Mortgage meltdown has little effect here

Despite the mortgage meltdown in many areas of the country and Washington state, the Mercer Island real estate market remains in good shape. According to the Multiple Listing service that tracks data on the real estate market throughout the region, the inventory of new homes for sale continues to grow in western Washington. Despite the greater choices, fewer homes are selling. And prices have fallen.

The market for homes on Mercer Island, however, remains fairly untouched by troubles in the mortgage industry and remains fairly steady in both supply and prices.

“We have had some buyers who have had problems with lenders,” said John Deely, the managing broker for Coldwell Banker Bain on Mercer Island. “But plenty of lenders have picked up the slack. They are being more cautious, but there is money available.”

The number of single family homes on the Island listed for sale last month was up 25 percent over a year ago — from 119 in August 2006 to 149 this past month. But according to Deely, the number, while higher, is still less than the 10-year average.

“Listing inventory is increasing, but we have been running at such a low number for a couple of years,” he said.

The number of sales pending on the Island was down by nearly half; the number of final sales was about the same as in August of 2006.

Perhaps most surprising is that the median completed sale price of Island homes was down, 7.5 percent in August for single family homes, falling from $1 million to $950,000. But Deely said that the average price for homes that have sold year-to-date are up over a year ago.

Since the number of homes bought and sold on Mercer Island is relatively small to begin with, a few transactions can easily skew statistics.

The numbers over the next couple of months will give a clearer picture of the Island market, he added.

“The market is still good here,” he said.

The number of condominiums for sale on the Island remains nearly the same as a year ago, just under 20 units. Prices for (sold) condos fell about 8 percent for the month of August over the same month a year ago.

As of this week, 172 single family homes are listed for sale on Mercer Island. Prices listed for these homes range from $550,000 to $40 million. Roughly one-third of the homes are offered at prices less than $1 million; another one-third are listed between $1 million and $2.4 million. Over 30 homes are offered for prices between $2.5 and $9.5 million, and five homes are for sale at $14 million or more.

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