Trustee Notices on Pause Thanks to New State Law

Time for our August update on Foreclosure activity in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. First up, the Notice of Trustee Sale summary:

August 2009
King: 614 NTS, up 7% YOY
Snohomish: 329 NTS, up 20% YOY
Pierce: 430 NTS, down 7% YOY

As we predicted last month, Senate Bill 5810 seems to be resulting in a bit of a lull in foreclosure activity as the extra 30-day pipeline fills up. Keep in mind that the new law only applies to owner-occupied homes, with mortgages minted between 2003 and 2007. Still, I am surprised that there were as many foreclosures last month as there were.

Here’s a simple look at how August’s foreclosures compare to the same month last year in each of the three counties:

Notices of Trustee Sale

Next let’s look at the percentage of households that received a Notice of Trustee Sale (based on household data for each county from the American Community Survey, assuming linear household growth between surveys):

Households per Foreclosure

King County came in at 1 NTS per 1,282 households, Snohomish County had 1 NTS per 800 households, and Pierce had 1 NTS for every 692 households (higher is better).

According to foreclosure tracking company RealtyTrac, Washington’s statewide foreclosure rate of one foreclosure for every 1,033 households was 30th worst among the 50 states and the District of Columbia (down from 13th last month thanks to SB 5810). Note that RealtyTrac’s definition of “in foreclosure” is much broader than what we are using.

Following are the usual charts of King, Pierce, and Snohomish County foreclosures from January 2000 through August 2009. Click below to continue…

Notices of Trustee Sale - King

Down dramatically from the peak, but still at elevated levels. Will be interesting to see how it shapes up the rest of the year.

Notices of Trustee Sale - Snohomish

Pretty much the same trend in Snohomish County.

Notices of Trustee Sale - Pierce

Pierce actually dropped slightly below last year’s level.

Note: The graphs above are derived from monthly Notice of Trustee Sale counts gathered at King, Snohomish, and Pierce County records. For a longer-term picture of King County foreclosures back to 1979, refer to the final chart in this post. For the full legal definition of what a Notice of Trustee Sale is and how it fits into the foreclosure process, check out RCW 61.24.040. The short version is that it is the notice sent to delinquent borrowers that their home will be repossessed in 90 days.

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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:

    Do you have any access to California graphs? I think they started this about a month and a half before us. I was just interested in how their YOY numbers compared after their law went into effect.

  2. 2
    DrShort says:

    King County is back to a 1,200 NTS per month clip. There were very few NTS filed from the end of July when the law was passed to about the middle of August, but it seems back to the old level again. I checked yesterday and about 300 had already been filed in September despite the holiday and furlough last Friday.

  3. 3
    Acerun says:

    Thank goodness the government has fixed the foreclosure problem.

  4. 4
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    RE: DrShort @ 2 – I think it should have only caused a 30 day delay, absent a problem with the trustee’s setting up new procedures, and from memory I think the law went into effect July 26.

  5. 5
    ray pepper says:

    There is no “fixing” this problem other then time. People are NOT stupid. People getting free loan Mods to 5% on rentals for not paying while other homeowners with perfect credit can’t refi because of diminished values..

    Its not a question of if…….Just when…………The short sales,foreclosures, and personal bankruptcy’s will continue year after year. People do not have the cash to close and they will not have the cash for a very long time. The banks will be taking it on the chin for at least a decade……..They are all coming back………………………..

    GEMS galore!

  6. 6
    Scotsman says:

    CA., NV., and FL. stats are in the full article.

    IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ — RealtyTrac(R) (, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its August 2009 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report(TM), which shows foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – were reported on 358,471 U.S. properties during the month, a decrease of less than 1 percent from the previous month but still an increase of nearly 18 percent from August 2008. The report also shows one in every 357 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in August.

  7. 7

    Plus, Using the New RE Activity Slowdown Paradigm Today

    Yesterday’s foreclosure rate low, is today’s foreclosure rate high; adjusting for the activity slowdown.

  8. 8
    Acerun says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 6

    That cant happen here. The economy is too diverse and this area is “special”.

  9. 9
    ray pepper says:

    Two reasons why we truly our Special Acerun and will hold up better then the rest of the Nation!

    Can’t put a price on living close to one of these establishments!

  10. 10
    CCG says:

    By Acerun @ 3:

    Thank goodness the government has fixed the foreclosure problem.

    Heh, I remember when I was young, liberal, and thought the government could actually fix things. I guess it is helpful of them to keep propping up the bubble while I stash more savings to put to use when the wheels finally come off.

  11. 11
    Acerun says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 9

    That local coffee joint called Starbucks is pretty good too!

  12. 12
    Scott Weitz says:

    More govt stupidity…as if the banks weren’t overwhelmed enough,

    The number of people that will be living in their homes rent and mortgage free is growing by the day….what a great system.

  13. 13
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    RE: Scott Weitz @ 12 – I would tend to agree. A system that would compel banks to give serious consideration to short sale offers would be much better than a system that simply helps an owner find out that they can try to do a short sale that the bank will never approve.

  14. 14
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Acerun @ 11

    Ace…..Starbucks is everywhere therefore no longer making Seattle Special………..But, Dicks and Pagliacci are not.

    Us 400pd+ guys are wlling to pay TOP dollar to live near these establishments! Don’t you agree?

  15. 15
    BK Lawyer says:

    My observations as a BK lawyer are:

    1. A lot of attorneys, including creditor attorneys, go on vacation during this time period and that may have contributed to the decrease in NTS;

    2. I am seeing a dramatic increase of people who are walking away from their homes and people who have exhausted unemployment benefits;

    3. I modified a client’s loan today at 5% over 30 years. I didn’t even have to ask or try. The lender offered it. They haven’t paid their mortgage in about 14 months. What a great country!

    Paradoxically I have been working on my own home loan for a new purchase for about 60 days. I am a self employed BK attorney and being put through the ringer.

    Go figure.

  16. 16
    Indy says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 13 – Well, it doesn’t compel anything, but uses the magic of free-money incentives. I would prefer a bank regulation with firmer requirements, but this may be the best we get.

    Federal Incentives Coming for Short Sales, Deeds-in-Lieu

  17. 17
    Indy says:

    RE: BK Lawyer @ 15 – Hi BK Lawyer. Know anyone looking to hire a new junior associate? Any advice for someone who wants to get into bankruptcy law?

  18. 18
    Jeremy says:

    Local Antedote – I am in the north bend area and my Neighbors got a Notice of Default in February – they got behind by 20K then worked out a deal with the bank. Seemed like they got a loan modification over the summer, then the end of last month the house went back into foreclosure. They have told us they will be moving out this weekend… now i will have an empty house next door and expect it to be that way untill spring at least…

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