December Neighborhoods Months of Supply Update

Time (or past time) to take a look at December’s “Months of Supply” for the 30 NWMLS areas in King County. For an explanation of what months of supply means, please refer to the original neighborhood MOS breakdown post. Also, view a map of these areas here.

December MOS for King County as a whole came in at yet another record-high 9.56 (compared to 7.54 for December 2007 and 8.75 for November), bringing the record run of 6+ MOS to sixteen months.

In the graphs below, you’re looking at the MOS for the “Res Only” data from the NWMLS King County Breakout pdfs for the one-year period of January 2008 through December 2008. The bar graph is centered vertically on 6.0 MOS, so that it is easier to visually tell the difference between a seller’s and buyer’s market (i.e. – shorter bars mean a more balanced market). I had been trying to keep the graphs on the same vertical scale, but with MOS skyrocketing in a handful of areas in the Eastside and Vashon, I gave up on that. The charts still all have the King County aggregate figure plotted in red on the far right.

Note that there are a few areas that appear to have no bar at all for a given month—this represents an MOS value at or close to 6.0. Also keep in mind that whatever the reason, pending sales have become increasingly disconnected from closed sales recently, which means that these statistics are likely understating the magnitude of the “buyer’s market.”

We’ll start off with the chart that lets you directly compare each area’s MOS to its value one year ago. December 2007 is in red, and 2008 is in blue.

KC SFH MOS: Eastside

Following below are the breakouts for SW King, SE King, Seattle, N King, and the Eastside, as well as a summary of this month’s data.

Note: Area 100 (Jovita/West Hill Auburn) was over 21 in January, and has been clipped.



Note: For Area 701 (Downtown Seattle) we’re using condo data.

KC SFH MOS: Seattle


KC SFH MOS: Eastside

In December only one area in King County registered as a “seller’s market” with under 6.0 MOS—705 (Ballard, Greenlake, Greenwood). Even 710 (NE Seattle: Wedgewood, Lake City, etc.) finally edged over 6, coming in at 6.22.

The cumulative MOS for Seattle proper continued to push further into buyer’s market territory, coming in at 7.59 in December. The Eastside as a whole shot back up again month-to-month to a new record high of 13.04.

Six of thirty neighborhoods trended more toward a seller’s market than a year ago. Twelve neighborhoods were above 10 MOS, firmly in buyer’s market territory (one more than last month).

The three toughest markets for sellers were Medina / Clyde Hill / W. Bellevue (520) at 29.22 (over two years), Mercer Island (510) at 25.80, and Vashon Island at 19.67. 520 continues its 10+ MOS streak, now at 16 months. Psst… Hey Bill… bet you can drive some pretty hard bargains right about now if you’re looking to expand your estate

The three best markets for sellers as of last month were: Ballard/Greenlake/Greenwood (705) at 5.44, North Seattle (710) at 6.22, and Jovita/West Hill Auburn (100) at 6.84. The “best markets for sellers” list is starting to seem like a “most slender hippopotamus” contest or something…

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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
    Gary says:

    The eastside numbers were already on the long side, I wonder where we will be in another couple of months?

  2. 2
    Peckhammer says:

    I’ve toured a few projects that are for sale. It is obvious that some of what had been counted as “sold” is coming back on the market. Prices are heading south too. For example, you may recall that the Veer had a lottery to narrow of buyers who could sign P&S agreements. Hovering at ~50% sold, they haven’t sold enough units to date to even form an association, so certain units that appear to have been formerly sold (flooring changes and paint appear to be custom selections) are being offered at 10% to 30% off. I think they’ll be dropping even more, now that Seattle’s “weatherproof” employers are showing signs of leaking at the seams.

    I overheard a real estate sales person at a SLU project say something plausible, and perhaps prescient, which I thought was a notable change in timeline: This will be “the neighborhood” to be [living] in, in ten years.

    Lastly, I also heard that one of the Ballard condo projects is now 60% rented. The biggest landlord is the developer. What does a move like this do to months of supply figures?

