Seattle Area Sales Dropped Sharply In August

Seattle region home sales fell by a record 10.1% in August compared with July, but still rose above last year's level for the second consecutive month. The median sale price held at $300,000 – the same as in July – but remained 11% lower than a year ago, according to MDA DataQuick.

A total of 3,793 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow during August in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan statistical area encompassing King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. August's sales total was the second-lowest for an August, behind last year, since 1994, when DataQuick's complete Seattle-area statistics begin. The year-over-year gains in sales during July and August this year followed 37 consecutive months of year-over-year sales declines.

The 10.1% drop in sales between July and August is the sharpest on record. On average, Seattle-area sales have risen 2.4% in August compared with July.

In August, 37.6% of all Seattle-area buyers used Federal Housing Administration loans, according to an analysis of public property records. Absentee buyers made up 13.1% of all purchases, which DataQuick points out is a relatively low percentage in the West. Absentee buyers include investors and second-home buyers, mainly, as well as others who indicated at the time of sale that they will have their property tax bills sent to a different address.

The use of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to buy homes rose slightly in August to 4.8% of all Seattle-area purchase loans – up from 4.4% in July and up from a decade low of 1.8% in May this year. However, August's purchase ARM level was down from 16.9% a year ago and down from a monthly ARM-use average this decade of nearly 33%.


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