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What do the numbers for home sales say about the rest of 2014?

The July roundup of Spokane home prices was typical: mixed results such as a small increase in total sales, but a mild drop in prices.

Today's story touched on all that. The accompanying chart had me wondering if there's a pattern being established. Low prices in the first two or three months, followed by a peak in sales prices as activity increases, followed by a slump in home prices during the fall and winter.

Here's a chart of median prices of homes sold in Spokane in 2012, 2013 and this year so far. See if you see that trend as well.

Data supplied by the Spokane Association of Realtors. For slightly larger view, click on the graph.

Blue is 2012, magenta is 2013, green is this year.

Spokane home sales stuck in $150,000 plateau, according to RealtyTrac

The latest April summary from the Spokane Association of Realtors paints a rosy picture for April home sales.

It noted, among other things, a steady increase in homes sold, new homes being sold, and the median price of homes sold.

But not everyone sees the glass half-full. The chart above, from national firm RealtyTrac, shows some price softening in Spokane County during the first two months of 2013. Rob Higgins, of the Spokane Realtors group, said numbers for March and April are better than for the first two months of the year.

Reasons why the two sets of numbers vary. The RealtyTrac set may include sales of mobile homes or may exclude condos (which are included in the assocation totals.)

For April, the median home sale price in Spokane in April was $160,149, according to the local real estate association. In March that number was $157,950.

Higgins' group numbers for January and February don't agree with the RealtyTrac numbers for median prices, showing median sales higher than $150,000.

Home Prices in Spokane drop, or rise, depending on which source you’re using

Numbers are supposed to be neutral and generally behave the same, no matter who handles then.

But in many instances, including home sale prices, the numbers vary depending on the source.

CoreLogic, one of the country's leading real estate data gathering firms, said in its recent release that Spokane home prices, including distressed sales, declined by 1.8 percent in July 2012 compared to July 2011.

They also declined by 2.3 percent in June 2012 compared to June 2011, CoreLogic reported.

On a month-over-month basis, home prices including distressed sales, increased by 0.4 percent in July 2012 compared to June 2012.

But ask Rob Higgins of the Spokane Association of Realtors, and the numbers don't line up that way.

As reported last month, Spokane County median sale price jumped to $170,000 in July, up from $159,500 in June, said Rob Higgins.

The SR will pick up the more detailed August numbers in a day or two. But Higgins summarized the key points for the local association:

  •    For August the average and median price actually fell slightly from July.
  •    Compared to August last year the average sold price is up 10.6 percent and the median is up 9.5 percent.

Spokane, CDA home prices slumping; bright spot is fewer foreclosures

Average home prices in Spokane fell by 4.1 percent in October, in line with a national and regional decline driven in part by foreclosures and high unemployment.

The Spokane sales number reflects regular sales and “distressed” sales — homes foreclosed by banks or sold by owners selling short  —- essentially having no home equity.

Excluding distressed home sales in October, Spokane’s average home sale was 2.9 percent lower than October 2010, according to CoreLogic, a national real estate data collector.

Coeur d’Alene's October’s home prices fell 10.3 percent; excluding distressed sales, Coeur d’Alene's average sale was 5.1 percent lower than the same month one year earlier.

CoreLogic reported all U.S. home sales in October were 3.9 percent lower than a year earlier; excluding distressed home sales, the average home sale across the country was 0.5 percent lower than in October 2010.

Prices reflect a continuing rebalancing of supply and demand, said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

The Spokane Association of Realtors reported slightly worse numbers for October. Spokane’s average price among 323 single-family homes and condos sold in October was 9.8 percent lower than a year earlier, said Rob Higgins, the association’s executive officer.

The Spokane number includes condo sales while CoreLogic data don't.

The median price for October 2011 home sales, compared to a year earlier, was down 3.8 percent, Higgins said.

Of October’s 323 home sales, 79, or roughly 24 percent, were distressed sales, Higgins noted.

A bright spot for Spokane is a trend toward fewer foreclosure sales, he added.  Foreclosure sales in Spokane from August through October totaled 81, 87 and 65, respectively.

The Spokane November total for foreclosed sales is down to 63, Higgins noted.

Of the top 100 U.S. metro statistical areas measured by population, 78 are showing year-over-year declines in October, two fewer than in September, CoreLogic reported.

The map provided here from CoreLogic shows state price indexes measured vs. one year earlier. Dark red striped states have seen the largest declines. Solid red states, like Washington and Idaho, are in the minus-4 to minus-8 percent per year category.

Reward for tips in vacant home burglaries

A $1,500 reward is being offered for tips that solve a burglary ring that preys on vacant homes.

Crime Stoppers already had offered a reward for tips that help solve 23 burglaries in Spokane Valley in which kitchen appliances were stolen from vacant homes.

Now the Spokane Association of Realtors has pitched in to increase the amount of cash available for helpful tipsters.

Police say the thief first steals the real estate lock box from the front door of the vacant homes that contains the key, then returns with a truck to steal ovens, stoves and refrigerators.

"The boxes are designed to be difficult to break open, so the thief does that elsewhere," according to a February Crime Stoppers news release.

Anyone with information on the burglaries is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Home Ownership bus at Riverfront Park

The "Home Ownership Matters" bus has parked at  the Rotary Fountain Plaza in Riverfront Park.

The bus, a project of the National Association of Realtors, is promoting the benefits of owning a home during one of the most challenging periods for the industry in decades.

Spokane is the only Washington stop on the bus tour. Portland is also on the schedule.

The NAR says home sales generate 2.5 million jobs in an average year. Subsequent sales of furniture and other improvements add $60,000 to the economy.

The Spokane Associaton of Realtors marks its 100th anniversary this year, and members will be gathering at the bus for a group photograph.

The local association has 1,500 individual members.

The bus was scheduled to depart at 3 p.m.