Housing sales slow in November; winter sets in

By LESLIE KELLY | For the Independent

Although the number of homes sold in November and the prices paid were comparable to that of November 2012, home sales overall in the area have slowed from previous months.

That was the conclusion of the reports released last week by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, based in Kirkland.

Improving inventory, stabilizing prices, fewer short sales and a healthy local economy kept the real estate market "chugging along" according to brokers in the Northwest Multiple area.

That area includes 21 counties in western Washington including Kitsap County and a total of 21,000 member-agents.

Throughout the entire area, year-over-year gains in inventory was up 4.8 percent; pending sales were up 1.6 percent, closed sales were up 5.3 percent and the median selling price was up 4.8 percent, statistics showed.

Brokers reported 6,624 pending sales on single family and condominiums during November, up from 6,522 last year in November. Closed sales were 5,333, as opposed to 5,616 a year ago.

The median price jumped from $258,500 to $271,061 from November to November comparisons.

In Kitsap County, closed sales rose from 240 last November to 255. The median selling price in that time went from $233,000 to $245,000. There were 289 new residential (single family homes and condominiums) listings in November, as compared to 268 in November 2012. Total active listings were 1,356 this year in November and 1,412 last November.

Pending sales in November were 310, as compared to 288 last November. The median price of those pending sales was $234,950 this year, and $229,000 last year.

Frank Wilson, a director with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service who sells real estate in Kitsap County, said November is usually the month when home sales begin to slow some, due to the holidays. People generally don't want to buy a home and move at Thanksgiving and Christmas time.

But he said he anticipates activity to improve in early 2014.

“Slow but steady price appreciation, upward pressure on interest rates and increased costs of getting a loan will all work to decrease the buyer's purchasing power,” said Wilson, branch manager and Kitsap District manager for John L. Scott. “It's going to become more expensive to buy a home during 2014.”

He said people considering the market will see that it will not benefit them to wait and he thinks the market will become more active after the holidays.

Wilson said the Kitsap momentum is slowing a bit from earlier this year, but he noted that cumulative figures for the year show the volume of pending sales to be up 14 percent. He also noted that prices in Kitsap County have had only modest increases.

“We're happy to let the Seattle market steal the limelight with double-digit jumps (in prices),” he said. “We know we've got the affordability advantage.”

Mike Eliason, executive director of the Kitsap Realtors Association, summed up the local market like this:

“The local marketplace continues to gradually improve. Pending and closed sales increased more than six percent during November compared to the same month last year. Meanwhile, inventory decreased by almost four percent. There is currently a four month supply of available homes and the inventory shortage has contributed to buyers competing to purchase the same properties, particularly in the affordable price range.”

He, too, said the time of the year is one reason for the market to slow.

“Activity generally slows during the winter months and then rebounds when the weather improves during the spring,” Eliason said. “Thanks to improved consumer confidence, low interest rates, and a rebounding job market, we anticipate a stable real estate marketplace next year.”



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