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40 percent of Seattle area homes sell above list

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SEATTLE (AP) — Almost 40 percent of homes sold for above list price between April and June in King and Snohomish counties.

Bidding wars are pushing up home prices in many, but not all, Seattle-area neighborhoods, with almost 40 percent of homes sold for above list price between April and June in King and Snohomish counties.

In the second quarter, the Seattle area's housing market ranked sixth nationally for the share of homes sold above list, The Seattle Times reported in Saturday's newspaper (http://is.gd/Q6z47y).

That puts Seattle behind only five places in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bidding wars are common in certain neighborhoods where there are few well-located and well-maintained homes for sale, real-estate brokerage Redfin says.

"There is an intensity in Seattle that's shared with other high-tech, high-growth cities," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin.

Bellevue, Issaquah, Newcastle and Kenmore were the only cities in the region where more than half the single-family homes that sold went for above list price. In Seattle, nearly half the homes sold did.

For instance, in Bellevue's Mockingbird Hill neighborhood, a four-bedroom home near top-ranked Newport High School drew four bids and sold in June for $480,000, or $20,000 over list price. The inventory in this neighborhood is among the tightest: Only nine homes were for sale there in the second quarter, and the six that sold all went for above list price.

Even in Kenmore, traditionally an affordable middle-class haven, a remodeled three-bedroom rambler attracted seven offers and sold in June for $16,000 over the $419,000 list price. The winning bidder paid cash.

Sellers fan the flames of competition by listing homes at prices on the lower end of a perceived range, setting a deadline to review multiple offers, and encouraging buyers to waive contingencies.

"What is so heartbreaking is that everyone's got fabulous offers," Seattle real-estate broker Presha Sparling said. "If there weren't competing offers that weren't even more fabulous, you'd want to accept all of these."

The spring's frenzied market and double-digit appreciation reminds them of the housing bubble years in 2006 and 2007, agents said.

It's likely that sellers will continue trying to stoke bidding wars — but they warn buyers may withdraw from the market, brokers said.

"Buyers are tired of getting beat up," said Barbara Shikiar, managing broker of Windermere's Sand Point office. "They're tired of spending $500 to $600 (on pre-inspections) and not having a house."

The hardest part is the emotional energy people have invested, she said.

"They want their nest, and they can't get it," Shikiar said.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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