August Stats Preview: Sudden Sales Spike Edition?

Welcome to September! Another new month, and it is 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

Now that’s interesting. Sales as measured by Warranty Deeds bumped up over 10% from July. Ordinarily sales tend to decline through the end of the year, so this increase is rather unusual. It will be interesting to see if the official NWMLS stats show the same bump.

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 thing in Snohomish, but even more pronounced. 15% increase over July.

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

Basically flat month to month. Up a little in King, down a little in Snohomish, but more or less within the usual monthly noise level.

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

Falling to the lowest level since April, Trustee Deeds marked their first year-over-year drop since I began tracking this stat in 2007.

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

As expected, inventory is on its way down into the winter hibernation. Prepare for the slow season.

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.

35 comments:

  1. 1
    doug says:

    It could be that people are settling for houses after a long, hard summer search. This would give them time to get it in shape for the fall and winter. A lot of the stuff out there is so poor, buyers were probably hoping that something great would enter into the market late, and lowered their expectations when they didn’t. So much stuff out there is junky that I’d put off buying a house, too.

  2. 2
    David Losh says:

    It’s the end of the price reductions to get in before the school year starts.

  3. 3

    It sure isn’t banks processing short sales, at least not SFR in King County. When I checked last they were cruising along at their same pathetically low range, and maybe even toward the low end of the range.

  4. 4
    2kt says:

    Low rates, lower prices. May be after watching banks paying nothing on savings for a couple of years and wisely observing that stock market is just too crazy, folks just decided it may be not be the lowest price, but it’s fair enough? Inventory is getting to the point where prices may stop dropping.

  5. 5
    Jonness says:

    In other news, banks have stopped lending the old GSE loan-limits and have cut over to the new lower limits in anticipation of October 1st.

    The beauty of what’s occurring is, I made a seller an extremely generous offer last April. He thought his little waterfront place was worth a mint and refused my offer. I raised my offer, and he refused it again. Well, fast forward five months, and the house is listed for less than either of my offers and still sitting. I love it when these greedy sellers save me from my own stupidity! (OK, I admit the guys at 500 Realty helped talk some financial sense into my giddy skull, and I stopped raising my offers)

    Too bad for the seller I found another house I like much better, and I’m waiting for the owners to suffer for awhile prior to pitching my baseball into their kneecaps. For now, they are new to the game and are starry eyed about what their little saltwater pit is worth. Once they become seasoned sellers, we can talk about realistic facts and figures.

    You see, the longer you wait, the better it gets. As for all these confused people constantly calling the bottom, ignore them and instead watch two indicators, the unemployment rate and the amount of money the banks are lending to consumers. Until jobs increase and banks lend, we’ll continue to muddle through this stalemate with house prices slowly eroding. Unless, of course, we get the economic double-dip so many economists now fear. In that case, house prices will plummet to unheard of depths.

    OK, so August had a lot of sales. Is this a surprise? Couple record low interest rates and a market full of distress, and you get a bump in sales. Look, we need these people to purchase these houses in the interim period prior to getting to the bottom. That’s how it works. House prices deflate slowly due to the ongoing tug of war between buyers and sellers. When you understand this, you can take a deep breath and save up lots of money before pulling the trigger. And if you are growing impatient, do as I do and lowball the sellers. Most of them say no, but eventually one will be smart enough to say yes. And that’s when you have to start counting up how much money you probably just lost. But at least the wife will be happy for a few months until she finally decides to do the math. :)

  6. 6
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: Jonness @ 5

    “You see, the longer you wait, the better it gets”

    Absolutely Correct!

    …I made two offers today..One home listed at 67k and I offered 50k (previous high 205k)..The other in Nevada 69k asking for 53k(2 days on mkt-previous high 285k). Most likely wont get either but TIME is on my side and there are so many more coming that these banks should be HONORED to be reviewing my offer.

    The banks/sellers need to UNLOAD more then we need to buy…

  7. 7
    corncob says:

    Here is to hoping inventory is back to normal levels next spring. I’ve ended my search for the time being, everything out there is overpriced, total junk or sells in two days.

  8. 8
    2kt says:

    RE: Jonness @ 5

    Life works mysterious ways, Nelly. Who knows, you may get you wish and get even the lower price that you dreamed of. You get the place for nothing, the sellers drowning in tears while you smile, taking them for all they have. You move in and then lose your job next month. Some people call it karma. Just kidding, of course. Nothing like that could ever happen to a bright bird like you.

  9. 9
    BelNotRenter says:

    I was one of those deeds in August, a short sale which closed two months after the initial offer. Not a bad experience at all.

  10. 10
    toad37 says:

    RE: 2kt @ 8 – LOL… it is kinda ugly isn’t it? Getting excited over others pain. To heck with him and the other maggots here like him.

