New Listings Return to Levels that Outpace Pending Sales

Let’s take one more look at how listings are recovering over the last few months.

This first chart shows the difference between the number of new listings each month and the number of pending sales. Prior to late 2011 this number was almost always positive, except in December, when very few new listings hit the market. Beginning in October 2011 and continuing through March 2013, this measure turned negative. The inventory squeeze was on.

New Listings Less Pending Sales 2000-Present

Beginning in April, and continuing in May and June, this measure is back in the black.

Next, let’s take a look at the “stale listings” measure, which uses the total listings, new listings, and pending sales counts to estimate how many listings are “carried over” from one month to the next.

Stale Listings 2000-Present

Stale listings hit an all-time low in March at just 270 homes, but have recovered to 848 homes as of June. This is still well below the common pre-bubble levels between 2,500 and 5,000, but at least the direction has turned around after falling fairly consistently since mid-2010.

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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
    Attorney says:

    Clearly the housing market has normalized to a degree that the Tim’s post warrants no comments. I hope everyone finds good community garden blogs to fill their “limited use of official work computer” time. Assuming generously that you are employed.

  2. 2
    3rd Generation says:

    Maybe they had their EBT – Electronic Bread Line welfare cards replenished via the productive of us and they are whooping it up at Wal-Mart and then out for a restaurant meal of hot dog and a coke at Sam’s Cub (extra relish-hold the pickles) before making it back to Juanita and a view of the lake (and the torch-down roof of the next building, plus a few trees to set-the-mood).

    High Society.

  3. 3
    3rd Generation says:

    and a spin through Renton to see what couldv’e been . .

  4. 4
    Attorney says:

    It is rare that a lurker like me calls for the regulars. But seriously. The world would be better if Blurtman was killing banksters and Ira was being the crazy uncle with great ideas and a loose grip on reality.

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: 3rd Generation @ 2
    Earning your own way in life is harder than it looks.

  6. 6
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Erik @ 5 – That which does not kill you…..

    …can seriously mess you up.

  7. 7
    David Losh says:

    RE: Attorney @ 1

    I’ve found other things for my computer time, because it does seem the housing bulls are more desperate, and have less to talk about.

    Mortgage rates will fluctuate until we hit a balance, and then the Real Estate market place will stabilize. Some properties will be good purchases, others not so much, but we are on the way to finding out who was smart, and those that may have made missteps.

  8. 8

    RE: Attorney @ 4
    I appreciate the recognition. But aside from being a crazy uncle, I think you’ve got it backwards. I mostly have mediocre ideas, but have a firm grip on reality.

  9. 9

    We Generally Equate Inventory Increases as “Positive” for Real Estate Sales

    There’s also another way to look at it. Increased inventory could mean sales money for the product has recently dried up. I see this at the grocery stores that can’t sell products at high prices: i.e., cases of 24 oz $3/jar salsa stacked all over the aisles…on sale now for about a buck…

  10. 10

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 8


    You at least offer humor and a degree of honesty.

    What does Attorney offer….his $300+/hr fees?

  11. 11
    Erik says:

    RE: 3rd Generation @ 2
    I never had a problem with you making fun of poor people until you made fun of tim by calling him “unwashed” as if you are better than him. He is trying to help us out and you make fun of him for not being handed a load of money from 2nd generation. Not fair to him or those of us that actually have to work for our money. Just cause you are rich doesn’t mean you are smart or competent. That’s fine you are a trust fund baby, but don’t disrespect the rest of us for not being handed a load of money and free property.

    Comment posted above. How rude.

  12. 12
    Matthew says:


    For the love of everything that is holy in the universe, put your condo on the market now. You have been warned. One year from now, when the ghost of Cornhole past is but a figment of this bog’s consciousness, you will be thankful you sold.

  13. 13
    Erik says:

    RE: Matthew @ 12
    Thank you for the suggestion.

    I lowered my price to 1745/mo. With my 30yr mortgage, insurance, taxes, hoa dues, I pay 1035/mo. 4 people called me yesterday about renting it. I showed it to 2 of them. They said they both said they really liked it, but they wanted to wait until they see a few more. They seemed sincere. My place is very nice. I hear what you are saying, but if I can get $710/mo (1745-1035), then I probably should. That is a great cash flow.

    I raised my price back up to 1795 cause i got so much interest yesterday. That would be even better cash flow. Pretty sure I’ll get atleast 1745/mo. At that much cash flow, I think it makes more sense to rent it and live a little better. Then in a year, I can rebuy and do it all again.

    I see what you are saying Matthew, but it seems like my area is kinda hot for rentals right now.

