Luxury home buyers shattered a decade-old record in Pierce County, and real estate agents say the trend is here to stay.
Many home buyers are flocking here from King County once they realize $1 million buys them more than it would in Seattle, where the median home price is around $627,000. Pierce County’s median is less than half that.
Last year, 133 homes priced at $1 million or more sold in Pierce County. In 2007, 86 such homes sold for that price. Only a couple dozen luxury homes sold in the intervening years as the economy was in the depths of the recession.
The sales pace of high-priced homes could signal a new normal in Pierce County, where the median-priced single-family house sold for $307,000 in 2017, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. December’s median home price was $319,900, 12.25 percent higher than the previous December.
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Of those homes priced at $1 million or more sold last year, two in three were in the Gig Harbor area, said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker with RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.
“The vast majority had waterfront or view,” Beeson said of the Gig Harbor homes. “It was a glorious year for million-dollar-plus sellers.”
Million-dollar homes usually remain on the market far longer than moderately priced homes, sometimes for as long as four years. That trend did not hold true in 2017.
“This was the first time monthly inventory dropped below double digits,” Beeson said.
By April 2017, 42 luxury homes had sold or were under contract.
The pace picked up in the summer and remained high through the rest of the year, Beeson said.
Now, the downside for those looking for affordability.
“The days of wine and roses for first-time home buyers is really tough,” Beeson said. “You can’t sit back and expect to find something in the $200,000-range that doesn’t need help.”
But, with prices continuing their climb throughout the region, it is a good time for “move-up buyers,” people who already own a home who are looking for more space or a more expensive home, said Kevin Mullin, owner-partner and designated broker of Windermere Professional Partners in Tacoma.
“Move-up buyers have more equity to work with, enabling them to buy the house they have always dreamed of,” Mullin said. “In all, I think that quality of life is driving many of these purchase decisions, and our community has a lot of that to offer.”
Expensive condo sales, too, are seeing a surge. Last year, 66 $1 million condominiums sold in Pierce County.