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The end of a four-year downward trend? Home prices move up in April

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on May 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
May 3, 2012 2:58 pm

For the first time in more than four years, the median price of homes sold in Western Washington turned upward in April, a new report reveals.

The report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service released Thursday shows a modest 1.27 percent uptick in median home selling prices overall for the 21 mostly Western Washington counties the real estate listing service covers. Median prices for homes sold in April this year were $240,000 compared with $237,000 in April of 2011.

Home sales prices in Pierce and King counties, however, still continued trending downward, but Thurston County sales prices were up, the listing service report said.

The median price of homes sold in Pierce County last month was $192,000 compared with $195,000 in April of last year. That’s a 1.54 percent decline. In Thurston County, median price for homes sold last month was $214,990 compared with $209,232 a year ago last month. That’s a 2.75 percent increase.

In King County, sales prices fell by 1.40 percent in April from $324,500 to $319,950 the year before in April.

Perhaps a harbinger of better things to come, the number of pending sales in all three counties increased in double digit percentages last month. Pending sales were up 12.87 percent in Pierce County, 20.5 percent in Thurston and 22.5 percent in King.

Single-family residence prices fared better than condo prices. Single-family median prices fell by just 0.26 percent in Pierce County compared with a 22.17 percent drop in condo sales prices in Pierce County last month.

In Thurston County, single-family median home prices increased by 3.34 percent last month over the same month in 2011. Median condo sales prices dropped by a steep 46.84 percent in Thurston.

King County single-family homes saw a median price increase of 2.87 percent in April compared with a 13.36 percent decline for condos.

Real estate brokers cautioned that the recovery may be slow and fitful despite last month’s good news.

Frank Wilson, managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo, said sellers should not read too much into the positive news.

“When sellers hear these words in the news, they instantly think their homes are worth a lot of money . . . and they are not,” he said. “Even if our home prices appreciated two to three percent a year — which they aren’t currently — it will take many years for homes to return to the values we saw a few years ago,” Wilson said.

April was the fourth month in a row that median home prices rose from one month to the next. That trend may prompt some sales among sellers who have a large equity in their homes and in turn free them to make new real estate purchases.

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