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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Balanced June Reporting Outside Seattle

Let's not forget that you only have to look a little ways outside of the immediate Seattle area to find rational and balanced reporting on the realities of today's real estate market.

"We're seeing a consistent trend here, a flattening of the market," he said. "It (the strong housing market) hasn't come to an end but it is certainly leveling out."

New construction and new listings have pushed inventory levels higher, he said.

"I don't want to characterize it as a glut, but we're substantially higher," Crandell said.

Since January, active residential listings have risen from 931 to 1,452 in June, according to Olympic MLS data.
Unfortunately, that's apparently not the kind of reporting that some people want to hear. Check out this snippet from a comment posted to the Olympian's story:
I do love how the Olympian constantly trumpets that "the market is softening", "sales figures are down" when in fact we have one of the best markets in the region. They way I look at it - it seems that if you own a house that falls in the "median range" odds are you will see close to $25,000 in appreciation in one year. That equity can be the difference in setting you and your family up for the beginning of financial security versus spending one more year renting. Home ownership still remains the single best way to gain financial equality and frankly I'd like to see the city/county doing more to get people into home ownership.
If that's how most readers feel, it's no wonder the Times and P-I continue to publish real estate booster fluff. They are both experiencing seriously declining circulation and the P-I is likely to vanish completely soon, so it's not too difficult to imagine why they might want to stick to printing the stories that people want to hear.

Fortunately my favorite area real estate reporter Barbara Clements doesn't play that game. She tells it like it is, with both sides of the story.
The price of homes in Pierce County continued to climb in June, as did the number of homes with a "For Sale" sign in their front yard.

The median price for a home in the Tacoma area climbed by 17 percent to $275,250 for the year ending in June, according to new Northwest Multiple Listing Service numbers released Thursday.

But that price hike came despite a 45 percent increase in the inventory of homes on the market this June over the same period in 2005. More than 5,500 residential homes and condominiums were on the market in Pierce County during the month.

In King County, inventory increased by about 17 percent, while the median price of a home in June was $387,500, a 15 percent jump over the prior year. In Thurston County, the median sales price for a home was $254,000 or a 14 percent increase over last year. Inventory in that county increased by almost 80 percent, to 1,726 active listings.

"I think someone hit the accelerator in March," said Dick Beeson, an MLS director and broker at Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates in Tacoma. "I've never seen such a big influx of property come onto the market in such a short period of time."

But Beeson noted that pending sales are only off by about 12 percent when compared to last year.
I love that. "only" 12 percent. Sure, it's not a huge decline, but when sales are up 12 percent, real estate enthusiasts tend to use words like "whopping" or "surge." When it's down 12 percent, it's "only" 12 percent.

(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 07.06.2006)
(Barbara Clements, Tacoma News Tribune, 07.07.2006)


Anonymous said...

The Olympian article report only deals with the Olympic MLS. Looking at the NWMLS numbers indicates a similar rise in inventory as well as a rise in DOM of almost 50%.

Pending and Closed sales are up, year over year though.


June 06 to 05 - 537 to 515,

YTD 06 to 05 - 2859 to 2521


June 06 to 05 - 500 to 422

YTD 06 to 05 - 2312 to 2032

There is an incredible amount of building going on in Thurston County, especially in Lacey. There are literally thousands of lots in the pipeline. It's unclear how long their absorption timeline might be, but I think builders and developers there are taking a long view, like well over a decade.

Lake Hills Renter said...

The runup in prices does seem odd to me considering the already high prices and rising inventories. Spring/summer push maybe? I still think it's delaying the inevitable. Prices are too high for many people to buy and there's a lot of ARMs going to reset in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Actually, considering what we've just been through, 12 % sales decline seems like big news to me.

Anything over 5% decline seems signicant.

sue said...

Good to hear about Lacey. Yes it does seem like builders are on the 10 year plan just about everywhere.

cosmos said...

If inventories are rising and prices are rising, either the inventory increase is in a non-competitive price range (e.g. high end), or buyers aren't doing their research (or relying on agents and the RE industry in general (both typically unethical in my experience) when developing their offers.)

Truly, I think the MLS network is a monopolistic price manipulating organization that should be done away with/banned. I think the Governor and/or current Attorney General should direct the AGO's anti-trust division to take a long hard look at the MLS. (I know, "wake up from that dream.")