Strong condominium price growth helped buoy overall housing appreciation last month, but still it wasn't enough to keep it out of negative...

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Strong condominium price growth helped buoy overall housing appreciation last month, but still it wasn’t enough to keep it out of negative territory in King and Snohomish counties.

Median prices for King County houses and condominiums combined dropped 2.6 percent last month, as compared to the previous December, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported today.

Combined prices were down 0.6 percent in Snohomish County and flat in Pierce County.

Only Kitsap County showed an increase, albeit a modest 1.5 percent year-over-year rise for houses and condos combined.

December is always a slow sales month, but last month’s activity was slower than usual.

Within the four-county region, pending sales — those signed in December but not yet completed — were 23 to 34 percent below the previous December, depending on the county.

The biggest dip was in King County, which also had the most sales: 1,488. A year earlier there were 2,251.

Meanwhile, the number of properties for sale remains substantially above previous year tallies, a trend that started several months ago.

“One of the biggest things slowing down the local market is the memory of multiple offers and sellers being unrealistic in accepting the fact that the gold rush mentality is gone,” said Paul Simpson, an associate broker for Windermere Real Estate Northwest.

“What we now have is what I like to call a normal market,” Simpson said. There’s “ample supply, great interest rates for qualified buyers, time for those buyers to thoroughly evaluate the property and be protected by finance clauses.”

The median price of King County single-family homes was $435,000 last month. That’s unchanged from the previous month, but down 1.1 percent compared to the previous December.

King County’s median condominium price $290,000 last month, up 7.4 percent year over year. (Median means half the properties are priced higher, half are priced lower.)

In Snohomish County, the median for detached homes was $358,833 last month, compared to $360,250 a year earlier. That county’s condo median was $230,476, up from $217,225 the previous December.

Pierce and Kitsap single-family house prices also were near a year earlier’s level.

In Pierce, the median was $277,000 ($275,000 a year earlier). In Kitsap, it was $265,500 ($268,400 a year earlier). Both counties had fewer than 90 condominium sales last month.

Elizabeth Rhodes: