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Snohomish County home sales and prices both rise in July

According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), Snohomish County home sales and median prices continue to rise, “Despite lean inventory and increasing mortgage rates.”
Some sellers are testing the waters with aggressive pricing, but they are experiencing longer market times. Photo credit: Lesley Van Winkle.

According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), Snohomish County home sales and median prices continue to rise, “Despite lean inventory and increasing mortgage rates.”

Figures released by NWMLS show closed sales of homes and condos in Snohomish County rose 10.9 percent from July 2012 to July 2013. The median sales price rose 15.9 percent, from $251,111 to $291,000, over the same period.

The numbers for the area including Mukilteo, Everett, and Mill Creek also increased in a year-to-year comparison. The number of closed sales was up 6.4 percent, while the median sales price rose 16.3 percent, from $215,000 to $265,000.

NWMLS Director John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, said multiple offers are being reported in all price ranges, "With properly priced new listings, and we're still seeing a surprising number of all cash buyers."

Deely also noted many transactions are conditioned on the closing of a pending sale as move-up sellers enter the market to buy a new property.

"We experienced a mini power surge of sales activity that was touched off by a sudden raise of interest rates during the month of May," observed J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Scott attributes part of the surging activity to buyers who rushed forward to purchase a home before rates climb higher. He also reported more sellers are listing their homes "due to the realization that the next home they purchase will be at a higher interest rate." As these sellers become buyers, they're contributing to the "positive cyclone of sales activity," Scott stated.

Deely said some sellers are testing the waters with aggressive pricing, but they are experiencing longer market times.

The Snohomish County inventory of single-family residences and condos for sale rose 3.6 percent in July 2013 compared to July 2012 listings. System wide, the total number of active listings was 25,272. This is a drop of about 5.5 percent over the year.

The inventory of homes for sale area wide can be sold in about 2.6 months, which is a seller’s market according to real estate experts. A normal market favoring neither buyers nor sellers would have about six months of inventory.

According to Freddie Mac, the average fixed-rate on a 30-year mortgage was 4.37 percent in July, 2013. This is up from a 3.41 percent average rate in January of this year and 3.55 percent in July, 2012.

Buyers should be aware of interest rates now and lock in a rate, stressed Frank Wilson, the Kitsap District manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate Poulsbo – Kingston. "There is nothing more disappointing than having your offer accepted on a home, then have an interest rate jump disqualify you from the purchase," he remarked, adding, "If you want to gamble go to Las Vegas; if you want to buy a home lock the rate."

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