By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Rebounding further from the trough of the Great Recession, housing sales on the North Olympic Peninsula rose double-digits in nearly every market in 2013.
“It needed to work itself out. And it's doing that,” said E. Michael McAleer, president of the Sequim Association of Realtors.
In the Sequim market, 584 homes sold during 2013, a 52 percent increase over the 385 sales in 2012 and the highest total since the market peaked at 652 sales in 2004.
Real estate sales picked up all across the Peninsula.
Prices stayed relatively flat in Clallam County while Jefferson County saw a 5 percent increase in the average home price.
Area real estate agents hope that the number of sales will pick up prices in 2014.
“I don't think it's going to be 2007 when you went and stuck a sign in the ground and money spurted out. But I do think we're going to see an increase over the next year,” said Dick Pilling, communications director for the Port Angeles Association of Realtors.
Sales in Port Angeles were up 34 percent, from 100 in 2012 to 134 in 2013.
According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Clallam County overall saw a 30 percent increase in home sales, from 179 in 2012 to 233 in 2013.
In the Forks market, 35 homes sold in 2013 up from 26 in 2012. The average price in Forks rose from $132,917 in 2012 to $149,086 in 2013.
Sequim sales are tracked by the separate Olympic Multiple Listing Service.
Home sales picked up on the east side of the Peninsula as well, with prices rising more than in Clallam County.
Jefferson County home sales were up 22 percent in 2013 with 492 sales over the 404 in 2012.
The average home price in Jefferson County rose 5 percent, from $264,250 in 2012 to $277,208 in 2013.
Prices in Clallam County stayed mostly stagnant, with the $201,871 average price a modest 1 percent increase of the $199,693 average in 2012.
In Sequim, McAleer noted, the median price was steady at $215,000, off the $227,000 median at the 2004 peak in sales, and well off the $290,000 average price peak in 2007.
“That gives a bit of hope, seeing activity pick up before prices,” McAleer said.
With more houses being added to the listings, the hope is the excess stock of houses brought on by the recession is starting to go away.
At the end of 2013, Clallam County had 66 houses added to the sales rolls, up from the 44 in December 2012.
Sandy Schier, proprietor of Lunsford Real Estate in Forks said most of the sales on the West End went to first-time buyers.
“Hopefully, we can continue to get these new buyers into the market,” Schier said.
“I think that gives everybody a little more comfort that things are getting better.”
First timers made up a big chunk of the Port Angeles increase, as well, Pilling said.
“There was a pent-up demand, so the prices fell to where the market and new buyers could accommodate them,” he said.
Rebounding markets across the west helped pump Sequim's market with retirees, though many of them purchased smaller homes, McAleer said.
“A lot of people have come back into town,' he said. “And I'd say improving markets everywhere have allowed a lot of the out-of-towners to think again about coming to Sequim.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.