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Jim Davis, Editor
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Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Home sales prices post double-digit increase

Snohomish County's housing market mirrored the rest of Western Washington in October, with listings at their lowest level since February 2006 driving year-over-year sales prices up by double digits for the first time since March 2007.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers in Snohomish County reported 937 closed sales of single-family homes and condominiums in October, up 13.16 percent from 828 closed sales one year ago. Pending sales rose 8.08 percent, from 1,226 units a year ago to 1,325 in October.

Listings of homes and condos were down by more than half, the MLS report of Nov. 5 showed. Last October, there were 4,045 homes for sale in Snohomish County. This October, there were only 1,960 active listings.

The tight inventory boosted the median sales price of a single-family home in Snohomish County by 11.06 percent, from $235,000 in October 2011 to $261,000 last month. The median sales price on a condo rose 13.29 percent, up from $143,000 in October 2011 to $162,000 last month.

The southwest corner of the county posted the biggest percentage increase in median sales prices, rising 17.37 percent from $230,000 in October 2011 to $269,950 last month. But prices in the Bothell-Brier-Maltby-Tualco Valley area, home of the county's most expensive housing, saw prices drop by 0.47 percent, from $323,000 in October 2011 to $321,475 last month.

The shortage of inventory is driving up prices, said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

“The rise in prices is derived from seasonally strong sales activity in a shortage of inventory market,” Scott said in a news release.

According to Scott's analysis, 95 percent of sales in Snohomish County were for homes priced at less than $500,000.

Pending sales outpaced brokers' ability to replenish inventory. With 1,325 pending sales and 1,960 active listings, Snohomish County's existing housing supply would be exhausted in only 1.48 months, the MLS reported.

Many real estate industry experts consider a five- to six month supply as the indicator of a balanced market. Across the 21-county MLS service area, there is less than a three-month supply of homes based on the pace of pending sales when matched with inventory.

Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102; kbatdorf@heraldnet.com.