By Mike Benbow Herald Writer
Snohomish County home sales rose 62 percent in April as buyers rushed to meet an April 30 deadline to qualify for an income tax break, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Wednesday.
There were 869 home sales in the county last month and 1,529 pending sales — deals that were started but not closed.
“The homebuyer tax credit did what it was designed to do; it helped with stabilizing the housing market, which in turn helped stimulate economic recovery,” J. Lennox Schott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said in a news release.
He said that about half the sales likely involved first-time buyers purchasing lower-priced homes and receiving an $8,000 tax credit. But he also said that a $6,500 tax credit for existing homeowners seemed to encourage many to step up to a more expensive home.
Home prices continued to fall in April, with the county’s median price dropping 5.86 percent to $273,000. A year ago, the median price was $290,000. Median means half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.
The number of people selling their homes dropped with the prices. There were 5,357 homes for sale in the county last month, a dip of 4.2 percent from a year ago.
Now, the question is whether the sales upswing will continue without the tax incentives.
O.B. Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said he thinks the credits got people excited about home buying again and that consumer confidence in an improving economy will be “driving the engine now.”
“We saw lots of activity among first-time buyers who knew they were not going to make the deadline for the credit, as well as an upswing in higher-end sales that did not qualify for the credits,” Jacobi said.
That means people will buy for the right price, he said.
“I can’t overemphasize the importance of pricing a home correctly,” Jacobi said.
Pending sales for April rose 38 percent in the county, so just completing those sales will help May’s numbers.