May Stats Preview: Increasing Inventory & Sales Edition

Now that the month of May is behind us, let’s have a look at our stats preview. 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, here’s the summary snapshot of all the data as far back as my historical information goes, with the latest, high, and low values highlighted for each series:

King & Snhomish County Stats Preview

Summary: Inventory rose for the second month in a row, even as sales increased again. Meanwhile, foreclosures are still slowly but surely decreasing toward historically normal levels.

Next, let’s look at total home sales as measured by the number of “Warranty Deeds” filed with King County:

King County Warranty Deeds

Sales in King County rose 15% from March to April, and were up 28% year-over-year, which is a slightly larger year-over-year gain than in April.

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

Deeds in Snohomish rose 8% month-over-month and 26% from May 2012.

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

Foreclosures in King County fell again, and were only barely above last year’s level. Foreclosures increased slightly in Snohomish County, but are still at their second-lowest level in the last 11 months.

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

Trustee Deeds fell to their second-lowest level of the year, but still well above last year.

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

More good news for buyers. Last year King County inventory rose 2.3% between April and May. This year it rose a whopping 15.6%. Similar story in Snohomish County: last year listings fell 3.1%, this year they were up 6.0%. The year-over-year drop in King County inventory was at its smallest level in 17 months.

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.


  1. 1

    May Produced Less Investment Money for Real Estate

    Investing in the stock market keeps home interest rates lower Bernanke challenges…trouble is, stocks are tanking MOM driving investors out.

    Here’s our investment losses interest for May 2013:

    Long Term CDs: 0.00%
    Longterm Bonds -0.16%
    American Stocks-1.43%
    Foreign Stocks-1.02%
    Foreign Stocks -2.00%

    Zombie or Loss interest rates drives mortgage rates up alleges Bernanke, I totally agree with him.

  2. 2
    Erik says:

    Hopefully people are just dumping inventory on the market for summer. By the end of summer, it would be nice to see inventory to dip below 3000 again so prices skyrocket next year. If inventory stays low for another year we’ll see a great boom and bust!! :)

  3. 3
    Plymster says:

    Rising Inventory!?! Yay! We are now at multi-decade lows for inventory in May. We should rejoice because inventory is not stagnant from April to May like it was last year (which has never happened before, by the way).

    Also, even though there are plenty of homes in the foreclosure process, three of the nation’s largest banks have halted all forclosure sales because they supposedly need MORE time to comply with rules that have been on there way for years.

    Yes. This market has all the halmarks of an open, transparent, marketplace in the teeth of rising interest rates, stagnant job growth, falling wages, and double-digit price increases.

  4. 4
    patient says:

    Now, now what kind of selfish FED chairman would you be if you don’t leave a massive asset bubble to your successor to give him a fair chance of being hailed as the world rescuer? A bit lazy to blow the same bubbles as your predecessor one might think but it was after all very powerful so why mess with proven results?

    And God forbid if the housing market actually stabilized at low affordable levels and became a market whiteout fear and greed where everyone wins except for the truly good people of the world, I.e bankers, flippers, reckless risk takers, lobbyists etc. how fun would that be?

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: Plymster @ 3
    Why do you rejoice higher inventory? Why do you cheer for that? What’s in it for you?

    Even Tim is cheering for more inventory and the standard situation of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. I thought I understood his situation… he owns one house in E-rot. Maybe someone can explain this to me cause I don’t understand.

    I can see why some of the trust fund babies like corndogs and 3rd genaration want more predictable economics so they don’t lose the money they were given. Anyone that wants to get ahead should want a less predictable economy…. right?

  6. 6
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Erik @ 5 – Now I am certain your comments are purposefully-crafted trolls. It was always a hunch, but this wraps up the speculation.

  7. 7
    Erik says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 6
    I don’t know what that means. I am asking an honest question. I don’t see why anyone wanting to get ahead would want normal conditions. In normal conditions there isn’t as much opportunity to create wealth. There is plenty of opportunity to get wealthier, but not much opportunity to get a start. I need a start.
    I am here to learn and I include banter in my comments to keep things interesting and fun. I like to laugh. What are purposely crafted trolls?

  8. 8
    Blurtman says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 6 – I am getting to be convinced that pfftt is a character made up by Tim to spice up the blog.

  9. 9
    JWS says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1

    “stocks are tanking MOM driving investors out”

    What in the world are you talking about? Please look at a chart of ANY U.S. stock market index over the last 18 months. Even in the most recent month of May the S&P 500 was up 2%

  10. 10
  11. 11
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 8 – For a while I was convinced that corndogs and Losh were the same entity, not unlike Tyler Durden and the narrator in Fight Club. I could not otherwise explain the mutual infatuation they have for each other.

