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Originally published December 4, 2008 at 12:27 PM | Page modified December 5, 2008 at 9:27 AM

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King County home prices fall 9.2% in November

The median price of a single-family house in King County fell 9.2 percent in November from the year earlier to $395,000, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported today.

Seattle Times business reporter

The median price of a single-family house in King County fell 9.2 percent in November from the year earlier to $395,000, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported today.

This marks the second consecutive month where the median price was below $400,000 — a threshold that hadn't been breached for more than two years.

Prices for King County's single-family houses and condominiums, combined, have now fallen six months in a row. Prices for houses alone, which constitute the bulk of sales, have dropped for 10 straight months.

The dark, rainy preholiday months never are strong sellers. Still, Mike Skahen, owner broker of Lake & Co., candidly termed this November "terrible."

"I'm surprised the buyers have been AS good as they have been," Skahen said, adding "there's so much uncertainty out there that buyers don't know what's going to happen."

Indeed last month's economic news — much of it negative — was enough to keep people wondering if conditions were right to buy or sell.

Starbucks reported a 97 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, several Puget Sound-area counties suffered massive flooding, the state announced a $5 billion hole in its two-year budget and Boeing hinted at layoffs next year.

On the bright side, gas prices dropped and the national election heralded a change of direction.

"It didn't matter who you voted for; both candidates ran on a platform of change," noted J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

November's home-sales numbers show that fewer buyers were willing to investigate the bargains that real-estate pros say are out there.

Pending single-family home sales — those signed but not yet closed — dropped between 21 and 25 percent throughout King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, compared with the previous November.

Pierce County did somewhat better. It's house sales were down 14.7 percent.

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The four-county condominium sales were down significantly more; however only King and Snohomish had enough sales (more than 100) to yield a valid sample. Pending sales dipped 53.9 percent in King County, and 30 percent in Snohomish County compared with the previous November.

The combined number of houses and condos for sale last month was nearly flat in King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties compared with a year earlier. Pierce County, however, saw the number of available properties decline 12.2 percent.

House and condo prices declined year over year in all four central Puget Sound counties.

The biggest dip in house prices was reported in Pierce County; its median sale price dropped 13.2 percent to $234,301. Snohomish's median house price was $320,150, off 11.1 percent, while Kitsap's median was $259,500, a 2.1 percent decline.

King County's median condominium price slid 3.6 percent to $274,150. In Snohomish County, condo prices were off 5.9 percent to $223,900.

Elizabeth Rhodes: erhodes@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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