The recession may have permanently hit paychecks and the number of jobs available, but median prices for homes sold in the Seattle area are approaching the peak hit six years ago before the housing market tanked.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Wednesday that the median sale price of a single-family home in King County in June was $427,500, up 12.5 percent from the same month a year ago and up 2.4 percent from May. That’s just $27,500 from the highest median price of $455,000, hit in July 2007.
June was the third consecutive month the median price topped $400,000 and the 15th straight month of year-over-year price increases.
But the traditional summer buyer enthusiasm has already dampened, says Tim Ellis, founder and editor of Seattle Bubble, a real-estate news site.
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“Sales dipped between May and June. The fact there was any dip at all at this time of the year indicates cooling among buyers,” Ellis said.
Another factor may be fewer homes for sale. There were only 4,203 homes on the market last month, down 17 percent from last June, while pending sales topped 3,000, up 11.4 percent from a year ago.
Seattle was the 10th-hottest market in the country in May, with 46 percent of homes under contract within two weeks of being listed, and 32 percent under contract in one week or less, according to a report issued this week from RedFin.com, a real-estate company.
Mike Gain, CEO and president of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates in Seattle, says with so many prospective buyers out there, bidding wars have intensified. “Buying is not for everyone, but if you’re going to be in the area for a long time, this is an opportune time,” Gain said.
In Snohomish County, the median sale price for a single-family home rose 13.2 percent from a year ago to $300,000. In Pierce County, it rose 11.3 percent to $224,900. Kitsap County saw a 1 percent drop from a year ago to $247,475.
Condo prices also rose in King and Snohomish counties compared with a year ago. King County’s median price rose 11.3 percent to $244,950. In Snohomish County, it rose 25.2 percent to $179,975.
The recent uptick in mortgage rates may be pushing hesitant buyers off the fence. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 4.29 percent from 4.46 percent a week ago, Freddie Mac reported Wednesday.
The rate has hovered around 3.5 percent for much of the last year.
Svenja Gudell, senior economist at Zillow.com, a real-estate information site, said in an email the historically low mortgage rates were not sustainable but that the rise is not necessarily bad news, nor will it derail the housing recovery.
“We anticipate mortgage rates to continue this upward trend,” she said. “But rates of 6 percent seem like a steal, considering the average 30-year fixed rate over the past 42 years was roughly 8.5 percent, according to Freddie Mac.”