Seattle housing market posts mixed messages

A recent report from the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index found that real estate in Seattle posted its fourth straight monthly year-over-year increase since the housing market crashed five years ago. According to The Seattle Times, home prices rose 3.4 percent in August compared with the same month a year before. However, the price index also reported some bad news: Seattle is one of 20 cities in the country that posted a price drop between July and August.

The price of a typical home in Seattle dropped 0.1 percent; however, over the past five months the sustained home prices show a positive outlook for homeowners and future buyers. The Seattle metropolitan area, which includes King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, was included in the price drop.

“The sustained good news in home prices over the past five months makes us optimistic for continued recovery in the housing market,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices told the Seattle Times. “Even as we end the seasonally strong home buying period, the statistics are positive.”

According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle was rated as one of the top 10 “Turnaround Towns” for the third quarter in 2012. Seattle was rated as No. 5 on the list, which was based on pricing, inventory and time homes spend on the market. Other factors included the unemployment rate at 8 percent and a 12.92 percent gain year-over-year home prices.

In Seattle, the number of homes available on the market dropped 45.57 percent compared with the same time a year before. Because of the shortage of inventory in Seattle, homes are not on the market for nearly as long as they were in previous years. According to the Post-Intelligencer, the time a home takes to sell in the Emerald City dropped by more than 40 percent. The tight, fast-moving market has increased competition and left many people bidding over homes, often ending with a cash-in-hand buyer. This has pushed the market from No. 25, to 6 to 5 in the country over the past three quarters of 2012.

The Case-Shiller score for August was 141.69, which translates to a 41.69 percent increase over home prices in January 2000. This score was a minor decrease from 141.78 in July. Seattle’s lowest score since the housing market bubble burst was at 129.99 in February, and the highest was 192.30 in July 2007.