Home prices up again in Snohomish County

Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

Home prices in Snohomish County increased again in May — establishing a two-month trend, according to a report released this week.

The median single-family home sold for $259,933 last month, up 7.3 percent from a year ago, based on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service report. That follows a nearly 10 percent jump in prices of single-family homes sold in the county in April compared to the previous year.

Fewer homes on the market and low interest rates are being credited with the recent bump in prices.

“The six-month trend of low listing inventory continues to cause strong buyer competition for homes close to job centers,” said Joe Spencer, Northwest MLS director.

The number of single-family homes for sale in Snohomish County dropped 45 percent last month compared to May 2011.

The condo market in Snohomish County, however, tells a different tale. Despite a 60 percent drop in inventory in May, the median condo price fell 7.5 percent last month to $151,700.

Sales of condos in the county were up 7.3 percent, while sales of single-family homes increased nearly 25 percent compared to sales in May 2011.

The inventory of homes in Snohomish County is smaller than that of the other 20 counties in the state tracked by the Northwest MLS. The county has a 1.5-month supply of homes on the market, meaning it would take that long to sell the homes available if no new houses were listed for sale. Analysts say that a five- to six-month supply of homes indicates a balanced housing market.

King County has a 1.7-month supply, while Skagit County has a 4.9-month supply and Whatcom County a 4.8-month supply.

Record-low mortgage rates are driving homebuyer affordability, noted Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. Compared to a year ago, Nothaft said rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage rate are almost 0.9 percentage points lower, which translates into nearly $1,200 less in annual payments on a $200,000 loan.

On Tuesday, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate in Washington was 3.6 percent, according to a report released by Zillow Mortgage Marketplace. That’s down from 3.63 percent the previous week.

“With limited economic data releases this coming week, we expect rates to remain fairly flat as the markets await more U.S. economic data, Treasury actions and the results of the Greek elections in mid-June,” said Erin Lantz, director of Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.

Home prices

Snohomish County home prices (condo and single-family home numbers combined)

Median May prices compared to 2011:

Snohomish-Monroe area: $325,000, up 5.5 percent

Marysville area: $201,500, up 0.5 percent

Everett-Mukilteo area: $251,250, up 6.9 percent

Edmonds area: $260,960, up 8.7 percent

Granite Falls: $232,500, up 15.1 percent

Gold Bar-Sultan: $214,975, down 6.5 percent

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service