Reporting Roundup: Unique Greedy Frenzy Edition

It’s time once again for the monthly reporting roundup, where you can read my wry commentary about the news instead of subjecting yourself to boring rehashes of the NWMLS press release (or in addition to, if that’s what floats your boat).

To kick things off, here’s an excerpt from the NWMLS press release:

Northwest MLS Tallies Busy December as First-time Buyers, Investors Return

While the expected seasonal slowdown occurred last month, determined buyers were undaunted by sparse inventory and record-breaking rainy days, according to December statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Feeding Frenzy of Cormorants and Brown Pelicans by Flickr user Mike Baird
Frenzy!

“This is a unique housing market,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “There is nothing normal about the combination of factors fueling the current market,” he added.

Brokers expect the housing market rebound to continue, while cautioning sellers to refrain from becoming too greedy and expressing hope for “controlled natural growth” to sustain the recovery. They also believe distressed properties, rising rents and re-engaged investors will have an impact on activity for the foreseeable future.

Looking ahead, many brokers expect a strong market in 2013, with some expressing concern about “frenzied bubble growth.”

Oh yeah. I bet they are real concerned about that prospect. I’m sure it keeps them up at night.

Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.

Eric Pryne, Seattle Times: Local supply of homes for sale hits another record low

The number of houses for sale in King County has hit yet another record low, according to statistics released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“There’s just nothing available out there,” said Glenn Crellin, associate director of research at the University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.

Inventory — or lack of it — has been driving the Seattle area real-estate market for several months. Brokers and analysts attribute it mostly to the large number of “underwater” homeowners who are disinclined to sell because they owe lenders more than their houses are worth.

The UW’s Crellin predicted inventory will increase in coming months, in part because rising home prices mean fewer homeowners are underwater.

2012 was indeed the year of crappy selection, start to finish.

Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: December saw slowing home sales, rising prices

One reason for the decrease in pending sales is that sales had started to pick up last December, said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

Another may be the dearth of homes for sale, he said. “It could be that the potential buyers aren’t finding anything they like.”

And, unlike during the bubble years, he said: “This time they’re not willing to jump in and buy anything that’s on the market in their price range.”

Crellin is on a roll the last couple of years. He’s spot on here.

It seems that the Everett Herald has not posted a story about the December data yet. If I see one later today I will update this post to include it.

Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune: Home sales offer happy ending to 2012 in Pierce County

The Pierce County housing market ended 2012 on a positive note as median prices rose 14.48 percent, the largest percentage increase of the year, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.

Median prices rose to $200,563 last month from $175,199 in December 2011, the combined single-family residence and condominium data show. Home sales in the same year-over-year period weren’t as strong, rising just 2.15 percent to 808 units from 791 units, the combined data show.

Hmm, here we go again, describing “the market” as “positive,” when really it’s only positive for sellers. I had hoped that we would leave this kind of language behind with the bursting of the bubble.

Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Fewer homes for sale, but prices remain low

The number of homes for sale in Thurston County fell under 1,000 units in December for the first time in six years, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.

The number of homes for sale fell 25.38 percent to 988 units in December from 1,324 units in December 2011, the combined single-family residence and condominium data show.

A combination of factors have contributed to the lower inventory levels, and it could mean that less supply and buyer demand stimulate home prices, Washington Realtors Association President Mark Kitabayashi said Monday.

Inventory levels are lower because sellers are waiting for prices to rise, but also because of the holidays, and the uncertainty created by the election and the so-called “fiscal cliff,” he said.

“It all kinds of adds up,” he said.

So, inventory fell between December 2011 and December 2012 “because of the holidays”? I wonder which holidays we had in 2012 but not 2011…

(Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, 01.07.2013)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 01.07.2013)
(Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune, 01.08.2013)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 09.06.2013)

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

12 comments:

  1. 1
    softwarengineer says:

    Great Pragmatism Tim

    Yes…..its rainy outside, but that doesn’t always mean its not sunny.

    Conditions set the tone, but are not always the proper trend.

    After going through the bubble, we sometimes take everything for what it tends to say [like the stores are picked clean, so there’s more high priced sales if you want anything], rather than the bubble we went through destroyed a HUGE CHUNK of the principle and now the price comparison or trend tracking is more ambiguous [lacks adequate trend analysis inventory data] in comparison.

