Redfin: Sales, Prices, & Inventory All Slipping into Spring

Full disclosure: The Tim is employed by Redfin.

Last Friday Redfin released their March market data. Here’s an excerpt from the narrative (which I also wrote):

Spring has officially sprung. Spring–when flowers bloom, birds chirp, the sun makes an occasional appearance through brief windows in Seattle’s perpetually grey winter sky, and the real estate market begins to pick up steam.

Let’s see how spring 2011 is shaping up:

  • Flowers: check
  • Birds: check
  • Sunbreaks: check
  • Real Estate: um…

As it turns out, the usual spring uptick in new listings and sales still isn’t materializing so far in 2011. What’s the deal? Where are the sellers? Where are the buyers?

Our customers are feeling the pain of languishing inventory. “Inventory is a little bit stale,” laments West Seattle Redfin Agent Klaus Gosma. “People are definitely thirsty for some ‘new blood.'”

Redfin Ballard Agent Bryan Haynes agrees. “In Ballard we’re seeing two kinds of listings—stale, overpriced homes that end up sitting on the market and well-kept, well-priced homes that quickly attract buyers’ attention.” Sadly, there just aren’t as many of the second kind as buyers would like.

You can download the full spreadsheet from Redfin here, and as usual, I’m going to map the data here.

In the map below each zip code with enough sales in March is shown as a dot, with the size of the dot determined by the number of sales in that zip code in the month. Each dot is color-coded based on whichever measure you select below the map. You can view the month-over-month or year-over-year changes in inventory, sales, median prices, or median prices per square foot. There is also a county selector that allows you to narrow, expand, or modify the view to your liking.

Sales volume is still slipping in most places, but continues to rise in a few. The biggest winner in King County was N. Beacon Hill / Mt. Baker (98144), where sales shot up from just 9 in February to 28 in March. King County’s biggest decline was in Central East Bellevue (98007), where sales fell 20% from 10 in February to 8 in March.

Here are the zip codes with the most SFH sales in October in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap County:

  • King: 98042 — 56 sales.
  • Snohomish: 98012 — 74 sales.
  • Pierce: 98391 — 71 sales.
  • Thurston: 98513 — 35 sales.
  • Kitsap: 98366 — 34 sales.

Inventory began to show a little life in March, declining month-to-month in 41 King County neighborhoods, flat in 4, and rising in 27. Year-to-year, the picture was less rosy: 12 neighborhoods saw inventory increase, 1 was flat, and the remaining 59 are all lower than a year ago.

The median price fell from a year ago in 46 King County zip codes, and rose in 19. The median price per square foot was down in 55 zip codes and up in just 9.

Anything stand out to you about your neighborhood in this month’s data?

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.


  1. 1

    Sales Are Highest in My Zipcode, 98042

    Assuming they’re up [perhaps not? I gave up trying to finding my zipcode on the “packed circle” map, LOL], it would be in line with the 3.7% increase in existing home sales month to month from Feb-Mar 2011, albeit down 6.3% YOY. The average national price is down 5.9% YOY too.

    I’ve got laugh though, a lot of you Bubbleheads thought I was a bit eccentric for proposing federal budget “bull-dozing” of the foreclosed home over-stock and making more green belts….well, guess what? CNBC proposed doing the same thing this morning on the news show this morning to “get supply down and prices up”….LOL

  2. 2
    David Losh says:

    Every house is for sale at the right price. The problem with a redfin system is buyers who are “waiting” for just the right house to come along.

    There is no fence, there is no top, or bottom, there are only buyers, and sellers. All prices are negotiable. So if you don’t want to make random offers try looking at expireds, fail to sell, and canceleds from a year ago. Make offers on rental property.

  3. 3
    dvdivx says:

    As someone in the market for a house (and can pay with cash) I’m not touching it until I see some of the shadow inventory being dumped. Right now it’s the same houses listed. Seems like next to nothing is getting listed in the bracket I’m looking at except houses that have serious issues or are really far away. Meanwhile I’m seeing more houses as I drive around that are abandon and just rotting rather than going onto the market to be sold for anything.

