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Home prices sizzle in a real estate seller’s market

Prices are up, inventory is down and real estate officials seem stretched as they attempt to find the sturdiest metaphors to describe a sizzling seller’s market.

The combined median price for residential homes and condominiums in Pierce County rose 7.65 percent in March compared to March 2014, while the price of properties in Thurston County rose 2.36 percent, according to the monthly 23-county report by Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“The multiple-offer market has become commonplace on well-priced new listings,” said John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain, in a NWMLS release.

“Sellers are currently experiencing the role of Prince Charming as buyers vie to win the Cinderella title by escalating offer prices above market value, releasing earnest money and waiving contingencies normally used to safeguard the transaction,” he said.

Meanwhile, he continued, “the less fortunate ‘stepsisters’ are becoming shell-shocked after numerous failed attempts.”

Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma, said, “Sellers are in the driver’s seat, but only when they price and condition their homes correctly.”

Buyers’ agents, he said, “are often up at the crack of dawn scouring new listings, price reductions and the back-on-market properties in search of opportunities for their clients.”

Among the NWMLS data released Tuesday:

•  The number of active listings of homes for sale in Pierce County fell 13.26 percent over the year, from 2,948 to 2,557.



•  The number of active listings of homes for sale in Thurston County fell 0.68 percent, from 1,033 listings to 1,026.



•  Pending sales in Pierce County rose 32.4 percent while pending sales in Thurston County rose 33.99 percent.



•  The median price of a residential home in Pierce County rose 6.5 percent during the period, from $230,000 to $244,950.



•  The median price of a residential home in Thurston County rose 2.23 percent, from $224,000 to $229,000.



•  And the metaphoric pumpkin has turned into a Cadillac in King County, where the median price, $440,250, was up 6.10 percent. Sellers in San Juan County were seated in the golden coach, however, with the region’s highest median price, $525,000, up 31.41 percent.



•  Closed sales of condominium in Pierce County were up 21.88 percent in March, and the median price, $163,500, was up 21.11 percent.



•  Closed sales of condominiums in Thurston County were down 23.08 percent — from 13 to 10 — while the median price rose 40.38 percent to $182,500.



•  Where Pierce and Thurston County buyers could expect the inventory of available properties to last 2.59 months and 3.22 months respectively, buyers in King County could expect only 1.34 months.



And barring the stroke of midnight, buyers and sellers haven’t seen anything yet. Beeson said escalating prices may ease later in the year when interest rates rise and the Federal Reserve discontinues its purchase of mortgage-backed securities, according to the NWMLS release.

However…

“With near full employment levels and still historic low interest rates, it looks like (the) spring and summer housing market will be hot. Buckle your seatbelts,” he said.

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