November 18, 1995 in Washington Voices

Home Buyers Can Be Picky Dampened Market Gives Prospective Buyers More Time To Shop And Compare

By The Spokesman-Review

Those selling homes in the Valley might have a wait ahead of them, but buyers are in luck.

The slower market has made for a smorgasbord selection of homes, since all the good catches aren’t reeled in the minute the “For Sale” sign is planted in the yard.

That gives buyers a little more time to be picky and think things over, and means sellers have to price their homes right to clinch the deal.

“They’re real choosy now … they’re shopping like crazy,” said Ron Criscione of Caldwell Banker Associated Brokers. “Homes that sell are priced close to market value or just below.”

The upside for Realtors, though, is that the fall home shoppers tend to really want to buy. They aren’t just killing time touring houses on a sunny day.

“Buyers are more serious, I see fewer tire kickers,” said Michael Ryan of Prudential Crane Realty.

Those serious-minded buyers also know what they want, said Mary Secrest, a Realtor and sales manager for K-C Properties. “People want a nice, clean home at a good price.”

The consensus among agents is that Valley shoppers are playing it safe, opting for homes in neighborhoods with reputations for steady property values. Subdivisions like Northwood, Skyview, and Ponderosa are considered proven, solid investments. Also, agents said pre-existing homes have been the staple of the fall market, despite the Valley’s reputation as a development hotbed.

And although they have the luxury of being choosy, some fall buyers are starting to get antsy because of winter’s approach. “I sense a little more anxiety,” said John Orr of Tomlinson Black Valley. “Most buyers want to get something as soon as they can.”

Ryan said that despite the slowdown, he thinks there is still good news for sellers. People with long-active listings are beginning to pull their homes from the market. There will be less competition, he said, but the overall selection will remain broad because of the slow market.

Agents are also seeing a lot of contingency sales. A person offers to buy a home, but only if an agent can sell their current dwelling first. “If it goes, you’ve got two transactions, if it doesn’t, you’ve lost two deals,” said K-C’s Secrest. “It’s double or nothing.”

Other factors making this a buyer’s market are the low interest rates, which have been hanging in about the mid-7 percent range. Tomlinson Black’s Orr said he isn’t sure how long the rates will last, since the election year is coming up. Big changes in national offices could mean big changes in rates.

October review

The Spokane Association of Realtors reported that last month’s Valley figures were an improvement over sales in October 1994.

There were 132 properties sold, as opposed to 118 last October. Homes sold slightly faster last year, though; the average market time this October was 68 days, while last year the month’s average was 65 days.

The average price was up from last year - from $111,040 to $122,061. Last month’s prices were better than September 1995’s, too. September’s average was $120,218.

The most expensive Valley residential property sold last month was a 1-1/2-story home in the Bella Vista area, fetching $279,900. The house had 10-foot ceilings, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, gas heat, a three-car garage and a brick and cedar exterior.

The home was built by Linderman Construction.

, DataTimes

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