Spokane’s May home sales numbers look good at first blush: 551 homes sold, which is 25 percent more than the 440 in April.
But compared to a year ago, May’s numbers are not that impressive, said Rob Higgins, chief executive of the Spokane Association of Realtors. Realtors in Spokane sold 592 homes in May 2013 – 7 percent higher than in the same month this year.
Median home prices tell the same story, at $164,000 last month – down from $168,000 in May 2013, Higgins said.
Higgins prefers looking at the first five months of both years, where one finds the median sale price basically flat. It was $162,500 this year, versus $161,500 a year ago.
“It looks as though 2014 will be pretty much like 2013, even though we’ve slipped a little during the first four months of this year,” Higgins said.
Realtors in Spokane County reported 1,947 homes sold this year so far, compared with 1,981 in the first five months of 2013.
That slippage comes in part because 2012 and 2013 were big rebound years for the housing market, compared to 2010 and 2011, Higgins said. Monthly home sales in Spokane struggled to exceed 400 per month until 2012, he said.
The mild gains here are approximating the same nationwide trend of slower home sales and slower price gains, Higgins added.
Housing analysts attribute the gradual slowdown to an oversupply of homes on the market.
The Spokane Realtors association reported 62 sales of newly constructed homes in May, up from 53 in April, but well off 82 in May 2013.
Higgins doesn’t use average home prices for tracking gains, as a few big-ticket sales will skew that number. In May, Spokane had three sales at $875,000, $805,000 and $736,000. Two of those were on the South Hill; the third was in Spokane Valley.
While Spokane’s home sales are slightly behind a year ago, they’re increasing in Kootenai County.
Through April this year, home sales are up 5 percent – from 583 to 613, said Kim Cooper of the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors.
Median prices there are up 6 percent, from $169,000 to $179,500, he added.
What’s clear, Cooper said, is there’s a rebound in sales of high-end, waterfront properties. In the first four months of 2013, there was one home sale in excess of $1 million.
This year so far, Kootenai County has had eight such sales, Cooper said.
“That tells me we’re seeing the rebound of the vacation-home market here,” Cooper said.