Low interest rates and stable prices boosted January home sales in Spokane County 34 percent above the same month last year.
“Having the two in conjunction with each other doesn’t happen very often,” said Loretta Cael, president of the Spokane Mortgage Lenders Association.
According to the Spokane Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service, 243 homes were sold in January, compared with 181 a year earlier.
Interest rates, about 8 percent last year, are holding fairly steady at about 7 percent this year. On a 30-year, $100,000 loan, Cael said, that change reduces a homeowner’s monthly payment from $835 to $750.
As evidence of the more buyer-friendly atmosphere, the average sale price of a home went from $110,093 in January 1995 to $109,410 last month.
In addition to low interest rates and stable prices, Tom Crowley, president of the Realtors Association, said the market was helped by a large inventory of available homes and increased mortgage options.
“These new mortgages make it possible for nearly anyone wanting to buy a home to do just that,” he said.
Mortgages are now available with more flexible length terms, lower percentage down payments and higher debt thresholds, Cael said.
“We’re structuring the financing program to meet each individual,” she said.
The larger inventory, Cael said, comes from a slowdown in the buying market in 1995. The Federal Reserve raised the prime lending rate three times in 1995, she said, which caused a lot of homes to sit on the market for a long time.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Home sales