NWMLS: Summer of Sameness Sustained

August market stats were published by the NWMLS this afternoon. Here’s what they have to say about their numbers: September housing statistics around Washington indicate recovery is continuing, strengthening sellers’ positions.

Pending sales, closed sales and prices all increased in August compared to a year ago, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Those key indicators, coupled with the persistent shortage of inventory, prompted one industry leader to declare the market has flipped.

“The biggest story this year is that the market has flipped,” proclaimed J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He attributes the shift to a seller’s market in most areas and prices to a combination of factors, including historically low interest rates, lower adjusted prices, the shortage of inventory, an elevated number of investors, and the return of local home buyers.

Northwest MLS directors OB Jacobi and Joe Spencer are similarly encouraged by the latest numbers, mentioning steady momentum, rising consumer confidence, low inventory, a pickup of activity in new construction, and improving prospects for homeowners who are underwater.

There wasn’t anything terribly surprising in this month’s data, just more of the same trends we have been seeing all year: low inventory, increasing sales, prices inching up. Inventory actually did tick up just a bit, but barely enough to even mention.

All righty, on with our usual monthly stats.

CAUTION

NWMLS monthly reports include an undisclosed and varying number of
sales from previous months in their pending and closed sales statistics.

Here’s your King County SFH summary, with the arrows to show whether the year-over-year direction of each indicator is favorable or unfavorable news for buyers and sellers (green = favorable, red = unfavorable):

August 2012 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 5,103 +0.7% -36.2%
Closed Sales 2,162 +2.0% +21.8%
SAAS (?) 1.29 +2.8% -9.0%
Pending Sales 2,623 +2.4% +12.6%
Months of Supply 1.95 -1.7% -43.3%
Median Price* $378,000 +0.7% +8.0%

Feel free to download the updated Seattle Bubble Spreadsheet (Excel 2003 format), but keep in mind the caution above.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

July to August is mixed—some years up, some down. The slight increase this year was well within the normal range.

Here’s the graph of inventory with each year overlaid on the same chart.

King County SFH Inventory

Very slight uptick, but we’ve basically been flat since April.

Here’s the supply/demand YOY graph. In place of the now-unreliable measure of pending sales, the “demand” in this chart is represented by closed sales, which have had a consistent definition throughout the decade.

King County Supply vs Demand % Change YOY

Same story yet again. Sales up, listings down.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Still on the rise.

And lastly, here is the chart comparing King County SFH prices each month for every year back to 1994.

King County SFH Prices

August 2012: $378,000
July 2005: $375,000

Here are the Times and P-I headlines.
Seattle Times: Local home sales volume, prices rise in August
Seattle P-I: Seattle-area home shoppers find slim pickings

Check back tomorrow for the full reporting roundup.

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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.

48 comments:

  1. 1

    The March stats were published this afternoon? Did you thing this was Case-Shiller? ;-)

  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1 – Argh. Should have said (and now does say) August, of course. Thanks.

  3. 3

    As I mentioned in a different thread, the number of REO sales was down significantly, and the number of short sales was higher than normal (for the second month in a row).

  4. 4
    whatsmyname says:

    Number of sales consistently higher for four consecutive months than at anytime since 2007, and the inventory hasn’t moved. For every house sold, another house has entered the inventory for six months. Isn’t that pretty much the definition of market equilibrium?

  5. 5
    Jonness says:

    The Ben Bernanke never ceases to amaze me. He actually managed to get a few sheep off the fence.

    The leading economic indicators are currently flashing a dramatic downturn in the U.S. economy. We’ll find out soon if The Ben Bernanke plans on printing more money to attempt to keep this shell game going a bit longer.

    Place your bets Gentlemen. The stock market hasn’t made a new high in over a decade. Will The Ben Bernanke print enough money to push stocks above the high of a decade ago? If so, it will be good for the housing market (if you consider good paying way more for your house than it’s worth in a non-manipulated market). Or will The Ben Bernanke let stocks correct downward before he prints up another $trillion in an effort to get back to today’s stock price? If so, watch for a new house price low this winter.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the lost decade. Don’t be a sheep, and you will get through this. Become a sheep, and you become nothing more than a pawn on a wealthy man’s chess board.

    aapl one year ago = $354.
    aapl today = $670

    Thanks Uncle Ben! This year’s Christmas is going to be better than ever!

