August Reporting Roundup: Seasonal Slowdown Edition

It’s time once again for the monthly reporting roundup, where you can read my wry commentary about the news instead of subjecting yourself to boring rehashes of the NWMLS press release (or in addition to, if that’s what floats your boat).

Oddly, the the NWMLS press release website is still showing last month’s release, and they don’t send the releases to me, so I guess we have to skip that part of the program this month.

Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.

Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times: King County home prices drop in August: ‘Just a hiccup’?

Rising interest rates could have thrown cold water on the market’s activity: The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.46 percent in August, up from 4.37 percent in July and a low of 3.35 percent last December, according to Freddie Mac.

The higher interest rates, combined with rising home prices, could dampen some buyers’ appetites, Conway said. But those factors just as easily could prompt others to close a deal before prices and rates rise further.

Summer vacations are a more likely reason for the slowdown in the market, brokers said.

In other words, there really isn’t much interesting in this month’s data. It’s mostly just what we would expect for this time of year.

Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Seattle-area home supply slowly increasing

Seattle had 1.6 months worth of homes for sale at the current sales pace in August, up from 1.5 months of inventory in July. King County had 1.9 months of inventory, up from 1.7 months.

But both were down from more than two months of supply a year earlier and well below the four to six months generally considered balanced between supply and demand.

“What these numbers tell us loud and clear is that buyer demand in the Puget Sound region is still incredibly strong,” Windermere Real Estate President OB Jacobi said in a listing service news release.

Good ‘ol OB Jacobi.

I waited as late as I could, but there’s still no story posted on this month’s numbers at the Everett Herald.

[Update: Here it is.]
Everett Herald: Snohomish County housing market ‘strongest in years’

Available housing inventory in Snohomish County showed a 10.5 percent uptick in new listings, according to NWMLS data. Realtors reported 1,424 new listings, up from 1,185 new listings in August 2012. Total listing activity in the county jumped from 2,322 units to 2,565 units.

However, the available inventory of houses and condos remains far below normal when measured by months of supply. A balanced housing market has a four- to six-month supply, NWMLS says, but Snohomish County’s current housing supply would be exhausted in 1.8 months at the current sales pace without any new listings.

Darin Stenvers, a director with Northwest MLS, called the current market “the strongest in four or five years,” with signs of stability that should continue into 2014.

“If a buyer finds the home of their dreams, they should make their first offer their best offer or risk losing that home,” he said.

Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce County housing market stays hot in August

Although the market has been strong, the change in inventory and slightly higher mortgage interest rates has had an effect on the market, said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker for Re/Max Professionals in Tacoma.

“While the overall market remains vibrant and active, we don’t appear to have the frantic ‘must have this home because there may not be another’ mentality among buyers,” Beeson said.

Pending sales also rose 11.4 percent to 1,486 units last month from 1,334 units in August 2012, the combined data show.

If all those pending sales become closed sales, which doesn’t always happen, the county will extend its monthly home sales streak of 1,000 or more units to five months.

“Doesn’t always happen” in this case should be “never happens.” The ratio between pending sales and closed sales a month or two later has been 80% to 80% in the last six months, so around one in five pending sales are still falling through.

Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Home sales, inventory in Thurston county both are up

The final full month of summer was one of the best months of the year for the Thurston County real estate market as sales and prices rose sharply, new Northwest Multiple Listing Service data show.

Sales rose nearly 18 percent in August to 361 units from 306 units in August 2012, the combined single-family residence and condominium data show.

Prices and pending sales also rose in the year-over-year August period, with median prices climbing 7.8 percent to $235,000 from $218,000, while pending sales rose nearly 5 percent to 410 units from 391 units, according to the combined data.

But inventory levels, which had recently fallen and helped to drive median prices higher, suddenly were higher last month than they were a year ago.

I’m still not a fan of describing the real estate market in qualitative terms that skew so strongly in favor of sellers. A month of sharply rising prices is not what most buyers would describe as “one of the best months of the year.”

(Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times, 09.05.2013)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 09.05.2013)
(Kurt Batdorf, Everett Herald, 09.06.2013)
(Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune, 09.06.2013)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 09.06.2013)

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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.

One comment:

  1. 1

    “I’m still not a fan of describing the real estate market in qualitative terms that skew so strongly in favor of sellers. A month of sharply rising prices is not what most buyers would describe as “one of the best months of the year.”

    What they mean is….”One of the best months of the year for listing agents.”

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