Home prices soar again; some buyers camp out to latch on to a future condo – JLS VP Jon Hunter chimes in

imgresKing County’s median single-family home is now $560,000, the most ever and up 55 percent compared to four years prior.

Mike Rosenberg, Seattle Times business reporter

The row of campers first started settling in Friday night in Belltown. By early Saturday morning, a line of about 130 people stretched around the block.

They weren’t waiting for the latest iPhone or the opening of some hot new restaurant; they came with $5,000 checks to reserve new condos that cost an average of $800,000 and aren’t opening until 2019.

The frenzy over a high-rise residential building that hasn’t even broke ground yet is the latest sign of a Seattle housing market that continues to be brutal for homebuyers.

New home sale numbers released Monday show King County set another record for median single-family home prices in May, hitting $560,000. That’s up 16.4 percent in the past year, and is now up 55 percent in the last four years, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data.

Seattle trails only Portland on the list of markets with the fastest-rising home prices, and home costs here are now soaring twice as fast as the national average. The typical Seattle house now costs $641,250, up 14.5 percent since a year ago but actually down a few thousand dollars from the high-point three months prior.

The lack of available houses for sale, long one of the biggest drivers of rising home costs, continues to worsen despite the fact that people typically put more homes on the market this time of year. It’s a tough cycle the region hasn’t been able to break out of: Families don’t want to sell their old house because they don’t have a good shot at finding a new home.

“We don’t see much of a change coming, looking at a crystal ball,” said Jon Hunter, a vice president for John L. Scott Real Estate, in an interview.

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