Snohomish County home sales surge

By Mike Benbow Herald Writer

EVERETT — Home sales in Snohomish County increased significantly in December and strong pending sales gave agents hope for the new year.

There were 779 homes sold in the county last month, a 78 percent increase in comparison to a year ago. Pending sales, those that begin last month and should close in January, were up 31 percent, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Tuesday.

“With what our agents already have in the pipeline, I’m optimistic about a positive first quarter,” said Meribeth Hutchings, the broker at Windermere RE/Lake Stevens. “We had a very strong December, and the momentum seems to be there to keep things moving.”

The local home sales were in distinct contrast with the national figures released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors, which showed a sharp drop in November sales of existing homes. The sales of new homes are reported separately by the national group.

While sales were up locally, home prices here continued to fall, with the combined median price for single-family homes and condominiums now at $280,000, an 8.8 percent drop from a year ago. Condo prices dropped by 11 percent to a median of $231,000. Median means half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

The most expensive homes were in south county near Maltby, where the median was $333,747. The least expensive were in the east and north areas of the county, where the median was around $248,000.

The lower prices certainly helped sales, as has a drop in the numbers of homes listed for sale.

“With inventory much smaller than a year ago, sellers should benefit from more exposure to a good pool of buyers,” Dick Fulton, executive vice president at Coldwell Banker Bain, said in a news release.

There were 5,376 homes available for sale last month, a 17.5 percent drop from a year ago, according to the listing service.