Business

Condos sustain housing market

For the second month in a row, a burst of condominium sales helped to soften a drop in overall Thurston County home sales in April, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Monday.

Single-family home sales dropped more than 20 percent last month, but the overall results were helped by a 400 percent increase in condo sales, the multiple's data show. The data includes sales of new and existing homes.

The combined single-family home and condo sales data resulted in a 15 percent decline in home sales to 353 units, down from 417 units a year ago.

Median prices rose 6.57 percent to $267,500 last month, up from $251,000 last year, the multiple reported.

Separately, the multiple's single-family home sales results show:

• Single-family home sales dropped 21.4 percent to 323 units, down from 411 last year.



• Total active listings were nearly 50 percent higher at 2,029 units, up from 1,358 last year.



• The median price of a single-family home climbed 9.11 percent to $274,950, up from $252,000.



Though April home sales were down in Thurston County, it trailed only King, Snohomish and Pierce counties in overall homes sales in Western Washington in April, said John L. Scott Olympia branch manager Ty Frederick.

The pace of new South Sound loan applications has so far been strong this year, said Jeff Devlin, a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage consultant. Devlin said he doesn't sense the "doom and gloom" today that hung over the real estate market a year ago.

"People are realizing that (mortgage) interest rates are still low," Devlin said.

Interest rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage have dropped from 6.50 percent to about

6 percent since last fall, he said.

Condominium sales, meanwhile, remained strong in April, up significantly from last year. The sales increase had no apparent effect on median prices that dropped more than 16 percent from the same period last year.

A higher inventory of lower cost condos has caused median prices to drop, but as construction starts on more expensive condo projects this summer, median prices are expected to rise, said real estate agent Tamera Strawn, a condo sales specialist.

The condo sales data show:

• Condo sales rose 400 percent to 30 units, up from 6 last year



• Condo listings were 60 percent higher at 56 units, up from 35 last year



• The median price of a condo dropped 16.6 percent to $183,463, down from $220,000.



Rolf Boone covers business for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5403 or rboone@theolympian.com.

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