Case-Shiller Tiers: Middle Tier Gains Most in April

Let’s check out the three price tiers for the Seattle area, as measured by Case-Shiller. Remember, Case-Shiller’s “Seattle” data is based on single-family home repeat sales in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

Note that the tiers are determined by sale volume. In other words, 1/3 of all sales fall into each tier. For more details on the tier methodologies, hit the full methodology pdf. Here are the current tier breakpoints:

  • Low Tier: < $265,614 (up 2.6%)
  • Mid Tier: $265,614 – $425,979
  • Hi Tier: > $425,979 (up 2.6%)

First up is the straight graph of the index from January 2000 through April 2013.

Case-Shiller Tiered Index - Seattle

Here’s a zoom-in, showing just the last year:

Case-Shiller Tiered Index - Seattle

All three tiers continued to rise in April, with the middle tier again gaining the most. Between March and April, the low tier rose 2.6%, the middle tier was up 3.8%, and the high tier gained 2.0%.

Here’s a chart of the year-over-year change in the index from January 2003 through April 2013.

Case-Shiller HPI - YOY Change in Seattle Tiers

The middle tier was the biggest gainer in year-over-year growth between March and April. Here’s where the tiers sit YOY as of April – Low: +14.0%, Med: +14.7%, Hi: +11.4%.

Lastly, here’s a decline-from-peak graph like the one posted yesterday, but looking only at the Seattle tiers.

Case-Shiller: Decline from Peak - Seattle Tiers

Current standing is 35.1% off peak for the low tier, 23.9% off peak for the middle tier, and 19.0% off peak for the high tier.

(Home Price Indices, Standard & Poor’s, 06.25.2013)

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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
    Erik says:

    The low tier is the next one to increase as these foreclosures and short sales get bought up. Hopefully interest rates stay down while so us low tier folks can sell after we get our price bump. Us low tier people are low tier for a reason and I can see things not working out for us again.

  2. 2
    ray pepper says:

    in reply to wreckingbull: If your best-case, student-debt-free, childless couple ever loses a job which provides health insurance and/or has a medical emergency which is not covered, they are cooked. But who cares, because we got ours, right? ………

    very incorrect wreckingbull…you MAY or obviously MAY NOT know this but in your scenario the unemployed crapped out Wendy’s worker simply shows up at the ER and will get just as good attention and medical services as you or I …After filling out the Charity Case paperwork in the mail 3 weeks later they are good to go…what did you say?…………they don’t fill out the paperwork? we ll it doesn’t matter …just return to the ER for FULL SERVICE again.

    Educate yourself my friend because you know ZERO about the State of our Health care system and not having insurance. btw….have cancer? think you won’t get treated?…Think again my friend………I learned a lot in the past 20 years being an RN but most of what I learned had nothing to do with nursing. The disease process is always the same. but, what you learn behind the scenes, and who is picking up the tabs, is what is most fascinating.

  3. 3
    Erik says:

    I also want to reply to something Wreckingbull said when I had no comments. I’m not sure he saw this as I put it on the open forum. I would like him to think more is all. He’s turning a website for ideas and learning into an army.


    I ran out of comments, so I wasn’t able to answer your question in-line. Yes, Erik and erik are the same guy.

    Please let me explain my problem with you getting so many thumbs up for comments that aren’t even well thought out… In leading engineers, I’ve learned one of the worst things that can happen is “group think.” In group-think, there is one person that makes a comment and everyone else agrees until everyone gets on that same page. This website is great for ideas and thinking. You and the goon squad aren’t doing that. I am not here to sell anything, and I don’t really care if you don’t like me… that’s fine. I am only here to think and learn from others. You and your followers are not contributing any tribal knowledge. As I have said before, you are trying to use things like seniority to decide who has the best comments. That is one of the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You are turning a think tank into an army. All that will do is stunt everyone’s knowledge. Do you see that?

    You may know a lot and so may all the goons that give you thumbs up when you make low quality comments. But judging purely by commentary, I have learned basically nothing from you and those people. Teach me, tell me where i am wrong and why I am wrong, comment in a constructive manner…. please. Creating squad full of people that think by seniority is not the right approach for productive learning.

    It seemed like asking if Erik and erik where the same guy was so you could unleash the goons on me. You are like hmmm erik made a comment that I didn’t like, so i’m gonna sick my goons on Erik as well. You should evaluate each comment individually and not by who it’s coming from. That falls in the same line as voting by seniority and it’s not the right approach for constructive learning and idea creation. I don’t know your career path, but it seems like it was based on hierarchy and respect. This is different.

  4. 4

    RE: Erik @ 3
    Paranoid at all? You seriously believe that the thumbs downs you get is a result of some nefarious conspiracy, where wreckingbull contacts his “goon squad” so they can give you thumbs downs? And you also think that your own posts/opinions have nothing to do with it?

