NWMLS: Inventory Hit a Record Low in October

October market stats were published by the NWMLS this morning. Here’s what they have to say about their numbers: Housing recovery continues with prices rising as inventory dips to lowest level since 2006.

The shortage of inventory is helping propel prices. J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, commented on the correlation of sharply reduced inventory and rising prices. “The rise in prices is derived from seasonally strong sales activity in a shortage of inventory market,” he remarked.

Nothing too earth-shattering this month, but the “rise in prices” is not really as much of a rise as it seems, as I’ll explain shortly.

All righty, on with our usual monthly stats.


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):

October 2012 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 4,304 -14.0% -40.0%
Closed Sales 1,981 +10.2% +33.0%
SAAS (?) 1.08 -16.6% -26.4%
Pending Sales 2,676 +10.3% +23.5%
Months of Supply 1.61 -22.1% -51.4%
Median Price* $370,000 -1.3% +15.6%

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

Somewhat odd that sales bumped up between September and October, but not unexpected since it’s exactly what we saw in the Stats Preview last week.

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

King County SFH Inventory

Inventory has never been this low as far back as I have reliable data from the NWMLS (January 2000). Expect new lows again in November and December. Here’s hoping that next year things go back to the normal seasonal pattern of gaining inventory in the first half of the year.

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

Big jump, not because home prices surged in any way this year, but because last year they plunged learly $30k from $349,550 in September to $320,000 in October. If you care a lot about what happened to home prices a year ago, then a sudden jump to a 16% year-over-year increase in the median price is the biggest news in today’s data, despite being the most predictable, least surprising bit.

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

King County SFH Prices

October 2012: $370,000
May 2005: $375,500

Here are the Times and P-I headlines.
Seattle Times: King County house prices rise 16 percent year-over-year
Seattle P-I: Home prices post biggest jump in six years

Check back tomorrow for the full reporting roundup.

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

    Is the months supply also a low for your data?

  2. 2
    Erik Muller says:

    Year over year active listing = -40%. That is crazy. I think people waited until 2012 to buy cause they wanted a good price. Now they are driving the price up based on supply and demand.

  3. 3
    David Losh says:

    It still looks to me like we are in a bubble. Low inventory, and low interest rates, combined with how long people have waited to buy is driving up prices.

  4. 4
    The Tim says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1 – Not quite. March 2005 saw 1.54 MOS. Note though that thanks to NWMLS definition changes in July 2008, Months of Supply numbers aren’t really comparable before and after that point.

  5. 5
    Dave0 says:

    “Sales dropped off quite a bit from August, as they do nearly every year.”
    Did you forget to change that sentence from last month’s post?

  6. 6
    Marc says:

    sudden jump to a 16% year-over-year increase in the median price is the biggest news in today’s data

    That’s what jumped out at me when I read the news release this morning. Now looking at the price chart suggests that we’re in store for more double digit year over year increases through at least February 2013.

    If that’s the case and inventory doesn’t pick up to offset some deamnd we could e setting the stage for some really desperate buyer behavior.

    It may come to pass that as July 2007 was to high prices so will February 2012 be to low. It will certainly be an interesting spring for real estate.

  7. 7
    The Tim says:

    RE: Dave0 @ 5 – Yes, you’re correct, that was an oversight. Updated, thanks.

  8. 8
    Erik says:

    RE: Marc @ 6
    If I were to take my best guess, I would say that prices will go up until February 2013 and begin to decrease in March 2013 because of the increase in foreclosures. Someone previously stated that there will have to be enough foreclosures to meet buyers needs and then extra to drive the price down or something of that sort. Prices may increase until February 2013 and plateau. It will be interesting to monitor how many foreclosures are coming each month.

  9. 9
    softwarengineer says:

    The Price Going Up is not the at the Same Rate it Went Down

    A 50% YOY decrease in price since 2007 requires a 100% increase in price to catch up to 2007, not a 50% YOY increase.

  10. 10
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 3

    In a bubble prices do not go down month to month on large volume, captain Loh.

  11. 11
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 10

    Prices level, and trough through ups, and downs in the Real Estate market. Over all it says here prices went up year over year.

  12. 12
    whatsmyname says:

    This has long been my favorite monthly feature. But I have lost track of one thing. How many consecutive months have the arrows been all red for buyers?

    Also, if you need to recast the inventory chart, I recommend that you de-truncate it entirely. Inventory is low, but not so dramatic as the visceral impression left by the current chart.

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.