Foreclosure Volume Slowly Drifts Back to Earth

It’s time for our detailed look at May’s foreclosure stats in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. First up, the Notice of Trustee Sale summary:

May 2013
King: 669 NTS, up 10% YOY
Snohomish: 426 NTS, up 42% YOY
Pierce: 551 NTS, up 15% YOY

Nothing much new in these numbers. Still higher than a year ago, but by far smaller margins with each passing month. Most likely we’ll flip back to year-over-year declines in all three counties within the next few months.

Here’s your interactive Tableau dashboard updated with the latest foreclosure data:

The percentage of households in the chart above is determined using OFM population estimates and household sizes from the 2000 Census. King County came in at 1 NTS per 1,236 households, Snohomish County had 1 NTS per 646 households, and Pierce had 1 NTS for every 569 households (higher is better).

According to foreclosure tracking company RealtyTrac, Washington’s statewide foreclosure rate for May of one foreclosure for every 736 housing units was 8th highest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Note that RealtyTrac’s definition of “in foreclosure” is much broader than what we are using, and includes Notice of Default, Lis Pendens, Notice of Trustee Sale, and Real Estate Owned.

Hit the jump for a larger version of the chart that shows the percentage of households in each county receiving a foreclosure notice each month:

Note: The graphs above are derived from monthly Notice of Trustee Sale counts gathered at King, Snohomish, and Pierce County records. For a longer-term picture of King County foreclosures back to 1979, hit this chart and drag the date slider to its full range. For the full legal definition of what a Notice of Trustee Sale is and how it fits into the foreclosure process, check out RCW 61.24.040. The short version is that it is the notice sent to delinquent borrowers that their home will be repossessed in 90 days.

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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

    Foreclosure Volume on Tim’s Article Way Understated

    Go to this Zillow website, I even got you straight to the REAL FORECLOSURE DATA. Its a 98042 cut, but you can do your cut for the MASSES of foreclosures at a theater near you too.

    The MASSES of blue homes are hidden from the Listings[?], the red ones are cheap, but should be MUCH CHEAPER.,pf_pt/98042_rb/

  2. 2
    David Losh says:

    There was an article this morning about how banks are more willing to foreclose now that the price of housing units is up. I agree that banks will most likely continue to start foreclosures, but I don’t really see any shadow inventory. I think we can all see where the problems lie in foreclosures, so I don’t see that as a determining factor in the future.

    What I do see is that banks are going to continue to sort out what is, and isn’t, viable for them to get out from under the number of foreclosures they already have on the books.

    Actually it really doesn’t make any difference because inventory, is inventory, and auctioned properties are just coming back as rentals or flips.

    I would really like to know what any one thinks the investment viability is, today, in housing units. I just don’t see an economic reason to tie up money in housing units. No one so far has made any economic sense to me about holding a property for 15 years, minimum, to get what you paid for returned.

    I understand that renters may be paying the mortgage, but I don’t see that as viable either. I think renters are getting smarter all the time, and won’t go along with paying top dollar for marginal housing.

    I’ve already expressed that flipping houses has gotten to be a job rather than an investment.

  3. 3

    RE: David Losh @ 2

    A Friend of Mine Was a Landlord With an Unit That Had No Mortgage

    He was losing money on depreciation [months not years] mainly, but also delinquent rent and eviction costs. He’s boarded the unit up and richer for doing it.

  4. 4
    Erik says:

    RE: David Losh @ 2
    I will be open and transparent when I sell my place. I plan to show you how lucrative it can be to buy low and sell high. I think the money is still out there.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    David Losh says:

    RE: Erik @ 4

    Sorry, but I think you live in a condo in Kirkland. I can’t imagine it has any value at all.

    We’ll see.

  7. 7
    erik says:

    RE: David Losh @ 6
    I paid $92.7k and I think I can sell for $190k or better. It is in Juanita. Why can’t you imagine it has any value at all? I see comparable condos selling for more. My place is designed nicer than the other condos. Waiting for your reply. I will email you the address. I am a little Leary of posting my address here ad it seems I have become the new villain.

    Maybe my expectations are too high? I would like to make some money on this place to fund my next project or investment. I think everyone thinks I love kirkland. I do like it here for the price, but I would really like to buy in a nice area of Seattle. It is just super expensive downtown.

  8. 8
    Erik says:

    RE: David Losh @ 6
    Okay, I sent my address to you spring cleaning deal. I’m gonna go and workout now. Let me know if you still think my expectations are too high. If you think my expectations are too high, why do you think that? Is there something I can change to raise my selling price?

    Like I said, it’s been beautifully remodeled. I cleared a nice view of lake washington. I am going to work hard this summer on the exterior and the plan is to get it painted and landscaped this summer.

  9. 9
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Erik @ 8

    Not sure if you noticed. I was watching it for you since it came on market. The Esplanade unit that came on market 6/3 at $209,000 went straight to pending with no home inspection contingency in 4 days. mls496433

  10. 10
    Erik says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 9
    I did notice :). It is smaller and has 3/4 less bathrooms too. Mine has a view and this one doesn’t.

    I don’t think this one is better than mine. It has a couple things better than mine, but mine has a few things better than this one. I’m not sure how it was sold with conventional lending when it was previously cash only. Do you know how? I when I tried to buy one in Espalnde, they said cash only cause they were in litigation with a contractor. I assume the litigation has been settled?

