After just nine months of increasing YOY home inventory and fourteen months of declining YOY home sales, the local media has apparently taken notice. Even Elizabeth Rhodes at the Seattle Times can't ignore the slowing trend:
In fact, buyers weren't racing to make offers anywhere in the central Puget Sound area last month, according to home-sales numbers released Friday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.I can hardly believe I read such a thing with Ms. Rhodes' name on it, but there it is in black and white. I guess the inevitable slowdown has become impossible to ignore.
But nowhere could the drops be attributed to a lack of homes to choose from.
Indeed, last month the number of houses and condos available increased 48 percent in Kitsap County, 42 percent in Pierce, 34 percent in Snohomish and 24 percent in King, compared with the previous December.
Aubrey Cohen chimes in at the P-I with what I think may be the first in-print prediction of actual YOY price declines for the Seattle market.
"It's more of the same," said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University. "My expectation is that we're moving into a period where sales are going to remain strong, but certainly not as strong as they had been, and where prices are going to be moderating and stabilizing."Of course, it just wouldn't be a news roundup without an article proudly proclaiming what a "healthy market" we have. This month's optimism comes to us courtesy of Mike Benbow at the Everett Herald:
Michael Simonsen, chief executive of Altos Research, in Palo Alto, Calif., has noticed cooling in the Seattle home market.
"Any comparison with last year is down in terms of demand and numbers of sales," he said. "Not great but certainly not falling through the floor."
Simonsen predicted that Seattle would start seeing slight year-over-year price declines this spring or summer, although he said the city had a strong economy, and its housing market would fare better than outlying areas.
"While we see some positive things to keep the bottom falling out, we don't see any big catalyst that will let prices jump upwards," he said.
Price cuts might not reassure already skittish buyers, Simonsen said. "I kind of think that people are attuned enough to the bubble headlines that if we see year-to-year price declines that might even scare people."
December home sales dropped in Snohomish County, but prices continued to rise, according to information released Friday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.And just to round out the experience, here's John Gillie at the Tacoma News Tribune with your monthly dose of lame excuses:
December followed the trend for about the last six months where listings rose dramatically, sales slumped and prices continued to climb. Unlike many areas of the country, prices in the county continue to rise each month.
"The market is really healthy now," [Windermere broker Vern Holden] said. "I think everyone prefers the more balanced market we have today compared to a year ago."
In a twist in the law of supply and demand, median December home prices in Pierce and 18 other Washington counties were substantially higher than in the same month in 2005 despite a larger supply of homes on the market and fewer sales.Things should get really interesting if we do actually see YOY price declines this year. I can't wait to hear the excuses for that.
December figures released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service on Friday followed the pattern seen for several months, stubbornly refusing to join the price deflation that has happened in other markets as the supply of homes increases and sales slow.
...sales undoubtedly have been affected by the dose of miserable winter weather – record rains, devastating winds and heavy early season snow – Washington has had the past two months.
(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 01.06.2007)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 01.06.2007)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 01.06.2007)
(John Gillie, Tacoma News Tribune, 01.06.2007)