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 4
    Goon Squad = The people that give wreckingbull massive support for low quality comments while beating others down that question him

    I don’t understand what is driving this. There are great comments on here and then wreckingbull pops up and paraphrases what tim said and he gets showered with praise.

    I guess for me “wreckingbull and the goon squad” represents ignorance. People that are unable to think for themselves. Pack mentality.

    Read wreckingbull’s comments without any other outside influences. He paraphrases Tim. He makes general statements about finance that are not unique. Whenever you ask him to explain, he doesn’t. Something is going on, so I invented the goon squad to attempt and explain this phenomenon. I feel like the little boy in “The Emporer’s New Clothes.” It seems like nobody can see the Emporer is wearing no clothes except me. When I say something, I get beat down.

    I would like to see everyone including myself learn more and get smarter. I think wreckingbull and the goon squad are counterproductive to my efforts to learn. What I see happening is that there is a gang of people that don’t explain things and they don’t try to increase the knowledge here on this site. If you question them, they beat you down, which discourages good discussion.

    Maybe you understand the fundamentals well enough to take it in stride, but I don’t. I feel like wreckingbull and the goon squad is keeping all of us from learning more about real estate.

  6. 6

    RE: Erik @ 5
    Tell you one thing:
    “Wreckingbull and The Goon Squad” sounds like a great name for a band.
    If only I played bass.

  7. 7
    3rd Generation says:

    and now, back to Seattle real estate ?

    Kindergarten nappy time over for today. Put your mats away and throw out your milk cartons children.

    Mommy will be here with your afternoon Ritalin dose soon.

    You’re Welcome.

  8. 8
    Kilen says:

    Does this spat remind anyone else of elementary school?

    Seriously, thumbs up/down are just opinions. Feel free to ignore them. (just as I will ignore any replies to this post)

  9. 9
    Erik says:

    I am here to have a good time and learn about real estate. I have been laughing about Ira’s band comment which takes care of my having a good time criteria. I also learned that the middle tier has increased the most from march to april. Also, all tiers have increased in price from march to april.

    You see, I have filled both buckets. Thank you for your time.

  10. 10
    Macro Investor says:

    Yep, we have another idiot troll who ruins every thread with irritating nonsense.

    Oh, sorry… he has a masters degree from Imaginary University, but can’t construct coherent sentences, lol.

  11. 11
    Erik says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 10
    I knew you were a member of the goon squad because you act like another trust fund baby that hasn’t had to think for yourself. I believe this because I don’t see your knowledge. The University of Washington is not an imaginary school. My adviser is Ramulu Mamidala and I did a lot of good research on manufacturing composite materials that will hopefully be used down the road. I am an excellent student. My grades are very good. So, when you trust fund babies rip on me for being dumb, I do not believe that I am based on my academic history. Maybe i’m ignorant in real estate, but that is why i’m here to learn. I get the feeling you and a few others were given your wealth and therefore don’t know what I want to know… how to get wealthy. Your dad did it for you.

    Some of my grammar has been poor in the past because I was using my Kindle and it messes up words. I’m still trying to get use to it. I would consider myself better at math than at english in general. I have written successful papers in the past, but I do not concentrate on grammar on this website.

    If you want to see my credentials, I can show you. I have gotten a bad rap here because i’ve tried to flush out information and ask for reason. Maybe I’m the Socrates of Seattlebubble :). Just kidding…kinda…. but if you remember how Socrates got in a lot of trouble for asking too many questions and asking “why.” All of the ignorant people that had power persecuted him for asking questions. All I want to know is how these things work and the people that maybe got lucky or their dad did it for them get offended. Seems pretty obvious to me that if you knew, you’d just tell me as opposed to getting defensive. And if you haven’t read about the Greek philosopher Socrates, you should, and maybe you’d get it.

    So yeah, keep calling me a troll. Vote off all my comments. I don’t think you know the information I want, so I don’t care. There are some people on here that do know and that doesn’t include “the goon squad.” When I realize someone doesn’t know, I no longer want their input.

  12. 12
    Kyle says:

    RE: Erik @ 11

    For your awareness I always thumbs down your distracting off-topic posts. This chain is a great example. Your first post was okay (yay green thumb for Erik!) then four big red downers:(

    Im actually in agreement with your thinking about the current real estate market conditions. Those posts bring something to the table. Posts about the goon squad, trust fund babies, and plans to paint your condo slowly erode my will to live

    Now I have to thumbs down my own post because it is distracting and off topic. But at least the damage will be mitigated as you are out of posts…meeting adjourned

  13. 13

    I wonder why I don’t visit this blog as much as I used to. Too much petty bickering. Still has great articles but I just skip the comments section these days (except for today obviously). Have “fun”!

