Puget Sound Counties Interactive December Update

Sorry this is so late today. I spent some extra time playing with the latest version of Tableau and familiarizing myself with more of its nifty features. Note that you can now click the “Share” button to embed these charts on another website, and you can download the data behind any of the charts directly as well.

Let’s take a look at December NWMLS statistics from around the sound. As usual, courtesy Tableau Software (available free to use online soon!), the Around the Sound update is rocking sweet 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 eight covered counties as of December 2009.

December 2009 King Snohomish Pierce Kitsap Thurston Island Skagit Whatcom
Median Price 5.8% 9.9% 9.0% 8.1% 8.2% 4.5% 12.2% 4.2%
Listings 20.5% 19.0% 17.7% 24.7% 9.1% 1.5% 3.6% 8.3%
Closed Sales 57.4% 89.0% 53.5% 79.5% 29.4% 104.5% 19.7% 59.1%
SAAS 2.1 2.5 2.8 2.3 3.1 2.6 3.7 2.3

Dang, looks like Skagit County is being left out of this party.


Hit the jump for the rest of this month’s visualizations.

The visualization below looks at closed sales in each county in December 2008 and December 2009:

Closed Sales

Everybody saw a pretty decent spike compared to last year, but Skagit’s was still pretty weak compared to everywhere else.

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

Change from Peak

Nothing much has changed on this graph since the spring. Eventually of course the free money handouts are going to run out, and we’ll see what happens then…

Seasonally Adjusted Active Supply

Everybody shot back up into “buyer’s market” territory in December, but almost everyone came in with a lower SAAS than last year (Thurston being the exception).

So what’s going on up in Skagit County? Did some big employer recently shut down or something? Why are home sales there so much weaker than the rest of the Sound?

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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
    Scotsman says:

    Remember how over the past year many made the claim that when inventory was falling and sales were rising price would have to go up? And indeed, simplified economic theory often suggests that shrinking supply and rising demand has to result in higher prices. Take a look at Tim’s first box chart- inventory (supply) is down, sales are way up, but prices have continued to fall. Huh?

    This same sort of breakdown in the relational factors normally controlling interest rates, along with a healthy dose of .gov intervention, is one of the primary causes of market uncertainty in all areas sensitive to interest costs. Clearly this is not your grandfather’s economy. Stop, observe, reason it through, don’t assume old rules still control. Eventually traditional long term relationships will again rule the day, but for now, while we undergo major corrective change, the old rules seem to be temporarily suspended.

  2. 2
    corncob says:

    I am eagerly waiting to see if inventory spikes much more than normal in the spring. I think it has been abnormally depressed and there are enough “green shoots” to get a lot more fence-sellers to list than last year.

  3. 3
    shawn says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 1 – I noticed that also, about supply being down and the price also going down. To me it suggests that maybe if a seller lowers their overpriced home to what someone considers a reasonable price, then it sells. Now, if many sellers do that, then sales increase. Further, if some delusional sellers (who don’t get it) pull their houses off the market (because they are thinking the bubble is coming back), then the supply will be shriking. Sort of a mix of insanity and sanity.

  4. 4
    AMS says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 1 – The number of buyers is going down faster than the inventory, maybe?

    The inventory is relatively easy to track, but the number of buyers isn’t so easy. Actually, to be technically correct, the willingness or ability of buyers is falling faster than inventory, so prices are going down in a falling inventory environment.

  5. 5
    EconE says:

    You guys know how realtors love to come out and blather about what % of asking price a property sells for?

    Here’s the new way they game the system…lower the price substantially while it’s under contract!

    Like this one…


    or this one


    There have been a few others that I’ve seen recently…just never got around to commenting on it.

    I expect this to become a common tactic.

  6. 6

    RE: EconE @ 5 – Those are both short sales, seeking backup offers. On a normal transaction I really don’t think an agent would typically want to telegraph what the price is, just in case it falls apart.

  7. 7
    AMS says:

    RE: EconE @ 5 – Who knows how much the offers are. The asking price might still be above the offer, or maybe at the offer.

    Did you notice the total price reduction?

    1619 Broadway E Unit A:

    “Jan 07, 2010 Price Changed $395,000 — Inactive NWMLS #1
    Nov 05, 2009 Delisted — — Inactive NWMLS #1
    Oct 28, 2009 Price Changed $539,950 — Inactive NWMLS #1
    Oct 22, 2009 Price Changed $649,950 — Inactive NWMLS #1
    Oct 15, 2009 Listed $739,950 — Inactive NWMLS #1”

    The total asking price reduction is just about 50% in about 3 months.

    There was a $90k (~12%) price reduction at day number 7?
    Then another $110k (~17% of 650k; ~15% of $740k) price reduction 6 days later?
    The final asking price reduction of $145k (~$27% of $540k; ~20% of $740k) was about 2 months later.

    WTF is that about? Why not just hire a live auctioneer?

  8. 8
    truthtold says:

    Skagit observation: Skagit = abundance of low quality good ‘ol boy/gal realtors/brokers. ‘Top area agents’ have always listed properties for multiple years and not been highly effective (or good spellers) in good market or bad. Anacortes remains convinced this is where California will retire,…a generalization but nonetheless as a group, the Skagit agent is by nature slow to react and typically lack sharps if not network + relatives or multiple-year listings. Additionally, no redfin representation is detrimental to both Skagit and Whatcom markets where they’ve no Seattlebubble keeping the average guy sorta uninformed albeit patriotic a la Glen Beck. Many folks do live on less and the first-time buyer demography is unlikely to obtain loan approval…who is hiring in number?
    Perhaps beautiful is dumb but north counties seem overly hopeful about Canadian buyer since Seattle + California buyers have folded.

  9. 9
    Tim says:

    Yep, I live up in Whatcom County and would have to agree that there are a lot of uneducated real estate always goes up people up here. It almost seems like the agents up here are running a cartel where much of the property just changes hands amongst agents. We are looking to buy but the numbers don’t add up and I think prices either remain flat for years up here or they drop further. I suppose a real estate always goes up mentality amongst the population helps keep prices appreciating but I think the systemic brake on price appreciation is slapping some sense into people.

    Additionally, it seems like most of the properties for sale were purchased in the past few years and are listed at or above what was paid back in 05-07. Makes no sense and really just makes it seem as though there are a lot of people trying to get rid of their problem.

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