Puget Sound Counties February NWMLS Update

Here’s an update to the NWMLS statistics for all six Puget Sound counties. I don’t personally want to live in King County, and maybe you don’t either. So, here’s a little graphical look at what the market looks like around the sound.

Here’s where each of the six counties stand as of February 2008:

King – Price: -0.0% | Listings: +61.3% | Sales: -32.3% | MOS: 6.1
Snohomish – Price: -0.3% | Listings: +44.5% | Sales: -36.3% | MOS: 7.4
Pierce – Price: -7.4% | Listings: +26.0% | Sales: -28.2% | MOS: 8.6
Kitsap – Price: -12.3% | Listings: +35.5% | Sales: -35.2% | MOS: 9.7
Thurston – Price: +2.0% | Listings: +14.8% | Sales: -17.7% | MOS: 6.0
Skagit – Price: +9.2% | Listings: +23.2% | Sales: -20.6% | MOS: 8.4

Following below are updates to the seven graphs I introduced with January’s data earlier this month. Click below to continue reading.

I’ve dialed the x-axis down from last month on most of these to show just the time period since January 2006, to hopefully provide less busy graphs. If you want to see the long-term trends, feel free to download the spreadsheet (or in Excel 2003 format) that all of these graphs come from, and adjust the x-axis to your liking.

First up, let’s have a look at raw median prices.

Puget Sound Median SFH Prices
Click to enlarge

Five out of the six Puget Sound counties continued their declines last month, with the especially volatile Skagit County posting a month-to-month increase and a 9% year to year increase. Given that Skagit has the lowest volume of closed sales of any of the counties, fluctuations like this are expected.

Here’s the chart showing the total percent increase since January 2000 for each of the six counties.

Puget Sound Median SFH Price Increase: 2000-2007
Click to enlarge

Wow, Kitsap sure came crashing back down to earth quickly. In just five months, the median price in Kitsap has gone from 232% of its January 2000 value to 190%. For those of you keeping score at home, here’s how each of the counties look compared to their peak:

King – Peak: July 2007 | Down 11%
Snohomish – Peak: March 2007 | Down 7%
Pierce – Peak: August 2007 | Down 8%
Kitsap – Peak: September 2007 | Down 18%
Thurston – Peak: July 2007 | Down 6%
Skagit – Peak: June 2007 | Down 8%

Here’s the third take on median prices, looking at YOY changes.

Puget Sound Median SFH YOY Price Changes
Click to enlarge

At the moment, it looks like Pierce and Kitsap are feeling the pinch the worst, but the trend is abundantly clear for all six counties.

Moving on to listings:

Puget Sound SFH Listings
Click to enlarge

All six counties look to be rapidly approaching their September inventory highs, and the spring selling season hasn’t even begun yet.

Here’s a look at the YOY change in listings.

Puget Sound SFH Listings YOY
Click to enlarge

The smallest number for February was Thurston County at 15% YOY inventory growth. King County leads the pack with its 62% increase, piling on more and more inventory as the months go by.

Lastly, let’s check out pending sales:

Puget Sound SFH Pending Sales
Click to enlarge

Sales across the sound had their usual post-holiday bump in February. There really won’t be much to look at on here until we get further along in the year. Most counties tend to have their peak number of sales in the spring months of March-May, so the next few months will really give us a clear picture of how much we’ve slowed down.

Lastly, here’s the YOY graph of sales:

Puget Sound SFH Pending Sales YOY
Click to enlarge

Still a pretty sorry picture in February when you compare it to last year. No county did better than a 17% drop in sales. Snohomish brings up the rear with a big 36% drop from last February.

The picture I’m getting from looking at these is that the biggest price weakness is in the furthest outlying counties, but with the way inventory is piling up and sales are dropping in King and Snohomish, they could easily catch up with their neighbors soon.

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

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. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1

    Looking at King County, I’m kind of astounded that February’s YOY price remained flat rather than dropped, especially considering the continued rise in inventory and reduced sales. My question is: Is this zero price change simply suggestive of a flat to downward trend, with some months down and some months flat, or is there a particular segment of the market or area that’s propping up prices? No comprende.

  2. 2
    WestSideBilly says:

    Ira, you’re most likely seeing what a few of the people (Jess Pumpkin comes to mind) who were shopping were commenting on… quality houses still move, often times quickly and with multiple bids. The $300k crap boxes and $400k fixers are sitting on the market.

    February Case Shiller should be interesting.

  3. 3
    melonleftcoast says:

    My prediction:

    Since the spring selling season is coming, I expect to see a small bounce for a couple of months in KC: slight YOY price increases and improved sales rates. Then back down. Of course, I could be completely wrong :).

    I do love watching those inventory numbers continue to climb!

