October Stats Preview: The Long Slow Slide into Winter

Happy November, everybody! With October behind us, it’s time for another monthly stats preview. Most of the charts below are based on broad county-wide data that is available through a simple search of King County and Snohomish County public records. If you have additional stats you’d like to see in the preview, drop a line in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

First up, total home sales as measured by the number of “Warranty Deeds” filed with King County:

King County Warranty Deeds

Recent month-over-month variations in King County Warranty Deeds have not been very closely related to the dip we’ve been seeing in closed residential sales, but the year-over-year trends have been roughly the same. The number of Warranty Deeds filed in October were down 25% from a year ago, so we can likely expect to see another 20% drop or so in SFH sales over the same period.. Based on this data, I suspect we’ll see NWMLS-reported SFH closed sales for October come in at around 1,200.

Here’s a long-range view of King County Warranty Deeds, to give you a little more context:

King County Warranty Deeds

Here’s a look at Snohomish County Deeds, but keep in mind that Snohomish County files Warranty Deeds (regular sales) and Trustee Deeds (bank foreclosure repossessions) together under the category of “Deeds (except QCDS),” so this chart is not as good a measure of plain vanillla sales as the Warranty Deed only data we have in King County.

Snohomish County Deeds

Warranty Deeds in Snohomish County fell month to month and year over year. Considering the likely still increasing number of Trustee Deeds (bank repossessions) included in this measure, this is not a good sign for SFH sales.

Next, here’s Notices of Trustee Sale, which are an indication of the number of homes currently in the foreclosure process:

King County Notices of Trustee Sale

Snohomish County Notices of Trustee Sale

Month-over-month and year-over-year increases in both King and Snohomish Counties. Both counties saw the largest year-over-year jump since June 2009, but those of you that have been paying attention already know exactly why.

Here’s another measure of foreclosures for King County, looking at Trustee Deeds, which is the type of document filed with the county when the bank actually repossesses a house through the trustee auction process. Note that there are other ways for the bank to repossess a house that result in different documents being filed, such as when a borrower “turns in the keys” and files a “Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure.”

King County Trustee Deeds

Backed off slightly from the high, but still extremely elevated.

Lastly, here’s an approximate guess at where the month-end inventory was, based on our sidebar inventory tracker (powered by Estately):

King County SFH Active Listings

Snohomish County SFH Active Listings

Exactly what you would expect for this time of year: inventory is declining into the slow winter months. Both King and Snohomish remain above where we were last year at this time.

Stay tuned later this month a for more detailed look at each of these metrics as the “official” data is released from various sources.

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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

    Good report. I would only add that the declines in trustee deeds in early 2010 compared to late 2009 was a result of the same legislation that caused the drop in NOT filings in 2009. But for that legislation, those numbers would have been higher.

  2. 2

    I Thought 2010 Was an Improvement to 2009?

    Active Listings going up for 2010 indicates the exact opposite.

  3. 3
    hrpuffinstuff says:

    Thanks for the data, it will be interesting to see the resulting pricing from these trends. Sales down, foreclosures and inventory up. Probably not so mch movement on price until spring I would guess. I think the expectation has been if from sellers if you can just hold out until the market “returns” you’ll be fine. I think spring 2011 will be the capitulation when it sinks in we’re not going back anytime soon.

  4. 4

    I think when the NWMLS reports the sales number will be higher than what you’re projecting, primarily because of more late reported sales. I checked just a handful of them and the many ones I saw were from the end of September. Remember that they reported September very early in October, although I would note some of the ones I sampled were not reported until well into October (e.g. October 9). I’m not sure what the point of that early reporting was, but they may not do it this month.

  5. 5

    […] EasingBy The Tim on November 11, 2010 | Leave a responseIt’s time once again to expand on our preview of foreclosure activity with a more detailed look at October’s stats in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. First […]

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