  6. 6
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Jonness @ 5 – Even ZIP is coming back from the coffin: http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=zipr&ql=1 ….The money is FLOWING and the FLOODGATES are open…Xmas will definitely be joyous……………………..this year!

  7. 7
    2kt says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 6

    They are all coming, Raymundo, are not they? At higher prices, though.

  8. 8
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 7

    You would need to define higher prices. What I see is better properties selling for less than they would have two years ago.

    The buyers are more choosey, so they pay those premium prices.

  9. 9
    Scotsman says:

    RE: Jonness @ 5

    Markets? We don’t need no stink’n markets! Stick with the blue pill and enjoy. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WANNqr-vcx0

    Or perhaps:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOreMkVIZW0

  10. 10
    Lo Ball Jones says:

    One thing about all your stats — they are all about what is for sale.

    But we don’t really have any stats as to who is buying.

    Imagine, if you would, that there were also buyer metrics.

    You would know:

    1. How many people are shopping for homes
    2. How long have they been looking
    3. What do they want to spend…what is their price range
    4. What size house are they looking for…number of bedrooms.

    I don’t see how you can analyze a market just by looking at what is for sale.

  11. 11
    ray pepper says:

    RE: 2kt @ 7

    agreed… THEY R ALL COMING BACK! albeit slow but I disagree at higher prices…keep your powder dry and seek GEMS!

  12. 12
    David Losh says:

    RE: Lo Ball Jones @ 10

    This is a great comment.

    We work with a lot of Real Estate agents, and the ones who seem to be doing well work in that sweet spot of between $400K to $650K. There seem to be a lot of young families looking to fulfill the American Dream.

    It would be interesting to see what buyer profiles are driving the market.

    Another question would be if the “investor” buyers are getting tapped out.

  13. 13

    RE: Jonness @ 5

    And If Your Blog Doesn’t Make Sense

    Why is this false bottom calling need another 2013 QE to keep things from falling apart?

    The top 1% Wall Street rich elite are getting their investment returns, DOW up about 1.6% this morning, about +14% for 2012 so far to date. Time for the little guy to buy stocks so the rich elite can sell down the little guys’ market?

  14. 14
    ray pepper says:

    RE: David Losh @ 12

    NO WAYYYYYYYYYYY! Investor Buyers tapped out? There is so much money at the Auctions every Friday fighting for less and less properties. It should ramp up again in the next few years so patience is essential or you will join bagholder status. Many of the BIG POCKETS took money out of the market as of late and are putting it to use in real estate this last year. Investor Buyers are chompin at the bit so its a great time to sit back and watch the feeding frenzy.

  15. 15
    David Losh says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 14

    That makes no sense. There is no upside to Real Estate. There’s no equity position, the cash is tied up, rental income is only as good as scarcity, but big players are entering the residential Real Estate market place like never before.

    I agree with you that they are all coming back.

    I think has years drag on, and there is no appreciation in resdiential Real Estate, more, and more investors, and families will just want out.

    While I appreciate what you are saying, it seems to me there is a lot of back slapping right now. Guys tell me stories of great returns, but are speculating on a future that isn’t there.

  16. 16

    RE: David Losh @ 15
    They’re speculating on a future that might or might not be there, but it’s not talked about as speculation. Either people are misguided, or they’re really stupid. Things look good for a few months, and people are convinced that this is the way it’s going to be forever.

  17. 17
    Ray pepper says:

    I should emphasize the people I deal with don’t care about anything past 3 months. They r buying for the flip to get the home on the mkt. The mkt is red hot if u get your money in good but with all the postponements finding the Gem is tough. My recent flip closes in about 2 weeks and will spend less time looking and wait for the firestorm to calm.

  18. 18
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 14 – Agreed. The feedback I get from home shoppers is that they are constantly competing with cash. Especially in the first time buyer tier. Makes you realize that the last five years was less a destruction of wealth, but rather a transfer of wealth. Things are proceeding smoothly and according to plan for The Biggest Heist.

