King County house prices post year-over-year rise for first time in 2 years

Median house prices in King County rose year-over-year in March for the first time in more than two years, according to statistics released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The median price of a single-family home that sold last month was $367,250, the broker-owned service said, up 0.9 percent from March 2009.

The last time prices rose year-over-year was in January 2008.

The March bar was low, however. March 2009’s median, $363,850, was the lowest in years. And last month’s number, while higher, still was the lowest since then.

Median house prices in King County have fluctuated between $370,000 and $395,000 over the past year.

The broker-owned service also reported a surge in sales, which agents said was spurred by low interest rates, greater affordability and the upcoming expiration of federal tax credits for many homebuyers.

Buyers closed on 1,596 houses in King County in March, up 65 percent from the same month last year. Condo closings were up 47 percent.

Pending single-family home sales — offers that have been accepted by sellers, but haven’t closed — were up 63 percent in King County. The last time more pending sales were recorded was in May 2007, before the market turned.

But pending sales have become a less-reliable measure of sales activity in recent months as many deals — especially “short sales” for less than the owner owes on the house — fail to close.

In Snohomish County, closed house sales were up 74 percent year-over-year in March. The median sale price, $279,950, was down 11 percent.

Source: Seattle Times, by Eric Pryne (4/05/2010)

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