July Stats Preview: Falling Foreclosures Edition

It’s time yet again to check in on our monthly stats preview for King and Snohomish counties. 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

As expected, the number of sales has begun the descent into winter. The year-over-year comparison looks great of course, since last year’s closed sales fell off a cliff once the tax credit expired. What we’re seeing this year is a fairly normal seasonal pattern.

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 vanilla sales as the Warranty Deed only data we have in King County.

Snohomish County Deeds

Same basic story in Snohomish County, down from the June peak, but up from last year’s artificially low July post tax credit level.

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

Down both month-to-month and year-over-year in King and Snohomish counties. I wonder if we’re now seeing the effects of the latest state legislation designed to make it harder for banks to foreclose.

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

I guess we still had at least one more month of year-over-year increases left for trustee deeds.

Lastly, here’s an update of the inventory charts, updated with the inventory data from the NWMLS.

King County SFH Active Listings

Snohomish County SFH Active Listings

We may have one more month of slightly higher inventory, but pretty soon we’ll see that head down into winter territory as well.

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

    I wish it were possible to get foreclosure stats by bank/entity.

    Right now the entity that seems to get the selling of REOs the best is Fannie Mae. What they do is so much different than what banks were doing just 2-3 years ago.

  2. 2
    pipjack says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1

    Could you be more specific when you say they get it best? I am looking at a FannieMae owned REO and was wondering how efficient the process would be.
    Thank you

  3. 3

    RE: pipjack @ 2 – Well first, their places are usually fairly presentable, if not cosmetically fixed up with new flooring, paint and sometimes more (e.g. roofs). 2-3 years ago you’d see holes in the kitchen floor and the prior owners’ possessions lying around.

    Second, they typically offer Homepath financing, which is a good option both for owner occupants and investors.

    Third, they don’t have BS terms, like needing to be pre-qualified by the bank offering the listing for sale.

    Fourth, while their contracts are more one-sided than your standard NWMLS forms, they are not horrible, IMHO. I once almost wrote a blog piece on one bank’s contract, because it was so poorly done (obviously written by non-attorneys over time). I advised the client to not even bother further with the property. It would have cost them too much in attorney fees just to make an offer.

  4. 4

    Its Anyones’ Guess

    But I think the difference between 2010 and 2011 data is homes that would have listed if the price hadn’t collapsed YOY and the 2011 underwater owners don’t have upfront cash to list. The owners bite their lips and keep making the mortgage payments….I imagine some have to turn down career advancements too, because they can’t afford to sell and move.

    IMO, the charts are just that, charts. Your home isn’t worth a penny more than the final escrow papers inked signatures copies. Forget your 2011 property tax valuation, that figure is a complete high-balled joke.

    Eventually, this stubborn mule market will meltdown worse, when sellers can’t wait any longer.

  5. 5

    By softwarengineer @ 4:

    Forget your 2011 property tax valuation, that figure is a complete high-balled joke.

    I know I’ve said this before, but there’s no reason it would be any more accurate than Zillow. In some areas the assessments are low, in some they are high. And in some they were high even prior to the peak.

  6. 6
    pipjack says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 3

    Thanks for the info! What about time in escrow? Would one automatically expect it to take longer than average?

  7. 7

    RE: pipjack @ 6 – Not really. They want to close as fast as possible, so your lender would likely be the hold up. They don’t like to close the last three days of the month though, but I don’t like to close on the last day, so that only knocks two extra days off for me.

    The one thing that does take longer is getting to terms. Sometimes they get back to you with an oral answer in as little as a day or two, but to actually get their documents back and signed typically takes at least 5 working days. If another offer comes in before they accept yours, then add about 3 days to that. That’s where there’s a little bit of delay over a standard listing, but it’s no where near as bad as a short sale.

    They prefer to select the escrow, so there’s a downside there. And they don’t pay the water bill through escrow–the listing agent deals with that.

  8. 8
    JG Bell says:

    Kary, very interesting about your foreclosures.

    Sand state problems were very different, now much more like you.

    Originally, the foreclosures were the Bad ARMs and subprimes, originated by The Usual Suspects (aka, WAMU, etc), and owned by Wall Street investment banksters and serviced by the Big Bad Banks. Everybody was ignorant and foolish.

    You saw very little of that, comparatively, and for the sand states that is all over – 85% of those Bad ARMs and subprime RE loans have been wiped out. Which is why the anguish over the ARM re-set numbers and problems is probably irrelevant.

    After that wave, the 2nd one was much more like yours – loss of jobs, marriage & health – than loss of home values. Still, the lenders/holders were ignorant fools.

    Today, the sand state problems have “stabilized” – with most, but not all, pretty familiar with The Game going on. IF you are able to deal directly with FMae&FMac or FHA and VA, you will be dealing with people far more familiar with the process.

    Recently we suggested that AZ was more sophisticated in dealing with their foreclosure problems. Your observations suggest that there now is some sanity in WA, too.

  9. 9
    pipjack says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 7

    Again, thanks very much for this info. I really appreciate it.

  10. 10
    Scotsman says:

    Here’s a little music to listen to while studying the charts. . .


  11. 11
    ChrisM says:

    Tim – the edit function is totally broken!!!

  12. 12
    ChrisM says:

    RE: JG Bell @ 8 – Let me try again – blog editing here completely destroys one’s comments..

    You state: “Today, the sand state problems have “stabilized” – with most, but not all, pretty familiar with The Game going on..”

    Do you believe that $25/sq ft is the endgame in Phx area? If not, what is the $/sq ft in Phx & Vegas?

  13. 13

    […] time once again to expand on our preview of foreclosure activity with a more detailed look at July’s stats in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. First up, […]

  14. 14

    […] a lousy economy. If you are interested in the statistical details then I suggest you check out the Seattle Bubble blog but at least, by most measures, foreclosures are decreasing in King and Snohomish […]

  15. 15

    I’ve been looking at the King County foreclosures and, although seasonally it’s addressed there that home sales are falling, I believe the sale of foreclosures has increased in the month of November – correct me if I’m wrong.

    – Bill

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