  19. 19
    Howard says:

    By ray pepper @ 14:

    RE: David Losh @ 12

    NO WAYYYYYYYYYYY! Investor Buyers tapped out? There is so much money at the Auctions every Friday fighting for less and less properties. It should ramp up again in the next few years so patience is essential or you will join bagholder status. Many of the BIG POCKETS took money out of the market as of late and are putting it to use in real estate this last year. Investor Buyers are chompin at the bit so its a great time to sit back and watch the feeding frenzy.

    Curiosity?

    Are they buying at a certain price point? Does it depend on area? Are looking to flip or rent?

  20. 20
  21. 21
    David Losh says:

    RE: Ray pepper @ 17

    There is a ceiling to that where the new buyer will refuse to pay the premium for that flipper. After four years I would think buyers are hip to the trick and balking.

    I’m watching a couple, or more than a few flippers, that I think may have flopped.

  22. 22
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: David Losh @ 20 – Is that sarcasm? It must be.

  23. 23
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 8

    The prices are higher today than they were a year ago. And IF inventory situation does not change, they will be even higher next year.

  24. 24
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 23

    With all the transparency that every one wanted for Real Estate I don’t see buyers being as gullible as they used to be.

    Two years ago a lot of buyers walked away from transactions where the seller wouldn’t play ball. This year I see a lot more effort going into properties before they go on the market. I don’t see higher prices as much as I see properties that are priced right.

    OK, I will say that this summer was nuts. People were paying more than asking price, and some asking prices couldn’t get appraised.

    My ultimate concern for the market place is for that day when banks figure they have had enough, and stop making loans, or make loans so hard to get that the market will stall.

  25. 25
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Howard @ 19 – the cheaper they are the quicker they move ..every so often somebody wants a rental or a home for their kid. 90% I see are there for the quick turn.

    If their money is in bad they got themselves a rental or a 20% loss to Vestus and cost of rehab (for they and many othe trustee sale lenders will pony up 80%.)

  26. 26
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 24

    In one sentence you say you don’t see higher prices, in the next you say this summer was nuts.

    Dave, there are more buyers this year and less homes than last year. Don’t be a Jonas brother – It’s not always in the charts or some “affordability index” that needs to touch some magic number before it turns around.

    Banks will make loans as long as there’s someone to buy the paper.

  27. 27
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 26

    I don’t think people will want the paper.

    You should only want the paper if there is a means to collect. If the properties don’t sell for the value, or close to it, there’s no reason to want the paper.

    A lot of people paid high premiums for properties this year. That’s just another problem with future collection.

    Show me any economic reason for property prices to go up, and I’ll get on board.

    I think we will become a renter nation who want money in the bank, and investments that pay returns.

  28. 28
    Jonness says:

    By ray pepper @ 6:

    RE: Jonness @ 5 – Even ZIP is coming back from the coffin: http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=zipr&ql=1 ….The money is FLOWING and the FLOODGATES are open…Xmas will definitely be joyous……………………..this year!

    Holy moly Ray, ZIP has increased well beyond double in a year. Step right up folks, and get your free hot dogs. The Ben Bernanke is wearing his Santa suit again!

    http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/properties/varvel/art_images/cg494a458b4dab30.jpg

  29. 29
    2kt says:

    People in this case are “we the people”. Fannie and Freddie are buying the mortgage bonds.

    Economic reason is simple Dave – when the rent is near the mortgage cost people start buying.

    Population growth eats up housing inventory and the new cycle begins. There are about 15 million more people in this country now than in 2006. The highest birth rates were in 2005 and 2006. All these kids are now going to elementary school, hence the higher need for homes.

    The carrying costs on your “median” home are down from 2007 by about $750 or 30% (assuming the rate of 6% from 2007 and 4% now, and home costs of $450,000 vs $390,000 for the same home.)

  30. 30
    Jonness says:

    By softwarengineer @ 13:

    Why is this false bottom calling need another 2013 QE to keep things from falling apart?

    Because the rich need to take more money away from the poor. If you don’t believe me, then ask your favorite politician.

    The top 1% Wall Street rich elite are getting their investment returns, DOW up about 1.6% this morning, about +14% for 2012 so far to date. Time for the little guy to buy stocks so the rich elite can sell down the little guys’ market?

