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Thurston County home sales cool in November

The Thurston County housing market cooled in November — just as it did in October — as some buyers stayed on the sidelines due to seasonal factors or slightly higher mortgage interest rates, according to recently released data by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The Thurston County housing market cooled in November — just as it did in October — as some buyers stayed on the sidelines due to seasonal factors or slightly higher mortgage interest rates, according to recently released data by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Steve Bloom

The Thurston County housing market cooled in November — just as it did in October — as some buyers stayed on the sidelines because of seasonal factors or slightly higher mortgage interest rates, according to recently released data by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Sales of single-family homes dropped 11 percent in November compared to November a year ago, but there was still encouraging data for buyers and sellers, said Ken Anderson, president and owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Olympia.

For sellers, it was the third best November for closings, with 384 homes sold, he said.

For buyers — and there hasn’t been good news for buyers in a long time — there are signs of balance returning to the market, Anderson said. Months of inventory has recently remained closer to two months, compared to one month over a sizzling summer of sales. A healthy balance between buyers and sellers is thought to have inventory of four to six months.

“We’re a long way from balance, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Anderson said.

Thurston County also remains one of the most affordable home-buying markets in Puget Sound, with a median price around $300,000, compared to $600,000 in King County.

And the total number of homes for sale in Thurston County in November was 20 percent higher than a year ago, the data show.

Still, the county’s relative affordability, plus a strong economy and low unemployment, means there is still plenty of demand to push median prices higher. The median price for single-family homes rose nearly 10 percent to $315,000.

Going into next year, Anderson expects the housing market to be strong, likely making it the third or fourth best year in the county’s housing market history. He acknowledged, though, that some prospective buyers will put off a purchase because of higher mortgage interest rates.

In 2018, rates for a 30-year mortgage hovered around 4.5 percent, then crept up to 4.9 percent in October, before falling to around 4.75 percent. Those rates still represent historical lows, but not if your current rate is 3.75 percent.

Last month’s data in Thurston County is as follows:

  • Sales of single-family homes fell 11.3 percent to 384 units from 433 units;

  • Median price rose 9.7 percent to $315,000 from $287,000;

  • Pending sales fell 8.3 percent to 406 units from 443 units.

Thurston County condo data for November 2018 versus November 2017

  • Sales rose to 11 units from eight units.

  • Median price fell to $172,000 from $216,450.

  • Pending sales rose to 17 units from 12 units.

  • Total number of condos for sale rose to 53 units from 25 units.

  • New listings in November rose to 34 units from nine units.

Source: Northwest MLS.

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