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Real Estate

Seattle homes below $200,000 gain buyers, not so in other markets

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Houses priced below $200,000 are receiving more attention in some markets while receiving less in others as borrowers react differently to record-high affordabilty.

Home sales in Seattle rose to their highest level for a January in four years, driven by a more than 30% increase from a year earlier in sales of properties less than $200,000. Home prices trended lower, however, with the median sale price dipping to its lowest point in eight years, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

More than 2,500 new and resale houses and condos closed during January in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., metropolitan area. January’s total sales rose 13.5% from a year earlier and fell 31.7% from December.

A drop in sales between December and January is normal. The decline averaged 25.5% since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Seattle-area statistics begin.

January sales were the highest for that month since 2,828 homes sold in January 2008, however, they are 24.7% below the historical average for the month. 

January’s year-over-year sales gain resulted mainly from sales of lower-cost homes. The amount that sold for less than $200,000 rose 32.4% from a year earlier partially because of improved home affordability, DataQuick noted. In January, the National Association of Realtors affordability broke a new threshold.

Sub-$200,000 sales in Seattle accounted for 38.5% of transactions in January. Sales between $200,000 and $600,000 fell 2.5% in January, representing 52.4% of the market, compared to a year earlier. And sales in the $600,000 to $900,000 range increased 2.8%, accounting for 6.4% of January transactions.

Seattle mimics Las Vegas where January sales below $200,000 rose 11.2% from a year earlier, while the number above $200,000 fell 3.2% from a year earlier. Sales above $300,000 fell 9.1% in the same period.

However, residents of other cities seem are migrating toward higher priced homes.

Homes in Phoenix that sold for less than $100,000 fell 7.3% in January from a year earlier, while sales of homes valued in the $100,000-to-$200,000 price range increased only 3.3%. Transactions in the $200,000-to-$600,000 range rose 9% from the year-ago period.

In Miami, sales below $100,000 declined 11.6% in January from a year earlier, compared to a 4.2% annual gain for homes priced between $200,000 and $600,000 and a 24.1% increase for properties sold for more than $800,000.

As for property in the three-county Seattle region, buyers paid a median price of $238,000, down 8.5% from a year earlier and down 5.7% from December. The median, which was at its peak in June 2007 when it totaled $365,200, has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 18 consecutive months.



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