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KIRO Radio's Tom Kelly digs deep into the Puget Sound real estate market

Real Estate

Local bidding wars, escalation clauses now common

A full-price offer with an escalation clause is now common on a newly listed home that is priced right. (AP Photo)

A full-price offer with an escalation clause is now common on a newly listed home that is priced right, according to brokers affiliated with Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

"Buyers have to be ready to buy and have an approval in hand from their lender," said Frank Wilson, Kitsap district manager and branch managing broker for John L. Scott in Poulsbo. "Just as sellers had to work harder to get their homes sold a few years ago, today's buyers have to work harder to succeed in this competitive market."

An escalation clause in an offer indicates that the buyer will pay some fixed amount more than any competing offer the seller might receive up to a specific amount.

For example:

"If the seller receives other offers on this property, the buyer will pay $1,000 more than any competing offer up to $350,000."

The latest NWMLS statistics show April had the most pending sales since May 2007 along with reported bidding wars.

"Multiple offers have become the new normal," said Diedre Haines, Snohomish County regional managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. "We have literally gone off the charts in absorption."

NWMLS members closed 6,209 sales for April, up nearly 20 percent from last year. Year-over-year prices on those sales climbed 12.5 percent.

The median price for a King County home was $352,000. Other local counties - Snohomish, $275,000; Pierce, $217,000; Kitsap, $233,000; Skagit, $228,000; Thurston, $225,00; San Juan, $362,000.

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