  11. 11
    domo says:

    RE: toad37 @ 9
    RE: 2kt @ 8

    why do you let him bother you. Jackaxxs like him are everywhere. When it comes to putting the money where his nasty mouth, he will run with his tail between his legs. But hey talk is cheap and nasty talk is even cheaper and provides a sense of achievement to him so let him have his little pleasure in the day because this is probably the high point of his day.
    I normally don’t reply but when you see a post like this or from bigots like the SWEng one can’t help but respond.

  12. 12
    3rd Generation says:

    “7. corncob
    September 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
    Here is to hoping inventory is back to normal levels next spring. I’ve ended my search for the time being, –

    – What does that tell you?

    – everything out there is overpriced, total junk or sells in two days.”

    What lesson(s) do you take from this statement, besides ‘hoping’ ?

    Seriously. Just trying to understand.

  13. 13
    David S says:

    So now it’s low inventory that will buoy up prices? That’s hardly a healthy factor to support home price increases. Give me something else, another good one, but be imaginative this time.

  14. 14
    Lurker says:

    from my impression we are heading towards normal levels of inventory again. seemed like inventory levels were higher when everybody was selling to make their buckets of cash.

  15. 15

    RE: Lurker @ 12 – Yep, simple supply and demand. Higher prices bring more sellers.

    Although now you have people who would have to sell short to sell, which is a real deterrent to going on the market.

  16. 16
    Bingo says:

    RE: 3rd Generation @ 10

    I’m trying to connect the dots, also. If, Beginning Inventory less Sales (deeds recorded in this case) plus New Listings equals Ending Inventory, then, there were about 2390 new listings last month (8186-2590+2390=7986). Seems odd for August to see so many new listings.

    In the meantime, those commentators whom have been scouring the market observe that “everything out there is overpriced, total junk or sells in two days.”

    Since inventory barely budged, are the “sells in two days” a bigger part of the market than seems apparent?

  17. 17

    RE: Bingo @ 14 – Selling within 30 days has always been a significant part of the market, even during the slowest periods.

  18. 18
    Bingo says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15

    Good point. I can’t argue with that. There have always been homes that sell quickly.

    What I wonder is if there is a higher percentage than usual selling quickly. If, as some commentators are suggesting, current inventory consists of a “core” of overpriced POS’s that are languishing on the market, it would suggest that new listings coming to the market are priced to clear and are selling?

  19. 19
    MichaelB says:

    RE: 2kt @ 8

    Not quite… The seller’s tears are not caused by the buyer wanting to purchase their home for the market price, but more likely by a job loss, illness, the seller taking on too much debt, or simply poor management of their own finances and speculation on property. This has nothing to do with the buyer. It’s not personal – its just business.

  20. 20
    MichaelB says:

    By Jonness @ 5:

    You see, the longer you wait, the better it gets. As for all these confused people constantly calling the bottom, ignore them and instead watch two indicators, the unemployment rate and the amount of money the banks are lending to consumers. Until jobs increase and banks lend, we’ll continue to muddle through this stalemate with house prices slowly eroding. Unless, of course, we get the economic double-dip so many economists now fear. In that case, house prices will plummet to unheard of depths.

    Very true! And the double dip is here based on today’s unemployment report – Zero jobs added and wages going down.

  21. 21
    Jonness says:

    By 2kt @ 8:

    RE: Jonness @ 5

    Life works mysterious ways, Nelly. Who knows, you may get you wish and get even the lower price that you dreamed of. You get the place for nothing, the sellers drowning in tears while you smile, taking them for all they have. You move in and then lose your job next month.

    We are all responsible for the outcome of the decisions we make, and the seller failed to do his research prior to listing the house. Since we live and die by the decisions we make, it is extremely important to make good ones. This is one of the many reasons why I recommend never taking advice from a RE agent unless (s)he has first proven to be worthy of giving advice.

    If your agent has not warned since 2007 or earlier that the housing market will most likely continue upon a downward spiral for many years, fire this person immediately and get somebody who has done the necessary research and has the relevant experience to understand what is occurring. $15K is way too high a fee to pay somebody to give you the confidence necessary to buy a house that will wind up financially destroying your family.

    And most of all, never, ever mix business and emotions unless you enjoy your own financial ruin.

    I was born as the biggest sucker in the universe. The things I say above were learned in the most difficult and painful way possible.

  22. 22
    Jonness says:

    By toad37 @ 10:

    RE: 2kt @ 8 – LOL… it is kinda ugly isn’t it? Getting excited over others pain. To heck with him and the other maggots here like him.