  3. 3
    The Tim says:

    Condo projects are notoriously kept off the MLS as much as possible by the developers, which is why when I discuss MOS, I usually limit the discussion to SFH. 701 (Downtown Seattle) gets an exception because the narrow geographic definition usually includes only 1 SFH for sale in a given month.

    But yeah, numbers like this definitely aren’t telling the full story when it comes to the various types of “shadow inventory” that exists out there.

  4. 4
    Buceri says:

    Biggest drops in Rent:

    Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.

    Rank: 5
    Rent drop: -3.5%
    Q4 2008 rent change: -3.8%
    Q4 2007 rent change: -0.3%
    Effective rent: $1,161.60

    Seattle, home of Boeing and Microsoft, has seen its apartment rents fall as the economy falters. The unemployment rate climbed to 5.6% in November 2008 compared to 3.7% in November 2007. The apartment vacancy rate jumped to 6% in the fourth quarter last year from 5.1% in the same period in 2007. Landlords on average are giving rent concessions of 1.8 weeks.

    Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore./Wash.

    Rank: 6
    Rent drop: -3.2%
    Q4 2008 rent change: -2.8%
    Q4 2007 rent change: 0.4%
    Effective rent: $850.40

    The Portland area, known for its environmental consciousness, microbrew beer, and cultural offerings, has seen manufacturing layoffs spike in the last several months. The unemployment rate climbed to 7.2% in November 2008 compared to 4.7% in November 2007. The apartment vacancy rate jumped to 5.8% in the fourth quarter last year from 4.6% in the same period in 2007. Landlords on average are giving rent concessions of two weeks.

    San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

    Getty Images

    Rank: 7
    Rent drop: -3.0%
    Q4 2008 rent change: -3.0%
    Q4 2007 rent change: 0.0%
    Effective rent: $1,788

    Silicon Valley, the nation’s technology capital, is suffering from layoffs and dimming economic prospects as the recession deepens. The unemployment rate in the San Jose metro area climbed to 7.2% in November 2008 compared to 4.9% in November 2007. The apartment vacancy rate jumped to 4.2% in the fourth quarter last year from 3.5% in the same period in 2007. Landlords on average are giving rent concessions of one week.

    Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.

    Rank: 8
    Rent drop: -2.9%
    Q4 2008 rent change: -3.8%
    Q4 2007 rent change: -0.9%
    Effective rent: $736.40

    The recession struck the Charlotte area later than it did much of the country, but the banking center is now getting hit. Layoffs are accelerating in and around Charlotte, home of Wachovia and Bank of America. The unemployment rate jumped to 8.1% in November 2008 compared to 4.8% in November 2007. The apartment vacancy rate jumped to 8.5% in the fourth quarter last year from 6.3% in the same period in 2007. Landlords on average are giving 3.1 weeks of rent concessions.

    Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, Calif.

    Rank: 9
    Rent drop: -2.9%
    Q4 2008 rent change: -2.1%
    Q4 2007 rent change: 0.8%
    Effective rent: $1,515.40

    In the Oakland area, located across the bay from San Francisco, economic troubles have only gotten worse with the financial crisis. But it has also seen a rising tide of foreclosures. The unemployment rate in the area climbed to 7.2% in November 2008 compared to 4.9% in November 2007. The apartment vacancy rate jumped to 4.6% in the fourth quarter last year from 3.9% in the same period in 2007. Landlords on average are giving 1.4 weeks of rent concessions.

    Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.

    Getty Images

    Rank: 10
    Rent drop: -2.8%
    Q4 2008 rent change: -2.4%
    Q4 2007 rent change: 0.5%
    Effective rent: $1,634.20

    The Boston area, home of Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University as well as some of the nation’s finest hospitals, is seeing damage to its financial sector. Thousands of financial-services layoffs have been announced, including major cuts at Boston-based State Street and Fidelity investments. The unemployment rate climbed to 5.0% in November 2008 compared to 3.6% in November 2007. The apartment vacancy rate jumped to 6.0% in the fourth quarter last year from 4.7% in the same period in 2007. Landlords on average are giving 1.3 weeks of rent concessions.

