The Clock is Ticking but Market is Still Prime for Buyers

Managing Real Estate Broker with Town & CountryReal Estate WA Lic# 32507

Whether from market stimulus programs or buyer necessity, the Port Angeles market has picked up in housing units sold over the last two months. Overall sales are only down eleven percent as compared to last year. If you look at sales over the last six months, we are only off by five percent in the number sold.

Dollar-wise, the market is off far more -- due in part to lower home prices in the middle range from repossessed properties and the pressure they exert on the market, as well as the inventory having a larger than normal number of entry-level priced homes.

If you are looking for a modest home or a rental property, there are 26% more homes under $200,000 than we had last year. At the rate they are moving, homes in this range and those priced from $250,000 - $299,999 are almost in a seller's market; but with the average home taking almost a month longer to sell than it did last year, no one seems to notice.

Other than the first tier, homes priced from $200,000 to $249,999 are the only other segment with an increase in number. There are 99 homes under $200,000 and 76 from $200,000 - $249,999. Last year we had 78 and 62, respectively.

If your budget is from $250,000 - $299,999, there are but 38 homes to choose from, down 47% from last year.

In the $300,000 - $349,999 block, you will find 31 to peruse.

Step up to the $350,000 - $399,999 bracket and the pickings get slim. There are only 18 to choose from, down 50% from a year ago.

The next two price points have inventory closer to 2008. The $400,000 - $499,999 segment is off by nineteen percent and the $500,000 - $599,999 group is down just twelve percent. There are 26 of the first and twelve of the second currently available.

The top grouping, $600,000 and up, is holding steady with 34 homes available -- the same as last year's. That could be because at the rate they are moving we have a slightly better than seventeen-and-a-half year supply.

In the past six months, sales in three segments have been stronger than in the same time frame of a year ago. The under $200,000, $250,000 - $299,999 and the $300,00 - $349,999 have all seen an increase. Year-to-date figures show an increase in the first two aforementioned

price points as well as an additional sale in the $500,000 - $599,999 block. Last year we had sold three of the higher priced homes by this point. This year there have been four.

Last year, by this time, 78 homes had been sold under $200,000. This year we've moved 79. In the $250,000 - $299,999 price range we had sold 29 in 2008. Thirty six have found new owners this year.

Sales of homes in the other five price points are off by 34 - 43 percent.

When the new HVCC (Home Valuation Code of Conduct) regulation went into effect and effectively threw a monkey wrench into the homebuying process, buyers switched to the two programs exempt from the regulation; FHA and USDA funding. And just like people diverting off a freeway to get around a pile up and clogging the secondary roads, the programs suddenly found themselves inundated with contracts. As a result, processing has slowed substantially. It is now estimated that USDA will take seven to nine weeks to process after the contract has been received. The time necessary to prepare and submit the contract by a USDA broker will vary, but could also be a matter of two to three weeks.

For a first-time homebuyer, if the purchase and sale agreement is not initiated within the next month, they could find themselves closing after the cutoff date for the $8,000 stimulus program.


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