March 12, 2014 | Vol.54 N.11

Lake Stevens Real Estate Report

Sales for Lake Stevens continue to be sluggish with only 39 residential homes that sold last month according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). While it is four more sales than Januarys 35, it is down significantly from Decembers 51.

The NWMLS reports the median value for a residential home spiked last month to $304,250 in Lake Stevens, up significantly from January’s median value of $249,000. This spike is due largely to the fact that more expensive homes are selling now. New construction adds to February’s median value increase with the average home selling for $384,595. The average size of these new homes is 2,576 square feet, much larger than most existing homes that sold.

Inventory remains at all-time lows in Lake Stevens with only 125 active residential listings as of March 6, one more than January’s 124, down from December’s 132. This contrasts sharply with Snohomish County’s increase from 1,529 active residential listings last year to 2,151 for February 2014, a 40 percent plus increase. Meanwhile, the NWMLS reports only a 5.87 percent increase over the 21 counties which are its members from a year ago.

Of the 39 homes that sold in February in Lake Stevens, eighteen were under $300,000, and 17 sold in the $300,000 range, the most expensive home selling for $820,000. New construction had nine of the sales that sold last month. New construction makes up 32 out of the 125 current active listings for sale. Builders remain optimistic about the economy with 21 active listings currently under construction, five pre-sold, and six that are completed.

The NWMLS also reports that only one out of the 39 closed residential sales was a short-sale, which needed lien-holder approval to sell, down dramatically from previous months and for that matter, years. Meanwhile, short sales make up 40 of the 127 of the current pending categories. As of March 6, twenty-one of those 40 are waiting in short-sale purgatory for lien-holder approval before changing from a Pending Short Sale status to a Pending status.

Deb Wyles Clark, former attorney, expert short-sale negotiator and real estate broker for John L. Scott has this to tell people who are doing a short sale or contemplating doing one, “The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act has still not been extended, but the Realtor lobby is still working on it. For short sales in 2014 and after, if it is not extended, the sellers are potentially liable for the amount of debt that is ‘forgiven’ by either a short sale or foreclosure. There is an additional exception, however, which has always been in place.”

Clark goes on, “It is the ‘insolvency exception’. To the extent a seller’s liabilities exceed their debt at the time of debt forgiveness they are technically ‘insolvent’ and will not owe tax. Sellers should consult with their accountant to see if that exception applies to them.” For more information on real estate visit my website at www.steves.johnlscott.com or call me at 425-308-1203 with any questions you might have.

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