Puget Sound Counties May NWMLS Update

Let’s check in on the NWMLS statistics from around the sound and see if the bottom is in yet for any of the seven Puget Sound counties we’re tracking.

Here’s where the YOY stats stand for each of the six counties as of May 2008:

King – Price: -6.2% | Listings: +41.7% | Sales: -38.7% | MOS: 7.0
Snohomish – Price: -6.9% | Listings: +22.4% | Sales: -44.7% | MOS: 8.9
Pierce – Price: -6.7% | Listings: +7.3% | Sales: -33.1% | MOS: 8.7
Kitsap – Price: -11.3% | Listings: +14.7% | Sales: -34.3% | MOS: 10.5
Thurston – Price: -1.8% | Listings: -2.6% | Sales: -28.5% | MOS: 6.3
Island – Price: +1.7% | Listings: +14.2% | Sales: -34.6% | MOS: 13.4
Skagit – Price: +3.1% | Listings: +14.7% | Sales: -40.9% | MOS: 9.3

Following below are the graphs you’ve come to expect. Click below to continue reading.

These graphs only represent the market action since January 2006. 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. Also included in the spreadsheet is data for Whatcom County, for anyone up north that might be interested.

First up, it’s raw median prices.

Puget Sound Median SFH Prices
Click to enlarge

Prices were up month-over-month in the Skagit and the ever-volitile Island County, flat in Snohomish, and down everywhere else. With sales dropping through the floor like they have been lately, real price changes are likely being somewhat masked across the board by a change in the mix of homes sold.

Here’s how each of the counties look compared to their peak:

King – Peak: July 2007 | Down 9%
Snohomish – Peak: March 2007 | Down 9%
Pierce – Peak: August 2007 | Down 9%
Kitsap – Peak: September 2007 | Down 13%
Thurston – Peak: July 2007 | Down 4%
Island – Peak: August 2007 | Down 13%
Skagit – Peak: June 2007 | Down 8%

Despite the supposed strength of the “core” markets of Seattle and Bellevue in King County, so far Thurston County holds the prize for the smallest decline.

Here’s another take on Median Prices, looking at the year-to-year changes over the last two years.

Puget Sound Median SFH YOY Price Changes
Click to enlarge

Island and Skagit Counties shot into positive YOY territory, most likely due more to the paltry number of sales (less than 200 total between them) than any sort of recovery.

Here’s the graph of listings for each county, indexed to January 2006.

Puget Sound SFH Listings
Click to enlarge

King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Island, and Skagit counties have all exceeded their 2007 peak inventories as of May. Pierce lags a bit behind, and inventory accumulation in Thurston is speeding up, but still lags far behind everywhere else for some reason.

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

Puget Sound SFH Listings YOY
Click to enlarge

Looks like inventory growth down in Thurston peaked back in 2006, as the May 2008 value actually came in lower than 2007. Growth in the other counties ranged between 7.3% in Pierce and 42.7% in King.

Lastly, let’s check out pending sales, also indexed to January 2006.

Puget Sound SFH Pending Sales
Click to enlarge

Sales in Snohomish County still came in far worse than everywhere else. Also worth noting: six of the seven counties had fewer sales in May 2008 than they did in January 2006, the slowest month of the year. May is quite often the high point for sales in a given year.

Lastly, here’s the YOY graph of sales:

Puget Sound SFH Pending Sales YOY
Click to enlarge

That’s a pretty severe drop in pretty much every county but Kitsap. Sales declines ranged from a 45% drop in Snohomish to 29% off in Thurston.

Snohomish County seems to still be the big loser around the sound, volume-wise, while the smaller, more remote Kitsap and Island counties lead the way in price drops. The most interesting thing to me is the apparent inventory recovery down in Thurston. What’s going on down there?

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
    Garth says:

    From the king county breakout pdf

    Median $, May08 $425,000
    Median $, May07 $425,000
    % Chg, price vs yr ago 0.00%

    Listings are up by 50%.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    vboring says:

    anyone who has lived here for a while:

    is it normal to see so many unkempt lawns this time of year?

    walking around in the neighborhoods north of Ballard for a few hours last weekend, i passed a dozen or so places with grass at least 3 feet tall. more often than not, the houses themselves looked pretty run down, too.

    this is in a neighborhood that starts in the $700s.

