December 6, 2013 in Business

Spokane home sales slip, but market still looks good

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Rates rise

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average U.S. rate on the 30-year loan jumped to 4.46 percent from 4.29 percent last week, and the average 15-year fixed loan rate rose to 3.47 percent from 3.30 percent.

Spokane home sales slid from 528 in October to 369 in November, the lowest monthly total since February.

That dip may be related to financing uncertainties during the government shutdown or it may just be a seasonal slump, said Rob Higgins, executive vice president of the Spokane Association of Realtors.

Some buyers and Realtors might have delayed purchases believing FHA-approved loans were not being processed, Higgins said. “I’m only guessing about that, since I didn’t get any reports (from agents),” he said.

Things weren’t all bad in November, he added. The average home sale price rose 4.1 percent, to $186,741. The number of active listings was down from October, from 2,594 to 2,400, Higgins said.

But the median sale price in November – a number Higgins considers more useful – fell by 1.6 percent, to $157,500.

“The slowdown over the past month is something to watch; it could be of concern,” he said.

Looking at the full year, Higgins found a number of housing market positives, compared to 2012.

Total homes sold this year will exceed 5,000 for the first time in six years, sitting at 5,055 through November.

“That’s Spokane. Slow and steady,” he said.

New home sales in Spokane so far in 2013 are outstripping the brisk national figures in the new home category, he noted.

So far in 2013, 623 new homes were sold in Spokane County, a 35 percent increase from the same period in 2012. Nationwide, new home sales through October grew by 22 percent, the Commerce Department reported.

Even so, new home sales in Spokane during November flagged, falling to 37 from October’s 66, Higgins said.

Looking ahead, Higgins said the housing sector needs solid job growth to bring yearly sales near the 6,000 mark.

“Job growth in the Seattle area shows that very clearly,” he said.

Job strength in King County has produced a 15.9 percent rise in median sale price from third quarter 2012 to the same period this year. The median King County home sale was $354,700 for the third quarter of 2013.

Spokane’s median price grew by just 3.7 percent for that same period, to $181,600, Higgins said.


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