September Housing Stats Around the Sound

By request, here’s a return of the county-wide stats from around the sound, as of September As usual, courtesy Tableau Software (available free to use online), 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 September 2010.


NWMLS monthly reports include an undisclosed and varying number of
sales from previous months in their pending and closed sales statistics.

September 2010 King Snohomish Pierce Kitsap Thurston Island Skagit Whatcom
Median Price 0.6% 7.7% 0.9% 3.1% 3.1% 6.1% 14.8% 5.1%
Listings 9.3% 6.5% 9.0% 0.3% 11.3% 0.0% 2.7% 10.9%
Closed Sales 28.4% 14.4% 24.5% 19.4% 9.6% 11.7% 12.6% 31.9%
SAAS 2.43 2.00 2.05 1.60 1.73 1.80 2.30 1.93

Pretty much the same story all across the region: sales way down, inventory up, prices still creeping down.


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

The visualization below looks at closed sales in each county in September 2009 and September 2010:

Closed Sales

All eight counties have flipped from double-digit positive YOY sales growth earlier this year to double-digit negative as of September. Impressive swing.

Here’s our comparison of median prices in each county at their respective peaks and in September 2010:

Change from Peak

No big changes here yet. Prices tend to take a while to react to swings in supply and demand (even ones as dramatic as we have seen this year).

Seasonally Adjusted Active Supply

Interestingly, King County was the best market for buyers in September. Most counties came in fairly balanced, as pitiful sales volume was somewhat offset by a low number of new listings coming on the market.

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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

    The Differences Between King and Snohomish Counties Illustrate an Owner Age Demography Difference IMO

    It’s not so much that King County is more special or closer to the jobs, that’s a bit of a wash-out. Even living in downtown Seattle means a goodly communte to MSFT.

    If there was census data out there to back up my assumptions, I’m sure it may likely illustrate that i.e., downtown Seattle has a lot of really old homeowners, many of which own their homes with no debt. Ditto for King County, compared to a likely more youthful/transient Snohomish County. Old folks with no debt aren’t going to move, many won’t until they’re dead. Nor will stubborn old Seattlites sell their homes below 2007 price levels. They don’t have to, yet.

  2. 2
    hrpuffnstuff says:

    I agree with the demographics theory. The nice older lakefront communities are filled with seniors. But I have to think the pressure is on that group just as much as anyone. Property taxes are still high, return on fixed investments is going to zero.

  3. 3
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    Snohomish is also more like south King County in that there was a lot more land available to build on up there, resulting in more over-building.

    Demographics probably plays a role too though. For one thing, I think the average house built in 2000-2007 in Snohomish was probably bigger than the average house built in south King County, and that would be because of different buyers.

  4. 4
    ARDELL says:

    My calculations show SFH drop YOY King County as 35% vs the 28% in the graph. More month end postings came in since I did my post a few days ago when the drop was showing at 40%. As of right now I am showing 1545 for September 2009 vs 1017 for September 2010.

    I do not include townhomes, as on the Eastside those come up in condo stats and in Seattle they come up in single family home stats, so I eleminate them entirely for both 2009 and 2010.

    Wondering if they are anticipating a given number for “late” postings.

    Required Disclosure: Stats in this comment are not compiled by, verified by or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

  5. 5
    patient says:

    I said this before, there is some really terrible strategy going on from the re-industry. On one hand they have realized that their members are on starvation diet due to low volumes and that the low volumes largely relates to prices that is not inline with current economic realities, so they work in private on sellers to lower their price expectations. On the other hand they correctly know that a message of falling prices will deter many buyers so the public message is one of recovery, bottoms and historic affordability etc, etc. Here’s the problem. People tend to listen mostly to the message they want hear, i.e the public message of a recovery, bottom etc is the one that the sellers will cling on to, hence the standoff with over priced homes and very slow journey to sustainable prices and larger volumes. If the re-industry wants the transactions to start rolling again I think they need to bite the bullit and stick to the one message that is anchored in reality, prices are to high to be supported in today’s reality and are likely to fall further. This would likely speed-up the road to sustainable prices and growing volumes. Some seller might miss the opportunity to pass the bag to a greater fool but isn’t it more immoral to set someone else up for losses than to reduce the chances for someone to sell an over priced home?

