Full disclosure: The Tim is employed by Redfin.
Happy Friday everybody. Let’s celebrate the upcoming weekend with a sweet interactive map. That’s right, it’s time again already to check out Redfin’s January market data. Here’s an excerpt from the narrative (which, as it turns out, I wrote):
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”
The opening line of Charles Dickens’ famous novel is a fitting description of the Seattle-area real estate market in January. Low prices are a buyer’s dream, but a seller’s nightmare. Inventory is still near record highs, but according to buyers, “there’s nothing out there.”
“The number one complaint I hear from my buyers today is ‘there’s nothing out there,'” said Loren Ellingson, a Redfin agent in Bellevue. “We’re all holding out, waiting and praying for more inventory in March.”
Kirkland Redfin agent Kathryn Rion agreed. “I have a lot of buyers who are really ready to go, but most of what’s out there is either overpriced or really yucky,” explained Kathryn.
Redfin’s data and our agents’ experience in the field confirms what I pointed out a month ago: inventory is unusually scarse across most of the Seattle area. One thing that I found particularly interesting when I was talking with our agents to collect their thoughts for this report was the interesting strategy that the banks seem to be employing on the Eastside with their REO inventory.
Despite the low overall sales volume on the Eastside, buyers there are encountering some frustrating situations. Loren and Kathryn are both beginning to see banks get a lot more aggressive with their listings, putting well-kept REO homes on the market at far below market value, often generating over a dozen offers (no joke!).
“When a nice bank-owned home hits the market in Bellevue, it inevitably gets a lot of offers,” said Loren. “Many of these listings are generating so much interest that the banks cut things off after receiving ten offers.”
These homes inevitably sell for a good amount over their list price, but in the end they are usually still cheaper than comparable “non-distressed” inventory, so you end up with a paradoxical situation where buyers are encountering multiple offers, but prices are still falling. Crazy.
You can download the full spreadsheet from Redfin here, and as usual, I’m going to map the data here.
In the map below each zip code with enough sales in January is shown as a dot, with the size of the dot determined by the number of sales in that zip code in the month. Each dot is color-coded based on whichever measure you select below the map. You can view the month-over-month or year-over-year changes in inventory, sales, median prices, or median prices per square foot for single-family homes, condos, or townhouses. There is also a county selector that allows you to narrow, expand, or modify the geographic view to your liking.
If you flip the measure and range to inventory month-over-month, you can see the odd “two cities” dynamics. Inventory actually dropped from December to January (very unusual) across pretty much the entire Eastside, while rising (the normal seasonal pattern) in parts of central Seattle and north Seattle.
Year-over-year, the biggest winner for sales in King County this month was a tie between east of Lake Sammammish (98075) and Kennydale, where sales doubled from January 2010 to January 2011. King County’s biggest decline was in my home town of Kenmore (98028), where sales fell 77% from 39 a year ago to just 9 this year. 35 zip codes had decreasing sales volumes YOY, 3 were flat, and 15 saw an increase. Month-to-month, 53 zip codes fell, 2 were flat, and 1 increased (98007 – East Bellevue).
Here are the zip codes with the most SFH sales in January in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap County:
- King: 98059 — 31 sales.
- Snohomish: 98012 — 33 sales.
- Pierce: 98387 — 28 sales.
- Thurston: 98513 — 14 sales.
- Kitsap: 98367 — 20 sales.
Year-to-year, 33 zip codes in King County gained inventory, 2 were flat, and 34 lost inventory. Almost a dead even split.
The median price fell from a year ago in 37 King County zip codes, and rose in 16. The median price per square foot was also down in 37 zip codes and up in 16.
Anything stand out to you about your neighborhood in this month’s data? Do your observations match up with the stark contrast Redfin’s agents are seeing between the Eastside and Seattle?