This new report statistically verifies what we have been seeing in our beach market… where most of our buyers are from Western Washington and so are heavily influenced by the “market perceptions” in those metropolitan areas.
Washington homebuyers realizing “market may have reached bottom of cycle”
(NWMLS news release: February activity) March 5, 2012
Asking prices are comparable to a year ago. System-wide, the median asking price for the current inventory of single family homes and condominiums is $249,900, about $5,000 below the year-ago median figure of $254,950 (down 1.98 percent). Six counties (Ferry, Grant, King, Mason, Snohomish, and Whatcom) reported higher median listing prices in February than 12 months ago.
Northwest MLS members reported 3,846 closed sales last month, up about 25 percent from the year-ago total of 3,080 completed transactions. Selling prices continued to slip, but the decline was under 9 percent for the first time in nearly a year. The area-wide median price for last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $218,944, down about 8.8 percent from the year-ago figure of $240,000.
For single family homes only (excluding condominiums), prices were down about 7.7 percent from a year ago. Last month’s closed sales fetched a median sales price of $229,000, which compares to the year-ago price of $248,000. Five counties (Clallam Ferry, Grant, Lewis and San Juan) reported year-over-year price increases. Commenting on the market around Kitsap County, where prices dipped nearly 11 percent, Wilson said he expects prices to “stabilize and even reverse as we move further into 2012.” With 4.3 months of supply in that county, he believes the market is tilting toward sellers. “We continue to see more multiple offer situations on homes that come on the market correctly priced,” he stated.
Wilson also pointed to recently released consumer confidence numbers as a positive indicator. He noted The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index posted sizeable improvements in February, approaching levels last seen a year ago. In a statement accompanying the latest report, Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said consumers were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were a month ago. “Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January. And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects, and their financial situation,” she declared.
Nationally, the overall direction for the housing market is positive, according to analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Its latest figures show the past few months of contract activity are the highest in more than four years outside of the home buyer tax credit impact. In comments accompanying the latest figures, NAR suggested the market isn’t as strong as it could be because of overly restrictive lending standards and contract cancellations due in part to appraised values coming in below a negotiated price.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 22,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.