Business

Kitsap home sales up slightly

"Home prices in the Kitsap County real estate market were refreshingly boring in 1999.According to statistics released last week by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median value of a home sold in Kitsap County last year was $143,500, a increase of 9.76 percent over the median price of $139,869 in 1998.That figure, while still fairly healthy, was the lowest in the nine-county area incorporate by the MLS report.By comparison, the median price of a single-family home in King County skyrocketed from from $213,000 to an astonishing $234,000 in King County over the same period.Even in relatively sedate Grays Harbor County, the median home price rose by 13.4 percent, from $80,000 to $81,500.I think it's actually a good thing, said Frank Wilson, president-elect of the Kitsap Association of Realtors. Slow, steady growth is actually a much healthier condition over the long haul because it's easier to sustain.A precipitous rise in home prices is to the benefit of a homeowner looking to sell, Wilson said, but the majority of homeowners at any given time aren't trying to sell their homes.If your home isn't on the market, it just means your property taxes are going through the roof, he said. Whether high home prices are a good thing or not depends entirely on your point of view.Among the other Kitsap County highlights included in the MLS year-end summary:l A total of 3,498 homes were sold in Kitsap County during 1998, an increase over 3,370 in 1998 and an improvement of 28.7 percent over the past five years.l By far the most home-buying activity occurred in the $120,000 to $159,000 price range, where a total of 920 properties were sold. Twelve homes sold for more than $1 million.l The highest single transaction was $2.4 million; the least expensive home sale was for $14,950.I would characterize it as a good year for the real estate industry in Kitsap County, said Wilson. Certainly much better than 1998.Wilson attributed the improvement to a wider variety of lending options confronting the home buyer today.It used to be the best you could do was a 0-down VA loan, he said. But now lenders are becoming more creative.Wilson said Kitsap County and the city of Bremerton both launched programs last year that offered home buyers low-interest loans or grants to help with the cost of downpayment based on where your home was located.Both of those things helped people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a home buy one, he said.For the future, Wilson believes Many of the statistics in that report bode well for the Kitsap County market.When you see how inflated the price of homes is in King County, he said, and you realize the market can't expand to the north or to the south, you've got to conclude that sooner or later home buyers are going to discover Kitsap County in a big way."

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