King County home prices hit record high

If you thought Seattle’s housing market couldn’t get any crazier, you were wrong.

The median price of single-family houses that were sold in February in King County hit a record high of $514,975. That’s up 19.8 percent, according to a report that the Northwest Multiple Listing Service issued Monday. For condominiums the price surge was even higher: 26 percent with a median sale price of $323,975.

Price increases for houses were not nearly as sharp in Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties but they’re still up 7 to 9 percent. Condo prices in these counties actually declined.

The pace of sales is brisk – the number of homes sold in the first 30 days of being listed was double what a normal, healthy market would look like, according to John L Scott Real Estate Chairman and CEO Lennox Scott. With residences getting gobbled up as soon as they hit the market, it’s “a Pac-Man market,” he said.

For buyers, it’s not going to get better anytime soon. Scott said starting this month, the market will see an explosion of sales activity that will last until October.

The reason for the frenzy is a shortage of houses for sale. Across the four counties, 6,131 condos and houses were on the market last month. That’s nearly a full third fewer than in February 2015.

The number of pending sales, meanwhile, is up in all but King County. Sales increased almost 15.75 percent in the region’s least expensive county, Pierce, where the median sales price for condos and houses was $249,250. Kitsap’s median price of $253,000 was second lowest. Snohomish County’s median price was $327,500 and King’s was $439,950.

Windermere Real Estate President O.B. Jacobi said the month’s big story is the nearly 20 percent jump in prices for houses in King County, where pending sales were down nearly 5.6 percent.

“Affordability is on the decline in King County,” he said, “which is part of the reason why sales of single family homes are down.”

Some priced-out buyers are looking at condos, with the number of closed sales way up in all but Kitsap County. The number of sales increased almost 56 percent in Snohomish County, where the median sales price was $236,000. It’s a similar story in Pierce County, with closed sales up 30 percent; the median price was $207,000.

Even in pricier King County, closed sales surged 21.4 percent. The number of sales in Kitsap, where the median price was $119,800, fell by 21.4 percent, though this is based on only 11 sales.

Marc Stiles

Staff Writer

Puget Sound Business Journal

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