A good time to buy — and sell — a home

Construction workers place a truss on a home under construction at Highmark Homes’ The Villas at Caldart Heights. Depending on down payment and financing, mortgage payments start at about $988 a month.                                - Richard Walker / Herald
Construction workers place a truss on a home under construction at Highmark Homes’ The Villas at Caldart Heights. Depending on down payment and financing, mortgage payments start at about $988 a month.
— image credit: Richard Walker / Herald

POULSBO — The median home price in Kitsap County was $235,000 in February, the fifth-highest median price in the 21 Western Washington counties in the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

King County led with $365,000.

Brokers in Kitsap County reported 339 new listings and 1,178 total active listings in February. They reported 358 pending sales and 231 closed sales. The average price was $280,212, also the fifth-highest among Northwest MLS counties.

The number of pending sales in the four-county Puget Sound region — King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties — was 5,587, a dip of approximately 400 from February 2012 and 2013. But it was the seventh-best winter month in the last 14 years. Sales start picking up in spring. Summer and fall rule. The greatest number of pending sales since 2000 was 8,896 in June 2005.

The sales pace has meant a shortage of listings in several areas. In Kitsap County, for example, selection and number of pending sales fell by nearly 3 percent from a year ago. Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson said he expects that will change soon.

“As we swing into our spring market, more listings will be added,” he said, predicting the improvement in listings will be “tempered by an increase in buyers too.”

Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott, Inc. in Poulsbo, reported buyers are still very active “because they are sure interest rates will be higher tomorrow than they are today.” He described today’s market as normal “where the relationship of inventory to buyers is balanced, appreciation is manageable, and there is sanity in the market place.” This does not mean it cannot “get crazed at times,” he said.

Regionwide, MLS members reported 7,247 mutually accepted offers on single-family homes and condominiums last month, down from 7,754 pending sales for the same month last year. Twelve of the 21 counties in the Northwest MLS service area reported drops.

MLS brokers added 7,234 new listings to inventory last month, down from February 2013 when 7,497 properties were listed. The additions, which include single-family homes and condos, brought February’s number of total active listings system-wide to 19,273 for a 6.4 percent improvement from a year ago.

The smaller selection is resulting in bidding wars for well-priced homes in some neighborhoods. Multiple-offer situations are common in local markets with less than four months of inventory, according to Dick Beeson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. He said traffic has been “very good” at open houses. “These are harbingers of a medium- to fast-paced spring and summer selling seasons,” he said.

Wilson said buyers and sellers would benefit by asking their real estate broker what they need to do to be successful in today’s market. “Buyers should expect and be prepared to compete with other buyers, and sellers should expect to list their homes at or close to market value,” he said.

George R. Moorhead, also a Northwest MLS board member, said the message to potential buyers is “get your financials updated with your lender and be ready to lock in terms.” For sellers on the fence, he recommends “stepping forward … Interest rates will rise this year.”




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