Puget Sound Counties Interactive July Update

It’s time for our regularly-scheduled check on NWMLS statistics from around the sound. Once again, courtesy Tableau Software, the Around the Sound update is rocking exclusive interactive data visualizations.

Feel free to download the old charts in Excel 2007 and Excel 2003 format. To get specific info about a certain point on any graph in the post below, 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 our seven covered counties as of July 2009.

(Note: Keep in mind that certain NWMLS definitions were modified beginning July 2008 that affect the reported number of active listings and pending sales (and therefore the “months of supply”). The net result of this change is that active listings post 07/08 will appear lower, pending sales higher, and months of supply lower than prior to 07/08. See this post for more details.)

July 2009 King Snohomish Pierce Kitsap Thurston Island Skagit Whatcom
Median Price 13.7% 14.3% 11.5% 5.9% 5.8% 2.4% 6.3% 4.4%
Listings 19.4% 25.2% 25.0% 27.6% 17.4% 4.5% 0.7% 11.7%
Closed Sales 10.6% 18.4% 16.7% 23.5% 6.3% 5.2% 0.9% 3.2%
Months of Supply 4.4 4.7 4.7 5.3 4.6 11.2 9.3 5.9

Hit the jump for this month’s interactive charts.


Around the Sound

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

Closed Sales

Closed Sales Graph

Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap all sported rather unbelievable spikes in their respective YOY closed sales stats, which rose 18.7, 20.2, and 16.2 points. Interesting. Sales actually fell YOY in Thurston, Skagit, and Whatcom.

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

Change from Peak

Change from Peak Graph

Still hovering around 20% off for the most part, with the most notable exception still being Thurston.

Months of Supply

Months of Supply Graph

Allegedly the change in “pending” definition by the NWMLS took effect starting with the July 2008 monthly stats release, so this chart finally should be giving us useful data again. Rising MOS in Island and Skagit, but declining MOS everywhere else.

To me, the most interesting part of this month’s numbers around the sound is the big spike in closed sales in Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap. Of course, over in Kitsap where their closed sales were up 23.5% YOY in July, pending sales for June were up 55.6%, so I guess 23.5% is actually only surprising in that it is so low.

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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
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    I would have guessed that Kitsap and Thurston would be about the same amount off peak, because both are largely government driven economies. And if I had to guess, I’d have gone with Kitsap performing better than Thurston, because I don’t think the feds have cut back over there at all.

    I wonder if it’s that Kitsap was driven up more by King County’s rise, because it’s seen as a better commute to King via ferry than Thurston by any means?

  2. 2

    Interesting data Tim, supply down and so are listings….hmmmmmm…..have sellers on the normal listings given up because they can’t get their pink pony prices? Do bank owned sales count as normal listings? Do bank owned units count as supply?

    Assuming the world isn’t flat using RE statistics is tough…..now I know what the ancient European scientists were up against with the flat worlders’ religious fanatics….LOL

  3. 3
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    REOs count as part of the actives. So do some short sales which aren’t really active.

    But you would expect supply to be down with lower prices. Back before the peak I knew at least a couple of people that were trying to sell simply because prices were so high. Two of the ones I can think of priced at too high of a price to sell, but neither one needed to sell. They were sort of saying: “Pay me this and I’ll sell.”

  4. 4

    My interpretation of the data is that probably within the next eighteen months or sooner, prices will stop dropping.
    In ’05-’06, sales were dropping, inventory was increasing, but prices were still rising. I was surprised that prices kept rising for as long as they did. Now I see this as the beginning of the end of the housing downturn…In no way am I suggesting that the next bubble is approaching or that you’d better get on the bandwagon now before it’s too late, more like we’re 50-75% done with the downward cycle.

  5. 5
    Indy says:

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 4:

    My interpretation of the data is that probably within the next eighteen months or sooner, prices will stop dropping….more like we’re 50-75% done with the downward cycle.

    I concur with this estimate on average, with the caveat that it depends on the tier. I expect the high-end correction to lag that of middle and low prices homes. My personal guess is 16 to 18 more months with a fairly bad late 2009/early 2010 off-season, but then stabilization and gradually easing declines.

