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Monday, August 7, 2006 - Page updated at 02:17 PM

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King County home prices barely budge in July; sales down

Seattle Times business reporter

Home prices are still rising in King County, but not by much. The median sales price of a single-family home in King County in July was $435,000, up only $50 from June.

According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service's July report, Snohomish County had the biggest monthly price gain in the area, beating out King, Pierce and Kitsap counties. The median price of a Snohomish single-family home was $354,900 in July, up $5,075 from June.

While home prices might not be skyrocketing from month to month, they have gone up significantly from last year. Prices for single-family homes and condominiums in Western Washington rose 15.5 percent last month compared with July 2005.

Snohomish County's median sales price for a single-family house was $354,900 in July, a 21 percent increase from last year. Condo prices have gone up the most in Kitsap County, with a 66 percent rise from last year to $186,000.

The number of homes for sale in the area generally rose in July, as the number of sales declined. Pending home sales fell 11 percent in King County, 15 percent in Snohomish County and 16 percent in Pierce County. The number of homes on the market rose 53 percent from last July in Kitsap, while Pierce saw a 52 percent increase in the same category.

"Home are taking a bit longer to sell," said Michael Tenore, area director for ZIPRealty.

Though sellers in Seattle are still seeing multiple offers, the farther away from freeways and major job centers, the harder it will be to sell a home, Tenore said.

Still, the increasing number of choices for buyers doesn't mean lower prices. Buyers can't necessarily get a great home for under market prices, said Tenore. "But you may find that it's less competitive."

Tenore said sellers need to take care to keep their homes reasonably priced because buyers are knowledgeable about the changing market. "You definitely don't want to be overpriced, not even in Seattle," he said.

The high-end market is still running strong, especially on Mercer Island and west Bellevue, where median sales prices topped $1 million.

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The Seattle market is still hot despite increasing inventory in July, with Wedgwood, Sand Point and Ballard as some of its leaders, according to Sonja Riveland, spokeswoman for Windermere.

Though the real-estate market is generally cooling down in this area, as well as the rest of the country, this is more of a reversion back to normal after three years of record-setting sales, said Will Bruce, owner of Windermere's Woodinville office.

Bibeka Shrestha: 206-464-2436 or bshrestha@seattletimes.com

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