Monthly Archives: January 2015

Existing Home Sales Rebound in December

Source: RISMedia

 

Despite low inventory conditions, existing-home sales bounced back in December and climbed above an annual pace of 5 million sales for the sixth time in seven months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Median home prices for 2014 rose to their highest level since 2007, but total sales fell 3.1 percent from 2013.

Total existing-home sales, rose 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million units in December. This
was above the November rate of 4.92 million units, and 3.5
percent higher than December of 2014.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales picked up in December to close a year that started off sluggishly but
showed encouraging signs of activity in the second half.
“Home sales improved over the summer once inventory increased,
prices moderated and economic growth accelerated. Sales were
measurably better in the 2nd half…up 8 percent compared to
the first 6 months of the year.”

Realtors® Applaud Final Passage of Legislation to Extend Key Real Estate Tax Provisions

SOURCE: National Association of Realtors

The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron:

“The package of tax extensions approved by the U.S. House and Senate, and headed to the President’s desk for signature, includes important provisions that will help distressed homeowners and commercial property investors with transactions made during 2014. NAR applauds Congressional leaders in both chambers for their effort to pass this legislation before adjournment.

“Realtors® strongly supported the bipartisan Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which was included in the package to prevent underwater borrowers from paying taxes on any mortgage debt forgiven or cancelled by a lender in a workout or after their home was sold for less money than was owed. We are grateful to Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Reps. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., for championing the provision.

“The legislation also includes one-year extensions of the 15-year depreciation schedule for leasehold improvements and the deduction for improvements to energy efficient commercial buildings.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Local Real Estate Leader Calls December “One of best on record”

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (Jan. 6, 2015) – Real estate brokers around Western Washington reported a strong finish to 2015. December’s sales outpaced the same month a year ago by double digits, according to new figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“December was one of the best Decembers on record,” observed J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate upon reviewing the latest statistics from the listing service.

MLS members reported modest year-over-year price gains (about 5.5 percent) for homes and condominiums that sold last month compared to 12 months ago. The number of new listings added to inventory was nearly identical to activity of a year ago, but with pending sales outpacing new listings, the selection, as measured by total active inventory, dwindled by about 8 percent compared to a year ago.

Commenting on the combination of scarce inventory in some areas and expectations of rising interest rates, the head of one large real estate company advised, “Anyone thinking of buying a home should do it early in 2015!”

“Prices, interest rates, and rents will continue to rise,” stated Mike Gain, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate in Seattle. “The cost of buying a home is not determined by price alone but by price and the mortgage rate,” he explained, adding, “The longer a buyer waits, the higher the mortgage payment as prices and interest rates continue to increase.”

Many buyers appeared to heed Gain’s advice during December. MLS members reported 5,794 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) for an increase of nearly 11 percent from the year-ago total of 5,224 pendings. In the four-county Puget Sound region, brokers notched 4,410 pending sales, the highest December volume since 2005.

High-end homes are selling well, according to brokers and MLS data.

“Above the one million dollar price point in King County, we have seen back to back years of very strong sales activity,” commented Scott. Northwest MLS figures show nearly 2,000 homes priced at one million dollars and up sold in King County during 2014. That’s up more than 25 percent compared to 2013.

For more modestly priced homes, first-time and move-up buyers are taking advantage of loosening lending standards.

“It’s much easier for purchasers to qualify for a loan now than it was just a few months ago,” reported Gain. “The much needed 3 percent down payment loans are finally back for qualified purchasers,” he noted, adding, “This will allow more first-time buyers to break into homeownership.”