King County’s Low-End Regions Over 40% Off Peak Price

There were a couple of requests for more details on yesterday’s post of the low, middle, and high-end regions in King County.

First up, Deejayoh’s request:

…it would be interesting to see the trend on the absolute numbers rather than the relative percentages.

No problem, here you go:

Total # of King Co. SFH Sales by NWMLS Area

Since each region is fairly close to a third of the sales most of the time, it’s difficult to make out much detail on this chart, but you can still see the surge in South King during the bubble, followed by the relative strength of Seattle during the bust.

Next, Lily’s request:

Can you do a graph of median prices for the 3 regions?

That one’s a little tricky, since the calculating the median for each of the three regions would require access to the original source data of every sale. However, we can get a decent approximation by taking the median of the medians for each area. That’s what I’ve charted below:

Median Price of Single Family Homes Sold

Here are some stats on the prices for each of the three regions:

region peak month peak price low month low price latest price % drop
low end 2007-07 $373,500 2011-09 $200,000 $215,000 -42.4%
mid range 2007-10 $487,250 2011-10 $300,975 $328,600 -32.6%
high end 2007-04 $687,225 2011-02 $476,750 $494,425 -28.1%
King Co. 2007-07 $481,000 2012-01 $315,000 $315,000 -34.5%

It is interesting to note that individually, the low and mid-range regions have been going up since October (the high end is down <2%), and yet that’s when the county-wide median began a renewed steady decline. This is of course explained by the increasing share of sales that are taking place in the cheaper parts of the county, pushing the county-wide median down to a new low in January despite the fact that only three of the thirty areas individually saw a new low in January.

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
    BubbleBuyer says:

    Something is definitely happening in the housing market close in, perhaps because inventory is lower than normal. In Queen Anne, there are 73 SFRs under contract/pending or active on Redfin, and 34 under contract/pending. I haven’t seen that much activity in winter. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics shift come spring.

  2. 2

    RE: BubbleBuyer @ 1 – I’m showing slightly different numbers, but I was surprised to see that only about a third of those pendings were short sales. I thought that stale short sale pendings might have been the explanation, but it wasn’t. Most of the non-short sale pendings have gone pending since the beginning of the year, so they aren’t a bunch of stale pendings either.

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

  3. 3
    Sparky says:

    I’m having some trouble understanding the last table. In the column labeled “region,” I was expecting to see “South King”, “Seattle / North King / Vashon”, and “Eastside” instead of low, mid & high. Am I just not understanding what those are representing? The data doesn’t seem to exactly match the graph above, so I suspect it’s charting something different, but it’s not clear to me exactly what it is.


  4. 4
    The Tim says:

    RE: Sparky @ 3 – I defined low/mid/high on yesterday’s post:

    • low end: South County (areas 100-130 & 300-360)
    • mid range: Seattle / North County (areas 140, 380-390, & 700-800)
    • high end: Eastside (areas 500-600)

    As for the data mismatch, I re-checked and realized that I was looking at the wrong columns in my spreadsheet for the low point and latest data. I’ve updated the post with the correct info. Thanks!

  5. 5
    Natalia Orinko says:

    My only experience as you know is what has happened in the Central Valley of California. All tiers eventually converged at minus 50%, and some properties are down 60%. Seattle is not Sacramento, but my bet is on Seattle falling by at least 50% before it’s over.

  6. 6
    whatsmyname says:

    Where are those people from the reader’s rant post. It seems like the median wage earner can afford a median house. It’s in South County.

  7. 7
    WannaBuy2012 says:

    So I want to buy. I’ve read the blog posts back through 2011 and beyond. Last few weeks (on the eastside) it seems like the inventory has gone down even more, since your earlier posts regarding 2012 inventory. I mean, seriously, like nothing but a few crappy houses on the market for the past 3 weeks ($475 to $625 range). Even the new short sales are so lame.

    Seems like this Feb is far worse than Feb 2011 for inventory rate. Could this mean far less new listings for the usual April through June spike when the pretty line on the inventory charts usually shoots upward?

    I am guessing total count of inventory could be 30 to 40% below last year’s rate? All I see is crappy housing selection! Then again, it’s only February. But seems like the next few weeks rate of climb could dictate the entire summer with regards to inventory!

  8. 8
    Azucar says:

    RE: WannaBuy2012 @ 7

    “Buy now or be lack of quality inventoried out forever!”

    The new battle cry of the realtor!

  9. 9

    RE: Natalia Orinko @ 5

    The Argument Against You Will be the Percent of Foreclosed Homes is Low Compared to All Homes in the Seattle Area

    Pure hogwash Natalia, the percent of homes for sale compared to all homes is very low too.

    The horrifying calculation I’ve never seen Tim use [but perhaps he did anyway?]:

    % of foreclosed homes of all homes divided by the % of all homes for sale of all homes. I’m guessing its about 50% right now in the Seattle area. That’s HORRIFYING.

  10. 10

    RE: Azucar @ 8

    And Pay Half the Price Later Anyway?

  11. 11
    David Losh says:

    RE: Azucar @ 8

    I’m going to respond to this because it is more to the point.

    Real Estate agents should be talking to people about selling. If you have the ability to sell you should. There is no reason to hold onto the family home other than for nostolgia. Your money could go into rental property if you want to leave something for the children.

    In Europe people rent for generations, and I think we will go through a period of that here, kind of like in New York.

    If you own rental property this is the time to assess if that is the best investment you could have. It would be a good time to make some trades.

    The reasoning is clear, and we have rehashed it a thousand times, but there should be a lot of people wanting to sell right now.

  12. 12
    Lily says:

    Hi Tim,
    Thanks for doing the chart! I realize it’s hard to get historical data by region (I have never seen anyone plot it). Can you elaborate on your methodology? What do you mean by “the median of the medians for each area”?

    I was not aware that SFHs still averaged around half a million on the Eastside! I suppose there weren’t many distressed sellers on the Eastside due to Microsoft hiring and salary increases.

  13. 13
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Lily @ 12 – In Sammamish, they are bulding $600k and up SFH’s. Go figure.

    Million dollar megamansions, too.:

    In the past 12 months, long dormant developments have reactivated, and homes are sprouting up like mad.

    The Crossings is one example, which includes a reactivated, formerly bankrupted Buchan development. Starting in the mid-$700k range.:

    The recovery has arrived! Buy now, before you are priced out foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr……

  14. 14
    The Tim says:

    By Lily @ 12:

    Can you elaborate on your methodology? What do you mean by “the median of the medians for each area”?


    In January, the median sale prices in the 11 areas that make up the “low end” on my chart were as follows:

    • $215,000
    • $176,500
    • $170,000
    • $177,450
    • $252,500
    • $224,745
    • $224,995
    • $233,500
    • $211,600
    • $322,500
    • $155,000

    I took the median of that set of medians, which was $215,000.

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