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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Realtors See "Softer, But Still Bouyant" Market

How about one more take on those October figures? This time let's throw in a bit of anecdotal evidence from realtors while we're at it, courtesy of the Seattle Times.

Puget Sound-area home sales and prices remain strong, according to the latest statistics, but anecdotally, real-estate agents say the usual fall slowdown is well under way.

That may spell good news for buyers frazzled by the summer's superheated market.

"What we're seeing and feeling is that the market is still strong, but there's more balance than we've seen in prior months," said Chris Pauling, president of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates. "Buyers aren't selling their first-borns to get a house."

David Milot, co-owner of Re/Max Metro Realty, concurred. "The market is a little bit softer than it has been, but it's still buoyant," Milot said.
That's nice. "Softer." An excellent choice of words. It feels so... non-threatening. So perhaps there is a bit more weakening than the usual figures would show. However, could this just be a symptom of the usual fall slowdown? Only time will tell.
"We're also seeing more open houses and more price reductions," he said.

Besides the customary slowdown in advance of the holidays, two other factors may be affecting sales.

One is the uptick in mortgage rates. Last month the national average for a 30-year fixed-rate loan was 6.21 percent, according to HSH Associates, a mortgage-information provider. That's half a percentage point higher than the year's lowest rate, which was posted in February. That rate increase pushes a monthly house payment up $79 on a $250,000 mortgage. Seattle's current 30-year rate is 6.35 percent.

The other factor is the continuing high price of gas. Coupled with traffic congestion, it's causing buyers to think carefully about how far they're willing to drive. That keeps prices solid in close-in locations.
Trying to figure out just how much factors like these are affecting the market seems a bit like peering into a crystal ball, to me. Which is not to say that I don't expect reporters to do just that, however. I would still be reluctant myself to point to any of the evidence offered so far and say that we've hit the peak in Seattle and are finally starting on our way down.

(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 11.09.2005)


Anonymous said...

Where are the posters? May be there is no bubble, Tim?

The Tim said...

Why didn't I think of that! Of course low comment volume on an obscure niche blog is the sign to predict housing economic forcasts!

In all seriousness, I didn't start this blog to be a comment-generating machine. In fact, if you go back and read my first post, you'll see that the reason I started the blog was to "collect information for my own interest."

If you find the information here to be useless or irrelevant, then good for you—spend your time elsewhere.

meshugy said...

have you ever heard of a silent majority?

WAblogger said...

Let's conduct a poll about what people think about the bubble.
I have created two polls - one with yes/no answers and another with prices changes:

Price changes:

marin_explorer said...

Where are the posters? May be there is no bubble, Tim?

Hmm...and we should take your comments as proof of what, ad populum?