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Real estate prices fall, market flourishes

Pending sales during April reached their highest level in eight months, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which covers 19 counties in western and central Washington.

Brokers reported 6,208 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) last month in the MLS counties. That was the highest number of transactions during one month since August, when MLS members notched 7,751 pending sales of single-family homes and condominiums. Compared to the same month a year ago, pending sales were down by about 32 percent.

Other indicators tracked by the multiple listing service across its service territory were mixed. Prices for sales that closed during April were down about 5.5 percent compared to a year ago, but a look at more recent months shows stable price in many areas — especially compared to most metropolitan areas around the country.

On Mercer Island, the number of homes and condos (combined) listed for sale in April jumped to 202, up more than 70 units or 56 percent over April of 2007. The number of sales pending slowed a bit, but the number of closed (final) sales were up by 12.5 percent. The median sales price for the 24 single-family homes that sold in April was $1.2 million, 11.5 percent more than over a year ago.

As of Monday, May 26, there were 210 homes and condos for sale on Mercer Island. Of those, about one-third — primarily condos — are listed for under $1 million or less. About 40 percent, or about 85 units, were priced between $1 million and $2 million. Fifteen percent or 30 homes were priced between $2 million and $3 million, and 10 percent or 20 homes were listed for sale from $3 million to $10 million. The sixteen homes with the highest asking prices are on the waterfront. The highest-priced homes on the market are $10.4 million, $12.5 million, $30 million and $35 million. The most expensive home, located adjacent to Proctor Landing in the East Seattle neighborhood, was originally for sale at $39.5 million more than a year ago. The least expensive living unit for sale on the Island is a $185,000 studio condo near the Town Center.

In the four-county Puget Sound region, prices have shown little fluctuation since August, when they started slipping during the subprime mortgage meltdown. In King County, the median price for last month’s closed sales of single-family homes and condos was $410,000. That is up slightly (0.67 percent) from 12 months ago and only $5,000 below the price reported for August 2007.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member brokers, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes approximately 31,000 brokers and agents. The organization, based in Kirkland, currently serves 19 counties, mostly in western Washington, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state.

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