Thursday, March 8, 2012
January Seattle Region Press Release
A total of 2,513 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow during January in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area encompassing King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. January's total sales fell 31.7 percent from the month before but increased 13.5 percent from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
A drop in sales between December and January is normal, with that decline averaging 25.5 percent since 1994, when DataQuick's complete Seattle-area statistics begin.
January sales were the highest for that month since 2,828 homes sold in January 2008, but this January's sales were still 24.7 percent below the historical average for the month.
Total sales were tugged lower by the weak new-home market. Although January sales of newly built houses and condos rose 19.6 percent from a year earlier, they were still the second-lowest on record for that month. The Seattle-area resale market continues to fare much better, posting a 12.6 percent sales gain from a year earlier. Resales of houses and condos in January were the highest for that month in five years, though they were 18.2 percent below the historical average for the month.
January's year-over-year sales gain was mainly the result of plentiful sales of lower-cost homes. The number that sold for less than $200,000 rose 32.4 percent from a year earlier, at least partly the result of improved affordability resulting from price declines and ultra-low mortgage rates. Sales between $200,000 and $600,000 fell 2.5 percent in January compared with a year earlier, while sales in the $600,000 to $900,000 range increased 2.8 percent. (Note: $600,000-to-$900,000 sales represented 6.4 percent of January transactions, while sub-$200,000 deals accounted for 38.5 percent of the market and $200,000-to-$600,000 sales accounted for 52.5 percent).
Across all price segments in January, buyers paid a median $238,000 for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the three-county Seattle region. That was down 5.7 percent from the prior month and down 8.5 percent from a year earlier. The median has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 18 consecutive months.
January's median was 34.8 percent lower than the Seattle area's peak $365,200 median in June 2007. The last time the median was lower than January's was when it was $235,000 in January 2004.
Another key price measure, the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses, dipped to $143 in January - the lowest since it was also $143 in April 2003. January's figure fell 5.9 percent from December and fell 7.1 percent from a year earlier. The median paid per square foot has fallen year-over-year for 17 consecutive months and in January was 40.2 percent lower than the peak $239 median paid per square foot in June 2007.
At the county level in January, the median price paid per square foot for resale detached houses fell 1.6 percent year-over-year in King County, while it dropped 10.6 percent from a year ago in Pierce County and fell 0.5 percent in Snohomish County.
Distressed property sales - foreclosure resales and "short sales" combined - represented 46.0 percent of the Seattle area's resale market in January, which was the highest since it was 47.1 percent last September.
Foreclosure resales - properties foreclosed on in the prior 12 months - represented 32.5 percent of the resale market in January, up from 29.1 percent the prior month and up from 30.1 percent a year earlier. The peak was 32.8 percent in March 2011.
Short sales - transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property - made up an estimated 16.9 percent of the Seattle-area's January resales. That was up from an estimated 16.2 percent the month before and up from 15.9 percent a year earlier.
In January, lenders foreclosed on 601 single-family houses and condo units in the region, down 40.8 percent from the month before and down 45.4 percent from a year earlier. During all of last year, 13,089 homes were foreclosed on in the Seattle area, up 12.3 percent from 2010. The figures are based on the number of Trustees Deeds filed with county recorder offices.
Investors and first-time buyers continue to snap up many of the distressed properties.
Absentee buyers - mainly investors - accounted for 19.9 percent of the Seattle area's January home sales, about even with 19.3 percent the month before and up from 18.7 percent a year earlier. Absentee buyers paid a median $169,900 in January, down 12.8 percent from the month before and down 18.9 percent from a year earlier. While many of these buyers are investors, they can include second-home buyers and others who indicated at the time of sale that the property tax bill would be sent to a different address.
Many investors are among the cash buyers, who accounted for 21.7 percent of January sales, down from 24.7 percent the prior month and 23.4 percent a year earlier. Cash buyers paid a median $172,000 in January, down 22.5 percent month-to-month and down 20.0 percent year-over-year.
In January, 26.7 percent of Seattle-area purchase mortgages were government-insured FHA loans, a popular, low-down-payment choice among first-time home buyers. That was up from 23.7 percent of home purchase loans the prior month but down from 29.3 percent a year earlier. The region's FHA level peaked for the current cycle at 39.9 percent in October 2009.
The full home sale chart is available at DQNews.com.
Media calls: Andrew LePage (916) 456-7157
Source: DataQuick; DQNews.com
Posted by DQNews and Custom Reports at 5:28 PM