NWMLS: Inventory Inched Up in April

March market stats were published by the NWMLS this morning. Here’s a snippet from their press release: Multiple offers are "the new normal" for housing market around Puget Sound.

“Multiple offers have become the new normal,” remarked MLS director Diedre Haines, the Snohomish County regional managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “We have literally gone off the charts in absorption,” she stated, adding the dip in pending sales in that county “is all due to lack of inventory.”

Haines also reported low appraisals remain a problem as appraisers struggle to keep up with the fast paced activity and increasing values.

I love the twisted thinking that “low appraisals” are “a problem.” Isn’t the whole point of an appraisal to protect the bank from overlending on a property? Perhaps the “problem” isn’t low appraisals but over-zealous buyers willing to pay too much.

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):

April 2013 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 3,221 +8.4% -34.6%
Closed Sales 2,096 +14.8% +18.5%
SAAS (?) 1.37 +0.5% -4.1%
Pending Sales 3,221 +4.0% +7.2%
Months of Supply 1.06 +4.2% -39.0%
Median Price* $400,000 +2.0% +11.1%

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

As forecasted last week in our stats preview, inventory actually gained a bit from March to April. The 8.4% month-over-month increase is the largest we’ve seen since March 2010. Perhaps the inventory crunch is finally starting to ease, but we can’t really jump to any conclusions from a single month of data.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

This was also one of the largest month-over-month increases we’ve seen in closed sales, so it’s a pleasant surprise that inventory was able to keep up.

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

King County SFH Inventory

This chart puts last month’s inventory increase into perspective. We’ve got a long ways to go to get back to anything resembling a normal market.

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

The direction of the listings curve is encouraging, but the sales curve took another turn upward, indicating increasing competition among buyers.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Big drop in the year-over-year price gains, falling from 19% last month to 11% this month.

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

King County SFH Prices

April 2013: $400,000
March 2006: $405,000

I haven’t seen any articles about the numbers yet at the Times and P-I, but I’ll update this post when they’re posted.

[Update: Here they are.]
Seattle Times: Home prices reach $400K amid tight inventory
Seattle P-I: King County house price back up to $400,000

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.


  1. 1
    mike says:

    Perhaps that should read “cash-challenged buyers willing to pay too much.”

  2. 2

    RE: mike @ 1
    Wait Until They Stop Pumping $85B/mo to Keep Interest Rates Low Soon

    That’s the time to grab up units with cash.

  3. 3
    Erik says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 2
    I don’t think interest rates will go up until national unemployment is under 6.5% and gdp is at or over 2%/year. That’s what the feds said. Unemployment nationally is at 7.3%. Robert Shiller said this momentum from the bump will most likely last a year or more. I think that one more year of price increases is a pretty safe estimate and it fits nicely with my plan to sell after owning 2 years.

    This is intuition Corndogs, which you blasted me for using before. I think it’s a fair analysis.

  4. 4
    Erik says:

    Another observation is that it is misleading to say we are at 2006 prices. Prices changed a lot in 2006, and we are at the bottom of that price range. It seems more fair to say we are at 2008 prices or maybe 2010 prices. Saying we are at 2006 prices is a sales pitch to get someone to sell their house so realtors can make a commission.

  5. 5
    corndogs says:

    RE: Erik @ 3 – Well, that SWE guy is a bruised apple anyway, so intuition would tell me to do the opposite of whatever he said, so good job on that… your analysis seems fair except for your future plans for selling your place at a huge profit… here’s what my intuition tells me…. (please allow me to oversimplify) There are two things going on in the market. High end desirable homes are being competed after, this is what rich people do with their money when there’s nothing else to invest in, so there’s still plenty of pie in the sky for that market and there always will be. The low end market is the bulk of the foreclosures, prices for the low end have zero pie in the sky value at this point, values are based on income potential (again this is what rich people do with their money when there’s nothing left to invest in). So who’s going to overpay you for your place in the short term? My intuition tells me no one, unless you have a truly exceptional property, I don’t know that part, i haven’t seen it. But if you bought something like the Tim, you’ll be tracking up with inflation and down with interest rates, because that’s historically how low end rental properties were valued, before we started pushing sub-primes to make it easy for Democrats to buy homes… that is the valuation of low end housing that we have gone back to… it should stay like that for quite some time as the conversion of low end homes continue to change hands from the lower/middle class to the middle/upper class..

