March 12, 1998 in Nation/World

Good Weather, Rates Boost Home Sales 20% February Trend Likely To Last, Spokane County Realtors Say

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Home sales in Spokane County leapt almost 20 percent last month, compared with February 1997.

But the number of sales in February 1997 wasn’t hard to beat. Sales that month had declined 19 percent over February 1996.

Some 274 home sales closed last month, compared with 229 the year before, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. February sales are representative of activity in December and January.

“Home buying in Spokane has taken off very quickly this year,” said Mitch Swenson, president of the association.

February also outpaced January sales by 50 homes, or 22 percent.

Realtors are confident this year’s early activity is a sign of things to come.

Pending sales - those waiting to close - are up substantially compared with last year. In February, pending sales totaled 406, up 16 percent from last year’s total of 349.

“We’re just having an incredible run right now,” said Realtor Bruce Hardie, a certified residential specialist for Coldwell Banker Grand. “It’s been a good buying season, with a mild winter, great interest rates and pent-up demand from last year.”

However, homes in February took almost three weeks longer to sell than they did last year. Average market time last month was 102 days, compared with 83 days in February 1997. Homes took longest to sell on the South Hill, at 107 days, and in the Northeast, at 111 days. They sold most quickly in the Spokane Valley, averaging 84 days.

“There are homes out there that are overpriced. Those won’t sell,” said Hardie, who computes market averages weekly.

Market time is shortest in the $75,000 to $100,000 range, where homes are selling in about 69 days, he said. Homes are moving more slowly in the $150,000 to $175,000 range, Hardie added.

February’s strong numbers put activity for the first two months of the year ahead of last year by about 7 percent. So far this year, 498 homes have been sold, compared with 466 by this time last year.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Home sales


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