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Originally published January 22, 2015 at 5:23 PM | Page modified January 23, 2015 at 1:15 PM

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South King County home prices offer opportunity for some

Many homeowners in South King County may be disappointed to find prices in their neighborhoods haven’t bounced back as rapidly as elsewhere, but for would-be buyers those neighborhoods may be the last refuge of affordability.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Many homeowners in South King County may be disappointed to find median home prices in their neighborhoods haven’t recovered the ground they lost since the housing bubble burst. In many areas, prices are still 20 percent below their 2007 peak.

But lower prices there could spell opportunity for buyers who are priced out elsewhere.

Last year, the median price of single-family homes sold was $260,000 in southwest King County and $302,000 in Southeast King County, a far cry from the $498,000 median in Seattle and $627,000 on the Eastside, according to figures released Thursday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Prices in many of South King County’s submarkets posted bigger annual gains than King County’s overall 6 percent annual increase.

Burien/Normandy Park, Des Moines, Auburn, Federal Way, Maple Valley and Renton Highlands all saw 10 to 11 percent gains over 2013’s median price, according to MLS data.

But these submarkets crashed harder than others when the bubble burst.

For example, even though 2014’s median price in the Burien/Normandy Park area of $260,000 is 40 percent higher than the low of $185,500 in 2011, the area peaked at $340,875 in 2007, MLS figures show.

Rob Frishholz, a Windermere broker based in Burien, said he thinks median home prices in the area haven’t moved up faster for several reasons.

“One of the biggest misperceptions is that the South End is a difficult commute,” he said.

Buyers are very focused on living as close to downtown as possible, he said, to avoid dealing with congested traffic corridors like Interstate 5.

Another factor, he said, is the mix of homes being sold in the area: High-end homes in those submarkets haven’t sold at the same pace as the more affordable properties, he said.

The areas that have seen huge price jumps — west Bellevue’s median price, $1.45 million, is up 78 percent since 2011 — also have popular school districts and are close to major employers. The median price in Mercer Island last year was nearly $1.1 million.

Builders also have focused on redeveloping core neighborhoods near employers, pushing up median prices in Seattle and Bellevue.

The median price of new single-family homes sold in King County last year was $575,000, the MLS said. For new condos, it was $549,990.

In total, brokers closed $22.2 billion in sales of single-family homes and condominiums in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties last year. That was about 9 percent more than a year ago, even though brokers sold about the same number of homes.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com



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