March 8, 1997 in Nation/World

Spokane Home Sales Plunge 19 Percent Real Estate Officials Say Hot Performance In February 1996 Makes Comparison Unrealistic

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane County home sales declined by 19 percent last month compared with February 1996.

The total dollar volume also dropped, pumping 22 percent less money into the economy.

Last month, 229 homes were sold, compared with 283 in February of 1996. Total dollar volume generated by sales was $32.7 million in February 1996 and $25.3 million last month, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Experts say the market is stabilizing, returning to a more normal pace after the boom years of the early 1990s.

Though last month’s figures were weak, some Realtors say a comparison with February 1996 is unfair.

“Last February was pretty hot,” said Bruce Hardie, of Coldwell Banker Grand. “The first three months of last year were really strong.”

Linda Besse, of Prudential Crane Valley, agreed.

“We had a lot earlier spring last year than this year. That tends to make a difference,” she said. “I think you’ll see things better next month.”

The amount of time a home is spending on the market dropped by four days from last February, from 87 days to 83 days, but homes in the Northeast, Northwest and South Hill still are staying on the market for an average of 88 days. Valley homes are selling in an average of 76 days.

Hardie said the common perception that it’s a buyer’s market may not be true anymore. Numerous sellers adjusted their prices last summer, bringing them down to levels more realistic in the post-boom market, he said.

“It’s a fairly balanced market,” Hardie said. “The inventory is not out of control. The market has stabilized somewhat, but interest rates are still good and there’s quality inventory out there.”

The average price of homes sold in Spokane County dropped from $115,858 in February 1996 to $110,892 last month.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Home sales


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