NWMLS: Home Prices Rewound to August 2005

Is it time for January market statistics from the NWMLS already? Yes it is.

Here’s the NWMLS press release.

“The market seems to be gaining momentum, and buyers seem to be feeling more confident,” reports Northwest MLS director Meribeth Hutchings. Agents are more optimistic and banks are getting more realistic on pricing bank-owned homes and bank-controlled homes (short sales), which is helping move that inventory, she stated. “The sooner we can eliminate that inventory, the sooner we will get back to a healthy market,” says Hutchings, the broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate/Lake Stevens, Inc.

“Home buyers in Pierce and Kitsap are starting to recognize the opportunities that exist for first-time buyers and those looking to buy a home in the more affordable price ranges,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “These areas were the first to feel the housing market adjustment, so it’s natural that they would lead the road to recovery,” he added.

“It’s pretty clear that the real estate train came to a complete stop over the past few months,” acknowledges NWMLS Pat Grimm, owner/broker of Windermere Real Estate/Capitol Hill, Inc. “The good news is that the train was moving pretty fast before and now people have an opportunity to get aboard.” Affordability is the key, according to Grimm. “With interest rates and prices down, dream properties are within reach again and we’re starting to feel the train building up steam.”


Here’s your King County SFH summary:

January 2009
Active Listings: down 2% YOY
Pending Sales: down 5% YOY
Closed Sales: down 35% YOY
Months of Supply: 7.8
Median Closed Price*: $382,500 – down 12.1% YOY

Pending sales bumped up slightly from December to January (as they do every year), while closed sales took an absolute nose-dive, dropping to another all-time low of just 674 sales in January. Ouch. Meanwhile, listings posted their first year-over-year decline since March 2006.

Here is the updated Seattle Bubble Spreadsheet, and here’s a copy in Excel 2003 format. Click below for the graphs and the rest of the post.

Here’s the graph of inventory with each year overlaid on the same chart.

King County SFH Inventory

Looks like we’re starting off 2009 slightly lower than 2008. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.

King County SFH Pending Sales

Pending sales recovered slightly, but still came in at a record low for the month of January. The same chart for closed sales is even more dramatic:

King County SFH Closed Sales


Here’s the supply/demand YOY graph.

King County Supply vs Demand % Change YOY

Sales still negative, with listings turning just barely negative as well.

Here’s the chart of supply and demand raw numbers:

King County Supply vs Demand

Months of Supply dropped from its December high, but remains above the 6.0 level, indicating a so-called “buyer’s market” for the 17th month in a row in King County SFH.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

January marked another new low for YOY median SFH price changes at just over a 12% drop.

And lastly, here is the chart comparing King County SFH prices each month for every year back to 1994.

King County SFH Prices

January 2009 King County median SFH price: $382,500.
August 2005 King County median SFH price: $385,000.

Hmm, why does August 2005 ring a bell to me

Here are the news blurbs from the Times and P-I. Check back tomorrow for the full reporting roundup.

Seattle Times: Home prices decline for 12th straight month
Seattle P-I: King County house price hits lowest in three years

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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
    TheHulk says:

    Median prices -12% YOY

    With stickiness I predict another 12-13% down for this year.
    Without stickiness, i.e. people run for the exits (those who purchased anytime from 2005 to the end of 2007), and the smart ones should, we will be 30% down from peak at the end of 2009.

  2. 2
    Matt says:

    Next month, I’ll expect J. Lennox Scott to say something like: get on the train or get left at the station forever.

  3. 3
    DaveyDave says:

    I remember some snow flurries in January. Could’ve been a factor…

  4. 4
    DaveyDave says:

    Gasoline went up 14% for the month of January, too. Something else to consider in affecting buyers getting out there…

  5. 5
    Mark says:

    It looks like a lot of pending sales from December didn’t close in Jan.

    I think we’re about to get our mojo back.

  6. 6
    Elizabeth says:

    Any chance someone could do a graph extrapolating the current rate of decline so I could see when prices might rewind to early 2003? (Purely speculative, I know, but fun!)

    Some neighbors close to our rental are considering selling to buy another nearby house. They bought for $475k in March 2003. It’s so tempting to send them the link to this site, but now that we’re interested in the house, it would seem manipulative… especially to someone we barely know who is looking to sell their (admittedly lovely) 1900 sq ft house for the high 600s.

  7. 7
    Interloper says:

    Hopefully, there won’t be a federal mortage bailout subsidizing 4% or 4.5% mortages. This would only slow the momentum, delay the pain, and might lead to a double-dip housing bust (once is painful enough).

    The sooner home prices unwind, the better. A fall to year 2000 prices looks more possible than ever.

  8. 8
    TJ_98370 says:

    “Affordability is the key.” said Mr. Grimm, demonstrating his firm grasp of the obvious.

