Sales Falling Across King County, Seattle Drops Least

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 May data:

  • low end: $247,000-$437,000
  • mid range: $348,500-$750,000
  • high end: $503,000-$1,600,000

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 all the low tier rose between April and May, but fell in both the middle and high tiers. The low tier rose 4.5 percent in the month, the middle tier decreased 3.2 percent, and the high tier lost 1.3 percent. Meanwhile, the median price in all three tiers is still up year-over-year, although only just barely for the middle tier. Here’s how the median prices changed year-over-year. Low tier: +2.7%, middle tier: +0.2%, high tier: +5.2%.

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

The share of sales in Seattle and the Eastside inched up in May, taking share from the low tier south county regions. Year-over-year sales were down in all three tiers, dropping 8.4 percent in the low tier, 6.3 percent in the middle tier, and 8.1 percent in the high tier.

As of May 2014, 32.0 percent of sales were in the low end regions, 35.2 percent in the mid range, and 32.8 percent in the high end. A year ago the mid range had less of the share and the low and high range more: In May 2013 the low end made up 32.3 percent of the sales, the mid range was 34.7 percent, and the high end was 33.0 percent.

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

We’re still in relatively unusual territory with the middle tier taking up the largest share of homes, but overall this year there haven’t really been any dramatic shifts in the sales volume between regions.

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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
    tom says:

    Question , Why would you or whoever did the data collection, lump Vashon with north Seattle??

  2. 2
    Erik says:

    RE: tom @ 1
    I asked this same question and got beat down. I agree with you. It is like lumping Hawaii and Alaska together. Here is the logic… That is how it was done before and changing it now would be saying a mistake was made. I am warning you Socrates, quit questioning the rules and asking questions. You will end up an unliked. You are young here. Get inline and join the herd. If I could change the past, I would have joined the group thinkers. They are a dominant power here. Also, there are certain people on here you cannot question. If you do, the goon squad will attack you relentlessly until you wish you hadn’t.

  3. 3
    Azucar says:

    There is no such thing as a stupid question.

    There are stupid people that ask irrelevant questions, don’t support their arguments, and/or continually brag about how one of their previous two endeavors have been successful…

    But there are no stupid questions.

  4. 4
    Erik says:

    RE: Azucar @ 3
    I am being attacked by the goon squad again for exposing the truth.

    For the record, I have only had one success in my life and that is flipping that condo for $128k right in your face. What do you expect to happen if you give some poor trash bag $128k? Let me tell you, first they go to the bar and get drunk more in a nice area and they brag about their success. Did you expect me to behave differently? No, I did what I was suppose to do. You are angry and appalled at my actions, but I only acted my role sugar.

    My second success is actually happening this weekend sukka. I will be awarded a master of science in mechanical engineering from uw. Warrant has been signed. My GPA is high enough to get a doctorates, but I just want to flip houses and stack chips. This degree has been occupying my time. After this summer, I will go full throttle. Then watch out. I will change my screen name to master Erik maybe? Maybe I will get my own reality show? Who knows?

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: Azucar @ 3
    Seriously though… the thing about the house is obvious. We talked and talked about when to buy, where to buy, etc. etc. for years. You and your idiot supporters made nothing that I know of. Very doubtful you made anything because my guess is you are a meek male that doesn’t have enough guts to take a chance. Don’t hate on my for that. That is your problem, not mine. I remember when I decided to short sell and you and your kind were super angry at me. You area mirroring your anger you have at yourself onto me. You should be angry at yourselves for not being smart enough to take action. If you stopped attacking me and started letting me teach you, you may actually learn something. Better yet, follow Christian. He did it even better than me because he bought in Capitol Hill before prices really surged there. I imagine he’ll make a killing again and good for him.

    This is enough for one night, I have some reality tv to watch.

  6. 6

    Tim’s Charts With Emphasis on Middle Tier Sales Tells Me

    The real estate market in Seattle is becoming just a predictable horse trader affair. Some trade to move in and some move out to trade elsewhere; but buying in the Seattle area without $500K in previous wealth is ludicrous. This trend should go on for decades, if my hunch is right. An interesting demographic for Seattle area home buying would be the average buyers’ age….I’m guessing 48-68.

  7. 7
    David B. says:

    RE: Erik @ 4 – Protest too much?

