Seattle Sales Gain, Cheap South King Sales Slip

Let’s take an updated look at how King County’s sales are shifting between the different regions around the county, since geographic shifts can and do affect the median price.

In order to explore this concept, we break King County down into three regions, based on the NWMLS-defined “areas”:

  • low end: South County (areas 100-130 & 300-360)
  • mid range: Seattle / North County (areas 140, 380-390, & 700-800)
  • high end: Eastside (areas 500-600)

Here’s where each region’s median prices came in as of May data:

  • low end: $223,900-$365,000
  • mid range: $320,000-$685,000
  • high end: $459,576-$1,175,000

First up, let’s have a look at each region’s (approximate) median price (actually the median of the medians for each area within the region).

Median Price of Single Family Homes Sold

The low end regions were actually the only ones to see a significant increase in the median price between April and May. The mid-range regions fell slightly, while the high end was basically flat.

Next up, the percentage of each month’s closed sales that took place in each of the three regions. The dotted line is a four-month rolling average.

% of Total King Co. SFH Sales by NWMLS Area

Month over month the low end regions took a big dip while the mid-range spiked up. The high end gained a little share. As of May 2013, 32.3% of sales were in the low end regions, 34.7% in the mid range, and 33.0% in the high end. A year ago the low end regions had more of the share and the high end less: In May 2012 the low end made up 34.0% of the sales, the mid range was 34.3%, and the high end was 31.7%.

Here’s that information in a visual format:

Bank-Owned: Share of Total Sales - King County Single-Family

Finally, here’s an updated look at the percentage of sales data all the way back through 2000:

% of Total King Co. SFH Sales by NWMLS Area since 2000

If this month’s spike sales share for the mid-range regions keeps up we’ll definitely see the county-wide median price show some strong increases as well, even if ovoerall home values simply hold steady.

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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
    The Tim says:

    Sorry about not posting anything yesterday. The laptop I use to work on the bus was out of commission with a dead hard drive. The new drive arrived yesterday and I was able to get everything up and running again last night.

    Also, if you are missing the weekly Twitter Digest (link roundup), unfortunately Twitter retired the API that the plugin uses to compose those so I have to find a new plugin or rewrite this one. It will be a while before I have time to do that.

  2. 2
    David Losh says:

    The way I look at housing prices today is different than it has ever been. Look at that “low end” pricing at between low end: $223,900-$365,000.

    How would you call $365K low end?

    Mid range may make some sense, but it is overlapping the high end significantly.

    Today I watch commercial Real Estate much more than residential. I think residential pricing is subject to broader market conditions, like interest rates, the wealth factor, and consumer confidence more than any reality.

    Why would anyone take on $200K, and more in debt to rent a house from the bank, the Note holder of your loan, for 30 years?

    Your home used to be a hedge against inflation, that we don’t really have right now, and maybe won’t for some years to come. Without that inflation factor your monthly payment is just paying rent, if you didn’t buy extremely well.

    In the past five years the residential Real Estate market entered an asset class by being bought by large investment groups, and bank participation in the foreclosure process. I look at it like gold, that is fluctuating with broad market conditions. That to me isn’t normal.

    I own a home, but it is partially paid for by my business, that produces income that can pay the mortgage. Home owners are, to me, pretty much stuck where they are for the price they paid.

    I do understand there is a run up in pricing, but also see that pricing has a way to come down. I think the rental market will have an impact going forward, because to me, in my older position of investing, I see more opportunity in the stock market than I do in housing units.

  3. 3
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 2 – Hey dummy, the other day you said

    “All of the reports, statistics, market trend lines, and over all market analysis have fallen.”

    Where’s the data to back up your statement?

  4. 4
    David Losh says:

    RE: corndogs @ 3

    He just posted it. Mid range down. Sheesh, look up your own data.

    I don’t really want to waste a comment on this, so I’ll continue with the fact that before the global economy collapsed there was some sentiment that all boats, all economies, would increase to rise up to levels closer to ours, or Europe. China has done great, as well as South America. There have been increases in income, wages, savings, and economies everywhere.

    What I think got missed is that as other economies evolved our economy began taking some deflationary hits. Other countries can supply us for cheaper than we can add supply. The deflation has been off set by speculation in commodities due to the same low interest rates that home buyers are using.

    When I said I watch commercial Real Estate more closely now, I also mean apartment building, and rental portfolios. To me it looks kind of like a wash, between owning a home, or renting, saving, and investing in other strategies.

    If we lose these unprecedented price increases in housing, or more likely we stay flat, with slight decreases over the next few years, housing units look less, and less attractive as an investment.

    I f you are looking for a life style choice, that’s something different, with another set of values that are incalculable.

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: corndogs @ 3
    Losh doesn’t want to waste his time or his comments to prove anything.

    That’s what he said when I proved him wrong too.

