The Pierce County housing market continues to show signs of improvement as home sales rose and median prices largely remained stable in May, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.
Sales rose more than 8 percent to 865 units last month from 796 units in May 2011, while median prices were essentially flat in the same period, falling 1.03 percent to $192,000 from $194,000, the combined single-family residence and condo data show.
That’s much improved compared to earlier this year when median prices frequently plunged by a double-digit margin. In the year-over-year February period, for example, Pierce County median home prices fell more than 16 percent to $169,450.
Allen Realtors of Lakewood President and designated broker Mike Larson also pointed to the county’s falling inventory of homes for sale as another indicator of a more balanced housing market to stimulate sales. Inventory levels fell more than 30 percent to 3,758 units from 5,501 units, the combined data show.
“The supply and demand is not so extreme,” Larson said about the current state of the housing market. When the supply of homes is higher, such as when its closer to 5,000 units, buyers become choosier and sellers are forced to lower their prices to compete for those buyers, he said.
Mortgage interest rates also have recently fallen below 4 percent, although Larson would rather see rates increase as well as values go up to get more people back into the market.
Still, the county’s stabilizing home values is a good sign.
“When values are stable, people will have confidence in a big, big purchase like a home,” Larson said.
Realtor Greg Moe of Windermere Olympia, who showed homes at Tahoma Terra in Yelm over the weekend – a 200-lot subdivision that is under construction – said prospective buyers are gaining more confidence about the market and a little more job security in this economy will only add to it. He’s also recently encountered some multiple offer situations in which competing offers can bump up the price of a house, something that hasn’t happened with great regularity since the boom. In those days, real estate agents were “order takers.”
“You put up a for sale sign and got multiple offers,” Moe said.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403