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Pending home sales on Mercer Island jump in January

This modest ranch style home on the market for $395,500 has been foreclosed and is now owned by HSBC Mortgage Services. - Linda Ball/Staff Photo
This modest ranch style home on the market for $395,500 has been foreclosed and is now owned by HSBC Mortgage Services.
— image credit: Linda Ball/Staff Photo

Pending sales in January on Mercer Island were up by a whopping 60 percent over last year, per the latest statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Thirty-two homes went under contract last month, compared to 20 in January 2010.

According to NWMLS, open house attendance is up and inventory is shrinking. However, last year at this time, the market was boosted by tax incentives that created a temporary uptick in sales. The tax credit period expired April 30, 2010.

On the Island in January, 45 new residential/condo listings came on the market, compared to 61 the year before. There are 136 listings to choose from compared to 163 in 2010. The median price was $850,000, compared to last year at $630,000 or a 34.92 percent rise.

“If there were more good, new listings on the market, there would be more sales,” said NWMLS director Mike Skahen.

The King County median sales price last month was $333,500, a drop of 4.7 percent from January 2010, when it was $350,000. Brokers attribute part of the price drop to sales of distressed homes — homes that are foreclosed on or are impending foreclosure.

One such example is 2213 61st Avenue S.E. on Mercer Island. The home, repossessed by HSBC Mortgage Services, is a modest rancher on a dead-end street, in a neighborhood of high-end homes. Listed for $395,900, the land value this year is $360,000, according to King County records. The original list price was $389,000; then, curiously, the price was raised to $439,900, then reduced to $419,000 and back down again to the present price.

The home was built in 1958 and has two bedrooms and one bath. It appears that a one-time carport has been converted into an additional bedroom or family room. The home has been on the market for 85 days.

It looks livable enough, but given its surroundings, one might consider tearing it down and starting over. However, this particular property could be tough to redevelop because of the small lot size at 5,296 square feet.

“There hasn’t been a lot of redevelopment because financing has been difficult,” said Tim Conway of John L. Scott Real Estate, Mercer Island.

Conway said he has seen tear-downs of homes built in the 1950s and ’60s on the waterfront.

“There’s been extremely little new construction because of financing. In terms of buying something and tearing it down, we haven’t seen that in a few years,” he said.

He said there are opportunities to be had, but presently there really isn’t a “ton of inventory” on the Island.

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