    When you make the decision of a lifetime, its definitely not a good choice to follow the lemmings over the fiscal cliff. Be patient.

    Its very similar to the stock market, the worse time to sell is when it collapses [actually, that’s the best time to buy or hold on to stocks, when their price is lowest]….hold on, in a couple years your losses will likely mitigate. Think longterm, like Buffet recommends.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  2. 2
    Erik says:

    I like how Rolf gave us the worst logic of why inventory is down and then said… “It all kinds of adds up.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  3. 3
    whatsmyname says:

    “Hmm, here we go again, describing “the market” as “positive,” when really it’s only positive for sellers. I had hoped that we would leave this kind of language behind with the bursting of the bubble.”

    This is good, solid, out of the box thinking, but why stop with housing? Seems like there could be a widened conversation here, perhaps incorporating the interests and expertise of various posters.

    How about the residual positive employment market?… Ample supply of labor has done wonders for making the same affordable for employers these past 4 years.

    Maybe we could prevail upon Jonness to provide some background for the positive action in today’s stock market where a late afternoon buyer was able to benefit from the 55.44 point swing in today’s DJIA.

    There’s even room for SWE; could he opine on the recent positive developments regarding overpopulation in Connecticut and Colorado?

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  4. 4

    RE: whatsmyname @ 3 – How about getting away from what’s good (bad) for sellers (buyers), and focus more on what’s good for everyone?

    In 2005-2007, local sellers (and homeowners generally) thought the rising prices were good, but that eventually lead to problems. In 2008-2011 local potential buyers thought that falling prices were good, but now they’re left with little to buy. The most apt comment here was something like: “The bottom isn’t as fun as we thought it would be.”

    Perhaps steady and predictable is better for everyone! Maintaining pace with inflation would take speculation out of the game, helping keep prices moderate, and prevent the extreme cycles which lock some people into their properties.

    But there is no magic bullet for those wanting to buy a house cheap. High population centers will have higher prices, absent extreme economic turmoil.

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  5. 5
    softwarengineer says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 3

    OVERPOPULATION Education Is Now Officially Politically Correct in the Public Schools

    A seven year old remarked and she learned this in a public school:

    “every 2 seconds a baby is born, but every 8 seconds someone dies”

    I’d add this is true for the world, America has the HONOR to have a 1.7 depopulation birthrate the last 3 years [it doesn’t apply to us]…..of course our foreign/corporate MSM would never give us kudos for it. Our public schools will now, its changed radically.

    BTW, irrespective of our “kudo” birthrate lately our population growth in America is at an all time high. This is hogwash, how can America teach the rest of the world how to do it right, when they ruin our track record with their problem?

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  6. 6
    ray pepper says:

    hey…………Where is David Losh? Don’t tell me you guys chased him away…If hes gone I’m outta here….Corn Dog and Losh are the ones keeping me coming back. I can’t live on Corn Dogs alone.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  7. 7
    Erik says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 6
    Yeah, Losh kept things real.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. 8

    I miss him too. Sure, some of his posts are off the wall/incoherent. But some of his posts are incredibly insightful, and there’s just something likable about the guy.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  9. 9
    Flounder says:

    But there is no magic bullet for those wanting to buy a house cheap. High population centers will have higher prices, absent extreme economic turmoil.RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 4

    Yes, houses are terribly expensive in Houston.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  10. 10
    ARDELL says:

    I miss David a lot. He was tired of Kary’s abuse. I don’t blame him. I hope he changes his mind and comes back, but I understand if he doesn’t.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  11. 11

    By ARDELL @ 10:

    I miss David a lot. He was tired of Kary’s abuse. I don’t blame him. I hope he changes his mind and comes back, but I understand if he doesn’t.

    Cry me a river. He repeatedly insulted me and then couldn’t stand the response. If you attack me, I attack back. The difference is what I say back hurts, because it’s true and correct.

    I seldom, if ever, attack first. Pretty simple, but neither you nor he seem to get that.

    But hey, I can understand why you miss him. He was stupid enough to believe your BS. He practically worshiped you.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  12. 12
    Tim McB says:

    RE: Flounder @ 9

    When you factor in property taxes (Texas has a VERY high property tax which makes owning property quite pricey), they actually do have pretty high prices.

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