, an increase of 7.9 percent. Median means half sold for more and half sold for less. While condo prices increased at a much lower rate than those for single-family homes, there were fewer condos available in Snohomish County last month. In June 2004, buyers had 754 condos to choose from. The number was 380 last month, a nearly 50 percent drop.

Construction of new condos has been dropping in the county because lawsuits on the West Coast over the quality of materials and building methods have caused insurance for condo builders to soar, driving many out of the business. Available condos also dropped significantly in King County, from 2,477 last year to 1,319 last month.

Despite the June sales drop, sales in Snohomish County could be up significantly in July because pending sales — sales begun but not completed in June — were up by 16.42 percent. Unless sales initiated in July also fall dramatically, the number of homes sold this month should climb from last year.

Other data from the listing service noted that: The most expensive homes in the county are in the Maltby area near the King County line, selling for a median price of $359,950.

The fastest-selling homes were in the Lake Stevens area, averaging 41 days on the market. The least expensive homes were in the Stanwood, Marysville and Arlington areas, with a median price of $249,950.

June Home Sales

Snohomish County
Median price: $282,600, up 16.7 percent during the past year Listings: 3,127, down 27.1 percent during the past year Pending sales: 1,999, up 16.4 percent Sales: 1,674, up 0.01 percent Average time on market: 41 days, down 12 days from last year

Island County
Median price: $239,000, up 19.8 percent Listings: 553, down 32.2 percent Pending sales: 233, down 20.1 percent Sales: 218, up 0.08 percent Average time on market: 71, down 15 days

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