Viperman, I appraise homes in 4 counties, King, Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap. And I will on occasion travel as far as Lewis and Mason, but I predominately stay in Pierce and King. For every appraisal I perform I compute the appreciation in that area for the previous year and all the appreciation data I use is from the Multiple Listing Service's data that they post on their web site. The greater Puyallup area, since you mentioned it, which encompasses areas 79-89 (your girlfriend will recognize the area numbers) rose 3% from a median price of $276,720 at the end of 2006 to $285,000 at the end of 2007. Now in those same areas there were 3,115 home sales in 2006 and that dropped to 1,973 sales in 2007. That is a large drop but in 2006 we were still in the crazy period and you mentioned the drop from a peak number being 10 to 20%. Remember, the peak was a record time, something that hadn't happened in something like 40 to 50 years, if ever. Homes are taking longer to sell with the average days on market in those areas being reported at 113 days where a year ago it was 78 days. The Orting area increased 1% for that same time period. North Tacoma went up about 5%. University Place, where I live, increased 4%. The Green Lake area of Seattle increased 8%. Now obviously some areas have faired much better than others and typically the farther out you get from the major metro areas prices slow there first. One other thing to keep in mind: traditionally the real estate market slows down after school starts and plods along until about November where there is a modest uptick and then it dies off again through the first of the year. As we get into spring things start to pick up and reach a peak in June, July and August. Another theory that I have is that so many people bought homes and large numbers of people were able to upsize into bigger homes that there is now a natural shortage of buyers, ie, everyone that wanted a home got one and they aren't ready to move again just yet. Sounds simple but it makes sense to me. Finally it has also been widely reported in the local newspapers that even though numbers of sales have declined, prices have continued to creep up.
As for agents leaving the profession obviously I don't know everyone's reasons for doing what they do but I can say this based on my limited experience: A very large percentage of Realtors are actually part time and in the previous 5 years everyone and their brother got into selling real estate or writing mortgages. You would have been amazed at the amount of people that were contacting me to become trainee appraisers during that stretch. Like everything else we are in the middle of a cooling period/market correction, what ever you want to call it and when that happens the people that aren't really serious about real estate and that haven't established themselves in the industry move on to something else or return to their primary jobs. Your girlfriend probably knows who Grace Hutloff is. Ms. Hutloff specializes in very high end homes but I am now seeing her signs on much more modest homes, homes 3 years ago she probably wouldn't have bothered with. The big dogs adjust and the rest starve. wink:
I obviously don't know how your girlfriend or her broker is computing their figures and she is correct that sales of homes has slowed as compared to the previous 3-5 years but those 3-5 years were a special time and not normal and that gets overlooked quite often in the discussion. Tell her to hang in there, I think things will improve in the spring but they won't be what they were not long ago.