  6. 6
    deejayoh says:

    By patient @ 5:

    I said this before, there is some really terrible strategy going on from the re-industry.

    I don’t know that an industry can have a strategy. In any market there are winners and losers and from what I can tell the current market is working great for companies like redfin. not so much for the traditional model.

  7. 7
    patient says:

    You don’t think there is a strategy behind press releases from the re-industry like for example the nwmls and the NAR and NAHB.? Trust me there is. It’s a bad one but it’s strategy.

  8. 8

    By patient @ 5:

    Here’s the problem. People tend to listen mostly to the message they want hear, . . .

    I like that. It explains a lot of things like the herd mentality, politics, views on global warming (although that is largely politics), etc. It also even explains some of the mortgage issues we’ve been discussing, like how people who got Option Arms didn’t realize that less than interest only meant accruing debt.

  9. 9
    ARDELL says:

    RE: patient @ 5

    I agree that no agent should list a drastically overpriced home, as they contribute to the fact that a buyer may buy it. That home should be a FSBO. There is no reason a seller has to be realistic, but there is also no good excuse for an agent to be involved in trying to sell something at a price they do not believe in, or cannot “justify” via some valuation method. There are some ethical standards for that and the general prohibiting factor for an agent is called “buying the listing” and is frowned upon, though not illegal. It describes the ethical violation of taking the listing at any price, or falsely leading a seller to believe they can get a higher price, to beat the competition for getting the listing by overstating the home’s value for that reason.

    However, I do not agree that overpriced homes have very much at all to do with future market projections. The overpriced homes I see on market are overpriced based on today’s value…not tomorrow’s value. No seller or agent for the seller is obligated to price a home at some future expectation vs current value.

  10. 10

    RE: patient @ 7 – Another real estate related group with a bad strategies would be banks. Not properly processing short sales, because they never had to, hiring the cheapest legal representation on foreclosures, because they always have, etc.

  11. 11
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 10

    I don’t think any lender has an obligation to allow short sales vs simply proceeding to the cheapest foreclosure method. In fact it might be best if short sales were simply outlawed. There is too much room for abuse. Fake offers geared to lengthening the foreclosure process and delaying the need to move out process. Scams that allow the current owner to stay permanently by having someone front a new, lower, mortgage.

    There is no “right” to being given an opportunity to “sell short” in order to avoid foreclosure. Short Sales make a lot less sense in non-judicial foreclosure states with no right of redemption period, than they do in states that have judicial foreclosures and a lengthy redemption period. So this is a State vs National issue.

  12. 12
    patient says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 10 – Yeah, but the banks and foreclosures is such a mess with so many factors that it’s difficult to understand what the banks goals really are and without that it’s hard to judge the strategy. Though, by track-record it would not be a stretch to assume that it’s a poor one.

  13. 13
    deejayoh says:

    By softwarengineer @ 1:

    If there was census data out there to back up my assumptions,

    If only the internet offered such easily accessible data…

    nah. Never happen

  14. 14

    RE: ARDELL @ 11 – It’s not a matter of a right, it’s a matter of what’s best for the bank. Much of the abuse you mention is only because of the way the banks process short sales.

  15. 15
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 10

    In a judicial foreclosure State a short sale shortens the process for a Bank. In a non-judicial foreclosure State a short sale lengthens the process in many if not most cases.

    In a judicial foreclosure state a short sales gives a bank an opportunity to capture the property well before they could legally foreclose AND get the owner’s written approval to waive the redemption period. (actually it negates the redemption period as in a short sale the current owner is the seller.)

    In a non judicial foreclosure state a short sale more often postpones the Trustee Sale.

    Big difference.

  16. 16

    By ARDELL @ 15:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 10 – In a judicial foreclosure State a short sale shortens the process for a Bank. In a non-judicial foreclosure State a short sale lengthens the process in many if not most cases.

    Only because the bank sits on the file doing nothing for months and months.

    There’s no reason a bank shouldn’t be able to gear up enough to give an answer on a short sale in 10 days, especially if they knew the property was listed.

    Also, they don’t have to postpone the short sale with an offer, but they do so because it’s in their interest. Once they are near the foreclosure date, they should be in a very good position to assess an offer, so any delay could be very short.

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