March 13, 2012 (Shirley Allen)
Monthly sales of new and resale homes in the Seattle area declined as expected from December to January but still beat last year’s tally, while home prices fell to an eight year low according to real estate information provider DataQuick.
A total of 2,513 new and resale homes and condos closed escrow in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area in January. Sales were 31.7 percent lower than December, but were still 13.5 percent higher than in January of 2011.
Home sales in the region typically fall 25.5 percent between December and January and were 24.7 percent lower than the historical average for the month. January’s sales tally was the highest for the month since 2008.
New home sales continued to be in the doldrums. Although sales were 19.6 percent higher than in January of last year, they were still the second lowest on record for that month. Sales of existing homes were 12.6 percent higher than a year ago, their best showing for the month in five years, but were still 18.2 percent below the monthly average.
Cash buyers accounted for 21.7 percent of all purchases in January, which was down from 24.7 percent in December and down from 23.4 percent a year earlier. The median price that cash buyers paid for their purchases fell to $172,000, down 22.5 percent from December and 20.0 percent lower than January of 2011.
Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyer’s, accounted for 19.9 percent of the homes sold in January, up from 19.3 percent in December. The median price they paid for their purchases fell to $169,900, down 12.8 percent from December and down 18.9 percent from January of last year.
The overall median price paid for new and resale homes and condos in January was $238,000, which was down 5.7 percent from December and down 8.5 percent from January of last year. It was the 18th consecutive month that year-over-year home prices have declined.
The current median price is 34.8 percent below the peak median price of $365,200 in June 2007 and leaves home prices in the area back at January 2004 levels.
Distressed sales accounted for 49.4 percent of the resale market in January with foreclosures accounting for 32.5 percent of the distressed sales, up from 29.1 percent in December, and short sales accounted for 16.9 percent of the distressed sales, up from 16.2 percent in December.
Foreclosure activity continued to improve in January with lenders foreclosing on 601 single-family homes and condos, down 40.8 percent in December and 45.4 percent from January of 2011.
Tags: DataQuick, existing home sales, Seattle, distressed properties, resale homes, condos, cash buyers, investors, median price