Locally, home sales are up – inventory is down
If you’re thinking about selling your home, or buying one, take note: local sales have been picking up recently.
According to local real estate agents, a combination of low interest rates and a low inventory of homes has put a demand on Snohomish County listings. Home prices finally hit bottom in 2012 and are starting to go up.
“It’s moving very fast in the county,” said Sandy Morton of Windermere Real Estate, Mukilteo. “Multiple offers are very common. Prices seem to be kicking up.”
Mukilteo is also seeing some price gains and fewer lower-priced homes on the market. If they do go up for sale, they’re gone within days. Homebuyers now have what they haven’t had in years – urgency.
“You better be ready with your financing in hand if you want to compete and buy a home,” Morton said. “People are buying out other buyers by making higher offers than what is priced.”
The median price for the resale of homes in Snohomish County is $269,000, up 16 percent from last year, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. In Mukilteo, the median is $263,000.
The inventory of homes for sale in the county has dropped by more than 50 percent: Where there were 3,128 homes on the market a year ago, this year there were only 1,541. In Mukilteo, inventory went from 715 to 324.
Pending sales in Snohomish County are also up nearly 10 percent over the last year, Morton said.
Near record low fixed mortgage rates are leading more to buy homes or refinance their loans, said René Porubek of Windermere Real Estate, Everett South.
“Interest rates are balancing under 3.5 percent, and have been doing that for about a year,” she said. “It’s an amazing time to buy. We have a lot of competitiveness out there.”
Local trends reflect what is happening across the country. Nationally, sales are up 14.5 percent from a year ago, though they remain below the pre-housing market crash levels of 2007.
“With the lack of inventory, it has become a full-blown sellers’ market,” Morton said. “With prices picking up, and not enough homes for how many buyers there are out looking, there are many multiple-offer situations.”
The average sale price of houses with a zip code of 98725 in the last three months was $230,000, slightly higher than the county average, according to the NMLS. The highest sold was $943,500. There were a total 51 sales in Mukilteo.
Here are some local examples: A house in south Everett priced at $119,000 that needed some inside work recently sold for $155,000. It had received 26 offers.
Another home on the market in Mukilteo is listed for $250,000, and it has four offers, all of which are much higher than the asking price. It has yet to close.
“Mukilteo is in great demand,” Porubek said. “A lot of people are moving into the area. One of the reasons, I think, is because it’s very charming. The Mukilteo School District is also very competitive to top schools in Washington state.
On Friday, according to NMLS, there were 32 active listings for houses in Mukilteo, ranging from $289,000 to $2.1 million. The majority is priced from $400,000 to $500,000.
Condo listings seem to be following the same pattern. There were 11 condominiums for sale in 98725, with prices ranging from $97,900 to $437,900.
All in all, it’s definitely a seller’s market out there. Porubek said homes priced $350,000 and under are selling “like hot cakes.”
“Because of the limited inventory, you can see houses flying off the shelves within the week,” she said. “If your home has been on the market for 30 days, it’s overpriced.”
Porubek warns that this seller’s advantage won’t last for long. She said it could be back to a buyer’s market in a matter of months.
“The housing market can change in a heartbeat," she said. “If you’re ready to sell, I would sell now.”
So will 2013 be a year of recovery or relapse?
It’s been a tough six years, but the market is finally out of the negative, Porubek said. Housing in 2013 looks poised to consolidate the gains of 2012 – though she said there won’t be a recovery to 2007 levels for a very long time.
“The bleeding has stopped, and prices are a little more normal, but we’re never, ever going to see 2007,” Porubek said. “Maybe 20 years down the road.”