    Exactly my point! Draghi promised to buy an unlimited amount of European bonds, and the market hit a new high. When central banks print, stocks go up. It’s free money for the rich. But don’t believe for a minute that any problems have been addressed and fixed. It’s all temporary. But so is Christmas Day. So enjoy the free presents while you can.

    Remember, market fundamentals are meaningless. The only thing that matters is what the herd believes to be true. So sit back and exploit their greed and fear. When the world is ending, buy into that weakness. When Santa is headed for your chimney, sell into that strength. It’s free money, so why not chill out and gobble up the handouts.

    But don’t take that as a buy signal for you. I staked my positions in the current run-up back when things were cheap. I’m currently watching for sharks prior to heading back to the beach. Frankly, I don’t care whether the market goes up or down. I can make money in either direction.

  31. 31
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 29

    That’s called a debt trap. Your payment may be less, but you still owe the money. If you sell you take a loss of at least 10% in selling costs.

    However, many of the housing units, like town houses, are losing value. All of those properties that declined so quickly may become rental units, but that is another loss.

    With land use codes we have, because of this absurd building craze we had in the past twelve years, we have the ability to build housing cheaply, and quickly.

    Next take into account that the baby boomers are in a position to sell the family home because it is no longer the asset it once was in the distant past. You have to maintain the family home, and that costs money.

    Baby boomers will sell the family home, and maybe buy in Arizona, or maybe a 55+ community.

    If some one has to buy a home, I mean just has to, there are plenty for sale all over the world. You don’t have to live here. Europe is a bargain if you negotiate, and know the price of property will never go up again.

    As long as you are willing to take the loss, there are millions of properties for sale, at those incredibly low payments you’re talking about.

    All of that sounds kind of mean, but I just think I would invest in a Bain Capital, before I bought another home. I think there is much more money to be made in business sales, consultation, or management than in owning a home.

    I know a guy who has been working on a Social Media phone app for about seven years. Well, he is being funded by a group that expects to get a 100% return on the intitial investment.

    I talk to people who make loans in emerging markets that have no idea what a loan is or how it works, they just know they have to pay the money back as quickly as possible.

    There is a lot of opportunity in the global market place that is extremely fluid. Real Estate is a stay in place, and manage that kind of thing, with the returns right now that are questionable.

  32. 32
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 31

    Your responce makes no sense, but don’t let it stop you.

    You are welcome to invest in emerging markets, I did not know you were that rich. Many foreign investors who do invest in emerging markets always face the same question when they need to sell – “to who?’

  33. 33
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 32

    My response makes much more sense than holding onto Real Estate.

    You can choose thousands of investment strategies through the stock market, financial markets, or any number of business opportunites.

    The world is faster than it was twelve years ago, so your long term hold strategy will be a waste of time.

    You still haven’t said where you think Real Estate appreciation will come from.

    An influx of 16 million people only makes sense if those people want to be tied to a mortgage. I’ll bet most don’t.

  34. 34
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 33

    Real estate appreciation will come from inflation and population growth, at least in this area.

    Rents are growing and home values are higher vs last year. I’ll take that over your strategies for now.

  35. 35

    RE: 2kt @ 34 – If you own free and clear, the property doesn’t need to appreciate to earn a return.

    My truck typically earns about $2,000-$3,000 of income each year, depending on repairs, because it’s free and clear, and because it’s so old the IRS mileage deduction is very generous. Most houses would earn at least $12,000 a year of income. And again, that type of income is not taxed, so the number would be higher if you factored in a tax rate.

  36. 36
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 24 – To David Losh the lives of normal people seem strange and unlikely. Behind the wheel of a 1976 econo-line cleaning van full of mind damaging chemicals, he enters the neighborhoods of the educated, stoned on fumes, his gaze lazily shifts involuntarily as he passes one beautiful home to the next….the homes of the sane and gainfully employed….. suckers!!! he mutters to himself…. then he departs as unnoticed as he arrived…. nothing remaining but a hint of Windex and Drano lingering in the air momentarily… giving way to the smell of fresh cut grass and beauty bark…..

  37. 37
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 34

    The world changed in the past twelve years. That’s just a fact of life.

