It's starting to sound like a broken record: Low mortgage rates, strong demand and a tight supply have pumped up home prices yet another...

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It’s starting to sound like a broken record: Low mortgage rates, strong demand and a tight supply have pumped up home prices yet another month.

Closed sales on the Eastside rose 31.3 percent — the highest in King County — last month compared with February 2004, according to statistics the Northwest Multiple Listing Service released last week. The median price of Eastside homes and condos inched up 10.8 percent in February to $381,000.

A large number of buyers — many eager to close before interest rates rise — are chasing after a relatively small pool of desirable homes for sale. Many would-be sellers have refinanced their homes and remodeled or added on, keeping the number of listings down.

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An improving economy and a falling unemployment rate — the jobless rate is at its lowest point in four years at 5.5 percent — are allowing more buyers to take the plunge.

Tight inventory is driving down the amount of time it takes to sell an Eastside home, from 73 days in February 2004 to 56 last month, creating multiple offers and forcing some buyers to bypass inspections to nab a deal.

“There’s not that much out there,” said Matt Deasy, owner and manager of six Windermere offices in Bellevue, Kirkland and Issaquah. “However, buyers aren’t grabbing everything that goes on the market. If it’s overpriced, buyers aren’t touching it.”

Don’t expect a break from the frantic market anytime soon. Although the fixed rate on 30-year mortgages crept up to 5.69 percent last month and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is toying with raising the overnight loan rate even higher, rates are still some of the lowest in a decade.

“It’s probably not going to get any better from a buyer’s perspective,” said Michael Grady, president of Coldwell Banker Bain on Mercer Island.

Haute picks

Think you know the best place to buy bling bling, sip martinis or satisfy your sweet tooth in Bellevue?

Then fill out the Bellevue Downtown Association’s annual “Best of Bellevue” survey and let everyone know what they’re missing out on.

Voting is open to the public at through March 31. Winners will be announced at the group’s meeting April 26.


• The Roberts Music Institute — a school for guitarists, keyboardists, drummers, bassists and singers — offers classes in digital recording, sight reading, composition and harmony, including special seminars and workshops. The school opened in January at 13417 N.E. 20th St. in Bellevue.

More information can be found online at

Eastside Business Notes appears every Wednesday in the Eastside edition of the Seattle Times.

Kristina Shevory: 206-464-2039