  6. 6
    Ron says:

    I really don’t think you can ever generalize about a specific home purchase based on aggregate data. Look at for example. Every case is different. That being said, it is a good thing I was not required to move to another city in 2007 and decided to buy a house. There can be an element of market timing, but for most single family homeowners it has not been part of their decision making process.

  7. 7
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 4 – “He just posted it. Mid range down. Sheesh, look up your own data.”

    You absolute buffoon! First of all, the only ‘down’ data in this post is the LOW range, not the MID range. So you even got that wrong! but the the dip in the LOW range is only a percentage of total sales. The percentage of sales between the ranges change monthly and have nothing to do with the state of the market. Let’s repeat once again what you claimed.

    “All of the reports, statistics, market trend lines, and over all market analysis have fallen.”

    That statement is absolutely false and confirms once again that you’re dead above the neck.

    Losh, do us all a favor, give the Tim a phone number for your next of kin. I predict that very soon you are going to die from natural selection. You’ll either walk out into traffic, fall in the bathtub or just forget to breathe. I would really like to know how you go out and I’d also be interested in taking bets with other Seattle Bubble bloggers if anyone’s interested.

  8. 8
    Erik says:

    RE: Ron @ 6
    So…. what i’m hearing is that the data doesn’t accurately reflect home prices because each home price is special. You would have bought at the top of the market in 2007 if you had to move.

    The aggregate data has been 100% of the reason I made my purchase. I found the area with sudden huge supply of distressed housing in November 2011 and bought. Best financial decision I have made to date.

  9. 9
    3rd Generation says:

    7. corndogs

    Well said.

    I too had a similar response in mind but it just was more effort than I wanted to invest considering the current new lows in commentary seen here. Frankly, I couldn’t care less.

    Let’s just be hopeful for the children.

  10. 10
    mike says:

    By Ron @ 6:

    There can be an element of market timing, but for most single family homeowners it has not been part of their decision making process.

    Yes, it always surprised me how some people that did not yet have children were driven by the obsession of owning a home before a certain age – usually people in their 20’s wanting to buy before they hit the big ‘3-0’ as an indicator of status. Virtually everyone I knew that gave in to this phenomenon ended up getting hosed over the past few years, either because it compelled them to buy at a bad time, while the market was crashing – or in an undesirable area because that is what they could afford at the time. Some got hit with the double whammy, buying at both the wrong time and in the wrong area!

    No wonder pride is considered a deadly sin.

  11. 11
    Sanguis says:


  12. 12
    corndogs says:

    RE: Sanguis @ 11 – There was no death threat. I worded it carefully so no dumb s*** like you would say there was as the democrat brain is very predictable. all I’m offering is a prediction with the opportunity for betting.

  13. 13
    Erik says:

    RE: mike @ 10
    You nailed my situation on the head. My plan was to remodel and get out. Didn’t workout as planned… Tons of unnecessary work and pain. Bad decision by me in hindsite. It was tough time in my life and I felt buying a house and remodeling it would be a good distraction.

  14. 14
    whatsmyname says:

    South King County has a slipping percentage of a higher total number of sales. Depending on whether these numbers are based on pending sales or closed sales, that represents either a rounding error, or a sales increase.

    As for the bigger picture,
    Sales are up.
    Prices are up.
    Trends are up.

  15. 15
    Jay says:

    RE: Erik @ 13 – I’m planning to do remodeling too. What went wrong with your project? Did you buy a house and try to remodel it? I’m trying to learn from you, so I appreciate your advice! Thanks.

  16. 16
    erik says:

    RE: Jay @ 15
    Remodeling is much harder than it appears. I bought a house built in 1906. Buying old means you will inherit more problems. I ended up replacing the sewer line, the water coming in and every piece of plumbing in the house. I rewired the house and reset outlets. I did all of the work myself very slowly. I became emotionally involved and obsessed. I did everything you can think of, but plumbing and electricity is costly. For your first remodel, look for something cosmetic. You want something that needs paint, flooring, yard work, and appliances. The money is made in the purchase.
    Here is one very important thing I learned… Follow this order of construction and only deviate if you know you can make it work. 1. Windows/doors/exterior 2. Plumbing/electricity 3. Drywall/paint 4. Flooring 5. Trim. That is the remodel order I use. Get out of order and you may regret it. The second time around, I bought low at a great time. Much smaller project. It is a condo, which is much easier. I paid someone to do Windows and when I got into electrical trouble, I called an electrician as opposed to fumbling around for weeks. I learned to call someone on craigslist when I can’t handle something myself.
    In the beginning have a place for tools and put them back every night. Make your bedroom construction free so you have somewhere to go. Consider a designer to help you layout your goal and choose colors. I use Rebecca west. She is cheap and good. Sucks to remodel and not have it look great.
    Your first one is really hard if you aren’t really good at construction. If you fail, do it again. It is much easier if you kinda know what you are doing. You are on this site and I think that’s a great start.
    This is only my second go at it and I think I did very well this time, but we will see. I attribute most of it to buying low and market conditions. Good luck and remember to never give up. It only gets easier the more experience you get.

