Home prices rise on scant supply, tough competition

  • By Kurt Batdorf HBJ Editor
  • Friday, July 5, 2013 2:25pm

EVERETT — Competition for modestly priced homes intensified in June, driving up the median sales price for single-family homes and condos in Snohomish County by 14.4 percent from prices in June 2012.

“The recent rise in interest rates has definitely brought more buyers into the market but, the inventory remains so low we have not seen a significant increase in sales,” Northwest Multiple Listing Service director Diedre Haines, regional manager broker for Coldwell Banker Bain in Lynnwood, said in a July 3 news release.

The listing service’s June sales data for Snohomish County shows a continuing trend that started in early 2012: a decline in new listings coupled with high demand that drives up median sales prices.

The decline in listings neatly reflects the increase in prices for sales completed in June. Compared to June 2012, total listings for single-family homes fell by 12.2 percent and prices climbed by 13.2 percent, from $265,000 to $300,000. For condominiums, total listings fell by 25.1 percent and prices shot up by 25.2 percent, from $143,700 to $179,975.

According to Northwest MLS data, the southwest corner of the county posted the biggest year-over-year increase in median sales prices for single-family homes, rising 22.2 percent from $286,775 to $350,550. In the same period, condo prices in the Everett-Mukilteo-Mill Creek area shot up 47 percent, from $119,000 to $174,980.

The inventory of available homes and condos for sale in Snohomish and King counties stands at less than 1.4 months, according to Northwest MLS data. That means that all property currently listed would be sold in less than six weeks if no new sales listings are added.

Because of the tight supply, pending sales for single-family homes in Snohomish County rose just 3.6 percent while pending sales for condos slipped 1.7 percent.

Thanks to Snohomish County’s depleted inventory, Haines described conditions as an “uber seller’s market.”

“We desperately need more properties to sell to satisfy the current demand,” said Mike Gain, president and CEO of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates in Seattle.

Despite inventory shortages, Gain said “on-the-fence” buyers are jumping into the market now to lock into low interest rates at current prices before rates rise more, which is expected.

“Today’s buyers may never see a better time to purchase a home,” Gain said in the MLS news release.

“In June, our brokers reported anywhere from two to seven offers on homes in the lower to mid-price ranges,” said OB Jacobi, a member of the board of directors for Northwest Multiple Listing Service and president of Windermere Real Estate Co. in Seattle.

He noted interest rates for 2013 reached a new high in mid-June, “a result of improved confidence in the U.S. economy. And now, with Seattle’s jobless rate below 5 percent, we expect even further pressure on housing as new workers move to the area.”

Northwest MLS director Darin Stenvers, the office managing broker for John L. Scott in Bellingham, also noted homeowners who had “underwater” equity positions are benefiting from the recovering market.

“These owners are seeing their home price slowly rise to a position where many of them are no longer required to do a short sale,” he said in the news release. “Sellers who can now sell with the long delay of short sales are able to ride the lower interest rate tide.”

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102; kbatdorf@heraldnet.com.