Seattle Sales on the Rise, Eastside Slipping

It’s time once again to take an updated look at how King County’s sales are shifting between the different regions around the county, since geographic shifts can and do affect the median price.

In order to explore this concept, we break King County down into three regions, based on the NWMLS-defined “areas”:

  • low end: South County (areas 100-130 & 300-360)
  • mid range: Seattle / North County (areas 140, 380-390, & 700-800)
  • high end: Eastside (areas 500-600)

Here’s where each region’s median prices came in as of February data:

  • low end: $203,200-$370,000
  • mid range: $332,000-$655,500
  • high end: $501,475-$1,392,500

First up, let’s have a look at each region’s (approximate) median price (actually the median of the medians for each area within the region).

Median Price of Single Family Homes Sold

The median price in the middle tier rose between January and February, while the low and high tiers saw prices decrease. The low tier fell 1.8% in the month, the middle tier increased 8.8%, and the high tier lost 4.4%. Meanwhile, the median price in all three tiers is still up year-over-year. Here’s how the median prices changed year-over-year. Low tier: +7.7%, middle tier: +22.1%, high tier: +9.0%.

Next up, the percentage of each month’s closed sales that took place in each of the three regions.

% of Total King Co. SFH Sales by NWMLS Area

Between December and January sales fell off dramatically in the expensive Eastside regions, while climbing in the mid and low range areas. The trend reversed slightly in February, but the Eastside still makes up the smallest portion of sales. Year-over-year sales were down 0.1% in the low tier, up 9.8% in the middle tier, and down 8.7% in the high tier.

As of February 2014, 34.5% of sales were in the low end regions, 33.9% in the mid range, and 31.6% in the high end. A year ago the mid range had less of the share and the high range more: In February 2013 the low end made up 34.5% of the sales, the mid range was 30.9%, and the high end was 34.6%.

Here’s that information in a visual format:

Bank-Owned: Share of Total Sales - King County Single-Family

Finally, here’s an updated look at the percentage of sales data all the way back through 2000:

% of Total King Co. SFH Sales by NWMLS Area since 2000

The high end regions typically have a smaller share of the monthly sales than the middle and low range regions, so this recent shift is really just the mix getting back to where it normally is. The disproportionate share of sales that the high end has been accounting for through 2012 and 2013 is certainly part of the reason the median price has gone up so much, and the decreasing share on the Eastside explains why it is going down over the last few months.

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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

    The Relatively Flat Regression Analysis Data Since 2000

    For all three groups indicates the sales rates are a miniscule portion of all the existing Seattle homes, since 2000 too. Makes sence if you factor in Baby Boomers living in the same homes since the 70s/80s/90s….sounds like the old Scandenavians [Vikings?…LOL] that took over Ballard decades ago….anyone want some lutefisk?

  2. 2
    Joem says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1

    Glorious misspellings, drunken tone, references to old Ballard. I love it!

  3. 3
    John Sitar says:

    What is really going on? Are people not willing to move or are they waiting to let the house prices come to where they will not lose any money from when they bought.

    As I mentioned in another thread I have been looking for a house for 1.5 years and last year we saw some positive signs in the second half of the year but this year it seems like trends have changed again. Inventory is super low.

    Are the investors back in the market?
    Are people not selling because they don’t feel confident that they will be able to buy a house.
    I feel like this is a circle. People wont sell because they dont see good inventory to buy in the market and if people wont sell than inventory wont come in the market.

    Its hard leaving in a 2 bed apartment with 2 toddlers in the house. This was supposed to be temporary.

  4. 4
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: John Sitar @ 3
    Maybe you should rent a house. That would solve your apartment problem. Then in a couple years, the inventory might be better.

  5. 5

    RE: John Sitar @ 3

    It Seems You Don’t Have Helicopter Parents or Inlaws in Seattle

    They’re known to sell you their Seattle house for their grandkids [as they downsize for retirement, BTW, is retirement an extinct dinosaur now?]…..albeit, a big caution should be used before even you lucky first time home buyers grab up a sweetheart deal from inlaw parents [especially if they have other “jealous” kids in the area that would have inherited the home]. I learned that one from experience, the hard way, before the divorce papers, insane legal costs and false allegations started flying; fighting the “inlaw” kids, after the sale.

    I wish I’d stayed in the apartment after all hades broke loose. But it doesn’t sound like that’s an option anyway, thank goodness.

