This story about the Yakima housing market caught my eye because my wife and I stopped in Yakima yesterday on the way home from our 3-day weekend trip. I thought it would be worth posting here because it's an interesting contrast to the type of piece you find in the Seattle-area papers. Notice the tone of moderation, and the distinct lack of hyperventilated price-gain cheerleading.
Yakima County's housing market is showing signs of bucking a national cooling trend.In Yakima it actually might not end anytime soon. It sounds like they have been fortunate to miss out on the insanity that the Puget Sound housing market has experienced in the last few years. Moderate appreciation, affordable homes, and strong demand—everyone is a winner. Contrast that with Seattle: Unsustainable appreciation, ridiculously over-priced homes, and weakening demand... You tell me which housing market is healthy and which one is likely to catch the flu.
It is just one of three counties in the state — along with Grant and Thurston — where second quarter sales activity increased over the year.
Yakima County's home sales jumped 9.3 percent, according to data released last week by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University.
The county's median home price also increased, by 5.4 percent to $133,500, said center director Glenn Crellin, who notes that Yakima missed out on the huge gains that other markets, such as Seattle, have seen in the last few years.
Higher rates have not had the same dampening effect in Yakima [as in CA & FL], where median prices are still some of the lowest in the country, [NAR economist Ken] Fears said.
Local real estate agents say there are plenty of ready buyers here — supply is not keeping up with demand.
Fears said the county has a solid economy and slower price increases — an ideal environment for a healthy housing market.
Rich, the Prestige Realty broker, said other factors such as the area's proximity to wine regions and recreational activities will also draw people to the area — and create more demand for homes.
"We're in the middle of it," he said. "I don't think it's going to end anytime soon."
(Mai Hoang, Yakima Herald-Republic, 08.21.2006)