  4. 4
    Snigliastic says:

    RE: dvdivx @ 3
    What are you looking at? I’m looking 4-600 in South Snohomish, and there’s jack squat out there.

  5. 5
    patient says:

    I ran passed one new listing today that for sure will join join the overpriced stale category. A 1500 sqft “cottage community” home with an appartment style community garage slot. No view, cookie cutter lot in a mainly run down hood in a good area code. Price: $599k…no joking. I think it would be overpriced at $250k. Why do agents waste their time with this kind of listings?

  6. 6
    Jonness says:

    Mostly what I’m seeing on the ground is overpriced stale junk, fearful buyers, and delusional sellers. It’s a Mexican standoff of monumental proportions, and I fully expect buyers will eventually win.

    Things have picked up a bit MOM, but given it’s Spring, it’s nothing to write home about. If you buy in this market, expect to lose money after the initial Spring bounce. I expect many people will eventually end up with buyer’s remorse. But this most likely won’t occur until after Bernanke stops the printing presses this July. :)

  7. 7
    corncob says:

    I agree, we are active in the Sammamish/Redmond/Issaquah area and nothing is coming on the market it seems. Each week there is maybe one or two new houses to look at in our price range, this week there is a total of zero. You’d think by nearly the end of April inventory would have picked up, I saw a bump of new stuff around the beginning of March but since then its been a trickle.

  8. 8
    HappyRenter says:

    RE: corncob @ 7
    It’s probably because this April is exceptionally cold and Seattlelites are uncomfortable leaving their warm nests. Let’s wait until temperatures start picking up ;)

  9. 9
    GrizzlyBear says:

    Way too soon to buy in the greater Seattle area- or most markets for that matter. There is a veritable sea of empty houses which sit idle, and until those start to come to market, it’s a fools game. Paying $400k+ for a rotting POS is beyond ludicrous.

  10. 10
    Yukon Dave says:

    GrizzlyBear I agree. At $400k+ it is silly. Lots of great homes under $300k outside of Seattle and if I hear someone tell me about traffic again, I will just laugh in their collective faces. I drove from a home on the Sound in Federal Way and Redondo for $300k on a golf course and it took me 22 minutes in rush hour traffic to arrive in downtown. No idea why you would buy right now in downtown or west Seattle a home with no garage, tiny lot, lots of work and needs to be gutted.

  11. 11
    Matthew says:

    This article illustrates what most likely will be the scenario playing out for years to come. With more and more home “owners” underwater, people are going to be reluctant to put their houses on the market.

    Inventory will be stale, with most of the “gems” to be had at foreclosure auctions. I don’t see the situation improving for a long time.

  12. 12

    The joys of spring and first time buyer enthusiasm of my newbie buyers is fast turning into frustration as the same stale homes greet me on the MLS each morning. If you go preview a half decent listing on day 2, there are already 50 agent biz cards sitting there (I know, what took me so long to get there!). I have plenty of buyers eager to buy, so one major reason for the big y-o-y drop in sales in say, Ballard, is that there are no decent new listings. If there were, dare I say, we would be seeing increased sales over last year.

  13. 13
    David Losh says:

    RE: Conor MacEvilly @ 12

    Well, Scotsman asked me on one of these threads how my business was. We do, and have prepared properties for sale since 1988. Usually by now we would be fully booked for this selling season and we have only had about six calls.

    What I know is that we prepared 124 houses for sale last year, and about half sold, another 25% are rentals, waiting for the market to turn around, and about 25% just stayed put.

    We looked at a place yesterday that is a preforeclosure, it has equity, it needs a good quality paint job, and cleaning. It’s over priced by $40K. The agent is asking what we can do to turn it around, and I said lower the price. However that shouldn’t prevent some one from making an offer.

    There is a market segment that is moving along well in the above $600K range. That market uses more traditional agents. There are good solid values in that market.

    What I don’t see is why first time home buyers are expecting the same luxury of having a property fall into thier price range, condition, and location. When you deal with lower priced properties you do need some one to go out and hunt for you.

    The new home buyer is pre approved for a loan, is ready, willing, and able. The agent is looking for business, so why wouldn’t the agent be looking at off market listings? Why wouldn’t the agent be knocking on doors? I understand a buyer sitting on the computer, but they are only seeing what is on the market today.

