Tri-City home sale activity up 12% this year

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldAugust 12, 2013 

According to a recently released report by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington during the second quarter of the year, Benton County homes sales were tracking at about 8.9 percent above the same time in 2012 with Franklin County sales up about 8.4 percent.

RICHARD DICKIN | RDICKIN@TRICITYHERALD.COM

Tri-City home sales are up about 12 percent so far this year.

The area is seeing more activity this year than real estate agents have seen since 2008 and 2009, said Wayne Langford, Tri-City Association of Realtors president.

"It just shows the strength of the Tri-City economy," he said.

So far, sales have closed on about 2,010 homes this year, compared to about 1,791 for the same time last year.

"We've had a very steady year this year," said Langford, a broker-Realtor with Windermere Real Estate/Tri-Cities.

The market also is balanced at the moment, he said, with neither the borrower or the seller having the upper hand.

Inventory was near 1,300 homes at the end of July.

New construction continues to be about 25 percent of what is being sold, reflecting the continued growth of the community, Langford said.

The average sale price has risen from $200,300 last year to about $206,600, he said. That's a growth of about 3 percent.

Local real estate agents are seeing a good amount of activity, Langford said. People are looking at homes and making decisions to buy.

Part of that could be because of interest rates, which are starting to rise, he said.

Higher interest rates add to the cost of a home, so some potential buyers are moving off the fence and acting now before the rates go any higher.

Also, consumer confidence appears to be higher, he said.

During the second quarter of the year, Benton County sales were tracking at about 8.9 percent above the same time in 2012. Franklin County sales were up about 8.4 percent, according to report recently released by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

If that trend continues, Benton County will have about 2,680 homes sold this year, and Franklin County will have about 900 sold.

That puts the Tri-Cities lower than the statewide average sales growth of about 21 percent, according to the data.

However, the Tri-City housing market did not experience the same bust cycle as the rest of the state.

The median resale price in Benton and Franklin counties is about $186,500, up 2.8 percent from the same time last year, according to the data. That means half the homes in both counties were sold at a lower price and half were higher.

The Tri-City area was doing better than some of its neighbors. Adams County is tracking at a 50 percent decline in home sales compared to the same time last year. Grant County also is down a little over 1 percent. If the trends continue, that means Adams County would see about 70 homes sold in 2013, and Grant County would have about 730.

Yakima County is seeing similar sales growth as Benton and Franklin counties, at about 8.5 percent, which if it continues, could mean 1,660 homes sold this year.

Walla Walla, on the other hand, was outpacing the Tri-Cities at about 33 percent growth compared to the same three months last year. If the current pace continues, 760 homes could be sold this year.

Columbia County sales were up nearly 83 percent. If that trend continues, about 110 homes would be sold in the county during 2013.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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