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Monday, May 7, 2007 - Page updated at 11:38 AM

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King County home prices keep rising, bucking national trend

Seattle Times business reporter

For the fourth month in a row, the price of King County houses has risen, reaching a median $465,000 in April, according to statistics released today by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Median means half sell for more, half for less.

That price strength bucks national home-price stagnation — and even price drops in numerous cities across the country — making King and nearby Puget Sound counties anomalies.

The housing market's strength is further confirmed by a Windermere Real Estate analysis that shows the majority of single-family homes sold within Seattle last month went for more than asking price.

That trend was strongest among two-bedroom houses; they brought an average of 100.43 percent of their asking price, Windermere found.

Three bedrooms houses, which accounted for the largest percentage of sales, on average sold for 100.25 percent of asking. Only five-bedroom houses sold for significantly less: 97.6 percent of asking.

Some 64 percent of all Seattle houses sold within 30 days.

Still, both house and condominium inventory is up sharply from year-ago totals. In King County, the number of condos on the market was up 74 percent last month, while the number of houses increased 38 percent.

Last month's strong sales activity is a turnaround from earlier in the year, said Dick Fulton managing broker of Coldwell Banker Bain's Lake Union and Magnolia offices.

"The 2007 market kind of found its stride for the first time in April," Fulton said. "The activity feels like we're at a faster pace than last year in the Seattle and Bellevue market."

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According to the multiple listing service report, houses in Snohomish County have appreciated the most, year over year, within the four-county central Puget Sound region.

However Snohomish's price rise has not been as steady as King's. Over the past four months, house prices have fluctuated in Snohomish, settling at $375,000 in April. That figure reflects a 13.7 percent year-over-year increase.

House prices in the same time period are up 10.9 percent in King County, 6.9 percent in Kitsap County and 4.4 percent in Pierce County.

King County's median condominium price last month was $295,000, up 19percent compared with the previous April. Snohomish's median condo sale price was $242,500, up 21.3 percent.

Spring traditionally is the strongest month for sales. Whether April will be the strongest month remains to be seen.

Already asking prices are cooling, according to the MLS. King County's median listing price of $525,000 is just 5 percent higher than a year ago.

That's why sellers "have to be very aware of pricing their homes properly relative to their competition in their price range," Fulton said, adding "the ones selling are the ones priced competitively relative to their competition in the marketplace."

Elizabeth Rhodes: erhodes@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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