December Reporting Roundup: Positive Everything 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).

To kick things off, here’s an excerpt from the NWMLS press release:

"Stage is set for another good year" in real estate with year-end gains in inventory, sales, prices

Brokers with Northwest Multiple Listing Service ended 2013 with the best year-over-year improvement in inventory (up 8.4 percent) and a similar gain in closed sales to buoy confidence heading into the new year. December’s pending sales slipped slightly (down about 1.7 percent) compared to the same month a year ago.
“Positive job growth and the continuation of favorable low interest rates are setting the stage for another good year in real estate,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Friday’s narrow approval of Boeing’s contract proposal for Machinists union members bodes well for members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service and the real estate industry.

Reacting to the vote, MLS board member John Deely said, “The robust and diverse economy of the Pacific Northwest is solidified by Boeing’s continued presence in the Seattle area.” Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, said the vote helps secure the region’s position as “the aerospace epicenter of the world with top-notch manufacturing jobs that support the industry.”

Boeing workers and others hoping to buy a home have a bigger selection of homes to consider than house-hunters who were looking twelve months ago – especially in Snohomish County, where the number of active listings is up 43.6 percent.

I’d just like to point out again how slimy it comes across to see salesmen jumping on this Boeing story as just another way to sell more used homes. Basically on par with the smarmy car salesmen that pounced on Navy sailors as soon as they arrived back in Everett last month.

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

Seattle Times

Sanjay Bhatt: King County home prices rise 10.5 percent for 2013

The median price of single-family homes sold in King County last month was $419,825, a 10.5 percent gain over the prior year, but the typical home’s value likely didn’t appreciate quite that much.

“No one should be misled into thinking the typical home in King and Snohomish County has gone up 10 percent or more over the past year,” [Associate director of research at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington Glenn] Crellin said. The typical home’s appreciation in 2013 was closer to 7 or 8 percent, he said.

Great reporting as usual from the Times, and a great quote from Glenn Crellin.

Seattle P-I

Aubrey Cohen: King County still has few homes for sale

There still isn’t very much selection for King County homebuyers, according to a new report.

“Its’ still a very tight inventory,” said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

Crellin said he expects more homes to hit the market soon, as builders finish new construction and as homeowners “become convinced that hte market has bailed them out of being as far underwater or underwater at all.”

More great insight from Glenn.

Tacoma News Tribune

Rolf Boone: Pierce County home sales up in December over 2012

The Pierce County housing market ended the year on a mostly positive note as sales in December rose 11 percent from last year, while price appreciation and pending sales cooled, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.

Allen Realtors of Lakewood President Mike Larson said Monday that he was ready to announce that the “market was back” after a sizzling summer of home sales in 2013.

And then things slowed during the second half of the year.

Aww, pity the poor used home salesman.

The Olympian

Rolf Boone: Home sales, prices, listings all get better

The Thurston County housing market ended the year on a positive note in December, showing across-the-board improvement in sales, prices, pending sales, inventory levels and new listings.

Mark Kitabayashi, the immediate past president of the Washington Realtors Association, said 2013 was a year when the housing market continued to recover, with buyers who had previously been on the fence finally buying a home.

But the market also slowed during the second half of the year, he said.

Interesting how similar the sentiments are from the agent quoted in the Tacoma News Tribune and the agent quoted in The Olympian.

(Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times, 01.06.2014)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 01.06.2014)
(Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune, 01.07.2014)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 01.07.2014)

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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

    Seattle Boeing Isn’t My Dad’s Oldsmobile Anymore

    Either is MSFT for that matter, as PCs become extinct.

    The problem with aerospace is similar to automotive engineering; but in this case, a lion’s share of the parts manufacturing for commercial jets was outsourced. But we still assemble them Seattle Boeing Toyotas and they’re made in America? Not like the past friend, not even close to the manufacturing base we once had in Seattle…..where we made all the production parts and spare parts life cycle costs.

  2. 2
    Eastsider says:

    The biggest news in December was the higher interest rate. It does not bode well for the housing market going into 2014. It won’t surprise me that home prices will decline or the Fed will initiate another round of QE this year. The housing market needs a lot of (Fed) support to stay afloat.

  3. 3
    mike says:

    RE: Eastsider @ 2 – I think we have a way to go before interest rates actually cause prices to fall. The latest stats I read were Seattle home buyers are spending 17% of their income on housing payments. If it were already at 28% with today’s low rates, I’d say we were approaching the point where buyers were stressed. At 17%, there’s some wiggle room left even if rates inch up towards 6%.

    Most signs are the fed will continue to slowly taper QE, and current rates already reflect this expectation.

  4. 4
    ray pepper says:

    Hey its been awhile…Isn’t it time for……………………”Battle of The Brokerages”…or “Name your favorite Agent”………..”Biggest Buffoon of the Year”………….or “You have to be a Fool to give away your Commission”……..or…”Steve Tytler’s Hot Secretary Edition”…or “does Millionnaire Mike still live in his home? Whats it worth now? How About his Condo? Did it sell??????…Just so many possibilities….

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: ray pepper @ 4
    Been kinda quite around here since Tim took the thumbs down button away.

  6. 6
  7. 7

    Yesterday I finally got around to doing my analysis of the data for clients and what I focused on was not only the declining inventory, but also the declining number of distressed property sales (although REOs did jump slightly in December).

    Connecting the inventory level data with the distressed property data, we are clearly in a much better position today for sellers with equity than we were only a couple of years ago. Not only is there less competition overall, but there is also much less competition from distressed properties which tend to sell for lower prices. In fact, right now many REO listings are priced too high and not really actively competing. That is quite a change from back when sellers in areas with high levels of distressed listings had to lower their asking prices to compete.

    Conversely for buyers, these distressed properties no longer represent the same opportunity to pick up a property at bargain prices as what they once did. Banks are aware of the market and typically want more money on both types of transactions. Of the two situations, the REO situation is probably more damaging for more buyers. Not that many buyers were ever interested in short sales, particularly ones who wanted to live in the house themselves.

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