Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Home sales climb in June in King County; median price drops from year ago to $395,000

By Eric Pryne, Seattle Times business reporter

Single-family home sales in King County in June surged to their highest level in nearly two years, according to statistics released today by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

A total of 1,655 houses closed last month, up 4 percent from the same month in 2008. It was the first year-over-year increase in closed sales since the local housing market peaked in July 2007, and the largest number of closings in the county since October 2007.

"The positive movement in our real estate market year-over-year is really very encouraging," Ron Sparks, managing vice president of brokerage Coldwell Banker Bain, said in a prepared statement.

He and other real-estate agents attributed the increase in part to the new $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. One broker said they account for about 40 percent of the market now.
Condo sales in King County continued to lag, with closings last month 18 percent below the June 2008 number.

The median price of a single-family house sold in the county in June was $395,000, down 12 percent year-over-year. Real-estate professionals noted the median price is up slightly since January — but it increased between January and June of last year as well.

The median condo price was $249,000, down 16 percent from last June.

Pending sales of King County single-family homes — offers that have been accepted by sellers, but haven't yet closed — were up nearly 25 percent year-over-year, the third consecutive monthly increase.

But, until June, closed sales had continued to trail last year's numbers, prompting some to wonder if the pending-sales increase was illusory. Agents attributed much of the disparity between and closed sales to "short sales" — offers sellers accept for less than they owe on the property — that are notoriously slow to close, and often don't close at all.

In Snohomish County, pending sales of single-family homes in June were up 37 percent year-over-year, and closed sales were nearly even. The median selling price was $307,000, down nearly 12 percent from June 2008.

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