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Pending home sales jump in Kitsap County
Mike Eliason, executive director for the Kitsap Association of Realtors, is one of many in his organization that likes the most recent data released this week by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
What jumped out at him is the 36.96 percent increase in pending home sales in Kitsap County from May of 2012 to May of 2013. Closing sales were up 28 percent from last May.
"We led the region in this," Eliason said.
The reason, he thinks, is that the normal trend is for Kitsap County home sales to jump, following a jump in other locations up and down the I-5 corridor.
"We've seen that recently in places like Seattle," he said. "Now their supply is limited and people are looking at Kitsap County as a place to live and commute to jobs along I-5."
Eliason also said that Kitsap County has a stable employment base with the number of Department of Defense jobs that are located here. He said sales may have been slower over the past six months to a year, but now consumer confidence is up.
"It's (confidence) definitely returned to the real estate market," he said. "You can just tell."
In fact, that's feeding the inventory shortage that is out there, he said.
"In Kitsap County, our inventory is about 8 percent lower than where it was a year ago," he said. "There are just fewer homes for buyers to choose from."
But, he pointed out that throughout the northwest region, inventory on the average is down about 16 percent.
"So, we're in a better position than some places," he said. "That's not to say that we aren't having multiple offers on homes."
Indeed, he said, real estate agents are telling him that a nice home in a good location can go quick and to the highest bidder.
"Absolutely that's happening," he said. "We're very encouraged by the increase in activity. The attitude of real estate professionals is 'Fantastic. We're back to work.'"
Even inspite of that, he said the goal of the association is to have a stable market place with an adequate supply.
As for price, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service's statistics show that the median price of homes has increased 13.4 percent throughout the area.
In Kitsap County median prices have gone up by 5.26 percent, this May compared to last May. This May's median selling price is $240,000.
"Housing prices are going up, but buying a house in Kitsap County is still affordable," he said.
Part of the reason for the jump in median sales prices is that the inventory of foreclosures and short sales is weening down.
"It's on the decline," he said. "We've worked through most of that inventory."
Although no one can predict what the Federal Reserve will do, Eliason said he's hopeful that interest rates will remain low.
"Every time they go up, it takes away buying power from potential purchasers," he said. "Looking forward, there's the chance it will go up because the Federal Reserve has tried to keep it low for a long time and it has gone up a bit in the past several months. But no one really knows."
Poulsbo real estate broker Frank Wilson, who is on the board of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, said in May alone rates went up .75 percent, which equates to a reduction of $31,000 in buying power for someone looking to buy a $350,000 home.
Other data in the report:
In May in Kitsap County, there were 575 new listings for a total of 1,426 listings. There were 567 pending sales and 345 closed sales. The average selling price was $286,870.
The median closing price in the Silverdale area was $295,000; in West Bremerton, it was $179,950, and in East Bremerton it was $221,475.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service is owned by its member real estate firms and includes more than 21,000 real estate brokers in 21 counties in Washington.