    Ummm, the maggots are not the guys who have accurately predicted the housing market reset and dutifully warned others about the dangers of jumping in. The maggots are the ones who continue to talk optimistically despite what is occurring being as plain as the nose on your face.

    It’s not my duty to spend the next 30 years in indentured servitude in order to support the unrealistic delusions and expectations of sellers in this market. Despite what you continue to tell others, buying a house for zero down and holding it for 4 years does not merit earning double the original list price.

    People need to be realistic about what is occurring and take the necessary steps to protect themselves from harm. Stop thinking emotionally and start thinking logically.

    I’m not the big bad wolf. I’m simply a guy who has the courage to tell the truth to people about what is occurring in order that they have ample opportunity to protect themselves and their families from the most brutal economic downturn since the Great Depression.

    Look, I’ve warned people about what’s happening for years on end until I’m blue in the face. Yet, they claim I can’t possibly understand what is happening, and they claim I am simply a deluded alarmist who needs to be dismissed. Yet here we are 4 years later, and the economy grew zero jobs in August! At some point, you have to understand that the proof is baked into the cake.

    When will you people open your eyes and take heed of what’s occurring. Blaming the realists of the world won’t protect you or your families from the greatest economic reset since the Great Depression. It’s time to learn Santa Clause isn’t real, the government has not told you the truth, and in order to survive you have to get up off the couch and do some intellectual work, for what yea have sowed, so shall yea reap.

  23. 23
    2kt says:

    RE: Jonness @ 22

    You may be the realist, sport, but your posts do come across near-sadistic recently. A minor side effect of delayed gratification, I guess? Now, do quote me some Einstein.

  24. 24
    2kt says:

    RE: Jonness @ 21

    Good lord. Do you even read your drivel? You may have made a few bucks shorting the market, but you still come across a pompous arse.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    corncob says:

    2kt – Welcome to capitalism. Do you cry at night for the poor grocer who’s margins were compressed because you bought Charmin on sale?

    3rd generation / Bingo – I don’t know what to tell you, this is just my anecdotal data from searching for a 3bd house on the Eastside from Feb -> July. If we toured it and it looked good, it was usually pending within a couple of days. I am not one to plunk down $500k without at least seeing a house twice, so I guess this isn’t the market for me. Everything else languishes because the prices are too high, if you see the past sales on them it is usually evident why: they are underwater, not greedy or dumb.

  27. 27
    Jonness says:

    By 2kt @ 24:

    RE: Jonness @ 21

    Good lord. Do you even read your drivel? You may have made a few bucks shorting the market, but you still come across a pompous arse.

    The seller you are so upset about that I am supposedly brutalizing has a VERY lucrative retirement package. I’m not talking 401K. I’m talking a big fat retirement check for the rest of his life that is way beyond anything I will ever see because those kinds of deals are a thing of the past. On top of that, he’ll be drawing FULL social security, which I will never see because the money will run out prior to my getting the full benefit despite my fully paying into it. In addition, he inherited his house and didn’t have to pay a dime for it.

    Let me get this straight, I’m supposed to feel sorry for this guy because he came from a well-to-do family, had a lucrative career, and was eventually handed a free waterfront dream home, and then retired with a golden parachute package? But now he isn’t going to get to cash in his free house for 2007 bubble prices and must settle for only twice what it would have sold for in 2000?

    I worked extraordinarily hard for everything I have. And you want me to minimize that and simply throw all the money I’ve saved down the sink and spend the next 30 years toiling to provide this other guy a dream lifestyle? I’m supposed to have offered him more on his house and only four months later already be financially underwater so that he can live a better life? Excuse me, but that kind of thinking is irresponsible, dangerous, and insane.

    I made the seller an extremely fair offer on his house given the market conditions we were in last April. He declined. I raised my offer. He declined again so I walked with full knowledge the house was not worth what the seller was asking. Since nobody would dare pay him the price he wanted, he has had to lower his price below my lowest offer. Yet, the house is still overpriced so nobody is buying it.

    I will say this one more time, and I really hope that everybody gets it for it isn’t something that you should take lightly. When involved in business transactions, get rid of your emotions and practice pure logic and reasoning. Save your emotions for another day when you are asked to help out people who are in need.

    This game is an extremely difficult game for the average consumer to play. It’s imperative that you go into purchase negotiations as informed as possible, keep your emotions in check, and be represented by an agent who has your best interest in mind. If you go in unprepared, are represented by your average agent who simply wants to turn a quick commission, and you get emotional about the house, you are going to get hurt really bad. Business negotiations are not the place to start playing Santa Clause. The other side is out for your blood, and it is imperative you understand how to protect yourself prior to playing the game.