  4. 4
    Greg Perry says:

    Breakdown and analysis of the Eastside

    Part One
    Part Two

    May was interesting, indeed. 550 Redmond had some surprises. The high end is troubled.

  5. 5
    olaf says:

    vboring: Yeah, that’s pretty normal around here. Seattle neighborhoods tend to look kind of shabby, compared to similar neighborhoods in other parts of the country. I think it’s a hold-over from the days when all these tiny “craftsman” houses were actually low-income neighborhoods for cannery workers and the like back in the early 20th century. (Heck, today’s chic houseboats started out as a floating shantytown for squatters.)

    There’s nothing wrong with modest lots, modest architecture and a lot of structural plywood (it sure beats the McMansions in the ‘burbs), but it DOES give one pause to see these unkempt little properties asking $700 K.

  6. 6
    vboring says:

    i’ll give them one more sunny weekend.

    after that, i’ll assume that every grossly overgrown lot is an unoccupied investment home with a delinquent loan.

  7. 7


  8. 8
    biliruben says:

    I drove by this one yesterday:

    Maybe it could be a $700K home, but right now it’s overgrown (they mowed the front, but not the back), and just had another sort of haircut – the price was just cut from $585K, which is what the owner paid last year, to $440K as a short sale. Now that’s a price-reduction!

    It looked like it was in pretty bad shape, with the top dormer windows completely missing when I went by, but that kinda price starts to feel like we’re starting to see the bust seep into choicer neighborhoods. About time.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    I actually like it here says:

    If I could find a sunny and/or dry evening when I’m home, I’d mow my lawn…

  11. 11
    Garth says:


    if you go to hotpads.com you can type in a zip code and select foreclosures from the drop down list you can see the forclosures. I don’t see any areas in 98117 where there are even any foreclosures on the same street so I think your hypothesis is more hope than reality :)

    Many of the people in those $700,000 houses are old and paid very little for them.

  12. 12
    TJ_98370 says:

    $440,000 for a 100 year old “serious fixer” is still too much.

  13. 13
    Herman says:

    Sellers in Seattle should realize that it’s time now to dump their properties at the lowest comparable price on the market.

    Inflation is up, the stock market is down, interest rates are rising. The forecast is very bad. Every month it takes you’re losing more.

  14. 14
    NotaBull says:

    “anyone who has lived here for a while:

    is it normal to see so many unkempt lawns this time of year?”

    Yes. Most of the neighborhoods around Seattle were basically 40s/50s working class neighborhoods, so you’ve got a bunch of people that moved into these “cheap” neighborhoods back in the 80s and before and don’t give a crap or just don’t have the money to “keep up” with the recent influx of rich urban yuppies that can hire yard people.

    It’s a real problem when you’re looking for a neighborhood to move into for the long term and 3/4 of the houses are great and 1/4 are crappy. You just never know if your new neighbors will park their crappy RV in their driveway and let it rust. On a personal note, that’s why I moved into a neighhborhood with pretty strict covenants and active HOA. If my neighbor’s yard looks like crap, someone else contacts them and takes care of it.

  15. 15
    Garth says:

    Short sales, foreclosures and as-is properties are riskier purchases, and should have lower prices than nearby comps that are not distressed.

    You could never convince me to live somewhere with a HOA. What a deal, own a house with all the drawbacks of a condo.

  16. 16
    Cougar says:

    “$440,000 for a 100 year old “serious fixer” is still too much.”

    and to think someone paid more than a half a million dollars for it. Blinded by the hype, broke today. Sad.

  17. 17
    george says:

    Garth — where do you get that? Isn’t it a 3 percent drop in Seattle? (And more from July 2007 to May 2008 of course)

    Median $, May08 $476,000
    Median $, May07 $488,000

  18. 18
    The Tim says:

    george, Garth’s data is from Page 1 of the “May 2008 King County Breakouts” pdf (available here). The data he quotes is Condo+SFH for Seattle proper, vs. the numbers you quoted which are SFH only.

    This is exactly why I choose one data set (KingCo SFH) and stick with it. Any given month you can probably find an especially bad data point or an especially good one. The newspapers do this and I think it’s misleading.

  19. 19
    Matthew says:

    Plus condo sales and pricing tend to be much more volatile than SFH.

  20. 20
    magnolia44 says:

    in other news there is a new Bubble.

    Its the “Seattle Bubble fundraising bubble” its come to a screeching halt, renters stockpiling extra cash not supporting Tim and the cause of their plight.