  14. 14
    David Losh says:

    The Board of Governors are doing a fine job of spinning the data of this increase in the price of housing. Even with their recent rise, mortgage rates are still “incredibly low” by historical standards, so they will not halt the housing recovery, Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko told CNBC on Tuesday.

    It’s amazing how much this new Case Shiller Index can influence the housing market, and now the stock market.

    Based on this sales data, of what people are willing to pay today for housing, our entire economy is chugging through another week.

    This morning I was thinking of why I feel that my view of housing has changed. When we bought our house I was thinking that the kids would have great outdoor areas to play in. Well they spend more time indoors with their Mac Books, I Pads, and I Pods.

    The world has changed. The way we live has changed. Housing, in my newly forming opinion, has changed. We can live with less, and travel more. What we save on housing can be invested in any number of ways that I think will show better returns.

  15. 15
    Ray pepper says:

    RE: David Losh @ 14 – Dave housing is the same. It’s YOU, your needs, and your family dynamics that have changed. You are getting older and this happens to everyone’s views as they age.

  16. 16
    mike says:

    RE: Ray pepper @ 15 – Next he’ll be saying “Schools? why am I paying for these darn schools nobody needs??? All anyone really needs is a neighborhood hospital!”

  17. 17
    David Losh says:

    RE: mike @ 16

    I personally have gotten to like schools. It was the younger Dave who never liked paying tax dollars for them.

    Ray may be right though in that my kids have never liked team sports, but other kids do. My son skate boards, and my daughter would rather do a school project than anything else.

    What I was referring to is the number of young professional people who are more focused on cheap housing, paying student loans, and working as much as they can. We see a lot of people working longer, at some times two jobs each in order to save money.

    That saved money may be a for a down payment on a house, and that would just be another dynamic of savings idea.

  18. 18
    No Name Guy says:

    Quote me on this: It is a suckers rally on the prices. If you’ve waiting to sell, best get a move on and as that greater fool is out there waving money about saying “Me, Me, Me…..escalator clause, multiple bid? No problem. Waive inspection. Gotta buy before rates go up.”.

    There’s an early mover advantage to selling IMO – everyone who can sell will jump on this bandwagon once they wake up and can slap a cheap coat of paint on their pig* and supply will come on, putting a brake on increasing prices. Who knows, the banks might just start dumping their steamy piles of shadow REO’s as well – I’m still watching for the ones in my ‘hood to hit the market. With all those greater fools out there buying today…..why not? ( I don’t have a cynical view at all, do I?).

    Oh, and a big hint that its a suckers rally? All those REO to rental buyers from a few years ago are becoming sellers.

    My plan: Keep saving, stay liquid and I’ll buy a rental when it legs down and the numbers pan out. Interest rates won’t matter all that much, since I’ll be a cash, or nearly all cash buyer – let rates go up, it’ll pull prices down to my cash level. My money is where my mouth is.

    * – hint, I’d expect a lot of under maintained places to be hitting the market. If you’re buying from someone who obviously went through a distressed period and is only just going to get out above water, it would seem wise to inspect the heck out of the place with a very skeptical eye since there may be some deferred maintenance, or cheap repair / lip stick on a pig, surprises.

    Oh, and Erik / erik: You get thumbed down for inane comments. There is no goon squad, except in your own mind. Now, where are your comments so i can thumb ’em down…..wreckingbull told me to in the secret “Get Erik / erik forum”

  19. 19
    HappyRenter says:

    RE: David Losh @ 17
    I second David. If you buy a house it should be because YOU want to own a house and enjoy home ownership. Buying a house just because it’s an investment or so that your kids can have a yard to run around can lead to frustration later. Everybody makes their own decisions.

  20. 20

    Erik, Check Out the Financial News Today

    The House is unlikely to vote for more federal buying of its own bonds; add in Bernanke’s statements to confirm….

    What really gets SWE rolling on the ground in laughter is weak minded pundits that think a 2014 6-10% mortgage market interest rate won’t affect price….LOL

  21. 21
    Kyle says:

    RE: David Losh @ 14

    I wonder if a big change in the real estate market is people’s expectations. Im in my early thirties so basically all of my “real estate participant” years have been during a massive boom and then bust. I find a lot of my peers think about home ownership as an investment first and means for shelter second. It kind of makes sense based on the time period but Im wondering if this was always the case.

    Did homebuyers in the 70’s and 80’s think like this?

  22. 22
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 4 – Actually the ‘squad is busy today. It stopped raining so I have them out doing landscaping. They should wrap up tonight and I will get them back to their normal job of downvoting comments into oblivion.

