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Housing Market Hits a High Note

Q4_HomeSales_Table“The real estate numbers were good for the year,” says Shaun O’L. Higgins of The Oxalis Group. “Really good! In fact, 2014 set a five-year record in terms of units sold — a whopping 6,099 units compared to 4,020 in 2011.”

Year-to-year, units sold increased 11% while the dollar volume was up $142 million, an increase of 14%.

“The 11% growth in units sold in 2014 is similar to what we saw in 2012,” says Steve Scranton, Chief Investment Officer, Washington Trust Bank. “While the rate of sales was almost double that a year ago in 2013 — just under 22% — I said at the time it was an anomaly. The 2014 rate of growth is very respectable, sustainable and it keeps our housing prices more affordable. Home prices here are not skyrocketing like we are seeing in the Puget Sound area with their bidding wars.”

For fourth quarter, units sold were up nearly 15% over the same period in 2013, while sales volume increased by 17.5%.

“The fourth quarter contributed a lot to our real estate numbers for 2013,” says Grant Forsyth, Avista Chief Economist. “Spokane’s real estate market continues to recover in a pretty healthy way.”

Year-to-year, the average sales price for homes went up 2%, while the median sales price rose by a slightly higher 2.25%.

Increases for fourth quarter 2014 over 2013 were a bit higher, average sales price rose 2.5% and the median sales price was double the year-to-year number at 4.5%.

“Average and median sales prices were at five-year highs,” says Higgins. “There is no reason to think that 2015 will fail to continue this trend.”

“My sense is that part of the reason the fourth quarter was so strong is buyers wanted to get their deals done before interest rates go up,” says Forsyth. “It also didn’t hurt that we had such a mild winter.”

Forsyth continues, “The ongoing question is how the economy is going to respond when the Central Bank begins to push up interest rates, which still looks like it will be in June or July this year. How is that going to affect the housing market? Is the housing market strong enough at this point that it can take a modest rate increase and still continue its healthy recovery or is it going to dramatically slow that activity? At some point they just have to do it and see how people respond. My personal view is that I would be really surprised to see the market decline dramatically because the modest rate increase has been built into everyone’s expectations at this point.”

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