Local home sales hit 5-year high

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla’s real estate sales are on the road to recovery, new numbers show.

For the first time in five years home sales in the Valley have passed the 500 mark, according to a local market snapshot.

What’s more, demand continues for homes in the $400,000 range and above for the first time since about 2009.

“For the last couple of years home sales above $500,000 were pretty rare unless they were really discounting them to sell,” said David Hull, broker sales associate for Coldwell Banker First Realtors.

According to a market snapshot from Windermere of Walla Walla, 505 homes were sold in the first 10 months of this year. With two more months left to go, that figure was already 100 over the same period last year.

The greatest number came in August (65), followed by June (63) and April (62). Although September’s 46 closures were the lowest since March, that month had the greatest number of home sales above the $400,000 price.

Consequently, the median home price for Walla Walla County surged more than 11 percent between the second and third quarters, according to information from the Washington Center for Real Estate Research.

The median price of a home for the three-month period that ended in September was $194,000 — meaning half the homes sold during that period cost more than that and half cost less. During the second quarter, the median price was $174,700. For the third quarter of last year it was $171,000.

Windermere broker Doug Simcock said the quarterly number is skewed by the spike in high-end home sales. Year-to-date he said the median sales price is up 8 percent for the year to $186,192.

Listings at the end of October were 426, which Simcock said is more reflective of a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

Realtors said home sales still have a way to go before they would characterize the market as being fully recovered.

But the fact that high-end homes are moving again is a positive sign.

“So many people were just holing up in their houses, deciding not to sell, waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Hull said.

As the higher priced homes sell, he said market tends to adjust.

“It’s freeing things up where the $200,000 buyer will now buy into the $300,000s and the threes into the fours,” he said.

He said the sweet spot for the community remains the $150,000 to $250,000 range.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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