Another Angle on Recent Sales and Listings

While we wait for November sales statistics from the NWMLS, let’s take a look at a couple more charts of sales from the last few months to round out the big picture of what’s going on with local home sales.

First up, here’s a look at the total closed sales by quarter, for every quarter since 2000:

King County SFH Closed Sales per Quarter

The third quarter this year looked very much like the first and second quarters, with the volume of closed sales coming in far below every other year on record. With just 4,510 total SFH sales closed in King County, Q3 actually came in lower than even the worst Q4 on record, which was 2007 at 4,524.

Next up, here’s an update to our listing breakdown graph, introduced and explained by Deejayoh in February this year. For historic charts of this data going back to 2001, check the ‘delisting’ tag.

King County SFH Listing Breakdown

The number of delisted homes (red) in October was somewhat high at 2,087, but not unprecedented for the first full month of fall. 2000-2002 saw similar numbers of delisted homes in October as well. In October last year, as we headed into the slow season, the market had 7,493 “stale” listings. This October there were 8,196 “stale” listings, a 9.4% increase.

Another thing that is somewhat interesting is that the number of homes delisted in October exceeded the number of homes sold by 760. That never happened from January 2003 through September 2007, when monthly sales exceeded delistings by an average of 1,786. Since October last year, delistings and sales have been relatively even.

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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
    Another Tim says:

    At first glance it appears that while things are very slow in comparison to past years there are still sales being made. This is different than the opinion of one local realtor who told me “there are no buyers”. Clearly there are. The number of “stale” listings correspond to my perception that there are a lot of sellers out there still in denial. In my neighborhood a home that should be priced at ~$350,000 entered the market at $450,000 and is still listed at $400,000. Should anyone be surprised it’s been on the market since June?

  2. 2
    Joel says:

    Official Wamu Seattle job cuts:

    3,400 jobs lost in Seattle.

  3. 3
    Slumlord says:

    The trouble with bubbles is that people are manic on the upside and too negative on the downside. Even with today’s falling prices, there are some people who are in a situation where buying makes sense. They may not be a typical buyer, due to making very long-term plans for ownership (taking advantage of low interest rates) or having enough money that a further drop does not create a financial hardship.

    To me, the increase in both stale listings and de-listings indicates a large number of people who would like to sell at or near peak prices but don’t actually need to sell. Those who need to sell are lowering their asking price to a level where the sale does in fact take place. Even people who are underwater on their loans can sometimes negotiate with the bank and sell for less than the current mortgage, though this is much harder if the mortgage has been repackaged into a security or collateralized debt obligation.

  4. 4
    G4George says:

    These stats might not bereflective of the real situation out there. I have being tracking the market, especially for houses I would consider buying except for the price, for about 6 months and a ridiculous number of houses seem to be delisting only to re-appear a few days later with a different MLS number. This is obviously going to distort the apparent number of de-listings and the number of new listings

    Whatever is happening with listings and de-listings I am not seeing any of the houses sell.

    I think many of the sellers believe (or are being told by their agents) that appearing to be a new listing will help them sell the house. It does not seem to be working though as they still do not appear to be selling. In some cases there is a drop in price, occasionally a meaningful drop but in most cases it is not, but in many cases they relist with the same price and a new photo thinking no one will realize they have not just entered the market.

    Occasionally, they have a new agent (I guess they ‘fired’ their old agent for failing to sell their house) so this may have led to the relisting with a new MLS number.

  5. 5
    buyStocks says:

    G4George has a good point. This is also something I’ve noticed. This seems to be a part of the selling strategy to avoid a property looking stale. Of course, this strategy is useless against the sophisticated online home shoppers at redfin, however I’m sure it’s still working for the shoppers who rely on their RE agent (while looking at the house, the RE agent can say “this is a new listing with a competitve price”…).

  6. 6
    Andy says:

    I’m considering bidding 50% less than the value of the listing price. My real estate agent has mentioned that this would probably not work and many people are offering crappy bids. I told her that this was the market.

    Think about it, recent MBS/CMBS paper is being dumped by major banks for 20-30c on the dollar. Why do homeowners with weasel real estate agents think that their properties are worth some crazy inflated number.

    Property values in this rat hole will drop 50% from where they are now. I can’t wait to offer $200k for a waterfront 4000sq foot home in Gig Harbor – and have the idiot real estate agent/seller (who previously told me to get lost) take my cash with great thanks!

    Real estate has no intrinsic value. Its all just speculation – unless you can command cash flow – and even that is not guaranteed. Drive these nutty prices down to the ground.

  7. 7
    Agent says:

    If a property is listed and then delisted in the multiple, it still tracks “Cumulative days on the market” (CDOM) for any given property even if it is with a new agent. The only way to “reset” the CDOM is to wait 90 days before relisting. There is no distortion from delisting and then relisting since it still is a listing with the same number of days on the market. Sales are reflected as sales. There are homes selling, they are simply selling for less. Look at the median and average price for homes in King County – its been going down. . .

  8. 8
    george says:

    What I don’t get is why more people don’t price to sell. What are they waiting for? Why would anyone delist a property and rent it out in a falling housing market? It makes no sense. Chase this market down and miss out on the decent returns you’d be able to get for your cash after selling?

    I guess a lot of sellers must imagine we’re going back to the 2007 peak sometime soon. When is that going to happen? Right after the economy recovers in… 20??

  9. 9
    b says:

    george –

    Spring 2009, prices will sky rocket! Then it will rain doughnuts and everyone will get free blowjobs from models. It will be the best spring selling season EVER.

  10. 10
    Ben says:

    george –

    b has the right idea here. Many, many people believe that this is just a slow period and there is no real loss of value yet, and once the government ‘fixes’ the economy, prices will continue upward.

    People who believe this (or want to) will therefore think that a short term loss is better than throwing their money away by selling at what price is required in the current market.

    I think that history shows that other regional markets went through similar periods of denial before reality set in. I think that this area needs at least another six months before people realize that the days of people being lent 6x income with nothing down are over.

  11. 11
    Greg says:

    If you want to pay 50% less and get that waterfront place then go and target Gig Harbor and watch the city web site/local paper for foreclosures and sheriff sales. There are more than a few people who will loose their homes over there. I am an agent, and you dont need an agent to go after those properties. I spoke with a guy two weeks ago that called and had a 3600 sq ft home off a Craigs list ad I had, it was tax assessed at $430,000. Had a loan on it for $180,000 and would sell it to me for $200,000. It was a five acre parcel and built in 2000. All he wanted was to save his credit rating, get out from the mortgage and have 20K to move back to his other home, which was a rental.I wasn’t interested in that area, but told him to go and list it for 250K and be done with it. He sold it himself a week later for close to that price. But you won’t find those deals unless you look on your own or go to the court house steps. So dont beat up your agent, most dont have the experience to help you. And most sellers who list arent going to go to even look at your offers. You can figure it out on your own easier and with less brain damage. Cash talks but only if your talking to the right people who dont have any other options. .

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