Clallam expecting ‘solid’ year in housing market despite dip; Jefferson sees increase in home sales

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– Though the influential Seattle housing market has dipped early in 2014, local real estate trackers have few fears a two-month drop will prevent buyers looking here from across Puget Sound.

“I would hasten to tell you that it can be very misleading to take just a two-month picture of real estate activities and attempt to deduce trends,” Dick Pilling, communications chair for the Port Angeles Association of Realtors, said.

“I think we’re lined up to have another pretty solid year.”

Real estate data from Clallam County as a whole is difficult to assemble, as sales in Port Angeles and Sequim are tracked by the local Olympic Multiple Listing Service, while others are tracked by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“I don’t think I’d do a great job of tracking the Seattle market, so I don’t know how good a job Seattle would do of tracking our market,” Pilling said.

Seattle’s sway

Nevertheless, the metro Seattle market has a big influence on North Olympic Peninsula real estate.

“The people you typically see buying homes in Port Townsend and Jefferson County are those with second homes or retirees that have finally been able to make the jump,” he said. “A lot of that comes from Seattle.”

February 2014 home sales in the Seattle area were 10.4 percent below the February 2013 pace, and the median price paid dropped from $410,000 to $405,400, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Despite the drop, real estate watchers said the housing market still has plenty of pent up demand and fewer homes for sale.

“The Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl affected sales,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman of John L. Scott Real Estate, in a statement from the MLS.

Scott added more homes have been put on the market since the Seattle NFL squad won the world championship Feb. 2.

“That might have something to do with it,” said Sequim Association of Realtors president E. Michael McAleer. “But winter is typically a slow time. Not too many people want to get out there when it’s rainy and gray.”

Port Angeles dips

The 46 sales in the Port Angeles market are down from the 50 sales the previous year, according to the Olympic Multiple Listing Service.

Prices have ticked up a bit but are further off the list price than those that sold in 2013.

Median sale price for a Port Angeles home in 2014’s first two months was $153,000, while the median listed price was $156,400. This is compared with the early 2013 median sale price of $152,450 and list price of $154,450.

Sales in Port Angeles were up 34 percent 2013.

Sequim picking up

Sequim’s market is faring better, with 81 sales in the first two 2014 months, up from the 72 sales in the same period in 2013.

Prices dropped, however, from a $217,500 median in 2013 to $210,000 in 2014, though the median list price was also significantly lower, falling from $230,000 in 2013 to $215,000 in 2014.

“We had kind of a blip in January where the median price jumped up to $249,000, but that settled back down,” McAleer said.

“I think we’re kind of staying along the same trajectory as last year.”

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.

The median price last year was steady at $215,000, off the $227,000 median at the 2004 peak.

Slow and steady out west

Out west, sales in Forks rose from three to four, though the median price is way down, from $260,000 in 2013 to $149,750, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“It’s not hot, but it’s steady,” said Sandy Schier, proprietor of Lunsford Real Estate in Forks.

The Forks market had 319 homes listed as of March 1, down from the 324 listed March 1, 2013.

“I’m hoping this summer will move it into a little bit higher price range because our inventory is a little bit smaller,” Schier said. “But slow and steady wins the race.”

East sales tick up

In Jefferson County, sales have been up a tick, with 55 homes sold through the year’s first two months over the 50 sold during the same period in 2013.

The average sale price for all of Jefferson County during the first two months of the year was $232,605. That represents a slight increase over the average sale price of $231,527 from the first two months of 2013.

Port Townsend home sales have been well off the early 2013 clip, with the $195,000 median price through the first two months of 2014 a big drop from the $238,500 median from January and February 2013.

Through February, the 14 homes sold in Port Ludlow at a median price of $248,750 was above the five homes sold in early 2013, though the median price from last year’s first two months was $290,000.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 09. 2014 7:37PM
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