Prices drive spike in home sales

By Mike Benbow Herald Writer

People bought more homes in Snohomish County in January as prices continued to fall.

Pending sales, deals made in January that didn’t close, climbed 42 percent last month and closed sales weren’t far behind, climbing 37.9 percent, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Thursday. There were 949 pending sales last month and 495 completed sales, the listing service reported.

“The market has definitely picked up, with more interest and action by buyers,” said Dick Beeson, a Windermere owner/broker in Tacoma. “Sellers are expecting better results this year than last year, but not necessarily higher prices.”

The combined median price for single-family homes and condominiums fell more than 9 percent in January to $267,995.

Also falling were the number of homes available for sale. There were 5,595 listings last month, a 12.4 percent drop from a year ago.

The continued drop in listings is considered a healthy sign as the county continues to sell through a glut of homes in a soft market.

The listing service estimated that the area it serves, mostly Western Washington, has a slightly more than a six-month supply of homes available. A three- to six-month supply is considered a balanced market.

There was slightly more interest in single-family homes last month than condos because prices for houses are falling at a quicker rate. The median price for a single-family home last month was $279,995, a 10.5 percent drop. The median price for a condo was $232,000, a drop of 4.6 percent.

The most expensive homes remain closer to King County, where many home buyers work. Those were also the areas where prices dropped the furthest. Prices were lower and more stable further north.

The median price for homes in the Maltby area south of Snohomish, for example, was $350,000, a drop of $63,000 from a year ago, or 15.34 percent. In Everett, the median was $256,734, a drop of 8.6 percent from last year.