  4. 4
    vboring says:

    as prices in the surrounding areas drop, the premium for living in seattle proper will increase.

    at some point, this premium will become unsustainable and seattle prices will also start to fall. this is what happened everywhere else so far.

    the end game depends quite a bit on macro impacts, though. what will interest rates be? will houses continue to be seen as high-performing investments? how will lending standards change?

    the biggest factors i see regarding the seattle premium will be attitudes towards old houses (is fixing them a fun hobby or an expensive pain?), gas prices, community-type preferences. i use my car about once a week because i choose to walk most places, so i am willing to pay a pretty decent premium to live in the city.

    so, yes, outlying areas will fall first, but seattle proper will catch up at some point.

  5. 5
    laxtosnoco says:

    Tim, I’ve been following this blog for some time and this is the first I remember you noting that you’re not interested in King Co (I may not have been paying close enough attention).

    If not King Co., where’s your ideal area?

  6. 6
    Sniglet says:

    Here’s my prediction: when the Dow falls to the 10,000 range, we will see significant Seattle proper real-estate price declines begin within a month. I think that the events in the broader economy will have more of a bearing on the price direction of Seattle property than what is happening in the suburbs.

    Of course, the same can be said of the suburbs. They too will see even more dramatic price declines when the Dow hits 10,000.

  7. 7
    The Tim says:

    LAXtoSnoCo, I haven’t mentioned it often, if at all. I guess I haven’t found it to be relevant.

    Personally I’m interested in Snohomish county, out a ways where I can have a few wooded acres, ideally with a creek or stream, and enough open space to have a garden. I like it a lot up in Skagit too, but then we’re getting quite a ways away from all our friends, so Snohomish is probably a better compromise.

    I follow King County so closely because I know that it will be the last to fall, so to speak.

  8. 8

    I think the Seattle premium in particular is in cute fixed up older homes in certain neighborhoods, like Greenlake,Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Phinney..
    i don’t have any data to back this up, but i’m guessing that homes in those areas built before 1940, and selling between 400-600 thousand probably saw YOY increases.

  9. 9
    patient says:

    ” think the Seattle premium in particular is in cute fixed up older homes in certain neighborhoods, like Greenlake,Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Phinney”

    To be fair I do think these homes deserves a premium. They are limited and or unique due to the age and style and the areas do have some “special” attributes. IMO the eastside is the most extremely overvalued area. Except for the lakeside/lakeview homes there are nothing unique or special with the homes or areas. It’s the same 70s-80s-90s-2000s homes in abundant as everywhere else. Being close to a major employer counts for little. There are many major employeers in this country without this kind of premiums.

  10. 10
    magnolia44 says:

    maybe next month

    the longer it takes could be the more likely it does not happen as bad as many predicted. We are already through several rate cuts and 7 months past the start of the “credit crisis”, if it makes it thorugh unscathed…imagine the mantra … the fact is 5-10% declines will still be a victory compared to whats happening in the rest of the country and the market will resume back to normal after the declines in 3-5 years.

    PS normal is not 10% appreciation a year.

  11. 11
    shoeboy says:

    Nothing unique or special? I beg to differ.

    Down the street from me in NorKirk, there’s an early 70’s split level for sale (asking 850k) that has pergo floors, black granite countertops and stainless appliances in the kitchen. It’s like putting a spoiler, performance exhaust and a Type-R sticker on an ’87 Yugo. I think that’s pretty special.

  12. 12

    Nice post Tim. Obviously Puget Sound is a lot bigger than Seattle and King Co, and there are some very interesting trends that one would overlook if they only paid attention to just Ballard.

    I’ve heard that Pierce Co has had the highest rates of “exotic loans” in recent years. One would imagine that foreclosures would be hitting there the hardest. Do you know of any place that has systematically examined foreclosure-related activity in non-KingCo areas?

  13. 13
    Ubersalad says:

    Eastside overrated other than major employers? How about lower crime rate and best damn public schools in the region? Or at least abundant parking space!

  14. 14
    Angie says:

    This discussion about what’s happening in different counties in the region brings to mind an article recently published at Crosscut.com. I don’t think I’ve seen it linked here–apologies if it’s a repeat–but I thought it was fascinating and definitely of interest to the SB crowd. It’s about housing affordability in Seattle and environs, with particular emphasis on demographics. Fascinating stuff, particularly the comparisons of the in-city population to local suburbs and the rest of the US.