    You can own all the property you want, and own it free, and clear, then it becomes a job. I’ll get to corndogs in a minute.

    Owning rental property is a job with over head. It doesn’t appeal to me, that part would be correct, however you can choose what you want.

    For mom, dad, and the kids they will be losing money. Even if they pay it off, even if we have massive inflation, it will still be a loss.

    The population thing, here in Seattle, may be a possible, but I think we have a huge capacity for density to absorb what I now consider to be a migratory work force.

  38. 38
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 37

    Thanks for a thought, Dave. Or was it even that?

    If you think there’s an investment where you can put the money, forget about it and later come back for your due return, you are delusional, compadre.

  39. 39
    David Losh says:

    RE: corndogs @ 36

    Gainfully employed people are the back bone of this great country. It’s just not for me.

    Over the years I’ve helped make more than a couple of those good people richer with my ability to spot value, and I have the ability to capitalize on those values.

    Now you don’t like the cleaning business. Who are you? My mother, God rest her soul. She didn’t like the cleaning business either.

    The truth is that I think I can make money doing anything. Cleaning was a random choice, but I’ve made money doing all kinds of things.

    Rot, for an example, is a very good way to make a ton of cash. You cut out the rot, and replace it with pressure treated. Most times you don’t need a permit, and if you do it in conjunction with a Real Estate transaction; people pay well to have it done right.

    So what do you do? Pick anything, because I’ve done most every thing.

    I’ve done everything I ever wanted, been everywhere I ever wanted to go.

    My wife is the greatest person on earth, and I’m blessed that I have been so loved in my life.

    You sound a little bitter. What’s the problem, maybe we can puzzle that out, and get you to where you want to be, because me?

    I have no unfulfilled fantasies. It’s more than meeting every goal that I ever imagined, it’s that God has given me the gift to be who I am, and have had everything, and much more, than I ever dreamed possible.

  40. 40
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 38

    I’m 100% correct, and don’t really need to think about it too much. We’ve become a global economy, so staying put to watch your nest egg seems like a waste of time to me.

  41. 41
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 39

    Amen, Dave. Couple of things are clear – we have become a global economy and real estate ownership is way over your head. Let’s leave it at that.

  42. 42
    Jen says:

    I don’t understand why so many people disagree with David Losh. He makes a lot of sense to me! For example, there are a lot more opportunities to make money in the computer business than in Real Estate. I also agree with him that people are foolish to buy now, because they are paying way too much than reasonable price.

  43. 43
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Jen @ 42

    disagree with David? He is one of the MAIN reasons I stick around here. As I warned many when you enter the mind of David there is no escape. He is a drug and you keep coming back to read more for sheer titillation.

    Also love MichaelB…is he still here?

  44. 44

    By David Losh @ 39:

    Rot, for an example, is a very good way to make a ton of cash. You cut out the rot, and replace it with pressure treated. Most times you don’t need a permit, and if you do it in conjunction with a Real Estate transaction; people pay well to have it done right.

    You might not need a permit, but you do need a contractor’s license to do that. You’ve said you don’t have one (although you flip-flopped a bit on that).

  45. 45

    By Jen @ 42:

    I don’t understand why so many people disagree with David Losh. He makes a lot of sense to me! For example, there are a lot more opportunities to make money in the computer business than in Real Estate. I also agree with him that people are foolish to buy now, because they are paying way too much than reasonable price.

    It’s because he doesn’t know about value, that’s apparent if you’ve read much of what he says. He thinks real estate always has the same value. He thinks he can drive through a city in California and determine the value of properties there, even though he can’t even determine the value of properties in the Seattle area where he has access to the NWMLS data.

  46. 46
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 39 – You could probably also make money writing speeches for President Obama… Although your unjustified confidence and ignorance is disturbing. . I do believe I have a tear in my eye…. I’m thinking of giving you a second term….

  47. 47
    corndogs says:

    RE: Jen @ 42 – Maybe you should see a doctor….

  48. 48

    […] The first thing I set out to do was find out how the housing market is doing in Seattle.  What I found was that it was turning, and rather hard at that.  I have taken the chart below, which shows August housing statistics, from the Seattle Bubble blog. […]

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