Home sales increase again while median prices slip

  • By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
  • Friday, April 6, 2012 3:01pm

The number of homes for sale in Snohomish County last month was down nearly 44 percent compared to March of 2011, indicating a stabilizing housing market.

The county had 2,617 homes for sale in March, compared to the 4,641 homes that were for sale in the same month a year ago. That’s according to a report released April 5 by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“The lagging inventory is actually helping prices stabilize, which we hope will have a positive impact on the real estate market as the year progresses,” George Moorhead, branch manager at Bentley Properties in Bothell and director of MLS, said in a statement.

Closed home sales in Snohomish County were up 5.5 percent last month over the same period a year ago. However, pending sales rose 21.1 percent in March.

Diedre Haines, a regional managing broker for Snohomish County at Coldwell Banker Bain in Lynnwood and a Northwest MLS director, said pending sales in Snohomish County would have been “considerably greater were it not for the buyer competition due to the magnitude of multiple offer situations.”

Home and condo prices, however, still declined in March. The median price declined 3.6 percent last month to $228,500, compared to $237,000 in March 2011. The median price for a single-family home slipped 2 percent, from $249,900 to $245,000. For condos, the median price plummeted 31 percent, from $166,990 to $115,055.

Haines said the housing demand in Snohomish County “is at the highest levels we have experienced since 2006.” She noted there are two potential buyers for every current home on the market in Snohomish County, according to recent analysis.

She said they are seeing the return of price escalator forms, pre-inspections, set dates for sellers to review offers and properties selling above list price.

“Prices are not increasing dramatically but those properties that are listed and priced correctly, especially in the $300,000 and below range, are selling within days of coming on market,” Haines said.

Haines also said they are seeing multiple offer situations in the higher priced market “but not as many over list price sales.”

The optimism comes with a cautionary note. Even with high demand, homes that are priced above comparable properties are not receiving offers.

“We are seeing very positive signs of a continuing recovery but buyers are well educated regarding values and pricing,” Haines said. “Sellers should not expect huge increases in values and need to price their properties accordingly and realistically.”

The Kirkland-based Northwest Multiple Listing Service is owned by member real estate firms. Membership includes more than 22,000 real estate brokers who serve 21 counties in Washington.

Snohomish County home prices

Median March prices compared to 2011.

Snohomish-Monroe area: $323,200, up 1.0 percent

Marysville area: $194,900, up 9.6 percent

Everett-Mukilteo area: $222,600, down 3.2 percent

Edmonds area: $243,000, down 2.9 percent

Granite Falls: $210,527, down 7.8 percent