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Washington home sales: good news and some definite bad news

Washington state home sales inched up 0.8 percent at seasonally adjusted annual rates from the first quarter of the year to 85,870 units, according to a report from the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, managed by Washington State University and its director, Glenn Crellin.
The increase is tied to stronger home sales in the third quarter, according to the report.
The 2011 cumulative sales figure is 21.7 percent above the year-ago rate, which Crellin said had been artificially depressed after the expiration of the home purchase tax credit.
The overall picture, he added, was that the state was more or less evenly split between counties reporting increasing activity and those reporting decreasing sales.
Nine urban counties, led by increases of more than 20 percent compared to the 2011 2Q,  saw improving sales.  The biggest quarter-to-quarter decline in urban sales was an 11.7 percent drop in Longview and Cowlitz County.
The 3Q median sales price statewide was $225,300, 9.5 percent below that of one year ago.
This is the largest median price decline since a 13.7 percent drop in 1Q of 2009. Prices have declined year-over-year for the last 15 quarters, with the statewide median now below the third quarter 2004 level – seven years ago.
Crellin must regard that unbroken string as fairly astonishing or depressing, because the original release ended that sentence with an exclamation mark!!

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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.