Tax credit stimulates home buying while prices sink

Prices in neighborhoods such as Issaquah Highlands have been dropping through 2009.

Prices in neighborhoods such as Issaquah Highlands have been dropping through 2009.

Real estate activity in Issaquah and Sammamish appears to be buoyed by the $8,000 homebuyers federal credit, now exteneded through April 2010.

According to real estate information clearinghouse Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), a year-over-year comparison of closed home purchases shows October 2009 was a big improvement over 2008. There were 90 properties sold in Issaquah and South Bellevue (NWMLS area 500) — a 67 percent increase — and 157 properties sold in Issaquah Highlands and Sammamish (MLS area 540), 27 percent higher than last year.

At a time of year that traditionally sees a drop-off in activity, realtors across the state pointed to the first-time buyer tax credit, originally set to expire at the end of November. The number of pending and closed sales have rebounded to late 2007 levels as the recession began to take hold nationally.

“The tax credit was the engine that started driving the market again” said MLS director Meribeth Hutchings, the broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate/Lake Stevens. “I believe the $8,000 homebuyer credit set off a great chain reaction. The first-time homebuyer creates a move-up buyer.”

The “chain reaction” hasn’t stopped prices from falling, however.

Single family home sales in Issaquah/South Bellevue shows declines of 5.87 percent to a median sold price of $505,000. In the Issaquah Highlands/Sammamish, a smaller decline of 2.53 percent dropped the median price there to $482,500. The price declines continue a trend since 2007, when the same types of homes were valued over 20 percent higher.

Condos prices saw a larger drop, with prices in Issaquah/South Bellevue dropping 20.23 percent to a median sold price of $225,000 and down 16.67 percent in Issaquah Highlands/Sammamish to a median sold price of $249,990.

Local real estate agents Larry and Kathleen Cragun, writing on their blog Issaquah Undressed, performed their own analysis of Issaquah homes, claiming the market was a “buyer’s market” with over six months of inventory.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Business

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
How financial planners address plan uncertainty | Guest column

One of the key challenges we face as financial planners is dealing… Continue reading

The results are in!
Best of Issaquah 2021 results

We had almost 1,100 voters and 12,000 submissions. Most popular categories: Best Coffee Shop, Customer Service, Hamburgers, Non-Profit, Fine Dining, Park, Mexican Cuisine, Pizza, Family Restaurant and Lunch.

Mixologist and general manager of Civility & Unrest, Joe Dietrich (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
If you want a regular cocktail, go somewhere else

Master mixologist Joe Dietrich is elevating cocktail culture at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest.

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
Is cryptocurrency really an investment? | Guest column

Undoubtedly you have heard about the new form of money known as… Continue reading

Front bar at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest (courtesy of Civility & Unrest)
Two of James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson’s restaurants to reopen in October

The Lakehouse plans to reopen Oct. 12 and Civility & Unrest reopens Oct. 14.

Stock photo
Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

Big Island Poke in Renton (courtesy of The Intentionalist Facebook page)
Small-business advocacy group wants you to try minority-owned businesses and put it on their tab

The Intentionalist is opening up $400 tabs for folks to use this weekend at select businesses.

Eastside King County restaurant owners discuss challenges with U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene at Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond. (Photo credit: Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
Restaurant owners discuss labor difficulties with U.S Rep. Suzan DelBene

Experienced service and kitchen staff are reportedly hard to hire as food service reopens.

Dave and Buster's restaurant and entertainment venue looks to hire 130 people to staff its Bellevue venue, set to open in August. Photo courtesy Dave and Busters.
Dave and Buster’s hiring 130 for August opening in Bellevue

Dave and Buster’s restaurant and entertainment venue opens in downtown Bellevue on… Continue reading

Images of dishes from Issaquah’s Umi Cafe posted on the SMORS page. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Ho)
Facebook page promotes minority-owned restaurants across Puget Sound region

Miya Nazzaro used to be a member of Facebook pages that were… Continue reading

The Moe Vegan food truck serves meals at the city of Kent’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 21, 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
King County fire marshals offer regulatory relief to food trucks

39 fire authorities have reportedly agreed to standardize fire codes and inspections.

Cash Cards Unlimited partners, left: Nick Nugwynne, right: Cassius Marsh (photo credit: Cash Cards Unlimited)
Former Seahawks player Cassius Marsh cashes in on trading cards

Marsh and his friend open physical and online trading card store as collectibles boom amid pandemic.