  6. 6
    Scotsman says:

    South of I-90 hardest hit! More stats tomorrow!

  7. 7
    Billy says:

    Im wondering if this shift is due to the large tech companies recruiting more employees right out of college. I know for a fact that a couple of my friends moved from SF to Seattle and would only buy/rent houses in seattle do to the “young nightlife” I can see lots more owners buying houses and renting them out in the seattle area to younger business professionals. Since recently graduating college, none of my friends have moved to the eastside

    Curious? MINYAWNS

  8. 8
    Kyle says:

    RE: John Sitar @ 3

    I got to believe that current owners afraid they won’t find a new house is a big part of it. I’m definitely in this group. My house would be on the market if I thought I had a shot at closing on a new place in time. I know several others in the same camp. But just doesn’t seem worth the effort

  9. 9

    RE: Kyle @ 8 – It’s interesting that we’ve gone from sellers not wanting to buy first because they’re afraid that they won’t be able to sell their existing home, to people not wanting to sell their existing home first because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find a new home. Depending on where you want to move to, that could be a problem.

  10. 10
    Tim Deerhawke says:

    Several elements are involved in such low inventory. This is not Detroit–it is a documented fact that a lot more people are arriving here than leaving. And most want to live as close as possible to downtown, especially young people. At the same time, the number of for-sale units being built is far less than a few years ago– and far less than the number of people arriving. Home/townhome permit timelines are getting longer. Because of lawsuits, there is virtually no condo insurance so very few for-sale condos are being built. So rapidly rising demand meets suppressed supply. Predictable result– hoarding behavior. Some people hang onto what they have in the hope of higher prices. Others are frantic to buy in or buy more. It has been going on for a year. Last month there were only 716 active listings in Seattle neighborhoods (a 10 year low) while 618 went pending.

  11. 11

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9 – I just noticed that it was barely less than two years ago when I wrote about the possibility of move up buyers being able to more safely buy first. Time flies!

  12. 12
    Tim Deerhawke says:

    I don’t know much about the area outside Seattle. Inside Seattle, the inventory numbers may be far tighter than the MLS indicates. I would estimate that only 1 in 5 lots bought by in-city builders like me goes through the MLS. The rest is bought through a couple dozen dirt brokers who do a lot of cold calling. Also, two of the houses that recently sold in my area in Greenlake were pocket listings that never even appeared on the MLS– that seems to be happening more and more. So there are actually a lot more sales but they are private transactions that the public never sees. I think we saw some weakening in the market in the late second and early third quarter, and that mainly had to do with interest rates and the government shutdown. Right now anything that is good or even has potential (even if it is somewhat overpriced) is selling fast. Days not weeks.

  13. 13

    RE: Tim Deerhawke @ 12 – I’m not even sure the NWMLS publishes data on vacant land transactions, but they aren’t included in the numbers we usually talk about here. You might be right about the percentage of VL transaction that go through the NWMLS, but in addition to that, the sale of one lot might turn into multiple residential units when developed.

  14. 14
    Tim Deerhawke says:

    There is really no vacant land in Seattle neighborhoods. Virtually all of these transactions, (even if written up on an MLS vacant land form to avoid form 17) have a house on them. I would estimate there are 75 transactions per month of this kind in Seattle. And yes some of these land transactions will result in multiples, most of which will go through the MLS. But new construction built to new codes is far more expensive than old construction built to no code at all. The point is that for people like John Sitar, who started this thread, waiting to buy may not be the best course of action. In the city of Seattle, inventory in February was more than 44% off the same month in 2012 and nearly 50% off the same month in 2005, 2006 and 2007. I think we will see more inventory later in the year for seasonal reasons, but a lot of people are holding out for higher prices. It looks like a self-fulfilling phenomenon.

  15. 15

    RE: Tim Deerhawke @ 14 – Virtually all of these transactions, (even if written up on an MLS vacant land form to avoid form 17)

    You can’t avoid Form 17 by using a particular P&S agreement. That said, you don’t have to use Form 17 at all. The only penalty for not using a Form 17 is the buyer can walk right up to the time of closing. Arguably it might also be evidence some actionable conduct if the reason for not giving a Form 17 is to avoid disclosing a serious material condition.

    Not intended to be legal advice. Parties wishing to consider such an option, or in such a position, should consult with their own attorney about the facts applicable to their particular situation.

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