  6. 6
    whatsmyname says:

    Tim, I thought you were making a mistake when you chose orange for 2013. I thought that the 2013 home prices data would get all muddled with 2009. But you were right, and I’m big enough to admit it.

  7. 7
    Carl says:

    RE: Erik @ 4 – I tend to think we are back to March 2006 because the trend now is the same as the trend in 2006. The trend in 2008 was clearly on the downward side. 2010 peaked at 400k, but that was in July, while we still have some seasonal gains.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think it is absurd we are back to within 17 months of the peak in 2007 and absurd that all the stock indices are at all time highs. But that is what you get when, as SWE correctly notes, the Fed (along with every other gov’t) is printing money. Can’t fight the tape. We all may be intellectually or academically right in assessing the market, but ultimately it is Mr. Market that is right.

  8. 8
    wreckingbull says:

    Nice. The shills have dusted off the term “new normal”. This was the go-to phrase during the crack and whore years of the mid aughts.

  9. 9
    ARDELL says:

    If you look at homes built in 2006 and resold in the last 90 days, you will be hard-pressed to find any that have sold in 2013 at or above their 2006 price. Some of that could be wear and tear, but people also add things of value to their new homes after purchase. So that should balance out pretty much unless the wear and tear is excessive.

    While the aggregate might indicate 2006 levels for one reason or another, I am not seeing hard proofs yet of being above 2005 pricing. It’s more about mix and inventory than appreciation to 2006 levels, as far as I can see, and I have been tracking it pretty closely.

  10. 10
    Carl says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 9 – The only hard proof I see is a yearlong trend of numbers. As much as I would love to discount the trend as “mix and inventory” on the way up, I don’t think it was “mix and inventory” on the way down.

    I don’t doubt there is no what i consider “real” asset appreciation here. Instead, I see this as a devaluation of the dollar given the amount of money printing.

  11. 11
    mike says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 9 – I’ve been tracking 06-07-08 built resales in 98117, 98107 and 98103 and while most of them are town homes, it’s not unusual at all to see them selling at or above levels last seen at the peak.

  12. 12
    Erik says:

    RE: Corndogs @ 5
    Well, I bought it for $92,700 in November 2011. The same place sold for $304,950 in summer 2007. I got a designer and did a pretty nice job making my place contemporary. I did almost all the work myself other than the windows. I paid for the windows cause the HOA wants insurance and licenses. Total I probably spent $18k smartly. This isn’t my first remodel, so I have learned how to do things inexpensive. I put a lot of effort into design and making my place pretty since I live in a trendy area. Ardell came and saw it a while back and said that $190k wasn’t unreasonable. Since then I have improved my design quite a bit, recently cleared my view of Lake Washington, and the market has gone up. I was kinda hoping to get an emotional buy for my place since it is pretty.

    Yes, my place is low end. I think you are right about not getting as much increase as more expensive homes as Tim’s previous data supports. My home may be worth more in March 2006 than it is worth today. I’m not how sure how much more I can get from my contemporary design and remodeling.

    I’ll see how I feel in 9 months about selling. I kinda wanna fish and see if I can find someone to fall in love with my place. If I can’t get what I want, I can always rent it or continue living here.

  13. 13
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Erik @ 12 – Impressive. How were you able to swing that acquisition so soon after your short sale?

  14. 14
    Erik says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 13
    I bought before I short sold. :)

  15. 15
    ARDELL says:

    RE: mike @ 11

    Ballard is definitely on a roll, Mike, as we have discussed before. Ballard was not nearly as popular in 2006 as it is in 2013. But for areas that are equally as popular, or not, today as they were in 2006…and I checked all sales in the last 90 days in King County, Ballard is one of the few areas with a few houses hitting that level.

    For every Ballard success story there are 30 or more other sales not having that same experience.

  16. 16
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Erik @ 12

    I have never mentioned my personal knowledge of your place all this time, for obvious reasons. But I think the key is 2 years as primary residence for tax free gain? Also you should be actively involved with the Board to crack down on anything people would pass driving to your unit once inside the complex or walking to the door from the parking area. What other people do impacts your value. There’s a lot more to value than what is inside the unit.

    Did they do the exterior improvements to the building? If yes I’ll take a ride by and see how they did. I pass right by it all the time. Most every day.

