Median single-family home prices continued to decline in January throughout the Puget Sound region compared to the previous year, according to figures released from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
When we’ll hit bottom is anyone’s guess. What’s clear is that the Seattle-area residential real-estate market has fallen a long way from its peak and is still headed down.
The median price of a single-family home in King County has tumbled nearly $100,000 — or 20 percent — from the high point of $481,000 in July 2007, according to figures released Wednesday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
January also marked the 12th-consecutive month of declines in median price, down just over 12 percent to $382,500 from $435,000 the same month a year earlier.
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Many who work in or watch the real-estate industry posit we still have farther to fall. Matthew Gardner, principal at Gardner Johnson, a Seattle land-use economics firm, says sellers have yet to drop their prices enough to spur buyers to bite.
O.B. Jacobi, who manages five Windermere Real Estate offices in Seattle, says buyers armed with low mortgage rates are circling, waiting for the right price. He’s also noticed many shunning fixer-uppers, either to avoid shelling out cash for remodels or to have value upfront.
“It’s very clear that if a seller puts a house on the market for what they want to get, and not what the market will bear, they’re not going to get it. Buyers are definitely in the driver’s seat,” Jacobi said.
Activity was similar throughout the Puget Sound region in January. The median price for single-family homes in Snohomish County fell 14.27 percent from $365,000 to $312,900. In Pierce County, prices fell 11.79 percent from $266,397 to $235,000. In Kitsap County, the drop was 15.65 percent, from $278,552 to $234,950.
The median condominium price, however, rose in every county but Kitsap, where it fell 40.66 percent from $299,900 to $177,975 compared to last January.
The median condo price rose 3.42 percent in King County, from $270,500 to $279,750. In Snohomish County it climbed 8.10 percent, from $224,999 to $243,225. And in Pierce it rose 3.41 percent from $205,000 to $212,000.
A closer look at King County shows median condo prices rose in the city of Seattle (9.84 percent) and in the southeast (2.05 percent) over last January but fell in all other areas, including the Eastside. Median single-family home sales fell in all parts of the King County.
A National Association of Realtors report released earlier this week indicated that pending home sales, or signed contracts to buy existing homes, were up in December in many parts of the country. They were a mixed bag in the four-county region during January, with pending home sales up in Pierce and Kitsap counties and pending condominium sales up in Kitsap.
Pending single-family home sales and condominium sales fell in King County, by 5.39 percent and 25.22 percent, respectively. In Snohomish County, they slipped by 7.30 percent and 11.76 percent, respectively.
Inventory, the number of homes for sale, fell from the previous January, an indicator Gardner took as a sign the market is beginning to even out. Consumer confidence is key. Few will buy if they’re constantly worried about losing their jobs, he said.
“Do we think the bottom of the housing market will be this year? I believe it will be. But when this year, that’s another question,” he said. “Right now we’re still hit by paralyzing news with monotonous regularity. It’s a very tough economic environment.”
Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or firstname.lastname@example.org