South county real estate sizzles with sales

  • By Kurt Batdorf HBJ Editor
  • Tuesday, August 6, 2013 5:14pm

EVERETT — Median sales prices for single-family homes and condos in Snohomish County jumped nearly 16 percent in July from prices posted a year ago.

Members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service said the threat of higher interest rates, escalating prices and growing consumer confidence are driving sales upward.

The greater Seattle area’s robust job market is also spurring sales just north of the King County line.

Northwest MLS area 610, which includes Bothell, Maltby and areas south of Monroe, stood out in the July sales statistics. For single-family homes, closed sales rose 32.5 percent, from 120 to 159 units, with median prices rising 20.1 percent, from $342,957 last July to $412,000. Among condos, the closed sales volume rose by only four units, from 22 to 26, but the median price shot up 57.3 percent, from $120,475 last July to $189,500.

The numbers were nearly as rosy in area 730, the southwest corner of Snohomish County. There, condo sales volume rose 45.7 percent from 46 to 67 units. Median sales prices shot up from $163,500 to $225,000, an increase of 37.6 percent. Prices for single-family homes rose from $299,950 last July to $345,000, up by 15 percent.

For all homes and condos in Snohomish County, new listings rose 3.6 percent, countering months of decreases that were routinely in deep double-digit territory. Pending sales were up 5 percent year over year, from 1,400 to 1,470 units. Closed sales rose 10.9 percent, from 1,029 to 1,121 homes and condos.

Median sales prices on closed sales of homes and condos combined rose 15.9 percent compared to July 2012, from $251,111 to $291,000. For homes only, the median price rose from $272,275 to $304,000. For condos, the median sales price shot up from $154,000 to $195,000.

Northwest MLS director John Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, said multiple offers are being reported in all price ranges “with properly priced new listings, and we’re still seeing a surprising number of all-cash buyers.” He also noted many transactions are conditioned on the closing of a pending sale as move-up sellers enter the market to buy a new property.

“We experienced a mini power surge of sales activity that was touched off by a sudden raise of interest rates during the month of May,” J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said in a news release.

He reported more sellers are listing their homes “due to the realization that the next home they purchase will be at a higher interest rate.” As these sellers become buyers, they’re contributing to the “positive cyclone of sales activity.”

Despite an uptick in listings, supplies remained low, particularly in Snohomish and King counties. At the current pace of sales in Snohomish County, it would take just 1.6 months to sell the current supply while King County’s supply would be exhausted in just 1.5 months. Realtors consider a six-month supply to represent a balanced market of buyers to sellers.

Short sales in Snohomish County shot up 14 percent in the second quarter but bank-owned sales fell 29 percent, Washington Property Solutions reported.

Richard Eastern, CEO of Washington Property Solutions in Bellevue, attributed the steep decline in bank-owned sales to several factors.

“Lenders are proactively trying to resolve troubled mortgages through short sales rather than foreclosing, and that has decreased the number of properties that have reverted to bank ownership,” he said. “And many existing bank-owned properties are being bought up by institutional investors before they come to auction, further reducing the bank-owned inventory on the market.”

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102;

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