  14. 14

    Ah, the journey back to “normal” continues.

    Thanks for the great graphical representation of the issue, Tim.

  15. 15
    doug says:

    The only thing that chart is showing is that the banks know that at some point in the next few months a very large crash in the financial markets is coming. The banks and hedge funds are now loaded with massive rental and investment properties that they need to unload and fast. And that is clearly showing on this chart. These bankers and investors are going to ” once again” regret that they ever got messed up in a phony catch a falling knife market.

    Something is not right in the financial markets and just about everything alse right now.

    All i can say for sure is that Jesse Ventura is right on just about everything he says!

  16. 16
    David Losh says:

    I would also like to see a chart on sales volume. Did sales volume decrease because of low inventory, or have sales slowed because of other market concerns?

    More specifically did people pay more because of low inventory?

  17. 17
    Chris says:

    RE: David Losh @ 16

    In certain segments of the condo market, people are definitely overpaying due to lack of inventory. My condo just went pending with a cash offer 15k above list. There was another offer that had an escalation clause to 35k above list!

  18. 18
    whatsmyname says:

    By doug @ 15:

    The banks and hedge funds are now loaded with massive rental and investment properties that they need to unload and fast. And that is clearly showing on this chart.

    Awesome. How does this chart show that?

  19. 19
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Attorney @ 1 – I checked in to see what was going on and within seconds saw the same tired themes of Juanita condos and trust fund babies. Likely the cause of the wilting comment section.

  20. 20
    ray pepper says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 17 – With all this normalcy I’ve been spending far more time with porn

  21. 21
    Erik says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 18RE: wreckingbull @ 17
    Yes, seems like nobody can find anything better to talk about. 3rd generation of free money called me poor. I feel like he wanted to play, so I did.

    Ray- The housing market doesn’t affect my porn consumption. Interesting that it does yours though. An exciting housing market must really get you excited. Each to his own I guess.

  22. 22
    corndogs says:

    RE: Matthew @ 12 – If I remember correctly Matthew is the guy who bought a rental and then sold trying to escape the impending doom by the skin of his teeth. Matthew, you are clearly experiencing some type of cathartic relief after selling your rental. It reminds me of the guy who plays the roulette wheel. He puts down a $100 chip to be a big cheese, He loses, so he puts down two chips as he develops major river weenie, loses again and puts down 4 chips and hits it and makes a fist pump. After all is said and done, after paying for drinks, he leaves the casino even and considers it a major success.

  23. 23
    whatsmyname says:

    By doug @ 15:

    The banks and hedge funds are now loaded with massive rental and investment properties that they need to unload and fast. And that is clearly showing on this chart.

    That is awesome information. How does this chart show that?

  24. 24
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Erik @ 13 – Erik, I hope you are not converting to rental with the idea of achieving your two year hold for the tax exclusion, and a quick sale next year. The rental period won’t count for that. That would be less than awesome. Wouldn’t you say?

  25. 25
    Erik says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 22
    I will have lived in this place for 2 years in November this year. If I rent my place out, I can do a 1031 exchange and not pay taxes since it will be considered a rental property. If I can rent this place and collect $710 extra dollars a month, I think I should. $710 extra dollars on top of my paycheck every month sounds very comfortable since I currently live paycheck to paycheck. If this place can produce that much cashflow, I would be foolish not to rent it out.

    As corndogs previously pointed out, the goal at this point for me should be cashflow. I think that is a good point and something I need to work for. It didn’t work last time since the market collapsed on me. I think this is still a good time to build a rental portfolio.

  26. 26
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Erik @ 23 – You realize that a 1031 is a tax deferral rather than an exemption. This will still kill the exemption on your current $100,000 gain in the end – unless you leave your acquisition as part of your estate. In the short run, you will have higher acquisition costs with your trading:
    1. sell and buy transaction expenses,
    2. 1031 facilitation expenses,
    3. higher interest rate and less favorable terms on nonowner financing.
    4. $ and time restrictions which lead to the old saw that, “1031 buyers overpay”.

    Your expected cash flow is partly due to not being over-leveraged. That won’t continue in a short term, rent to flip strategy. You say you are paycheck to paycheck. As a landlord, you need to have backup resources to cover unexpected cash flow interruptions. I suggest you get a HELOC if you can, and dedicate it to that purpose exclusively. As you build more cushion, you can consider part of that as potential source of downpayment on another property.

    I agree that building cash flow is an awesome goal. If that is your goal, why screw with the 1031?

  27. 27
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Erik @ 23

    I think your unit will rent for about $1300. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a sucker. Plenty out there.

