Puget Sound Counties Interactive March Update

It’s time for our regularly-scheduled check on NWMLS statistics from around the sound. But wait, there’s more! In place of our usual boring static charts, this month we are proud to introduce interactive data visualizations from Tableau Software.

As usual, all of the underlying data and the old charts can be downloaded in Excel 2007 (or in Excel 2003 format), so if that’s the format you prefer, you can rest easy. For the rest of you, feel free to poke and prod our fancy new charts to your hearts’ content. To get specific info about a certain point on any graph, float your mouse pointer over the data.

Before we get to the cool stuff, here’s the usual table of YOY stats for each of the six counties as of March 2009. As an added bonus this month, the visualizations and the table below both include Whatcom County.
(Note: The “Sales” data below represents pending sales, not closed sales.)

King – Price: -17.3% | Listings: -9.5% | Sales: -1.6% | MOS: 5.7
Snohomish – Price: -10.7% | Listings: -15.7% | Sales: +5.1% | MOS: 6.2
Pierce – Price: -11.5% | Listings: -20.3% | Sales: +6.4% | MOS: 5.7
Kitsap – Price: -11.1% | Listings: -22.5% | Sales: +8.3% | MOS: 6.2
Thurston – Price: -4.2% | Listings: -21.7% | Sales: -9.2% | MOS: 4.9
Island – Price: -4.0% | Listings: -16.1% | Sales: +7.1% | MOS: 9.9
Skagit – Price: -12.4% | Listings: -8.8% | Sales: -14.1% | MOS: 9.5
Whatcom – Price: -5.6% | Listings: -8.7% | Sales: +26.0% | MOS: 6.0


Hit the jump for the rest of the interactive charts.

The visualization below is comparable to our usual chart of closed sales in each county in March 2008 and March 2009:

Closed Sales

Yet again, closed sales declined across the board in March, with Island again posting the smallest drop at 12%, and Snohomish and Skagit tying for the largest drop at 41%.

Here’s our comparison of median prices in each county at their respective peaks and in March 2009:

Change from Peak

The largest overall declines to date have been in Island and King Counties, with 28% and 24%, respectively. This means that (on average), even responsible homebuyers who bought near the peak in these counties and put 20% down have now seen all of their equity vanish. Thurston County again marked the smallest overall decline in prices.

Months of Supply

King and Pierce Counties both dipped back into seller’s market territory compared to last year, while Thurston County dropped all the way back into the 4’s. The only county to see an increase in months of supply compared with a year ago was Skagit.

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
    NoMoreWork says:

    Jazzy new charts Tim! Thanks. Take a while to load but perhaps that’s just me…

  2. 2

    So what does that indicate/infer now that we are in a “seller’s” market?

    Does it mean that since the Months of Supply is lower that sellers will be raising prices, or is it simply an indicator that sellers haven’t been able to sell and have pulled their listings, and/or are renting the homes out?

    If I recall correctly, there was a period from about early ’06 to mid ’07 where we were officially in buyers market territory, where sales had slowed and inventory was climbing, yet prices continued to rise.
    So are we heading towards the reverse of that now? Is it possible for sales to increase, inventory to shrink, and prices continue to drop?
    I think so. Not as a long term thing, but if sales do pick up and inventory declines, it probably means that the price drops may end at some point . But we’re not there yet, as sales haven’t picked up, despite what a lot of real estate agents are claiming. There is a lot more activity, there are a lot more people looking, we’re closer to the bottom, but….

  3. 3

    Cool, I love Tableau :-) Nice one, Tim!

    We just signed a year lease on the house we’re renting now. If we get another 15% drop by April 2010, we’ll be very well positioned to put 20% down on a 500K house that today would cost 580K or so. That’s the dream, anyway. Plus it gives us time to line up contractors, realtors, etc….

    We’re thinking of buying in February next year because it’ll be dark (if it looks good in February, it’ll look GREAT later) and because we want to have a couple of months of overlap between closing on the new house and bailing out of the old house. (Remodeling window, basically.) Be interesting to see whether February sucks due to people waiting until spring to list….

  4. 4
    Ross says:

    RE: Ira sacharoff @ 2

    What you say is plausible … but this could also just be seasonality effects skewing the stats. To me, the key is what the numbers say in August/September and where the market goes after the spring. We’re still seeing weaknesses in the job market (i.e. city and UW cuts), so I’m not sure we’re done bottoming.

  5. 5
    jon says:

    Are those months of supply in closed sales or pending sales? Pending sales numbers are hard to interpret these days.

  6. 6
    The Tim says:

    RE: jon @ 5 – Pending, as usual.

  7. 7
    jon says:

    Certainly looks to me like prices will be turning around soon in SoCal. 1.8 MOS in the 250-500K range.


  8. 8
    TheHulk says:

    Hey Tim,

    Cool charts, thanks for putting this together.

    I predict thru this “spring selling” season, we will see the biggest drops for some time to come. The month to month numbers (based on median etc) are a little too noisy, I prefer using Case Schiller, since it provides a more accurate picture. Anyways, the last CS numbers had Seattle down 20% in 18 months from peak. I am predicting that we will be at 35% down 30 months from peak and that will be the end of the biggest drops. They drops will stabilize at around 40% from peak in pure dollar terms.

    Typically I think that would mean prices will have rolled back enough to account for 3-4% gain in housing prices from around Y2K/2001. Of course anyone who purchased from that period onwards is officially underwater and yes, people will be stuck in their homes for years to come.

