Housing market weaker in 1Q

State's sales down 7.1% from a year earlier, but prices up 8.2%

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SEATTLE — The housing market in Washington slipped in the first quarter of the year, in part because of a low inventory of homes for sale, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

The center's new report found that sales of existing homes in the first quarter were down 7.1 percent statewide from the first quarter of 2013.

But the statewide median home sales price increased 8.2 percent from a year ago, and stood at $248,900 in the first quarter.

Clark County bucked the statewide trend on sales of existing homes, showing a 1.2 percent increase from last year's first quarter. In addition, the mediate sales price increase of 14.5 percent from a year ago far exceeded the statewide average.

Local median home prices in the state are highly variable, ranging from $70,000 in Lincoln County to $419,000 in King County. Clark County's median of $233,200 was slightly below the statewide average of $248,900.

The report showed some promise the shortage of housing units available for sale might be eased somewhat by new construction. Building permits were up by 6.1 percent, to nearly 6,000 permits statewide in the first quarter. While Clark County's permits were down by 21 percent from a year ago, the county still had the third-highest number of building permits, behind King and Pierce counties,with 622 during the quarter. Also, housing in Clark County remained more affordable than the statewide average.

The Columbian contributed to this story.