May Sales Shift Toward More Expensive Homes

Here’s another update to our monthly sales spread histogram for King County SFH sales. According to my preliminary analysis of May data, the median price of SFH homes sold in May will probably rise around another $10,000 to about $385,000. However, this isn’t because homes are suddenly gaining value, but rather because people just bought more expensive homes in May, as you can see when you compare May to April in the interactive chart below.

In April, 44.5% of the sales were less than $350,000, 44.0% were $350,000 to under $700,000, and 11.4% were over $700,000. In May, the under $350,000 bracket dropped to 41.3%, the $350,000 to $700,000 bracket rose to 45.2%, and the over $700,000 bracket rose to 13.6%.

Just a little heads up in advance of the NWMLS press release that will come out sometime in the next few days, leading all the local papers to crow about “rising prices.”

Remember, rising median sales price is not the same as rising prices. For a refresher course, hit these three posts:

Bonus: For those of you who are interested in how the closed sales break down between regular sales and short sales, look no further than this handy color-coded version of the above chart:

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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
    Cara says:

    Looking bucket to bucket for price shifts, the 350-400k bucket was unchanged in number, it’s the 250-300k bucket that decreased markedly, and in fact the 200-250k bucket picked up some of that slack, so it’s very possible that if there were any price changes into different buckets it was sellers having to drop their prices on the formerly 250-300k homes.

  2. 2
    drshort says:

    Is this a geographical shift (such as high percentage of Seattle/Eastside homes selling) or are more expensive homes being purchased in all neighborhoods?

    My theory (based on little or no data…) is that distressed sales are not very seasonal. So in the winter months distressed sales are a much higher proportion of the mix and pull down the median.

  3. 3

    By drshort @ 2:

    My theory (based on little or no data…) is that distressed sales are not very seasonal. So in the winter months distressed sales are a much higher proportion of the mix and pull down the median.

    That’s probably true as to short sales. I don’t record my various searches, but I remember only one month where short sales peaked.

    Bank sales probably aren’t seasonal either, but they are probably ramping up some over time.

    BTW, I don’t record this either, but every time I have searched for King County medians excluding short sales and REOs, the result has been over $400,000, except once when I was slightly under.

  4. 4

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 3 – I’m going to have to take that back. Short sales shot up again in May (almost 150). That’s SFR. What’s amazing is very few additional ones were condo.

  5. 5

    I Always Learn Something New From Tim’s Website

    I’m wondering though, a friend told me he read that most of the price collapsing is occurring in the high price and vacation area RE…..perhaps that’s why sales are brisker in higher priced RE, there’s better bargains?

  6. 6
    corncob says:

    Where the hell are all of these sub-350k houses? I haven’t seen any (that are not teardowns).

  7. 7

    RE: corncob @ 6 – You might have to get outside the city limits of Seattle, but not terribly far out.

  8. 8
    Masaba says:

    I don’t get what you are trying to show here, Tim. You say that the median went up because the price of homes bought in May shifted to the right from that in April. That is exactly what should happen for the median to go up.

    The more convincing argument to show that the median went up due to sampling bias instead of a true price shift is the chart where you show the breakdown of sales by location (Eastside, North Seattle, South Seattle, etc.).

    However, the most convincing argument to debunk a $10K rise in the median is to simply show someone a chart of the median price history in Seattle, and let them figure out for themselves they think the gains are due to a true shift in prices or noise.

  9. 9

    RE: Masaba @ 8 – The most convincing argument to debunk a 10k rise is simply to point out that a 10k change is mere noise.

  10. 10

    RE: corncob @ 6
    South King County. Kent has brand new homes for under 300,000 dollars. Auburn, Renton, and Tukwila all have homes under 350,000 dollars that are clearly not teardowns.
    No, you’re not going to find a nice home in good shape for that price in places like Queen Anne or Wallingford or Ravenna.

  11. 11

    […] all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Possibly Related Posts:May Sales Shift Toward More Expensive HomesMedian Prices Still Crashing in Some NeighborhoodsA Closer Look at Sales Price SpreadsDeclines in […]

  12. 12
    LA Relo says:

    This can also be a sign of foreclosures working their way into more expensive homes. It happened in So Cal where the median actually went up, but only because bottom of the barrel sub-prime foreclosures decreased in number while “prime” foreclosures increased.

  13. 13

    […] in this post. This is the same set of data that I used to generate the nifty price histograms in this June post.Using this method, I was able to pull sold home data dating back through April 2009. Here’s a […]

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