King County Realtors to hold 1,200 open houses this weekend

More than 1,200 open houses have been scheduled throughout King County, as part of Realtors Statewide Open House event planned for June 27-28, according to the Seattle King County Realtors.

Realtors and home sellers in an estimated 75 cities statewide will participate in the two-day event, the first of its kind ever planned in Washington. The open houses are sponsored by the state association and many local realtor associations throughout the state.

At King County open houses on Saturday and on Sunday, realtors and mortgage experts will be available to share their expertise about the housing market and provide information for those looking at the homes.

Seattle King County Realtors president Keith Nelson said the activities would help those thinking about buying a home to take advantage of home market factors and the 2009 federal first-time home buyer tax credit, which will expire on Nov. 30.

“This weekend will be a prime time for those who want to see the variety of homes that are out there, even if they are just window shopping,” said Nelson, who is the designated broker and principal owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Executives. “Homes are more affordable, interest rates are the lowest many have ever seen, and qualified buyers can get money back on their purchase through the tax credit for first-time home buyers — all if they act soon. For buyers with good credit who’ve been on the sidelines, the market has never looked more favorable.”

In May, pending home sales in the four-county Puget Sound area increased 21.5 percent from a year ago, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Experts say much of the activity is a response to the tax credit for first-time home buyers.

The latest survey of realtors about their clients showed that 53 percent of home buyers across the nation are first-time buyers. That is much higher than the typical 40 percent, according to Laurence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Home prices in the county have decreased 12 percent from a year ago, and the inventory is shrinking. While there is abundant supply across the price spectrum, the number of active listings in King County is down by nearly 18 percent from a year ago.

The 2009 Economic Recovery and Revitalization Act included a “refundable” tax credit worth up to $8,000 for taxpayers who purchase their first home between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2009. Buyers qualify for the tax credit if they have not owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase. The 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including single-family homes, condos, town homes and co-ops.

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