  17. 17
    Erik says:

    I am the treasurer of the board, but i’m the most active member, so I have plenty of say in what happens. The president just kinda does what I say. We are friends.

    Please explain what you mean by “crack down on anything people would pass driving to your unit once inside the complex or walking to the door from the parking area.” I don’t understand what you mean.

    We still haven’t painted, which we need badly. I think painting will cost 15k. No need to check it out, it’s pretty much the same. We are in the process of getting rid of people that are not paying. Some owners overpaid for their condo and have decided to stop paying their dues along with their mortgage. When their condo goes to an auction, we cannot collect their dues even with a lien. We are working on getting those units to pay or to leave. We have begun turning owners’ power off if they haven’t paid dues in years as allowed in our CC&R’s. This has been pretty effective so far.

    I am hopeful that we will get our HOA in shape to paint by next summer, but it’s not looking good.

  18. 18
    mike says:

    RE: Erik @ 12 – I have to say I’m a bit jealous. I tried to talk my wife into a $200K foreclosure last year that I thought had a lot of potential as a 2-year fix and flip or rental. She wasn’t interested in living in a construction zone or buying a place we were going to move out of after 2 years. Same homes, updated, are in the $350-$400K range by this year. Oh well, we did end up with a nice place I could live in for a decade or 4, so one missed opportunity isn’t the end of the world.

  19. 19
    erik says:

    RE: mike @ 18
    Here is the secret… Flirt with other women on Facebook. Your wife will divorce you and we can both buy houses and sell them for a profit. There is no way the woman I previously lived with would have put up with these remodeling shenanigans either. I wouldn’t have bought this place if we didn’t split. Girlfriends are willing to put up with the unfinished home. They view it as having potential.

  20. 20
    erik says:

    Seattle Times says I have to subscribe for a fee to view the article. I guess I won’t be able to view the Seattle Times links anymore…

    I just copied the text of the link and pasted it in google until I found a link that would show me the article without the subscription. Hooray!!!

  21. 21
    Peter Witting says:

    RE: erik @ 20 – I’d like to know how much the Seattle Times web traffic has dropped as a result of the new paid subscription policy. I have retooled my surfing habits to eliminate the Times entirely. Another question – I haven’t seen Kary around for a while – what’s up there?

  22. 22
    Steve says:

    RE: erik @ 20

    Just use a Google Chrome Incognito window for the Times. Open Chrome, on far right click on menu icon, choose “New Incognito Window” and go from there. Once the 10 articles are viewed, close window and open another.

  23. 23
    Dirty Renter in Banjo Country says:

    RE: erik @ 19
    Like Mike, I am also jealous. 5 years ago I tried to get my wife to move to Miami and buy a condo overlooking the ocean…when they were practically giving them away.

  24. 24

    RE: Corndogs @ 5

    Golly Gee Corndogs

    Thanks for the down thumb compliment…..my batting record on down thumbs means I hit a home run over the years…..LOL

    If the $85B/mo is a permanent fixture in our federal budget welfare to manipulate mortgage interest rates to present lows forever….why is this a sign of a good stable economy?

    I know you come up nada.

  25. 25
    magnolia44 says:

    Just checking in looks like things are getting frothy for no reason other than banks holding back inventory and cheap money.
    Suffering through a kitchen remodel right now its brutal, nice to know we could sell and break even at least….maybe make some cheese w/ all the improvements. But too much blood and sweat, and our 2 kids been born since we’ve been here.


  26. 26
    The Tim says:

    By Peter Witting @ 21:

    Another question – I haven’t seen Kary around for a while – what’s up there?

    Kary rage quit when I instituted the 5-comment per post limit.

    Okay so he wasn’t really dramatic about it but I just like to use the phrase “rage quit.”

  27. 27
    Dirty Renter in Banjo Country says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 24
    I wish someone would call me a bruised apple.
    That’s some funny sh*t.

  28. 28
    erik says:

    RE: The Tim @ 26
    Kary rage quit because Losh outsmarted him too many times. After a while he just submitted to losh and will be remembered in bubble history as the weaker of the two agents.

  29. 29
    erik says:

    RE: Dirty Renter in Banjo Country @ 27
    Dirty renter in banjo country…. you are a bruised Apple. There ya go.

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