September Stats Preview: One More Inventory Bump Edition

With the month of September now in the history books, let’s have a look at our stats preview. Most of the charts below are based on broad county-wide data that is available through a simple search of King County and Snohomish County public records. If you have additional stats you’d like to see in the preview, drop a line in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

First up, here’s the snapshot of all the data as far back as my historical information goes, with the latest, high, and low values highlighted for each series:

King & Snhomish County Stats Preview

Summary: Inventory increased one more time this year for the sixth consecutive month, while sales took a seasonal dip. Foreclosure notices fell again, but aren’t quite at their lowest point of the year.

Next, let’s look at total home sales as measured by the number of “Warranty Deeds” filed with King County:

King County Warranty Deeds

Sales in King County decreased 14.2% from August to September, and were up 27.1% year-over-year, roughly on par with the average year-over-year gains we’ve seen over most of the last year.

Here’s a look at Snohomish County Deeds, but keep in mind that Snohomish County files Warranty Deeds (regular sales) and Trustee Deeds (bank foreclosure repossessions) together under the category of “Deeds (except QCDS),” so this chart is not as good a measure of plain vanilla sales as the Warranty Deed only data we have in King County.

Snohomish County Deeds

Deeds in Snohomish fell 13.2% month-over-month and were up 21.7% from September 2012.

Next, here’s Notices of Trustee Sale, which are an indication of the number of homes currently in the foreclosure process:

King County Notices of Trustee Sale

Snohomish County Notices of Trustee Sale

Foreclosures in King and Snohomish County both fell slightly between August and September, and were down over 30% from a year ago. King County came in 32.5% below last year’s level, while Snohomish was 34.4% under September 2012.

Here’s another measure of foreclosures for King County, looking at Trustee Deeds, which is the type of document filed with the county when the bank actually repossesses a house through the trustee auction process. Note that there are other ways for the bank to repossess a house that result in different documents being filed, such as when a borrower “turns in the keys” and files a “Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure.”

King County Trustee Deeds

Trustee Deeds fell dramatically from a month ago, and were down year-over-year for the first time since November.

Lastly, here’s an update of the inventory charts, updated with the inventory data from the NWMLS.

King County SFH Active Listings

Snohomish County SFH Active Listings

We are now at six months of increases in a row for King County. Snohomish County fell slightly month-over-month, but moved further into the black year-over-year. It looks like King County may have just barely fallen short of year-over-year gains. Last year King County inventory fell 1.9% between August and September. This year it gained 1.1% over the same period. In Snohomish County inventory fell 6.3% a year ago and fell 4.4% this year.

Stay tuned later this month a for more detailed look at each of these metrics as the “official” data is released from various sources.

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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:

    I am going to say a prayer tonight that inventory in King County decreases next month. On 11/2, I have a feeling Tim’s post will be “November Stats Preview: Inventory Slump Edition.” At that point, I will know that my prayers have been answered.

    If inventory does not increase next month, I promise that I will not comment for atleast one day as my gift to commenters. I am that confident we will see inventory spiral downward as it has done about this time for the previous 12 years.

  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    RE: Erik @ 1 – Of course inventory will drop next month. It always drops in the fall through the end of the year. The question is whether it drops more or less than it did last year, and what the year-over-year numbers will look like.

    I still think we’ll hit year-over-year inventory growth before end of year. We may have even hit it in September according to the official NWMLS numbers.

  3. 3
    Erik says:

    RE: The Tim @ 2
    Okay, I was under the impression you thought inventory would increase. You think year over year inventory will increase. That could very well be. It did drop a lot last year. It will be interesting to see what happens. Thanks for the clarification.
    There are probably more buyers this year than last year. The number of sellers will likely stay constant since people don’t want to move around the holidays. I think year over years inventory will be close to last year.

  4. 4
    3rd Generation says:

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
    -Abraham Lincoln

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: 3rd Generation @ 4
    Are you from Clark County? Do you own a real estate office there?

  6. 6
    norse says:

    Interesting article about the size of the vampire/bank owned inventory (ie folks that live rent-free). It goes some way to explain rents/inventory/house prices in Seattle:

  7. 7
    Plymster says:

    RE: norse @ 6 – Foreclosees living mortgage free in Bank REOs 6 years after the housing market collapse? That’s impossible. Everybody knows that shadow inventory like this is a myth. </sarc>

  8. 8
    Macro Investor says:

    By norse @ 6:

    Interesting article about the size of the vampire/bank owned inventory

    I’ve been saying that on this blog for a year now. Also, if you look at foreclosure radar (shadow inventory) you see approximately 2-3 REOs for every MLS listing.

    Risk is still high for another housing market down turn. Doesn’t mean it will happen any time soon, or ever — but paying $500k for a shabby wooden box in Seattle is playing Russian roulette with your retirement.

  9. 9
    corndogs says:

    RE: norse @ 6 – “Interesting article about the size of the vampire/bank owned inventory”

    Did I miss something? I didn’t see where the article spoke to the SIZE of the so called vampire inventory. I see some percentages of how many homes are occupied. Why is that significant? How does it cause a downturn in housing prices?

  10. 10
    Erik says:

    RE: The Tim @ 2
    King County inventory is down to 4591 per your Estately data on this website. 4953 when you posted this and 4591 now. At this rate, inventory is dropping faster than the previous year. Hopefully we get below 4000 this month. That is my goal. 300 more and I will have been proven correct!

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