    Agents who are waiting, or going after the listing is on the NWMLS, are out of the loop.

  14. 14

    RE: David Losh @ 13
    Agreed, over the $600K mark things are better and a greater number of new listings to choose from.

    If by knocking on doors, you mean pre-foreclosures, then no thanks. 90% of my buyer clients have no interest in going the short sale route but are open to REO properties. They have heard about their own friends short sale experiences and are not keen on going that route. Pre-foreclosures is a whole other kettle of fish.

    Each to their own and if you are comfortable / successful doing pre-foreclosures, then good luck with that but not something I’m interested in pursuing.


  15. 15
    Dave says:

    Tim,That’s a really nice interactive map. I’m wondering if Redfin will provide something like that on their website? It would be a great tool in other cities. We just bought a house in Portland and my experience there mirrors what is going on in Seattle. We went in expecting to see a glut of supply from foreclosures and distressed sellers, and found much more limited choices than expected. We’re very happy with the house we purchased (and the price) for the long-term, but I think if we had decided to wait for an additional spring supply boost we might have been frustrated. I’m wondering if the same trends are taking place in Portland as in Seattle?

  16. 16
    deejayoh says:

    By GrizzlyBear @ 9:

    Way too soon to buy in the greater Seattle area- or most markets for that matter. There is a veritable sea of empty houses which sit idle, and until those start to come to market, it’s a fools game. Paying $400k+ for a rotting POS is beyond ludicrous.

    Your comment made me curious about vacancy rates. Based on Census Burea data, it looks like they peaked in 2009 and are basically at the same levels today but heading down.

  17. 17
    Minja says:

    We are in the market for $800+ and seeing very little that attracts our interest. We made one offer on a house that was very attractively priced, that ended up getting 3 bids and going for above list. But that has been the singular exception, other than a handful of short sales that still seem overpriced, and then the non-short sale/foreclosures that are WAY overpriced.

    Note to real estate agents and sellers: if you are listing the house at HIGHER than 2005-2008 prices, then you’re not going to sell the house. I don’t care if you installed a Viking refrigerator or not. I saw (as in on Redfin, definitely did not visit) one home recently that was going for $100k higher than the Fall 2007 purchase price; the only difference appeared to be that they had installed new high-end kitchen appliances.

  18. 18
    David Losh says:

    RE: Conor MacEvilly @ 14

    Looked at a second one today who are behind only six months. These are properties agents call me about because they do have an equity position it’s just not attracting buyers. We prepare properties for sale.

    A buyer however, with enough cash to settle up with the bank, could take the equity in financing the transaction. The bank may even do the loan. That is complicated for a first time home buyer, but I have shown these to a couple of move up buyers that it makes sense for.

    What I was saying is that the expireds, canceleds, and rentals, are still out there. There are over priced listings that are still out there. The way I have it figured is a first time home buyer must be making a hundred offers before they get one accepted.

    In a buyer’s market the seller is grateful to get an offer, so we are obviously not in a buyer’s market because banks are still commanding extremely high prices for foreclosures, and short sales.

    I can’t imagine why any one would buy today who didn’t absolutely have to have that special school for the kids. Economically you would need to be making offers 20% to 30% below market pricing for a purchase to make any sense.

  19. 19
    GrizzlyBear says:

    RE: deejayoh @ 16

    I’d have to have a hole in my head to believe those government lies.

  20. 20
    HadjBraunz says:

    Tim, I maybe doing something wrong, but I tried to dissect the data for 98115 and I get the median $ / sqft to be in the $700 to $800 range. I doubt this is truly the case since most listings I’ve been looking at are around $500k for 2000 sqft which yields 250 $/sqft. Any chance we can get the data in xls format?

  21. 21
  22. 22
    HadjBraunz says:

    RE: The Tim @ 21
    Thanks! I can see that is is more around 330 – that makes more sense. Not sure what I did wrong before.

Leave a Reply

Use your email address to sign up with Gravatar for a custom avatar.
Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please read the rules before posting a comment.