  12. 12
    David Losh says:

    We have rising mortgage interest rates, 4.10% which was this mornings quote.

    People who have been on the fence about selling are starting to pull the trigger, and list. We have four clients this week who are selling homes. We are beginning to book into next week, and in February, which is normally a busy month for homes going on the market, we got very little.

    As far as the bank owned property I think they have done a brilliant job of selling into this market. I don’t expect a shadow inventory, but do expect more sales. I think in the eyes of the banks they have gotten all they will get from the government so they will simply move onto lending. Rather than holding property they will sell for what they can get, which is considerably more than they would have gotten in the past five years.

    I just see a slow easy correction of housing prices, but some areas will hold well, others may correct to below what we may like.

  13. 13
    David Losh says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 11

    If you read other blogs about Real Estate you will find other people have the same fascination for me.

    I just don’t think Real Estate is the investment opportunity it once was, yet these people keep insisting it is.

    At these prices I just don’t get where the price will rise to.

  14. 14
    Erik says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 11
    Firstly I gave you a thumbs up on accident. Wrong button.

    I think there are some smart people on here that are pretty smart and think for themselves. They have been doing real estate a long time and i’d love to get their comments good or bad. Then there is the crew of goons that just gives thumbs down if the comment doesn’t agree with what the group of goons thinks.

    I don’t want to hear what the group of goons think. I want to hear from the people that have knowledge of the market and real estate. I like hearing from losh, ray pepper, corndogs, ardell, and of course tim because I think they know something from reading this blog the last couple years. I try to engage them as much as possible. I don’t care if you and the rest of the goons don’t like my comments.

    Interesting though how when I make fun of people that are given money by their parents, I get a lot of thumbs down. My guess is that you and your goons are trust fund babies.

    Losh, get over yourself. We aren’t fascinated with you. It seems like you have been doing real estate a long time so we want to read your comments and opinions.

  15. 15

    RE: JWS @ 9

    Update: Trending Downward MOM

    You’re right, the MOM total data was rosier [positive], but May’s EOM batting averages plummetted [like the Mariners]….that’s the data that fills the empty Safeco stadium.

    Is EOM trending a reason not to invest in stocks? Who knows….Bernanke seems to think it is….

    Believe me, I invest rigorously and vastly in stocks, helping you Y [or Millenials] Gens buy homes at lower interest rates, give SWE some help here….if we all work at it together, we can end the fed’s loose money policy by investing [losing or winning?] in stocks and this current selfish middle income deficit welfare, we can’t afford, while butcher axing our federal entitlement to the poor and disabled, can be ended.

  16. 16
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Erik @ 14 – A few tips for young Erik.

    1. Don’t trash the guy that runs this shebang by telling him he and his family live in E-rot.
    2. Don’t assume someone who is older and paid more dues than you is a trust fund baby.
    3. Many of us were unable to buy our own first homes until well into our thirties and even forties.
    4. Those with money, especially old money, embrace volatility. There is no better way to build wealth than by purchasing with pennies on the dollar. Just ask that Warren guy.
    5. Grow up.
    6. Hit the right button.

  17. 17
    Erik says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 16
    Here are some answers for wreckingbull:
    1. I am certainly not trashing the guy running this thing. I lived in E-rot for 6 years. I wish I was more successful like tim. I think he lives in the wrong area based on my experience in that area. When I lived there my neighbors and I all called it E-rot or the hood. I probably lived in a little dirtier area.
    2. The people I called trust fund babies indicated they were.
    3. I’m sorry if you were unable to buy until 30 or 40. This seems like a redundant comment.
    4. My entire point is that nobody seems to embrace volitility!!!
    5. I’m getting older daily.
    6. I will concentrate harder before hitting the correct button.

    Are you mad because I was able to identify you are a goon with pack mentality?

    But seriously, I feel like some of the people including yourself are a victim of “group think.” You just repeat what the majority says.

  18. 18
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Erik @ 14 – Hi Erik,

    Not everyone who has money was born into it. Some worked hard for it. Some got lucky for it. Some had a combination of hard work and luck come into play.

    I had known quite a few trustafarians in my younger days. They were pretty much amusing wastrels. But not everyone who is born into money is, either.

    You play the hand you are dealt. Center on where you are, and do.

    And remember, youth is often wasted on the young.

    Health, family and friends are number one.

    And always void where prohibitted.

  19. 19
    David Losh says:

    RE: Erik @ 14

    I was in favor of Real Estate in until August of 2011. The Fed began lowering interest rates at a rate of 1% for the year.

    That was the death knell for property values.

