August was the best month for Thurston County home sales in more than two years: It was the first month since early 2007 that the number of homes sold increased from the year before.
Home sales here last month rose 10.8 percent to 336 units from 303 units in the same period last year, the first year-over-year increase in combined sales of single-family residences and condominiums since February 2007, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Friday. That month 295 homes sold in the county compared to 280 in February 2006.
In June of this year, sales of single-family residences exceeded those in June 2008, although overall sales of residences and condos still were lower than the year-ago period.
“We are back to a healthy market trend,” said Mark Kitabayashi, president-elect of the Thurston County Realtors Association.
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July and August are typically the busiest months of the year for home sales, but the market gained an additional boost from an influx of military families from Fort Lewis and those buyers wanting to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit before it expires at the end of November, Kitabayashi said.
The homebuyers tax credit expires Nov. 30, and with the typical home sale taking 45 to 60 days to complete, buyers are getting into the market now before it’s too late, he said.
The median home price in Thurston County fell 3.27 percent to $239,900 from $248,000 last August, while the number of homes for sale plunged more than 16 percent to 1,831 units from 2,185 units, the combined single-family residence and condo data show.
Median means half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.
Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty Inc. owner and broker Ken Anderson agreed that Thurston County’s housing market continues to improve.
“More sellers are getting it,” Anderson said. “They are getting their prices right, and buyers are recognizing that.”
And more home sales are in the pipeline: Pending sales in August rose 5.18 percent to 386 units last month from 367 units in August 2008, the data show.
Although year-over-year sales were higher last month for the first time in a long time, some corners of the market, such as upper-end homes or those along the waterfront priced at $600,000 or higher, aren’t selling as quickly, Anderson said.
He attributes that to tighter restrictions on financing, such as jumbo loans in the amount of $417,000. Interest rates are higher for those loans and more downpayment money is required to qualify, he said.
A nearly 50 percent increase in the stock market since March also has people feeling better about the overall economy.
“Folks are feeling a little more confident,” Anderson said.
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Home Sales up
The year-over-year single-family residence data for August show:
• Single-family residence sales rose to 332 units from 296 units.
• Single-family residence median prices fell 3.83 percent to $239,950 from $249,500.
• Single-family residence listings fell 17.17 percent to 1,742 units from 2,103 units.
The year-over-year condo data show:
• Condo sales fell to four units from seven units.
• Condo median prices fell 13.69 percent to $151,000 from $174,950.
• Condo listings increased 8.5 percent to 89 units from 82 units.
Source: Multiple Listing Service