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

Puget Sound homes remain a popular target

Slight gains in local property inventories are being countered by rising interest rates, continuing the brisk competition for Puget Sound homes.

The average home sale in King County jumped to $457,903 in May, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The average in Snohomish County was $309,102, $234,875 in Pierce County and $286,870 in Kitsap County.

The NWMLS reported double-digit gains in several key indicators it tracks for the 21 counties in its service area. Compared to a year ago, the number of new listings climbed 16 percent, pending sales increased about 10 percent, closed sales jumped nearly 22 percent, and prices rose more than 13 percent. Despite gains in listing activity, inventory remains tight.

According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.91 percent this week, up from last week when it averaged 3.81 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.67 percent.

"It has been refreshing to see more listings coming on the market, but with overall inventory remaining low the competition among buyers is still fierce for homes that are priced properly," said Kathy Estey, managing broker at John L. Scott in Bellevue.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

It may be two to three more years before prospective homebuyers get a break from escalating property prices and tight supply, according to experts speaking this week at a National Association of Real Estate Editors conference.

That is the time frame for institutional speculators, who currently are dominating the market, to pull out of their investments and still make a profit, explained Bill Rayburn of the mortgage technology firm FNC.

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