    Even though prices have gone up, a lot, it is a manipulation of the market place. Because I’ve changed views in light of such great price appreciation I’m being called a fraud.

    Here’s the interesting part that fascinates me. Even if you doubled in price, like they have in Phoenix, you need to sell, or refinance in order to capture this gain. Once any group of investors starts to sell there may well be panic.

    I don’t see the banks panicking, but the individual investors might.

    To me, no matter what happens, the banks win.

    If you keep your home, you will be paying long term mortgages. If you sell the bank gets paid back, and they have more cash reserves. If you refinance, the bank wins. Then at these prices how many owners are going to pay the house off? Not many, I suspect.

    So, to me this market is another bank trap.

    Now maybe I could make some money in this market, but it isn’t much compared to the past. I sure don’t see rental income as a path to wealth with the number of apartments that are coming online, and the life style changes people are making to save.

    So, long story short, I’m a traitor.

  20. 20
    whatsmyname says:

    It seems like the most notable thing in these numbers hasn’t been noted. And that is that the number of King County warranty deeds through the month exceeded the supply of active listings at the end of the month. This has to be the first time that has happened since Seattle Bubble started. And yet, there is no threat to supply, as that number also went up.

  21. 21
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 12

    All four clients selling, Dave? We should really prepare for a listings’ flood, should not we.

  22. 22
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 19

    This is not really true. Banks make little to no money on mortgages and never have made much. You can look at the history – everything they make in the good times, they lose in the bad times, and them some. Look at Countrywide, for instance. If you could look at the company annual reports and count how much money they made in 10 years prior to the year they went bust (or were bought before they did). Bank of America already written off $40 billion in charges and more to come.

  23. 23
    Blurtman says:

    RE: David Losh @ 19 – Is the shoe shine boy long RE? Or the modern day counterpart, the Starbucks barrista?

  24. 24
    Matthew says:

    Moonshot on mortgage rates. Looks like your crappy flip just got a little bit less affordable Erik. I’d be unloading that badboy ASAP if I were you.

    I think my call of a top in July/Aug is looking pretty good!

  25. 25

    RE: Erik @ 5
    With a less predictable economy, the likelihood is higher that you’re going to fall flat on your face. A lot of people want to get ahead, but you still need to be mindful and do what you can to minimize risk.. Swinging for the fences can result in a home run, but more often will result in strikeouts. There’s probably a sweet spot out there where the potential is still pretty good but the risks are reduced.
    But I agree. The best time to invest is when they’re still fleeing towards the exits. We’re way past that now.
    And then some people are buying houses as places to live. They don’t want to rent anymore or for some reason just feel like they need to own a house, but aren’t primarily looking at it as an investment.
    For them, low inventory is a bad thing. For investors, prices are likely to continue upward over the short term. If you’re buying something to flip: If your initial purchase price is low enough, if you have expenses tightly controlled, and if you can price it low enough for the area to get rid of it quickly, you can make money. But clearly there are risks. If you pay too much to begin with, if rehab costs take too long and cost more than you’d hoped, and if it stays on the market too long, you’re sunk.

  26. 26
    Jay says:

    Hi Tim,

    This is a great article! Would you be able to write an article about new constructions? I really want to know about new constructions in the Eastside, especially Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue, Townhomes. Thanks.

  27. 27
    David Losh says:

    RE: 2kt @ 22RE: 2kt @ 21

    Banks make money by moving money. They collect fees, interest, make other loans, package securities, and trade debt. Gains, and losses are made up of short, and long term. Most of the money made in the past ten years have been short term gains. In a case like Countrywide they had short term gains then sold the debt to Bank of America. In my opinion Bank of America will collect on some of that loss over the long term.

    The debt is the debt, and is negotiable. Most of those losses are on second mortgages that are under water, or foreclosed. That money is gone, but debt is an addiction. The consumer will most likely return, especially now with wages being low, and the cost of goods going up.

    That debt addict is just paying more in interest, but they will continue to be in debt.

    Banks always win, and to me it’s laughable to say banks lose money. It’s one of the worlds oldest professions, and I think they would have given up by now if they were truly losing money.

    As far as the amount of people who are calling us to prepare properties for sale, we are now booked for the entire month, except for one day. We are referring people to other companies, and other companies are calling us to see if we have room. It’s more than I’ve seen in the past couple of years. While I’m writing this I took a call from another desperate home owner who needs to have a place cleaned, for sale, this week. It’s just weird.

  28. 28
    2kt says:

    RE: David Losh @ 27
    You don’t really make much sense in this post, Dave. Banks themselves as entities don’t always win, bank managers/insiders often do. In any rate, you project a hate of common man of “all them, damned suits”, and offer nothing interesting on the subject itself.

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