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Home sales across Washington sluggish in December

It turns out most of Washington state stumbled at the end of the year in terms of home sales.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service released its report about residential sales in December. It found that home and condominium sales in 19 counties were down 34 percent in December compared to the same period last year. Pending sales - deals that have been agreed upon but not closed - were down 17.6 percent year over year.

In Whatcom County there were 133 sales of homes and condos in December, down 47.6 percent year over year, while pending sales for the same period were down 22.2 percent. The median price for homes in December was $256,250, down 7.3 percent year over year.

Earlier this week Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group South office in Fairhaven released her 2008 local housing report using NWMLS data. She found the median price of home sales for the entire year dropped 4.5 percent to $276,900. Whatcom County home sales for the year dropped 26.4 percent.

The severe winter played a role in December, particularly in pending sales, said J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

"December typically has a slowdown in sales due to the holidays, but the recent snowfall compounded this seasonal slowing," said Scott in a press release accompanying the data. "On the flip side, we should see deferred buyer activity from December pushed into January."

In Skagit County, 61 homes and condos sold in December, down 41.9 percent year over year. Snohomish County sales were down 35.9 percent for the same period, while King County saw a drop of 37 percent.

The median price for homes and condos in the 19 counties the NWMLS covers was $285,000 in December, down 9 percent year over year.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com.

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