  23. 23
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 2 – Are you actually trying to say that the rich and poor get the same cancer treatment? It is well-documented by the American Cancer Society that your statement is false

    Forget that though, because even the insured spend big money fighting cancer. I lost a friend to Leukemia several months ago. I was shocked when he told me the out-of-pocket liability, even though he was fully insured. The most promising treatments were those not approved by his insurer so for those, he paid 100%. He was an RN just like you. His wife was not only left without a husband, but also in financial ruin. Watching this was so painful that it has forever changed the way I will deal with cancer. Unless it is a slam dunk, I won’t risk financial ruin for those I leave behind.

  24. 24
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kyle @ 21

    There were investors in the 1970s, and 1980s, and that’s where you get all of that infomercial speak about Real Estate. By 1998, if you owned property you were rich.

    There was a down period in there until about 2003, 9/11 was a part of that, however by as early as 2005 many investors in Real Estate were nervous. In 2006 it was apparent that things were going sideways, the way they are now.

    These price increases are bad. The reasoning behind the price increases is flawed.

    What is extremely flawed is the number of Real Estate experts that have come out of the woodwork in this last rally. People looking at things like Case-Shiller, or Consumer Confidence, or Affordability tend to over look the broader economy.

    Real Estate sales people took a beating between 2007, and 2011. Many think they are in Real Estate heaven with all of this good news about the Real Estate market, but it is all fluff, and puff.

    I linked a Rick Santelli rant to this site last week, because he hit the nail on the head. People are just looking at algorithms rather than hard data. Real Estate is location, price, and condition. Your purchase, as an investment, needs to meet, or beat a certain criteria.

    For me my business was to buy, and sell houses, or to help you buy, and sell houses. I worked with a lot of investors over the years who had solid experience, and longevity in the business. Today a lot of them are looking a little wore out.

    Things have changed dramatically, but if you pick a property that suits your needs, that you recognize the risk, and mitigate that risk, you should be fine.

  25. 25
    David Losh says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 23

    I was going to take issue with Ray’s statement, but we have a separate thread for that.

    My second wife died of Leukemia, we both had excellent Health Insurance, and my out of pocket was only $60K, probably more because I’m only counting what was the remainder after her death. During a year of treatment I’m sure we spent another $60K. Had we not both had excellent Health Insurance I would have been bankrupt.

    The kind of insurance you have certainly makes a huge difference, but like I said we have a separate thread for that.

  26. 26
    whatsmyname says:

    By No Name Guy @ 18:

    Quote me on this: It is a suckers rally on the prices.

    mmmm, I will; probably monthly

  27. 27
    whatsmyname says:

    By Conor MacEvilly @ 13:

    I wonder why I don’t visit this blog as much as I used to. Too much petty bickering. Still has great articles but I just skip the comments section these days (except for today obviously). Have “fun”!

    Conor, please purchase a decent shirt. And get a haircut.

  28. 28
    Jonness says:

    RE: Erik @ 3 – Erik: The odds of macro investor being a closet genius who controls the minds and wills of an entire goon squad of people are right at about zero. However, the odds that you frequently post in a negative and offensive manner that causes people to negatively rate your posts is 100%.

    As long as you continue to worry about what everybody else got that you didn’t and continue to blame all your worldly woes on your parents, you will never be happy. In the end, you will wind up having repeated every single one of your parents mistakes.

    Not so long ago, I was deathly ill, homeless, and indigent. Now I live in a beautiful waterfront home where I watch spectacular sunsets and whales go by. And guess what? My parents died when I was relatively young. I effectively had no one to guide me through life. I did it all on my own.

    It’s about making good decisions and having passion and motivation for where you are headed. If you make good decisions, you will live a good life. If you make poor decisions, you will suffer. In the end, where you end up will be largely due the decisions you made along the way. So worry less about everyone else, and start concentrating on making good decisions. When you make a good decision, congratulate yourself. When you make a poor decision, accept responsibility, learn from it, and move on.

  29. 29
    Jonness says:

    By wreckingbull @ 23:

    Unless it is a slam dunk, I won’t risk financial ruin for those I leave behind.

    Too true. But it gets tougher to make that decision when it’s your loved one who gets ill. Thus, the hospitals are full of patients who are already dead.

  30. 30
    Mikal says:

    By whatsmyname @ 27:

    By Conor MacEvilly @ 13:

    I wonder why I don’t visit this blog as much as I used to. Too much petty bickering. Still has great articles but I just skip the comments section these days (except for today obviously). Have “fun”!

    Conor, please purchase a decent shirt. And get a haircut.

    Best quote in months.

  31. 31
    corndogs says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 20 – “What really gets SWE rolling on the ground in laughter is weak minded pundits that think a 2014 6-10% mortgage market interest rate won’t affect price….LOL”

    Your prediction for 2014 interest rates is like the IPCCs estimate of 2100 global temperatures… I think your science is flawed SWE… can you narrow your prediction down a bit. Surely, anyone who is as intelligent as you are and confidently snickers at the feeble minded ought to be able to be more specific.

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