August 4, 2011 (Shirley Allen)

Existing home sales in Seattle hit a four year high in June, but were still slightly lower than the levels seen a year ago. Meanwhile, new home sales fell to their lowest level in 17 years according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

A total of 4,406 new and resale homes and condos closed escrow in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area in June. Sales were 16.5 percent higher than May, but were 2.4 percent lower than June of 2010.

Home sales in the region typically increase 10.1 percent between May and June, but even with this month’s impressive figures, sales were still 29.7 percent below the historical average for the month and were the third lowest for a June, only surpassed in futility by June of 2008 and 2009.

A total of 3,822 existing homes and condos were sold in June, the most since June of 2007, however, new home sales remained at depressed levels with only 584 new homes closing escrow.

Cash buyers were responsible for 20.9 percent of the purchases in June, which was the same as in May, but up from 16.5 percent a year earlier.

The price that cash buyers are paying continues to decline as the median price paid by a cash buyer in June was $212,750, which is down 5.4 percent from May, and 23.9 percent lower than June of 2010.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyer’s, accounted for 15.6 percent of all homes sold in June. The prices they paid were also less than previous months with the median price paid in June being $210,000, down 4.1 percent from May and down 21.6 percent from June of last year.

The overall median price paid for new and resale homes and condos in June was $268,000, which was up 1.5 percent from May, but down 9.4 percent from June of last year.

The current median price is 26.6 percent below the peak median price of $365,200 in November 2006.

Distressed sales represented 42.7 percent of the resale market in June as foreclosures accounted for 28.8 percent of the distressed sales and short sales accounted for 13.9 percent of the distressed sales.

Foreclosures continued at a high rate in June with lenders foreclosing on 1,079 single-family homes and condos, down 7.7 percent in May, but up 24.5 percent from June of 2010. Foreclosures are up 46.6 percent during the first six months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Tags: DataQuick, existing home sales, Seattle, distressed properties, resale homes, condos, cash buyers, investors, median price