    All those people who purchased houses from 2003 onwards (especially 2004, 05 and 06 since those years saw even bigger jumps) will desperately want to sell and will either foreclose (if they lose a job etc).

    For some years, the buyer-seller dividing line may be just 4 months of supply. That’s because people dont have enough money for 10-15% down and banks certainly wont be making any ninja loans in this generation.

  9. 9
    EconE says:

    RE: jon @ 7

    LOL…yeah…go ahead and ignore all those “stated income” option ARMs.

    Median may rise but that will be because banks will be continuing their rampage through the nicer areas and will be selling the nicer homes…for less.

    Much less.

  10. 10
    deejayoh says:

    By jon @ 7:

    Certainly looks to me like prices will be turning around soon in SoCal. 1.8 MOS in the 250-500K range.


    Good link.

    I suspect they are closer to the bottom as well – but I think one thing missing from that analysis is the fact that the faucet on foreclosures was basically shut down for the last 3 months. So the claim that “there is only 19 days of foreclosure inventory” is probably highly misleading. It probably has more to do with an artificial cap on supply than it does increased demand.

    now that it has been removed – it will be interesting to see how things start to unfold.

  11. 11
    Greg Perry says:

    RE: Ira sacharoff @ 2

    I don’t really consider the market a Sellers market until it hits 3 month or less. Between 3 and 6 months is a more Balanced market.

  12. 12
    Acerun says:

    By jon @ 7:

    Certainly looks to me like prices will be turning around soon in SoCal. 1.8 MOS in the 250-500K range.


    It seems like that number months supply fror the lower end is really low compared to two-years ago.
    I am skeptical that the averages listing is only 2.34 months for home under $1M.

  13. 13
    Ray Pepper says:

    Wow nice sell off on Wall Street. Banks needing more capital in the tune of an additional 400 billion? Theres a shock…………..They will continue to need $$$$$$$$$$ for many years…………SRS baby!

  14. 14

    RE: Ross @ 4

    Oh, I’m not suggesting in the least that we’re done bottoming. Just that it’s getting closer.

  15. 15
    What The Heck says:

    Tim – Thanks for the new format. Very cool !

  16. 16
    Flotown says:

    SRS nearly decapitated me last week. These things are trading vehicles only, and even then they are dangerous

  17. 17

    RE: Flotown @ 16

    Trading in SRS is something akin to handling dynamite. A few words come to mind: Explosive, volatile, dangerous.
    I own some, and as the say in the real estate biz ” Not for the faint of heart.”

  18. 18
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    Um….what’s SRS?

  19. 19
  20. 20

    Yeah, that’s it. it’s a publicly traded “ultra short” so that it’s results are supposed to be the opposite of twice the composite results of the largest publicly held commercial real estate firms. So if the composite of the commercial RE firms goes up 1 dollar, SRS goes down 2, and if the composite goes down 1, SRS goes up 2.
    It’s not a boring stock to own.

  21. 21
    David Losh says:

    RE: Ira sacharoff @ 20

    This is Real Estate. Fortunes are made and lost in a matter of hours. Deals are negotiated into the billions of dollars. A few million in paid commissions is made up in a few months, some times minutes of ownership. It may take years to get something built, but there are dollars to be made and lost along the way.

    This is Real Estate worth watching. You home’s value may depend on where that Wal Mart goes in or if South Center closes.

  22. 22
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: Flotown @ 16

    SRS is definitely not for the faint of heart but if you enjoy trading as much as me it can’t be beat. In fact all the financials from BAC to C have such a wide intraday spread its the perfect time to trade actively.

    Mkts are getting clocked overseas. BAC giving alot back by the time this is done.

    Zions bank (ZION) getting hit hard on huge losses AH in Commercial. SRS will run.

  23. 23
    Scotsman says:

    Nice graphics, Tim, but the time to load is killing me. Can you make them an optional link?

    Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s my summary:


  24. 24
    Scotsman says:

    Tim- I’ve cleared everything, this page still takes over a minute to load, it kills the site. Suggestions?

  25. 25
    The Tim says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 24 – Ok I put all but the first chart on a jump so that they won’t bog down the front page. I will make sure to talk with Tableau about the time it takes to load. Seattle Bubble is part of a limited beta test, so hopefully the load times will improve.

  26. 26
    Scotsman says:

    Thanks, that helps, but it’s still slow to load and respond. I’m running 2000 pro on comcast cable, about a meg of ram. My wife and one daughter run firefox, both have much newer, faster, larger machines, daughter’s is maxed for gaming/graphics, both are also very slow to load the page. All the other sites I visit are loading at expected speeds. Conflict with security, carbonite back-up, etc?

  27. 27
    The Tim says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 26 – I sure hope you mean a gig of ram, not a meg. Anyway, I’ll forward your issues on to Tableau. All the charts on this page are actually loading via iframes directly from their server.

  28. 28
    Ellie Fields says:

    Glad you like the charts, and thanks for the heads up on the slow load times.

    If you had slow times and are willing to send me some info, I’d be much appreciative. Drop a note with how long the vizes took to load, your browser type and internet connection to efields_at_tableausoftware.com.

  29. 29
    What The Heck says:

    RE: The Tim @ 27

    TIm – Using IE 8 with 3 gig Ram. Vista OS. Loads perfectly for me. I would suspect the 1 gig Ram would be constraint enough to slow the loading. Thanks again for these charts.

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.