    Here are some choice quotes:

    “To learn more about our small household size, let’s look at kinds of households, in Seattle versus suburbia. Seattle is off the chart! Here, like the U.S. as a whole, two-thirds of suburban households are families, 25 percent to 30 percent are singles, and 5 percent to 7 percent are unmarried partners or roommates. But in the city of Seattle, an astounding 44 percent of households are single persons. (Along with San Francisco, Seattle’s singles percentage is the highest in the nation for a major city.) A very high 12 percent are unmarried partners (often de-facto families), only a little behind San Francisco. Only one-third of households are traditional husband-wife families”


    “We often hear about high levels of educational attainment in greater Seattle, but this isn’t true of Pierce, Kitsap, or Snohomish counties, where 23 percent to 27 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree or more, close to the U.S. rate of 27 percent. But high educational levels definitely describe King County (suburban King 40 percent, Seattle an out-of-sight 53 percent). A significant share of these well-educated folks are migrants from other states and countries. A remarkably low 37 percent of Seattleites are native to Washington: 44 percent are from other states and 19 percent are from abroad (half from Asia).”

  15. 15
    patient says:

    I agree Ubersalad but you need to include almost every current and every potential additonal home on the whole eastside in the pool that has low crime rate and good schools. There is just to many homes to make it enough unique or strictly limited for the extreme price level. I just don’t think there is anough buyers out there to keep these prices up with today’s lending standards. The few tastefully remodeled early century homes in the prime Seattle neighbourhoods is a different story.

  16. 16
    Ubersalad says:

    Oh that I completely agree. Current value simply cannot sustain itself…unless of course dollar drops to nothing.

  17. 17
    Ubersalad says:

    I am joking of course! Best of luck to you…

  18. 18
    jess-Pumpkin says:

    Hi all, I’m back lurking even though I shouldn’t be (SB is a hard habit to kick, man). To follow up with Angie’s article, there are more Seattle households with dogs than kids.

  19. 19
    kirklandrenter says:

    We sold our house last year and moved to kirkland mainly because of our child’s education. He has special needs and since moving him to the lake washington school district, he had improved A LOT.
    We are planning on waiting for a year or so before buying back into the market. where do you think housing prices will go now that the fed lowered the prime rate AGAIN??!!!! i hope prices keep on going down until we can buy back again in ’09 / ’10.

  20. 20
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    To follow up #14 and #18:

    there are more Seattle households with dogs than kids.

    Which is why this whole bubble will easily resolve itself within the next 30 years. The dying will not be replaced (as there are no children) and the immigrants will go home once they’ve made enough $$$ here. At which point, Seattle will be over taken by stray dogs and people will avoid the city for fear of rabies.

  21. 21
    Moe Ronn - Realitor® says:

    I just heard that the FED lowered the prime rate by 75 basis points. Here comes 2002 squared. Where is Eula during this meltdown?

  22. 22
    Jonny says:

    ira: comprende el potro rosado?

  23. 23

    Of course! El Potro Rosado= The Pink Pony, or to our neighbors to the south, AKA The Pink Burro.

  24. 24
    jess-Pumpkin says:


    Which is why this whole bubble will easily resolve itself within the next 30 years. The dying will not be replaced (as there are no children) and the immigrants will go home once they’ve made enough $$$ here. At which point, Seattle will be over taken by stray dogs and people will avoid the city for fear of rabies.

    nominate for post of the week

  25. 25
    disbelief says:

    ” Where is Eula during this meltdown?”

    Moe Ronn, he’s set “crashcon 1” and “digging in” at:


  26. 26
    Geode says:

    Thanks for spreading the love across the counties. For those like me who are watching the entire sound area, it helps us compare trends and make better choices. I know you have been Seattle Bubble for some time, but maybe this is the beginning of a vision of what the site might evolve into down the road. Possibly something more generalized and less area specific. I love your site and I am thrilled you have turned your dream and hobby into a business. Keep up the great work.

  27. 27
    matthew says:

    You can find Synthetik, Eleua, and myself spending most of our time over at the market ticker forums.


  28. 28
    Alan says:

    I’m joining you guys over there.

  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31


    And our 401K incomes way down.

    See the proof:


  32. 32
    Buceri says:

    Out of that piece comes this nice explanation:

    The Fed’s main tool is control over the short-term fed funds rate, which determines what banks charge each other for overnight loans. Long-term mortgage rates are mostly tied to the 10-year Treasury yield, which is determined by bond traders worldwide.

    “There is a long disconnect between the fed funds rate and fixed mortgage rates,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage and consumer loan information publisher HSH.com.

    Inflation drives long-term fixed rates. When the Fed cuts short-term rates, the intent is to lower borrowing costs for corporations so that they’ll invest and hire. But this economic growth can lead to inflation.

    That in turn leads bond traders to demand higher rates on their long-term bonds – and that drives up mortgage rates too.

    “Mortgage rates are determined by how fearful the market is of inflation,” said Gumbing

  33. 33

Leave a Reply

Use your email address to sign up with Gravatar for a custom avatar.
Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please read the rules before posting a comment.