  9. 9
    rent for now says:

    Another 10% down this year and next year at least. Maybe a bottom in 2013.
    Then perhaps 20 years to make it back to the 2007 highs.
    2007-2033 — that ‘s some patience needed to break even.

  10. 10
    Groundhogday says:

    According to BRE, an apt. REIT, downtown Seattle rents have dropped 9% over the 4th quarter. Still wanna rent out that condo until “things turn around”?


  11. 11
    patient says:

    ““The market seems to be gaining momentum, and buyers seem to be feeling more confident, reports Northwest MLS director Meribeth Hutchings.”

    Ummm….674 sales for the month, yeah that sounds like a good assessment Mr. Hutchings.

  12. 12
    Ray Pepper says:

    WOW. I’m finding the opposite of those quoted. Seems most are looking forward to renting and have very little desire to buy ANYTHING right now much less a home. People remain very scared. Gig Harbor is a death march and after the tour I took yesterday I’m becoming more bearish by the day. I continue to wait for the FED’s news next week to see what they have in store. Let me clarify. All of us including Realtors, Builders, and everyone associated with housing are just waiting on 1 thing the FED…and thats usually a very negative outcome.

  13. 13
    Groundhogday says:

    “The market seems to be gaining momentum…”

    I can agree with this assessment, momentum = mass x velocity, and this market is really accelerating downhill.

  14. 14
    Groundhogday says:

    Fear of losing your job will do that…

  15. 15
    Hector says:

    When I read these statements, I have a little Dr. Cox who appears on my shoulder saying “Talk, talk, talk.” followed by a “It smells like that odd combo of flopsweat, hopelessness, and feet.”

  16. 16
    nitsuj says:

    “LOL” – and you can quote me on that

  17. 17
    Mike2 says:

    August 2005? Isn’t that about the time Meshugy bought? I hope he cashed out his equity while he had the chance.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Civil Servant says:

    It’s amusing to see the Times “neighborhood of the week” feature linked right next to the article about the moribund January stats.

    “[Accessibility, affordability and diversity define] the sometimes-overlooked, historically blue-collar South Beacon Hill neighborhood, where buyers can find a home in good condition for $350,000-$450,000, minutes from downtown Seattle… South Beacon Hill has taken longer to catch on, but with housing prices out of reach of middle-income buyers in much of Seattle, more people are taking a look.”

    So much cognitive discontinuity here! “Catch on” is especially weird in the context of the other article.

  20. 20
    Scotsman says:

    Momentum… right over the edge, into the abyss.

  21. 21
    S-Crow says:

    305 single family home sales last month in Snohomish Co. Not pretty at all.

  22. 22
    Thomas B. says:

    Northwest MLS director Meribeth Hutchings
    “buyers seem to be feeling more confident,”

    Hmm… where does this idiot get her information? Seriously, how can you say that with a straight face? There have been thousands of local layoffs, the economy shows no sign of turnaround, and consumer confidence is at all time lows. I guess she gets a lot of practice lying.

  23. 23
    WestSideBilly says:

    It looks like everyone who was “scared away” by the bad December weather took advantage of the rather pleasant January.

    Yep, all 600ish of them.

    NAR’s 2009 theme song

  24. 24
    geon says:

    August ’05! About the time we sold.

  25. 25
    deejayoh says:

    here is the key piece of info, IMHO:

    NWMLS brokers reported year-over-year drops in both the number of new listings added to inventory during January, and in the total inventory at month end. Members added 10,713 new listings, nearly 2,500 fewer than a year ago, for a decline of nearly 19 percent. At month end, there were 38,171 active listings in the MLS system, about 8 percent fewer than the year-ago total of 41,498. Thirteen counties reported shrinkage in inventory.

    So inventory is down, and the number of new listings is down way more than pendings. That says to me that inventory really is going to start trending down (after 2 years of growth!). The market should start clearing as only desperate sellers are left. I expect that we’ll see another 10-15% down this year, but this should be the start of the pig making it’s way through the snake.

  26. 26
    DavidB says:

    It will be interesting to see the level of February inventory this year compared to last year. A lot of homes were taken off the market during December and I suspect some stayed off the market longer because of the snow.

    I’m seeing a lot of homes getting placed back on the market lately that were previously listed. I expect the number of homes on the market will reach record levels this year as home owners panic and decide that it’s not worth waiting any longer to sell since the market won’t recover anytime soon.

    My gf received a letter recently from a realtor saying that now isn’t a good time to sell because of the high inventory of homes for sale. She wasn’t interested in selling so it’s interesting that the real estate industry is reaching out to home owners to tell them NOT to sell!

  27. 27
    Geldpress says:

    Check out this house in Redmond, down 18% in just 1 year!


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