The eveRGReen STa Te’S houSinG MaRke T haS Been GaininG MoMen TuM.
The rest of Washington’s economy is still pining for brighter days, however. although the state has recovered many of the jobs it lost during the recession, employment figures remain a cause for concern.
according to the Seattle-based Economic Opportunity Institute, the state was almost 35,000 jobs shy
of its pre-recession employment levels as of this past November. To complicate matters, Washington’s
population has grown by more than 8 percent since 2007, according to the institute.
Washington, however, has a comparatively high median household income — $62,000 in 2012 versus
$51,000 nationwide. recently, the Evergreen State’s real jewel has been its housing market, particularly
in and around Seattle. according to the Washington center for real Estate research, the state’s number
of closed loans and median home sales price increased year over year each quarter between second-quarter 2012 and this past third quarter, when the state’s median home sales price was $263,400.
The state’s growth in building permits seems impressive, as well. Before slowing somewhat in second-quarter and third-quarter ’ 13, building permits increased year over year 36.1 percent in first-quarter ’ 13,
47. 8 percent in fourth-quarter ’ 12 and 22.8 percent in third-quarter ’ 12.
Seattle-area home sales
The Seattle-area housing market
surged this past year, with the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer calling 2013
“one of the strongest years the Seattle real estate market has seen in
a long time.” In first-half 2013, Washington’s most populous city watched
both its median home sales price
and its number of closed loans jump
dramatically. In January ’ 13, King
county — of which Seattle is the seat
— had a median home sales price of
$315,000 from 1,781 sales, according
to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service and the Seattle-King county association of realtors. By this past July, the county’s median price was
$398,888 from 3,293 sales.
although the area has tempered somewhat since then, Seattle remains a thriving housing market, with
Zillow recently ranking it No. 2 on its list of 2014’s hottest housing markets. Inventory levels continue to
be constrained, however. This past December, King county’s housing inventory was just 2.06 months,
according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
delinquencies and foreclosures
Washington’s delinquencies and foreclosures picture is about on par with
the Pacific region’s average — an area
that also includes alaska, california,
hawaii and Oregon. according to the
Mortgage Bankers association, Washington’s percentage of loans with installments past due was 4. 99 percent
this past third quarter, just slightly
higher than the region’s average of
4. 97 percent. Its percentage of loans
in foreclosure was comparatively
worse, however, with the state having
a foreclosure inventory of 2. 38 percent
and the region having an inventory of
That noted, the sheer number of Washington’s foreclosures has been trending down. Its number of realestate owned properties and auctions decreased each quarter this past year, according to realty Trac.
although Washington’s unemployment rate is still fluctuating, it has dropped steadily throughout the
past two years. This past November, the rate was 6. 8 percent, down from 7. 6 percent in November ’ 12
and 8. 8 percent in November ’ 11.
This decline is even more pronounced in light of where the rate stood at the height of the recession.
In December 2009, for instance, Washington’s unemployment reached 10. 2 percent.
3 Cities to Watch
Market Watch.com recently named Walla Walla as
one of the state’s best places to retire — and it’s
easy to see why. One of the centers of Washington’s
wine industry, Walla Walla boasts about 120 vineyards and an abundance of scenic landscapes.
Walla Walla county’s median household income
has been climbing throughout the past decade,
hitting $45,252 in 2012.
Washington’s second-most populous city, Spokane,
is located in the state’s eastern half. The city’s
economy is bolstered by the presence of Gonzaga
University and Fairchild air Force Base, among other
major employers. This past December, Spokane’s
median home sales price was $159,950 from
436 sales, month-over-month increases of 1.6 percent and 18. 2 percent, respectively.
Located in Snohomish county, Mill creek is about
20 miles north of Seattle and 18 miles north of
redmond — the home of Microsoft’s corporate headquarters — providing access to a range of employers.
citing its strong schools, cNNMoney.com recently
ranked the town on its annual list of best places to
live. Snohomish county’s median home sales price
was $290,000 from 871 sales this past December.
sources: cNNMoney.com, Economic Opportunity Institute, Greater
Spokane Inc., Lilac city real Estate LLc, Market Watch.com, Mortgage
Bankers association, Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, realtyTrac, Seattle-King county association of
realtors, Spokane association of realtors, U.S. census Bureau, U.S.
Department of Labor, Washington center for real Estate research,
WHAT THE LOCALS SAY
“The east side of Seattle is an important
financial hub for our state. a lot of employment
is there that helps keep the economy very
strong, which helps support the housing
market. There’s not as much inventory as we
would like to have right now in the area, but the
demand here is still very strong for housing.”
— RHONDA POR TER, SENIOR LOAN OFFICER,
MOR TGAGE MASTER SERvICE CORP.
raymond Fleischmann is senior associate editor at Scotsman Guide. reach him at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
kinG Coun Ty hoMe SaLeS
Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service
Median sales price closed sales
Wa ShinGTon FoReCLoSuRe FiLinGS
source: realty Trac
BY RAYMOND FLEISCHMANN
Q4 ’09 Q2 ’ 10 Q4 ’ 10 Q2 ’ 11 Q4 ’ 11 Q2 ’ 12 Q4 ’ 12 Q2 ’ 13 Q4 ’ 13