MI Real estate in 2008: More for sale at slightly lower prices

It goes without saying that it has been a wild ride for 2008 real estate values. The inventory went up, asking prices fell and uncertainty ruled the day.

Within its premier place in the center of Lake Washington — just minutes from Seattle and Bellevue — real estate on Mercer Island runs the gamut between small 1950’s converted condos and a smattering of bleak tear downs, to the most expensive waterfront land and stylish homes in the region. As the Island real estate market in 2008 saw lower prices, more homes were on the market. But by Dec. 31, the median price for all Island homes and condos ended up about where the year began. The median sales price for all homes and condos that sold in December was down just one percent from Dec. 2007 to $917,000 from $925,000. For single family homes only, however, the median sale value declined by $90,000 or 8 percent less than a year ago. An average of the median price of homes that sold on the Island by month reveals that the same finding — $957,000 for 2008 and $964,000 for 2007. The median price is the middle value of all sales prices within a total distribution in their ascending order.

At the end of the year, the number of homes and condos listed for sale were up by nearly 40 percent over December 2007. A total of 164 homes and condos were available at the end of last month, compared to just 112 a year earlier. The number of sales that were final in December fell by one-third, from 25 in December of 2007 to just 18 last month.

Looking back over the past 12 months, activity on the Mercer Island real estate market mirrored what was happening within the mortgage markets and the financial sector. Yet, as the financial crisis began to worsen in late spring continuing into the summer, the number of properties offered for sale rose from 178 in April to 241 in July, leveling off to just over 230 in August, September and October.

In 2007, the number of homes on the market during any one month never exceed 173 — the number of homes and condos on the market averaged 135 for 2007; in 2008, the average number of properties for sale was 198.

As of the first 10 days of January, there were 160 homes and condominiums for sale. There were nine homes listed for sale in excess of $5 million, 11 homes between $3 and $5 million and 48 homes between one and two million. Approximately 50 homes were listed between $500,000 and $1 million. The lowest priced single family home on the Island stands at $439,000. It is being marketed as a tear-down.

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