Sammamish real estate looking up

January 26, 2013

By Caleb Heeringa

New: Jan. 26, 1:56 p.m.

Sammamish’s real estate market ended 2012 on a high note, with more homes selling at higher values than in 2011.

And with relatively few homes on the market and the economy slowly but surely coming back from the dead, local realtors say there’s reason to believe that trend could continue.

“We had a good 2012, and we have every reason to believe that 2013 and 2014 will be as good or better,” Windermere agent Bob Richards said.

The median price of homes and condominiums sold in Sammamish during the last three months of 2012 was $585,000 — the highest quarterly number since the national housing market went into free fall in 2008, according to statistics provided by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

In total, 235 homes were sold in Sammamish in the fourth quarter of 2012 – a 32 percent increase from the 178 that sold during the same period in 2011.

High sales combined with a recession-related lag in new homes entering the market appears to have drawn down a housing inventory that had been flooded with foreclosed homes, following the burst of the housing bubble. Northwest Multiple Listing Service statistics show that the area encompassing Sammamish, Issaquah, Snoqualmie and North Bend had 349 homes for sale in December 2012, down from 641 in December 2011 – a 46 percent drop. Richards said the low supply and increasing demand is going to start reflecting on individual sales.

“We’re seeing multiple offers on the same homes, which should make prices start to rise,” he said.

Dan Faulkner, Jr., an agent for John L. Scott Real Estate, said it’s hard to predict how all the variables in the housing market will behave, but he expects prices to continue to rise.

“No one has a crystal ball, but a 5 to 10 percent rise in prices throughout King County can be expected,” he said.

And while memories of foreclosures and underwater mortgages may still be on the minds of some prospective first-time homebuyers, Faulkner said he’s not seen clients scared away from homeownership.

With interest rates still near record lows, and the Eastside remaining an attractive place to live, homeownership is still appealing to many young families.

“I see a lot of young couples who have been in their jobs for a couple of years and are just tired of renting,” Faulkner said. “It’s not for everyone; you have to be in the right phase of your life. But most first-time homebuyers have not been scared away by what happened.”

Richards said the lessons of the recession have not been lost on policymakers or lenders, with new regulations clamping down on home loans to risky borrowers – one of the causes that burst the housing bubble. Richards said this makes it a bit harder to get a home loan than it may have been before, but helps people’s confidence in the market.

“(Lenders and borrowers) don’t wink and nod at each other anymore,” he said.

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