    Suppose you get your price and have the $700 cash flow… about 450 after taxes. Where will you live? Won’t you just spend the extra renting/owning something else? You got a decent, cheap place to live. Hard to replicate right now. Seems like a shame to waste 1/3 of it on taxes.

  28. 28
    Matthew says:


    You have me mistaken for someone else. Not a shock considering your rather primitive comprehension skills.

    Try again corntroll.

  29. 29
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Erik @ 23 – Do you plan on living in a cardboard box? I am certain you are an idiot, but you are still a fellow human so I feel compelled tell you your plans are a slow-motion train wreck. Stay in your place, work on improving your career and reducing costs until you no longer live paycheck to paycheck, build an emergency fund, then you can think about becoming a real estate tycoon. I reply with a bit of trepidation because I still am convinced we are all being trolled here, as the plausibility of your comments coming from an actual adult are almost nil.

  30. 30
    Lo Ball Jones says:

    Reality price close to home:

    808 E 59th St, Tacoma, WA 98404

    For Sale: $57,500
    Est. Mortgage: $226/mo

    Bedrooms:2 beds
    Bathrooms:1 bath
    Single Family:662 sq ft
    Lot:6,098 sq ft

    “Fabulous one story with many updates complete. Newer kitchen and bath, and nice layout make this home an easy choice for first time home buyer or investor as a rental. Alley access to easy maintenance back yard. Close to amenities in the up and coming McKinley neighborhood.”

  31. 31
    Lo Ball Jones says:

    By Craig Blackmon @ 14:

    Ah, the journey back to “normal” continues.

    That won’t happen until houses descend back to 1986 prices and all the Californians migrate back south.

  32. 32

    RE: wreckingbull @ 29
    Cardboard boxes are going for 350,000 dollars in Ballard.

  33. 33
    David Losh says:

    OK, Erik, the only move you have, and let me say again the only move you have, is to pay your principal balance. Get a second job, work nights, week ends, or holidays at whatever job you can get, and pay down your mortgage.

    That’s how it’s done.

    I hate wasting a comment on this absolute nonsense.

    The only reason why we would be engaged in such a nothing set of comments is because of low inventory. I personally don’t get the low inventory rationale for higher Real Estate prices, it only means people, banks, or investors are speculating pricing on property will continue to go up. People who are speculating may hold onto properties, but those who want to sell should be doing so now, in the past year, or the past two years.

    The only reason people have held off is because of the sales hype prices are going up, up, up.

    It’s all sales hype without any economic reasoning. Oh, yeah, I forgot that old tired worn out rationale of supply, and demand.

    The demand should have dried up, but it didn’t. Real Estate Brokerages kept hyping like there was no tomorrow. I didn’t see any Brokerage Newsletter saying wait. Not even redfin said wait. No Brokerage recommended to buyers to wait.

    I think we are in another period when people will wake up one day to find they are underwater, and blame everyone else, but themselves.

    Low inventory. coupled with historically low interest rates! Who would buy into such an obvious sales ploy to get you to pay more for a property than it is worth?

    I guess a lot of people.

  34. 34
    Macro Investor says:

    By Lo Ball Jones @ 31:

    By Craig Blackmon @ 14:

    Ah, the journey back to “normal” continues.

    That won’t happen until houses descend back to 1986 prices and all the Californians migrate back south.

    Classic comment.

  35. 35
    whatsmyname says:

    By David Losh @ 33:

    The only reason people have held off is because of the sales hype prices are going up, up, up.

    Don’t forget actual prices. Actual prices are going up too.

    demand should have dried up, but it didn’t.

    Why would demand dry up? Has there been some demographic shift where people now prefer to live in their awesome Servicemaster vans?

  36. 36
    David Losh says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 35

    Because people have the choice to rent. They may not like it, it may not fit the life style they choose, but to make a financial misstep is also a blunder.

    There are people who need to buy, and will pay any price, but prices only appear to go up because of sales data.

    Just because some one has to buy then, or now, and is willing to pay a premium for that privilege, doesn’t make the value. If, actually when, sales slow, and people pay less then that will be the price.

    Which is the reality? Look at the economics, and trend lines of actual value, then you make your offer accordingly.

    In Erik’s case his condo is worth $100K because that is what he paid for it? Now it’s worth $200K? Wow! Now that’s a topic for discussion.

  37. 37

    Ahhh late Sunday night bubble comment reading time….and Matthew #12 has to go and scare the crap out of me again. Thanks a lot. Please explain.

    Ray if you have Netflix watch the first episode of Orange is the New Black for some gratuitous nudity.

  38. 38
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 33 – “OK, Erik, the only move you have, and let me say again the only move you have, is to pay your principal balance. Get a second job, work nights, week ends, or holidays at whatever job you can get, and pay down your mortgage. That’s how it’s done.”

