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Home sales climb in 2013 as market recovery continues

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Wenatchee area real estate: Home values and sales continued a sharp rise in 2013. (Source: Pacific Appraisal Associates. World graphic by Jared Johnson)

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WENATCHEE — Home buying in the Wenatchee market climbed in 2013 for the third straight year to hit over $200 million in sales, the highest dollar volume in more than half a decade.

Rising prices and quicker sales led sellers to list more homes as buyers sought bargains in a market where the median price is under $214,000.

We can sum up the year in one word,” said broker Jerry Paine, spokesman for the North Central Washington Association of Realtors. “Good. It was a very good year. And we’re hoping this continues through 2014.”

Pacific Appraisal Associates, a Wenatchee-based appraisal and consulting firm, released year-end numbers Tuesday for the home market that includes Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Malaga, Orondo and Rock Island.

Sales of homes under $250,000 dominated the market to sell at a rate of around 55 each month. By comparison, about one home priced $500,000 or more sold per month.

Continued low interest rates, a slight easing of credit requirements and an improving economy all contributed to the banner year, said Paine.

What’s best for the Wenatchee housing market would be an increase in homes with prices at $220,000 or under, said Paine. Although listings rose 11 percent in 2013 over the previous year, the number of homes on the market shrank in the last quarter from 15 to 18 percent as buyers made quick decisions to grab lower-priced homes.

Paine noted that two new housing developments — one in East Wenatchee and one in South Wenatchee — are on the drawing boards, but the number of building permits issued in the last two years has remained mostly flat. “No question that the existing home inventory fueled last year’s uptick in the market,” he said. “And those lower-priced homes are getting snatched up as quickly as they go on the market.”

Other year-end highlights of the local housing market:

Dollar volume of homes sold rose 21 percent over 2012 to hit $200.3 million.

The number of units sold jumped 16 percent to 819 from 705 last year.

The average home price rose 4 percent to $244,508 from a 2012 average of $235,429. The median home price gained 2 percent to land at $213,500.

The dollar volume of homes listed increased 6 percent to $328.7 million, while the number of homes listed jumped 11 percent to 1,202.

Building permits for single-family homes rose 5 percent to 192 from 182 last year.

Overall, the number of rental vacancies improved by 33 percent as some families left apartments to buy a home. But vacancies fell 33 percent in the single-family home category and dropped 67 percent in the condo category.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.