  17. 17
    Jay says:

    RE: erik @ 16 – Thanks for your encouragement! I approached an old guy and wanted to buy his house and renovate it, but he said that he might sell next year! I’m still trying to figure out what to do! The house needs lots of work, but it is in a perfect location! I don’t want to give up on this house, because the location works very well for me! I’m planning to hire an architect and a builder to do the renovation, because I don’t have time nor the expertise to do remodeling! I heard from a lot of people that it is much better to pick everything from the very beginning and stick to it, in order to avoid going over budget! Does anyone else have experience dealing with big renovation project? I truly appreciate anyone’s tips on renovation! Thank you!

  18. 18
    Erik says:

    RE: Jay @ 17
    Yeah, I don’t know anything about hiring architects and builders. Sounds out of my realm. I just buy a place and remodel it a cheaply as possible. I hate spending money. That’s why I do most of the work myself.
    I don’t think I would be comfortable not micromanaging every step of the process. With a builder, you lose control of your project.

  19. 19
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Jay @ 17 – One big thing to consider – are you planning on living in the house while it is being renovated, or would you do the work prior to moving in (recommended)? Living there while major work is going on can be really difficult.

    I wish that I had done more work on my house before moving in (such as scraping off all of the popcorn ceilings) – one of the biggest challenges I have now, when trying to finish my 13-year ongoing remodel, is to figure out where to put all of the stuff that I have to move out of the way in order to actually work on the house. I did move things into a storage unit which helped somewhat.

    If you do have to use a storage unit (which should be for a short period, with a definite end date), do yourself a favor and do not set up auto-pay – make yourself go in to the office monthly to pay the bill. This will make you want to get out of the unit faster. Trust me on this one. I still have one storage unit – it is full of things that I could have bought new, three times over, for what I have paid to keep the stuff. Listen to me now and hear me later!

  20. 20
    corndogs says:

    OhOh! rising interest rates with a chart that looks like a global warming hockey stick…. danger! danger! react… phase two dummy frenzy on the move…. time for the bad decisions to start… investors alert… outlook revised from buy/hold to hold/sell. Stay tuned as the situation develops… Sellers, set prices accordingly…. repeat dummy frenzy is a go… code green!

  21. 21
    David Losh says:

    RE: corndogs @ 20

    Geez, sure I have three comments left on this thread so I can say you are myopic on interest rates. Are you thinking home mortgages? Is that your sole focus in investing, because I’m kind of looking at the price of gold right now. I haven’t touched gold in decades, but it seems to be pretty volatile right now.

    What I think is that investors, I mean real investors, will leave housing, take profits, take no prisoners, and leave the little guys hanging.

    That’s what a rise in interest rates means to me. It means higher returns in other ventures. It means businesses might even put some of those massive cash reserves to work in the private sector.

    I see booming business, with housing kind of like an expense, rather than an investment, you know, the way it’s always been.

    Here’s the deal, without inflation, or if I want a hedge against inflation, I’d buy gold rather than housing units right now.

  22. 22
    Jay says:

    RE: Erik @ 18 – We are not rich! But this house needs lots of work! My friend tried to be his own general contractor and wasted lots of money. But for a large project, isn’t it better to go with a builder and architect? That way, I know the total cost of renovation.
    I think you are on your way to financial success! My friends who were single a few years ago, bought houses in 2007, are still upset today. I think that was a big mistake. We are still renting, and don’t mind renting until the right house comes along.

    RE: redmondjp @ 19
    Thanks for your tips! We are still renting!

    RE: David Losh @ 21
    I sure hope that you are right! We are waiting for a bargain, so that we can afford renovation! I’m counting on that you are right, then we can afford to do renovation at the end of this year or next year! I’m also hoping that banks will release crappy houses in nice neighborhoods.

    Also, in a hot market, do builders charge more money? Thanks

  23. 23
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 21 – I was making fun of people who are chasing interest rates. This was inevitable… it’s what I call the phase II. The smart people already bought the stupid are to follow – a short time after that is the time for smart people to sell….

    Your idea of buying gold in a rising interest rate market is foolish. If you do a little research you’ll find that’s the very wrong time to buy. you said you haven’t touched gold in 20 years – bad timing again – that was when you should have bought it.

  24. 24
    David Losh says:

    RE: corndogs @ 23

    Obviously you don’t follow the stock market, or commodities.

    Gold is a hedge against inflation which we aren’t getting, and won’t be getting with the rising interest rates.

    So you don’t get the correlation between these interest rate hikes, and inflation, or the lack of inflation.

    These interest rate hikes are different from the interest rate hikes that were to curb inflation like they did in the 1980s.

    The Fed doing everything it could to ignite inflation, and curb deflation, didn’t work. All we got was speculation in assets, and commodities.

    Without inflation, without the prospect of inflation, the price of gold is declining.

  25. 25
    Be Nice says:

    Life is too short Not sure why name calling is needed in the community RE: corndogs @ 3

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