    Absolute horse sh!t! Do NOT pay extra on your mortgage, That’s likely to be the cheapest money you will ever be given. Down the road, you will want to be diversified in your investments to minimize risk and you will want access to liquid cash in case a really good investment comes along. The Losh strategy for building wealth doesn’t allow for either of these. His strategy is quite common though among poor folks

  39. 39
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 36 – “Which is the reality? Look at the economics, and trend lines of actual value, then you make your offer accordingly.”

    and where do we find these trend lines of actual value, the Janitors Almanac of Real Estate?

  40. 40
    David Losh says:

    RE: corndogs @ 39RE: corndogs @ 38

    Actually building wealth is a very simple thing. People equate owning property with wealth because it is very true that many fortunes are held in property.

    Sears is a good example.

    The more you own, and manage well, in property the more wealth you can accumulate. The cash flow can be used to buy, control, and mortgage more property.

    Holding onto one stinky little investment as a mortgaged liability is a suckers bet. You might leverage into five or more properties, if the price is right, and the mortgages manageable with the idea of paying off those properties as quickly as possible.

    The only reason you would take a mortgage is to invest for a higher return, but that would be short term.

    I was very pleased you took my repeated comment to heart so you could quote it, that in Real Estate there are assets, and liabilities. Right now there are way too many liabilities that small minded people cling to as a future asset. Those properties may be an asset some day when they are paid for. In the mean time they are a drain on resources.

    I’m also very happy to talk about the house cleaning business, because it is booming. It’s cash flow. We have a very high amount of cash flow. We don’t currently have a janitorial service, but we have considered that.

    We’ve also had a carpet cleaning van, dump run services, repairing rot from inspection reports, swamp outs for banks, ground zero landscaping, painting, and mildew remediation. I almost forgot that we can provide Brokerage services, but I prefer to make money. House cleaning is by far the best business for cash flow.

    You never say what your cash flow is, or point to any others for cash flow, you seem to think that a mortgage, with a renter, I guess, is cash flow, and it is until something else happens, like a drop in the price of property.

    Oh, what the heck, this is way over your head, so let me dumb it down some more for you.

    Cash flow, plus equity creates wealth. Pay off your primary residence so you can begin to build your own wealth. Find a means to cash flow so you can take advantage of other opportunities. Always invest the residual cash in manageable risk, for you.

    It’s building blocks of wealth that are common knowledge, but most people ignore.

  41. 41
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 40 – “You never say what your cash flow is, or point to any others for cash flow, you seem to think that a mortgage, with a renter, I guess, is cash flow, and it is until something else happens, like a drop in the price of property.”

    Wow…. you’re dumber than I previously thought. Please explain how a ‘drop in the price of property’ affects cash flow. Don’t type 10 paragraphs, just simply explain that one sentence.

    When prices went down property taxes quit escalating while the rents continued to go up. So, actually, the housing bubble has had a positive effect on cash flow. Another positive affect the housing bubble had on the rentals is people tended to stay put during the whole thing. I had renters that stayed for ten years as prices went up and down. Now that things are getting back to normal, I have people bailing to buy houses. The value of the rentals today are right in line with what I expected initially. the only thing that can be said for people who held their properties through the bubble is that they missed a strong selling opportunity. However, if you took the trouble to sell your inventory and buy back in at lower prices, the transaction costs would have cancelled out much of that gain and you would not have received those much coveted sweaty handfuls of renter cash in the interim.

  42. 42
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 40 – Let’s get things back in perspective and recap the things that you’ve told me in the past. You owned a restaurant, you sold it for 35K. You now have a cleaning business with a couple Latino women, one of which is your girlfriend. Best case scenario, you clear a fraction of what TeenErik makes at his entry level engineering position. You run the business out of your house which you mortgaged to the point of being upside down. You spend a great deal of time posting to your blog that has never had a single comment by anyone, yet you continue to post your crazy thoughts like the fruitcake that you are. It’s only my guess, but I would be willing to bet that I am supplementing you and/or your girlfriends existence through public assistance, one way or another. I would also be willing to bet, that you do not have a 401K or pension since you’ve never really had a job, certainly your old lady does not.. Sooo…. I’m not seeing you as an expert on wealth creation… what I’m seeing is another aged Baby Boomer stumbling through life without a viable plan for retirement.

  43. 43
    SMW says:

    Am I the only one that sees this ratio of listings vs. sales, along with the large ramp up in interest rates, as the beginning of the next down turn in Real Estate?

    Calm before the next storm….buckle up

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