Will First Time Buyers Bring It Home For Seattle……

The final amount of the $8000 tax credit was pretty disappointing after all of the anticipation for $15,0000, but surprisingly it seems to be generating interest among first time home buyers around the Seattle area. There were about thirty people through my Green Lake open house this last weekend, and while this area is known for its great traffic at open houses, the visitor count was still about twice of what was expected.Nine out of ten were first time home buyers and they were all asking about the tax credit for 2009.

In fact, most of the activity around Seattle last week was in the $500,000 and under price range.

A quick look at Seattle sales for the last week in the NWMLS (residential only) shows 50 closed sales in the city of Seattle. All but 13 of these were under $500,000. A look to lower priced suburbs just North of Seattle shows that all 20 of the closed residential sales in the last week for Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and Shoreline combined were under $500,000 with a large majority hovering around the $300,000 mark. A look to the Eastside in Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland for the same period shows 27 closed residential sales with 18 of those in the $500,000 and under range.

Clearly, the $500,000 and under market is dominating the sales figures this last week, and if my last few open houses are any indication, first time home buyers are playing a major part or could be soon.

Is this really so different than last year with no $8000 tax credit?

Looking at a year ago for the same period there were three times as many sales in the city of Seattle: 150 closed sales in Seattle with 97 of them being under the $500,000 umbrella (44 of those sales were built in 2007 or after… a.k.a. new construction). In Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and Shoreline combined there were a total of 24 closed sales and only 4 were over that amount. The real change is on the Eastside where out of 45 closed sales only 13 of them were driven by that lower market. The other 32 closings were over $500,000.

Except for the larger quantity of sales in Seattle and the Eastside and the flip flop of ratio of lower priced closed homes to higher priced closed homes for the Eastside, the data is strikingly similar as far as what price range dominates.

So will the $8000 tax credit stimulate first time home buyers in Seattle and drive our economy?

(Full Disclosure: The numbers gathered here were compiled by Courtney Cooper from data on residential sales only – including townhomes but not condos in the NWMLS)