  21. 21
    Matthew says:


    Thanks for reminding me, I made a donation, thanks Tim!

  22. 22
    george says:

    Thanks Tim for the clarification and for the consistency.

    I also have a modest proposal after reading that link. We don’t just need a blog or a bunch of blogs. Real estate consumers need a real estate consumer organization.

    We all know real estate agents as a group do not represent the interests of the buyers and sellers. Instead, they lobby to get laws passed to help themselves, often at our expense. They spin the data every month and spin the media with the help of heir advertising dollars.

    Don’t consumers of real estate (and real estate industry services) need our own national organization to represent our interests? If someone started a membership-based real estate CONSUMER organization, I predict the donations would really start to come in big time.

    Just a thought. If someone starts it, sign me up!

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Ray Pepper says:

    RT I read the article you posted and it still doesn’t fully detail of what will happen in the coming years with Wachovia, WA MU, and Countrywide Loans. It seems to be brushed aside but Wall Street knows and it reflects in the current pps of the companies.

    A great number of current home owners have ARMS. These homeowners are current on their payments NOW, have great credit, and all is OK. These ARMS have 4 options to pay each month. Interest only, 30 year payment, 15 year payment, and Reverse Amortization. World Savings, Wachovia, and Countrywide were the KINGS of these loan products.

    Current statistics indicate OVER 66% of the homeowners pay the minimum. All is good as long as the home appreciates. ** Now here lies the dilemma.**

    **HOMES ARE DECREASING IN VALUE while the Principle is increasing. In 2-7 years there will be HUGE quantities of homes that will be foreclosed on because the Buyers will be unable to re-fi or sell the property to pay-off the loans. THEY WILL WALK IN VERY LARGE NUMBERS. This is the major concern on the street. They cannot re-fi NOW either because of the rapid decline in value.

    The stock market is a forward looking indicator and it certainly is telling us that these banks will continue to come down until home prices stabilize. Place your bets but I suggest the only position is short on these 3 banks and . Countrywide got out easy with B of A. But, keep watching BAC and you will see the same declines in pps as WB and WM.

    Ray Pepper

  25. 25
    Garth says:

    I wasn’t trying to frame anything, I just lazily did not read past page one of the PDF :)

    That link Shawn posted continued the stream of real estate public interest pieces that leave me with no sympathy for the subject. I still have not read one foreclosure interest piece where I didn’t leave placing the blame squarely on the homeowner.

  26. 26
    deejayoh says:

    Pierce County foreclosures seem to keep getting worse and worse. In the latest Realtytrac press release, Pierce County is no the same color as the counties in the inland empire and other foreclosure capitals: &GT 1 in 250 homes are in foreclosure.

  27. 27
    deejayoh says:

    Tim – any idea why the html code for the &GT/&LT symbols works in preview but not when the comment shows up?

  28. 28
    The Tim says:

    Sorry Garth, didn’t mean to imply you were cherry-picking, just that it’s easy to do, and the news does it all the time, which is why I stick with a consistent data set.

    Deejayoh, it seems to be an error in the preview code that allows &gt to show up as >. The correct code is > (which I got to appear by typing > ) woo-hoo, html!

  29. 29
    Bella says:

    If by shabby yards you mean really long grass, yes that is normal. It rains a lot, grass grows like crazy, but it’s hard to mow because it is too wet. Therefore, lawn grows about 8x longer than you want it to before you get a chance to whack it back down. Other than that, I haven’t seen many shabby looking yards around these days. As a lifer here, the yards are actually looking about a million times better than they traditionally have, as in the past decade or so, many people have done away with old school full sized lawns in favor of native plantings.

  30. 30
    Jackson Wallace says:

    They say you can put an RV in that driveway. That’s funny. This piece probably sold for 150k in the early 90s, or 60k in the 80s. 440k is way too high for something that looks like that. The serious revision in Seattle’s thinking has not fully caught hold but its starting with all the greedmeisters who are trying to unload properties for 800k.
    I’ve seen properties for 440k in better shape in Wallingford and fringe magnolia, QA, far more desireable locations. It takes forever to drive anywhere from N Ballard.
    They’re sitting, sitting, sitting. Wait til next winter. Things get real desperate around here when the winter gray grips the mind and paranoia strikes deep. HAHAHAHAHA.

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.