  5. 5
    Hector says:

    I think the ‘buy for the future’ line is the new mantra of builders and agents regardless of the neighborhood.

  6. 6
    anony says:

    I was on the path by Alki yesterday and there were several for sale signs per block in the condo section and almost as many in the SFH section. There were a surprising number of for rent signs too. The only price I saw was 899K for a run down looking old house that may have been around 1000 sqft, facing the sound.

    Perhaps 1/3 of the for sale signs were Redfin.

  7. 7
    98115_Renter says:

    Buceri, can you provide a source please?

  8. 8
    patient says:

    As predicted by many the Eastside is going to be one of the hardest hit areas since it is the most inflated,over valued and built. Those $500k and upwards prices are history but denial still rules. That will change during 2009, the year of the rude awakening to economic realities.

  9. 9
    Hugh Dominic says:

    Yes – source please.

    My landlord has floated raising the rent. The impression I get from Craigslist is that rents in Seattle are at least stable and maybe trending down a bit.

    I would like to get some data on rents in the Seattle area for our “discussion”.

  10. 10
    patient says:

    If anyone has the Monday blues I can recommend a visit to the Seattlebubble? site. Just read a few of the posts there (the last is from July 2008…) and it is sure to bring a smile to your face.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Buceri says:

    My apologies for leaving the source out.

    Thank you LeftOverpricedSeattle.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    anony says:

    If you are looking for a place to rent, try here!

  15. 15
    Hector says:

    Wow. So did it go into foreclosure and become a crack house?

  16. 16
    patient says:

    $200k for that POS patched up with playwood on a lot that looks like a garbage dump is still way to much. The national median price is now $175,400. To price 15% above that for a dump show just how insane our local market is. And $699k? Can you get a better example of our bubble and how crazy it made people?

  17. 17
    Barb says:

    I won’t pay $50,000 for that. It would probably cost you $300,000 just to fix it!!!

  18. 18
    Gene says:

    This is true of the zero lot line townhouse developments as well. I went by a couple of open houses for new construction in West Seattle yesterday. Only a couple sample units were in MLS, and they were only showing at most half of the units that were complete or nearly complete.

    Once the larger developments in Alaska Junction like Mural open, I can’t imagine what is going to happen to either selling prices or rental prices (depending on which way they and the other building go).

  19. 19
    The Tim says:

    Once the larger developments in Alaska Junction like Mural open, I can’t imagine what is going to happen to either selling prices or rental prices…

    Really? I can imagine it… :^)

  20. 20
    Ray Pepper says:

    Nice home. Just a lil Caulk, paint, and a few light bulbs and you have a real GEM there!

  21. 21
    Hector says:

    haha Ray, that’s the spirit!

    I can only imagine why the interior pictures were omitted.

  22. 22
    Jimmythev says:

    Ha… I used to live in that building… and left last year because they were raising the rent on me… funny how things change. Nice building, but thin walls, you can hear everything above you.

  23. 23
    mukoh says:

    Cheaper to demo that split put in a two unit home on it, conforming in LKP by the way and rent the pig. But offer $100k for it. :)

  24. 24
    jon says:

    Hey, our younger extra foreign overpopulation has to have someplace to live!

  25. 25
    Everett_Tom says:

    In related news:

    John L. Scott closes 2 offices & consolidates 3 others in snohomish..

    Apparently he doesn’t believe his own press about how things are about to turn around.


  26. 26
    yeslerhill says:

    “Hey, our younger extra foreign overpopulation has to have someplace to live!”

    Dude, Know-Nothing nativists like you really are foolish. Anytime something is reported that has a negative glimmer to it, you and your racist ilk, have to fear monger and race bait. *derisive snort*.

  27. 27
    Ray Pepper says:

    Everett Tom………This news about John L Scott closing offices is shocking to me.

