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Originally published July 3, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Page modified July 5, 2014 at 9:29 AM

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King County home prices up 6 percent over year

Median prices rose to $630,000 on the Eastside and $499,000 in Seattle.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Summer has eased the drought of available homes for sale in Greater Seattle, and sales are growing at a pace not seen previously this year.

After five months of declining sales activity compared with a year earlier, the number of June sales was up 2 percent annually, and the supply of homes for sale grew by almost 6 percent, according to a report Thursday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The larger inventory hasn’t lessened competition among buyers in the most sought-after areas, said Mike Gain, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate.

“We don’t have enough supply of homes for sale in desirable neighborhoods to satisfy the demand,” he said. “In those areas, it is just like a feeding frenzy when a house goes on the market,” he said.

The median price of homes sold in King County has been steadily increasing since February, last month reaching $453,500, a 6 percent increase from a year ago.

Brokers agree that the steady increase in prices is prompting some potential sellers to make their move.

Although more homes were listed for sale this June than a year ago, King County still had less than a two-month supply of homes on the market. A healthy amount locally is a five to six months’ supply, Gain said.

“We just can’t seem to break that logjam of getting sellers to put their homes on the market,” he said. “If we had inventory, boy, we would just be breaking all sorts of records right now.”

Erik Durocher, 42, moved to San Diego seven years ago and has been renting out his town house in Ballard since. But with the Ballard market “booming,” said Durocher, he started advertising it for sale on Zillow, Trulia and craigslist last month.

“It’s a hot market with low inventory and high demand in Ballard — everyone wants to be here,” he said about selling the town house he’s owned for 14 years. “I’ll get the best buck for my bang.”

Durocher listed the town house for $540,000 but plans to make improvements and raise the asking price once those are done.

The lack of available homes in desirable neighborhoods — Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard, Bellevue — has created what realtors call a “quick-action market” and has opened the market to bidding wars, said J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

“On the Eastside, 57 percent of the homes sold within the first 30 days on the market — in Seattle it was 68 percent in the first 30 days. Normal would be 30 percent,” Scott said. “Across all price ranges — even $1 million homes — we are seeing a shortage of inventory, and multiple offers.”

Shesh Mathur and Alka Kurian started looking in March to downsize from a large Sammamish home to a smaller house in the Green Lake area.

After making two offers that were not accepted, the couple found their dream home just two blocks from the lake and closed on the home last month.

The house was only on the market two weeks, and the couple paid $846,000 — $19,000 over the listed price.

“We must have looked at least 50 houses, and we cast our net pretty wide even though we knew we wanted to live in Green Lake,” said Kurian, a professor at the University of Washington-Bothell. “But we just couldn’t find anything. The inventory was really very small.”

The tight inventory has helped lift prices across the county, not just in the “more desirable” neighborhoods.

The median price of Seattle homes sold in June was $499,000, up almost 9 percent from a year ago.

The Eastside had the highest median home price at $630,000, up 6.5 percent higher from a year ago.

Southwest King County had the lowest median price at $266,500, but led the county’s submarkets in appreciation, The median price jumped 11 percent over the year.

Meanwhile, in Snohomish County, the median price jumped 13.3 percent to $340,000.

Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or cgarnick@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @coralgarnick



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