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Thurston County home sales up

Home shoppers Yvonne and Jason Ferguson of Raeford, N.C., take a tour of a five-bedroom home in the Kiely Glen development in southeast Olympia. (The Olympian file)
Home shoppers Yvonne and Jason Ferguson of Raeford, N.C., take a tour of a five-bedroom home in the Kiely Glen development in southeast Olympia. (The Olympian file) The Olympian

The Thurston County housing market posted its strongest month of the year, with March home sales rising 34 percent in the year-over-year period, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released this week.

Home sales jumped 34 percent to 286 units last month from 214 units in March 2009, combined single-family residence and condo data show. Pending sales also surged 30 percent in the year-over-year period ending in March, and the total number of homes for sale rose nearly 13 percent to more than 1,800 units. More than 650 homes were listed for sale in March, the data show.

Although a federal tax incentive program for first-time buyers and existing homeowners is set to expire April 30, South Sound home sales have been stimulated by lower prices, not tax credits, Ken Anderson said Tuesday. Anderson is the broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Olympia.

When you can get a $30,000 price reduction on a house from last year, an $8,000 or $6,500 tax credit just doesn’t compare, he said. “Affordability is trumping the tax credit,” said Anderson, although he acknowledged the tax credit as a “nice bonus.”

Median prices here continued to fall last month, down 5.21 percent to $227,500 from $240,000 in March 2009, the combined single-family residence and condo data show. Although median prices – half the homes selling for a higher price and half selling for less – fell on a year-over-year basis, median prices here are slightly higher since the start of the year, rising to $227,500 from $225,000.

Taking advantage of the new affordability Tuesday were first-time homebuyers Jason and Yvonne Ferguson of North Carolina. Jason Ferguson is a family doctor at Fort Bragg, N.C., and is moving here with his family to take a similar job at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord next month, he said.

The Fergusons, who have two children, are looking to buy their first house. Jason Ferguson called the homebuying process “exciting and a little intimidating,” although he said he is ready to invest in a house rather than “saying goodbye to his rent money every month.” They also hope to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit as first-time buyers, he said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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