    I’m almost as shocked as Mike Myers at the end of this clip.

  28. 28
    Ray Pepper says:

    HMMM. I’m shocked about John L Scott closing offices. Almost as much as Mike Myers at the end of this clip.

  29. 29
    Pegasus says:

    US Senators Murray and Cantwell vote yea to confirm tax cheat Timothy Geithner to run the US Treasury and IRS. Geithner failed to pay taxes for four years on self-employment taxes. When caught he only paid back two years until he was nominated by Obama. He also fraudulently signed statements for four years at the IMF that the additional funds he received to pay those taxes would be used to pay those taxes. He lied each and every year. Mr Geithner is also known to have hired an illegal alien. He also has had a large role in the failure of our banking system in recent years. It is only appropriate that these two clowns who masquerade as our Senators would vote to approve this crook. Please remember this when you vote again.

  30. 30
    Mike2 says:

    Ah, that takes me back to the LFP of the 1980’s. Some things never change.

  31. 31
    TheHulk says:

    And what does any of the above have to do with the December MOS or even the Puget Sound housing market in general? If you want to sharpen your political knives take it elsewhere.

    Now if Geithner proposed a 20,000$ tax refund for first time home owners, (stupid idea) that would count for something.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Pegasus says:

    Actually it has a lot to do with the predicament that this entire nation is in due to the previous fraudulent practices that impact our financial and real estate markets. It impacts our local numbers. You would have to be an idiot to not understand that? None of this will end until it is cleaned up. With these two clown US Senators it will never end. They are either the dumbest Senators in history or they are complicit in the frauds. Take your pick.

  34. 34
    mukoh says:

    Pegasus, I don’t pay taxes that i don’t know about or my two accountants tell me for years either, is that a crime? IRS notifies of any discreptancies, and they are taken care of later.
    He paid his taxes when notified. Relax, sit down and find something else to whine about.

  35. 35
    Pegasus says:

    muk…to intentionally avoid paying your taxes when due is a crime. Signing a statement each year for four years stating you will pay those taxes with the additional funds that you are being given as additional funds to pay those very taxes and not doing so is fraud. Hiring an illegal alien is unlawful. Allowing massive fraudulent sales of US Treasuries when they don’t exist and you could stop it is fraud. What don’t you get?

  36. 36
    Gene says:

    To be fair, one of the realtors even mentioned the development in the Junction without me bringing it up. It was a nice breath of fresh air after the first place I stopped where it was a typical “now is the time to buy!” crap.

  37. 37
    mukoh says:

    Unless you are convicted in court of law, it is not a crime, I have not seen his docket though have you?
    Intention is proven in court not in media speculation, or blogosphere blabber.
    His taxes from what I read were paid when he was brought up with the issues, there has been no criminal misdoing that was filed was there?

    I am not trying to prove his worthiness or lack there of.

  38. 38
    Angie says:

    Ha indeed! The specs for those apartments (sf, bedrooms, baths) are pretty much spot-on identical for my family’s living space, and the lowest rent cited is the same as my monthly mortgage payment.

    Sadly, we do not have a view of the Space Needle or the lake….however, nor do we have people walking on our ceiling. We do have an enormous fenced-in back yard with a great garden, though, and a housemate in the daylight basement whose rent payment takes a big bite out of that monthly expense.

    Not exactly comps, but I still think we’re coming out ahead on the rent-vs-buy comparison.

  39. 39
    what goes up must come down says:

    Angie get over it will you. Things are going in the other direction whether you like it or not.

  40. 40
    what goes up must come down says:

    Not a political blog remember.

  41. 41
    what goes up must come down says:

    mukoh you said it perfectly.

  42. 42
    Buceri says:

    For transparency sake, I think Alberto Gonzalez should review the case.

  43. 43
    Ben says:

    It is interesting that some people are using the new threaded system and others are not.

    Tim – have you ever looked into RSS for comments? I like to keep track of updates to the comments on each post, and RSS helps with that. Although the new threading might make that harder.

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