    I would sell this summer, but I don’t want to deal with the whole capital gains tax thing.

  11. 11
    Kyle says:

    RE: Erik @ 8

    Dude, do you even lift?

  12. 12
    erik says:

    RE: Kyle @ 11
    I use to lift more when I was younger. I was pretty serious about it. I played football and wrestled, so it mattered. These days I go to bassline in downtown kirkland 6 days a week. We run and box or run and do yoga or run and lift lightly. One rule I made for myself was to stay fit. It keeps me motivated to go to grad school and remodel and all those good things. I already have enough muscle, now I want to get my body fat below 10 percent.

  13. 13
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Erik @ 10

    I can’t tell if it was conventional financing or cash. I don’t think there’s any way to know that before it closes. I agree on the capital gains issue.

  14. 14
    David Losh says:

    RE: erik @ 7

    Why would your unit be more than you paid for it? The remodel has only the value of the remodel, it doesn’t add anything but salability.

    I think you think today is what the market was two months ago, but it isn’t.

    The terms was exuberance, and some people got caught up in that for about a year, but actually less. Going forward you will see all of the indicators from the algorithms going down. The trend lines are down.

    Even if the trending weren’t going down you own a condo in Juanita, not even Kirkland, so I don’t see the value there.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    David Losh says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 13

    Erick is looking for input for his specific sale. He did e-mail me his address, I guess to get a Comparative Market Analysis. I told him should just work with you, and leave the rest of us alone.

    Best of Luck with that.

  17. 17
    3rd Generation says:

    I like the New ‘Dear Abby’ format of the blog, Tim.

    Maybe we can share recipes next and get together and sing around the campfire.

    After all. it’s all about ME, ME, ME.

    Don’t you want to know if I work out or not ? lol.

    Stay Tuned.

  18. 18

    RE: Erik @ 10
    1. I represented a buyer in Esplanade a year ago ,have stayed in touch with him, and have been informed that the litigation has been settled in the favor of the condo owners.
    2.. Now is really good time to sell. It might be a good time to sell in a year or two, or it might not be. If you make a hundred thou profit on your condo, but have to pay 15k in capital gains taxes, you have to ask whether it’s better to take more of a sure thing now, or take more of a risk by waiting. A lot of people think that this upward trend will continue, and the greater reward will outweigh the risks, but people were thinking that in 2007 also.
    3. Juanita’s a nice place. Urban Coffee Lounge serves Stumptown coffee, and you can get get Full Tilt ice cream at Shnoo Yogurt. If there was a place with happy hour local beers, that would make it perfect. I don’t see Juanita as a place that’s particularly risky to invest in.

  19. 19
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: 3rd Generation @ 17 – It was actually an old Internet meme, but Erik did not get the joke and took it as a serious question. The blog has not changed, it’s the quality of some of the comments that has.

  20. 20
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 18

    Would your answer be different if the no capital gains date is only 3 to 4 months away? Would you wait 60 to 90 days to avoid the capital gains tax?

  21. 21
    ARDELL says:

    RE: David Losh @ 16

    haha. I’ve already seen his place. On the one hand the recent sales are promising. On the other hand more than twice what you paid for it less than 2 years ago seems a bit too astounding.

  22. 22
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Jay @ 15

    I believe that is a short sale…which begs the question more in line with the topic of this post…should a “pre-foreclosure” sell for less?

  23. 23

    By ARDELL @ 20:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 18

    Would your answer be different if the no capital gains date is only 3 to 4 months away? Would you wait 60 to 90 days to avoid the capital gains tax?

    My first thought was: Of course. If that’s the situation, of course I’d wait. We’re not going to see any kind of real estate cataclysm locally in the next 3-4 months.
    But it will be slower four months from now than it is now just because things cool off in the fall weatherwise and house sales wise, so it might be slightly harder to sell.
    Let’s just say ” Joe Schmalooki” bought a condo for 100k, and can sell it now for 200k. If he sold it now, he’d pay 15k in capital gains taxes, but if he waited four months, he’d avoid that tax. Will he be able to sell it for 200k in the fall? Is there a risk that he’d need to have it on the market all winter?
    My off the top feeling is that he might have to sell it for a little less four months from now in the interest of not wanting it on the market for an extended period of time, but not knowing the particulars, I’d still risk holding onto it for an extra three-four months, because he’d still probably be able to sell it for closer to 200 in the fall than 185.

  24. 24
    David Losh says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 21

    Is Erik your client yet or not? He definitely needs a lot of help with this.

    Good Luck

  25. 25
    sam says:


    Another weekend of open houses and rude brokers at the open houses. I guess I will be forced to extend my lease or scale down and live in a smaller place. King County SFH Inventory is up by 5% from Jun 1, but the absolute numbers are still in the dumps. It has to hit 5500 to make some difference. Fed is going to say NO tapering and the bubble will keep growing.

  26. 26
    corndogs says:

    RE: sam @ 25 – We are entering the next phase of the recovery, in case you didn’t figure it out yet, you guys who are late to the table are supposed to be warming up to a couple acres in Kent.

  27. 27
    sam says:

    RE: corndogs @ 26

    Enjoy the recovery corndogs! I am very happy not catching a falling knife.

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