Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane-area home values, sales marching upward

Median price for first half of year reaches $205,000

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Home sales here are continuing strong growth both in numbers sold and in median sales prices, says Tom McArthur, a spokesman for the Spokane Association of Realtors.

In the first half of this year, 3,530 homes were sold through the association’s Multiple Listing Service, up 7 percent compared with 3,278 homes sold during the year-earlier period.

Home sales this year were especially strong in the month of June, during which 944 homes were sold through the Spokane MLS, up 18 percent compared with the year-earlier month.

“We had to check the numbers to make sure they were right,” McArthur says.

Ken Lewis, owner and broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services First Look Real Estate, in Spokane Valley, says June sales were especially brisk because of the harsh winter.

“The winter was so long and slow that sellers weren’t quite in the market even in the middle of February,” Lewis says. “Fewer people in the first part of the year were ready or in the mood as in most years.”

Sales closed in June actually reflect transactions that started in April and May when activity warmed up, he says.

The median sales price for homes sold through the MLS for the first half of this year was $205,000, up nearly 8 percent compared with median sales prices for the first half of 2016.

Median prices are continuing to climb into record territory after last year eclipsing the prerecession peak median sales price of $185,400.

Unit sales are on pace to mark the sixth consecutive year of increases.

Lewis says he expects the home sales trends to continue.

“I believe it’s sustainable,” he says. “Interest rates are still low, and there’s still pretty good pent-up demand.”

Barring a reversal of the economy on a national scale, unit sales might rise to within sight of the record number of 8,373 homes sold in 2005, Lewis says.

“We might approach 8,000 units this year,” he says. “I wouldn’t say 8,000 will be the peak. The market is strong, and the economy is good. It might go awhile.”

The housing affordability index rating, at 166.5 for Spokane County, dipped in the first quarter of the year, compared with a 185.2 rating during the year-earlier period, but was still one of the highest ratings in the state, according to data compiled by the University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, in Seattle.

An index rating over 100 indicates a family with a median household income can purchase a median-priced home.

“Even as prices increased, we still have a pretty good affordability rating. In most places, you couldn’t buy what you can buy here,” Lewis says regarding home values.

The statewide and nationwide affordability index ratings for the first quarter of 2017 was 124.3 and 160.4, respectively.

The inventory of homes on the market continues to tighten with 1,871 active listings with the MLS at the end of June, a drop of more than 10 percent compared with active listings at the end of June 2016.

The current inventory equates to a two-month supply, making it a strong seller’s market.

Lewis says, “Were still down on inventory. There has been a frustration factor when a buyer goes out to buy a house and there’s several offers.”

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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