Real estate listings fall, prices recover
By LINDA BALL
Mercer Island Reporter Reporter
September 13, 2011 · 9:16 AM
Real estate inventory is down on Mercer Island, as is the case in most of King County, but the median price shot up from a year ago as well as from a month ago.
Per the latest statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median sales price on the Island in August, with both single family homes and condominiums combined, was $875,000, up from $765,000 a year ago and $770,000 in July of this year.
Single family median price jumped 14.75 percent from a year ago, while condos dropped 22.09 percent.
In August, 28 homes closed while just three condominiums changed hands. Pending sales, those with mutually agreed contracts that have not yet closed were at 42 last month, up from 39 a year ago and 31 in July of this year.
Per the NWMLS, last month’s volume of pending sales statewide was the highest number of mutually accepted offers since April 2010, when the homebuyer tax incentive expired.
Mercer Island NWMLS members added 57 new listings to the market in August, 50 single family homes and seven condos, bringing total inventory on the Island to 147 listings compared to 201 a year ago.
The median sales price for single family homes in August was $929,500 — up 14.75 percent from last year, but condos were down 22.08 percent from $301,000 to $234,500 in the past year.
NWMLS also stated that multiple offers are occurring below the $1 million mark, close to job centers in Seattle and Bellevue. The National Association of Realtors faults banks for “unnecessarily restrictive practices” in lending, denying loans to creditworthy potential buyers/borrowers.
It has been a long time since builders have braved building a home on speculation, due in part to lack of demand, and the tight financing. However, there are a few on the Island that are just waiting for a new owner.
Listed for $2.6 million, long-time Mercer Island builder Aspen Homes started a home at 8038 S.E. 45th Street by pouring the foundation several years ago. When the market went south, construction was halted only to start up again about a year ago. The 6,200-square-foot home is almost finished and features five bedrooms, four and a half baths, three fireplaces — one of which is in an outdoor living room — and a great room concept.
Craig Hagstrom, a broker with John L. Scott Real Estate on Mercer Island, encouraged another long-time Mercer Island builder, Johnson Design Homes, to build a spec home on the North end of the Island.
Johnson Design Homes recently finished the home at 2228 78th Ave. S.E., listed for $2.3 million.
“Very few builders have the guts to do this,” Hagstrom said.
Hagstrom said he predicted a shortage of new homes, and Johnson Design Homes was able to secure financing.
The home is also 6,200 square feet, with a grand entrance, cherry hardwood floors, five bedrooms, six baths, home theater, huge private deck and three-car garage.
Hagstrom said there has definitely been an increase in sales, with two waterfront sales in the past week, both in the $6 million range.
There are two other brand new homes on the market on the Island; one at 3028 61st Ave. S.E., listed for $1,395,000, and a contemporary home at 3813 82nd Ave. S.E., listed for $1,999,950.
Two other homes available are basically new. Hagstrom said sometimes if you save a wall or part of the foundation, but the rest of the house is gutted, it’s considered a new home. That’s the case with both a home at 4028 93rd Ave. S.E., listed for $1,396,500, originally built in 1958, and one at 3225 West Mercer Way, listed for $1,548,800, originally built in 1988 — now considered brand new.
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Reporter Linda Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org.