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Uncertainties blamed for drop-off in Spokane home sales

Tue., Aug. 24, 2010, 5:36 p.m.

Economic and political unknowns are slowing Spokane home sales much as they have in the rest of the United States, the president-elect of the Spokane Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

Broker Joe Mann of Windermere Valley said the 36 percent drop-off in local closings last month reflected uncertainty among buyers and sellers, with financing problems adding to the market’s fragility.

Despite interest rates at 60-year lows, he said, many potential buyers are too unsure about their jobs to take out a mortgage.

Sellers, on the other hand, have been reluctant to lower prices, thinking a recovery will firm up what has been a relatively stable market compared with many others around the country, he said. Median prices are down just 3.4 percent over the last year, average prices just 1.7 percent.

But with 3,500 unsold houses on the market, Mann said, would-be sellers are awakening to the possibility prices could go lower still instead of rebounding.

He said banks mindful of price erosion have been picky lenders, adding that he is steering more clients to credit unions.

John L. Scott agent Tom Moore said some high-end homes – those priced above $400,000 – have sold for a fraction of the original listing price.

So far this year, he noted, only 40 percent of all homes listed have sold.

“That’s the kind of odds you’re up against if you’re trying to sell your house,” Moore said.

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