Home sales are up and prices continue to fall on Mercer Island and the Eastside, according to real estate statistics released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Home sellers closed sales on 30 Mercer Island homes on Mercer Island in November, maintaining a 20 percent growth in sales over last year, according to NWMLS numbers. The last time Mercer Island property sales (a vast majority of which are home sales) were this strong was in 2001 when 358 homes were sold, according to city tax rolls — far below the market peak of 603 homes sold in 2004.
Meanwhile, the median closing price for a home on Mercer Island was $662,250, an 11 percent decrease from the same month last year. According to the NWMLS, the decline mirrored a nine percent drop on the Eastside. On Mercer Island, there are 30 percent fewer homes on the market compared to 2010.
“As we head toward the end of the year, it’s certainly good to see a healthy number of buyers relative to the available inventory for sale,” said Mike Grady, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Bain in a NWMLS statement. “In fact, there are some desirable neighborhoods in urban core areas where the case could be made there are too few homes currently for sale.”
Despite the smaller number of homes for sale, condominiums — which typically make up about 10 to 15 percent of all homes on the market — are holding their own. The most recent price drop on Mercer Island for November appears to be due to an unusually large number of inexpensive condominium sales. Sellers closed seven sales from the 19 condos available for purchase at a median price of $295,000.
On the other hand, the median value of a single-family home on Mercer Island was $849,000 on 23 houses sold — up 13.2 percent, year-over-year.
"Overpriced homes are not selling, and homes that need work are not selling," said Kris Robbs, a managing broker at Ewing & Clark.
Ken Urman, also of Ewing & Clark, said declining prices and very low interest rates are sustaining a "buyers market".
"However, (in) certain areas, styles and sizes are generating strong interest and quick offers," he said. "Mercer Island continues to be a very desirable area and attractive to buyers especially ones from out of the area buyers. Our community and especially our public schools are very attractive and buyers are willing to pay the price."
The median sales price means that 50 percent are higher and 50 percent are lower. The median sales price is not the average sales price.
According to a NWMLS press release, the holiday season may help motivate buyers and sellers to complete a sale before the new year.
Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson cited a Realtor.com study, which found the vast majority of respondents, 79 percent, said more serious buyers were one of the biggest benefits of listing during the holidays, according to the press release. It also observed that less competition was an advantage cited by 61 percent of the survey respondents, and the majority of respondents, 74 percent, said pricing a home to sell is even more important during the holidays
“This is an interesting dynamic that happens every year,” he said.Mercer Island Median Sales Price for Single-Family Homes (Month and Year) Price January 2010 $667,500
February 2010 $1,325,000 March 2010 $800,000 April 2010 $807,000 May 2010 $878,000 June 2010 $824,750 July 2010 $990,000 August 2010 $810,000 September 2010 $656,000 October 2010 $825,000 November 2010 $750,000 December 2010 $876,000 January 2011 $1,275,000 February 2011 $740,000 March 2011 $710,000 April 2011 $1,000,000 May 2011 $718,000 June 2011 $880,975 July 2011 $794,000 August 2011 $929,500 September 2011 $747,500 October 2011 $1,115,000 November 2011 $849,000
— Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service
(Ed. Note: Figures used from city tax rolls are for all property sales, residential and commercial.)