Homes Sales Increase in the West

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on March 27, 2009

Sales of existing homes in the western U.S. jumped 24% in February compared to year-ago numbers, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Much of that activity is coming from the areas within the 13-state region that were the hardest hit over the last several years – California, Nevada, Arizona. For example, the California Association of Realtors reports that February saw an 83% increase in sales compared to February 2008.
In our local market, sales are down 19% through the first two months of the year.

The difference between the two markets is price. As we have been reporting for some time, the pace of sales is dictated by how well prices match the supply-demand balance.

California has been adjusting downward much longer than our local market. Prices there have gotten back to affordable levels and the buyers are responding. At $247,590, California’s median sales price is now 41% lower than a year ago.

In some areas of California prices are harder hit than others. For example, in the Central Valley, prices are off 50%, while in the Palo Alto area they are down just 10%.

Thurston Countys median sales price is $250,000, down just 3% from a year ago. While our prices do not need to correct as much as Californias (during the run-up prices in California escalated far beyond our own), there is still some price adjusting that needs to occur with many homes in all market segments.

Yet because each home is unique, there are well priced homes selling very quickly in every market segment from the lowest to highest prices.

In our recently updated market study through February, we found that the homes that did not require price reductions before selling are going under contract in just 46 days about the same speed experienced during the hot sellers market.

On the other hand, overpriced homes that required at least one price reduction before selling are languishing on the market an average of 196 days. Perhaps the most telling number is that these homes go under contract in just 32 days once reduced to the final asking price. That says something about the need to price right.

The return of sales in the Western U.S. is a sign that the market is still active. Here locally, we see a lot of buyers looking for opportunity. Armed with the lowest interest rates in 50 years, they are ready to act when they see well priced properties.

Statistics compiled by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. from the NWMLS database. Statistics not compiled or published by NWMLS.

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