    Look 2kt, it’s extremely easy to sit back in your armchair typing on your little keyboard and criticize my actions. But I’m the guy who got out there and put his money where his mouth is. If you think this seller deserves what you claim his house is worth, why don’t you break out your checkbook, offer him that amount, put your life savings in up front as a down payment, lock into a 30 year mortgage, and continue to make monthly payments as the market continues to plummet around you? I dare you to go for it Mr. Perfect! Otherwise, you are nothing more than the same slime ball you criticize me of being who refuses to pay for a house more than the amount the market determines it to be worth.

  28. 28
    2kt says:

    RE: Jonness @ 27

    There’s such thing as decency. Do what can you to get the best deal for yourself, but do keep it decent.

  29. 29
    Jonness says:

    By 2kt @ 28:

    RE: Jonness @ 27

    There’s such thing as decency. Do what can you to get the best deal for yourself, but do keep it decent.

    Apparently, you have little to no experience in RE transactions. Buyers do not interact directly with sellers. The process works through the buyer’s agent negotiating with the seller’s agent. No foul words are said, and no indecent liberties occur.

    A contract is drawn up by the buyer’s agent with the legal terms of the offer. This gets presented to the seller through the seller’s agent. There are no cuss words on the contract nor any kind of personal statements. It consists of one-liner business terms and an offered price. If the seller disagrees, then they make a counter offer, to which the buyer may again counter, etc. If the two sides do not reach mutual agreement, they agree to go their separate ways. At this point, the seller is hoping somebody else will come along and either be better qualified to buy the house, agree to pay more for it, etc. Meanwhile, the buyer goes looking for another house whose owners have more acceptable terms.

    This is all done in a very professional businesslike manner and environment. I suppose there are some agents out there who behave unprofessionally, but my agent is a seriously aware professional and a seasoned investor who is greatly skilled in the art of negotiation.

    I find it odd that you would be OK with it if I were to have paid what the seller was asking, and I was now $50K underwater just a few months later. Yet, since I tried to negotiate a price for the home that would protect me in a collapsing real estate market, suddenly, I am an evil SOB. It’s OK with you if the buyer loses a fortune on the house, but it’s a terrible crime if the seller loses a fortune on the house.

    Think about it a minute. If a seller asks $100K more for his house than it’s worth, he’s just a good guy trying to get what he probably deserves. If a buyer asks $100K less for a house than it’s worth, he’s an evil psychopath out to destroy the seller’s life. In truth, both parties are guilty of the exact same thing, if in truth anything at all has occurred. But in looking at the actual market, we see a glut of homes marked up $100K more than they are worth, and very few offers for $100 less than it’s worth. What does this say about the friendliness and decency of buyers vs. sellers in today’s market?

    At first, I thought you were probably a RE agent, and that’s why you were sales-side biased. But then I realized you are too unfamiliar with contract negotiations to be an agent (unless you are a newbie agent). So I suspect you are a person who has paid too much for your home and are facing a certain amount of hardship; thus, your obvious bias toward the seller side. If this is the case, and I have offended you, I apologize.

  30. 30

    I just did a search, and for King County SFR REO properties that went pending in the last 30 days (and are still pending). The median price is only about 190k! And that’s the list price.

    It’s amazing some of the junk they take back. You would think that when they do that enough that they would figure out that it might make sense to process short sales instead.

    Numbers from NWMLS sources, but not compiled or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

  31. 31

    RE: Jonness @ 29
    Just to clarify, Jonness, when you said ” I’m waiting for the owners to suffer for a while prior to pitching my baseball into their kneecaps”, you don’t actually wish these owners to suffer physical pain, you don’t want anything bad to happen to their knees. You don’t prefer to see these folks waiting in line at the food bank or dumpster diving, subsisting on found half empty bags of Doritos and cans of Alpo, do you?
    You just want them to be more realistic about pricing.
    It is a really odd market right now. Nice houses, realistically priced in sought after neighborhoods are selling quickly. Yes, I’d agree that most stuff out there is either overpriced or junk. But every once in a while, while your fastball is aimed at the seller’s kneecaps, another buyer is throwing an off speed pitch right down the middle of the plate which is gong to be blasted out of the park.

  32. 32
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 31 – I think you need to go to work for the Mariners.

  33. 33
    2kt says:

    RE: Jonness @ 29

    You are not as smart as you think you are. I bought a couple of properties directly, by negotiating with a seller’s agent. I do own some real estate and plan to keep it as long as I am above the ground.

  34. 34
    David Losh says:

    RE: Jonness @ 29

    Ray!?

    Look it, you need a Real Estate agent to talk you through some processes. I know you think the person who works with Ray is the bee’s knees, but let’s keep the sales pitch to a minimum.

  35. 35

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

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