  6. 6
    Jeremy says:

    As a homeowner, I’d be happy just to have stable prices. Appreciation is nice but at the rate we refinanced into back in March I’m paying much less in interest every month than renting would cost so long as prices don’t drop faster than we’re paying off principal. I fully acknowledge that our 20% down payment has been vaporized and won’t come back anytime soon.

  7. 7
    Scotsman says:

    Its hard for me to look at this data and see any useful information since, as presented, it lacks any tie-in with the national economic scene. It’s like standing in a quiet cove where the water has been receding and saying “I think the tide has finished going out” when in reality the tsunami is 3 miles offshore and headed right for you.

    I probably spend 3-4 hours a day reading and analyzing economic data and have noticed two trends. The first is that the government and media are increasingly bold/blatant in the lies and distortions they promote. The second is that those who work with the raw data and don’t have any particular point of view to push are increasingly pessimistic.

  8. 8
    Scott Weitz says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 7

    Enjoyed this post…couldnt’ agree more with the 2nd paragraph.

  9. 9

    […] Monthly wrap-up for Western Washington […]

  10. 10
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    By Scotsman @ 7:

    Its hard for me to look at this data and see any useful information since, as presented, it lacks any tie-in with the national economic scene..

    That’s similar to the problem I had with the entire prediction model thread series that Tim had a few months ago. Thinking you can look at a bunch of graphs about something specific, that is affected by a lot of other things, to try to predict the future, is pointless, IMHO.

  11. 11

    To play devils advocate… while I agree with Scotsman most of the time, let’s not underestimate the possibility that the lies will work, all the financial mess is swept under the rug, unemployment stabilizes/goes down, and the buying begins again. After all, the government and media have not recently learned to lie. While I’m not old enough to say, I bet lots of people said the same things back in but eventually things got better, despite the lies. Or they were “better”, as in not really all the way better but better enough for most people to ignore the problems and go on with their lives. The fact is, most people are not interested in (or even knowledgeable enough to understand) the mundane financial details enough to investigate on their own and at some point have to take someone else’s word for the state of things.

  12. 12
    David Losh says:

    It all seems very normal; the way things ought to be. Price will continue to decline in a stair step rather than a plunge.

    I don’t see the lies you are referring to. It’s a very positive spin on a bad situation, but the fact is people are making payments and foreclosures are adding rental inventory. Money is churning

    You need to seperate housing out of the economy. During the construction BOOM between 1998 and 2007 you could make the claim that housing was generating durable goods orders, and bumping consumer spending on home improvement products. That’s over, done, finished. We are on to the next thing which is Energy, Education, and Health Care.

    There’s tons of money in all of those things and the shift will be dramatic. Some one some where will invent a battery, or cure, or theory and off we’ll go again.

  13. 13
    Scotsman says:

    RE: WaitingInIssaquah @ 11

    There’s some validity to the idea of “fake it ’till you make it” or talking things up until a positive momentum starts to take hold. But we’re well beyond that at this point. We need to do more than just tip a marginal situation toward the positive. We’ve got to reset all sorts of valuations, expectations, and financial relationships, all the while rebuilding the foundation for this country’s future. And that takes more than pretty talking heads spinning the latest numbers, as we’ll soon find out.

  14. 14
    Colin says:

    Well, in Tim’s defense there is no easy way to link this data to the national and global — you would need much better data about employment, firm and household balance sheets, and expenditure flows than anyone collects. The trick is to avoid the looking-for-the-keys-under-the-streetlamp syndrome of overstating the importance of what you have good data on.

    Nonetheless, re the national economy relatively direct measures of output and employment show that we are not in the free-fall of the first quarter of this year: 2Q output down1% at an annual rate as compared with -6.4% in the first quarter. Unemployment claims show the same pattern.

    Indicators of financial distress like the TED spread (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/quote?ticker=.TEDSP%3AIND) show a marked abatement since last Fall.

    Nobody knows what will happen next. But real data and specific institutional facts will move the discussion along more usefully than overwrought metaphors.

  15. 15
    98115_Renter says:

    RE: Colin @ 14 – Amen

    Bears can easily be as wrong headed as the bulls were. There are currently lots of ideologically oriented reasons why some of the bears that post on this blog hope/wish that things will get worse and the possibility that things are potentially getting better would be inconvenient to their theories or political persuasions.

  16. 16

    […] Analysis of single-family homes sold in King County […]

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