Homes selling at record pace

Mirror staff

J. Lennox Scott, chairman of John L. Scott Real Estate, says don’t worry, be happy about the real estate market.

“Seventeen straight months of historically low interest rates has resulted in continued record-pace home sales,” Scott said. “These low rates have overridden the effects of the economic slowdown all across the nation.”

The news isn’t all good, however.

Scott lamented “a lack of inventory in the more affordable price ranges,” meaning homes that are listed elow median housing prices.

As of May 30, the median asking price of homes in the Federal Way school district and south King County areas ranged from $185,000 to $215,000 and there were 459 active listings, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Services, a professional organization that tracks real estate in a 13-county region.

Throughout King County, the median asking and sale prices last month were $349,950 and $258,750, respectively.

Scott said new construction can’t keep up with the large numbers of homebuyers coming into the market “and the subsequent demand. Many homebuilders are reporting that they are pre-selling future starts in the more affordable price ranges.”

Scott said some reports indicate “a decline in new inventory coming onto the market compared to last year.” But 2001 started with an adequate supply of homes for sale in all price ranges “due to higher interest rates and the after-effects of the dot-com (industry) decline the year before,” he said.

When rates began to lower to historic levels, the more affordable inventory quickly sold. And homebuilders haven’t been able to keep up with the demand ever since, according to Scott.

“We continue to see very strong home sales in the more affordable price ranges, and activity is picking up substantially in the middle to upper end markets as well,” he said.

With “more inventory in the more affordable price ranges, we would have even more sales –– because if there’s one thing we don’t have a shortage of, it’s buyers,” he added.

Northwest Multiple Listing Services reported more sellers accepted offers on their homes in May than durin any other month ever recorded by the organization. The 7,229 pending sales (offers accepted but not closed) marked the first time the statistic has topped 7,000 in a single month, an NMLS spokesman said.

Sales in King County took about a week longer in May than the year before. The 48 days that houses averaged being on the market was tied with Snohomish County for being the shortest in the NMLS-surveyed region, but the figure was 41 days for King County in May 2001.

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