  8. 8
    mike says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 6 – My neighborhood skews a bit older than average and prices are about 50% above the Seattle median, but the recent buyers are mostly in their 30’s and 40’s – some of them, like myself are first time buyers.

    There was one 1970’s fixer with a nice view that sold a year ago just above $800K – I was a little surprised to see the couple that bought it couldn’t have been over 40. I think a lot of these people just bought well a few years ago and were able to roll their equity into a more expensive property. I previously mentioned that one home on my block sold for $850K to a single 30 year old, a first time buyer none the less.

    A less expensive (rather extreme) fixer sold earlier this month for just under $500K – I ran into the couple at the open house and they’re newlyweds in their 20’s.

    Another home about a block from mine, 1-owner, needs quite a bit of work is listed at $625K. While the open house had a lot of older neighbors, the people coming by to tour it with their agents are much younger, most appear to be in their 30’s.

  9. 9
    Tim Deerhawke says:

    By softwarengineer @ 6:

    An interesting demographic for Seattle area home buying would be the average buyers’ age….I’m guessing 48-68.

    I am not sure how you would get this information, but I can tell you that the two transactions I was involved with this past month were not in the 48-68 demographic. Both $1 million plus homes sold to buyers in the 28-35 age range.

    The young buyers are well educated and have double six-figure tech salaries to pay the monthly mortgage. But the healthy six figure downpayment came partially or entirely from Mom and Dad (who, in fact, are in the 48-68 range).

    No doubt this is a very limited sample, but it said a lot to me about the debate in our society about income distribution.

  10. 10

    Its Official Nationally Now and Locally Too

    The normal “Spring Bounce UP” is in reality a “Spring Slump” in home buying….and it definitely wasn’t the weather this time.

    “…Low inventory has been plaguing the nation for nearly a year, as builders are still operating at around half their historical volumes. There are also too few move-up buyers, and the reason for that is manifold: Millions still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and millions more don’t have enough equity in their homes to afford the cost of moving up or even down to another home. Others may not want to give up the record low mortgage rates they currently have and still more don’t have enough confidence in the economy and their own employment to risk taking on a larger investment….”

    The article even documents the oil industry rich Texas areas are unpredictably sales slumping too….no one is immune….

    Stocks way down two days in row too….no trending here though, normal jitterry market we’ve seen for years now….the Iraq fiasco and Cantor voted out gave the short sellers a negative news reason to sell and in a couple days, buy up bargains….

  11. 11

    RE: Tim Deerhawke @ 9

    Old Family Money

    Is never the same as money you had to sweat and pinch pennies for yourself, I suppose that’s likely why those that can stand on their financial feet without old money from family tend to keep accumulating it, even after retirements. They budget and don’t spend most of it on over-priced stuff. This is why San Francisco and Seattle real estate is so high, sales are made with rich family buyers that got it without earning it.

    I got $15K inheritance from my dad [he was quite wealthy too, but his 2nd spouse and her kids got almost all his wealth] before he died, not much, but did help get me through a grueling divorce in the mid 90s. I have no hard feelings though, his 2nd spouse cared for him for about 5-10 years without excessively high good nursing home support [around $100K/yr].

    BTW, don’t try that now-a-days….if a spouse [i.e.82 YO Casey Kassem] tries caring for a spouse to preserve the estate, the state will want that money and will chase you all over the country to get at it. I’d suggest a gypsy RV now-a-days travelling from state to state to avoid the social worker money hungry wolves….use unemployed Millenials to drive you [the fugitives…LOL] around in the RV if you can’t do it yourself….

  12. 12

    RE: mike @ 8

    My Brother-in-law Has Three Millenial Daughters Who Inherited a Seattle Marina From Their Mom

    They make good six figure incomes running the business handed to them. They all quit college after that happenned too. So even the minority lucky devil Millenials with good jobs likely had rich family ties [or other pulls] too.

    They aren’t buying real estate in Seattle though, their mom already left them a big Seattle mansion and they keep their old money in the marina business…

  13. 13
    Mike says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 12 – However this thread is about home sales… people who are actually paying current prices to own a home.

    FWIW, zip code 98117 has a birth rate comparable to or higher than newer Eastside communities like Issaquah. Those babies are generally not being born to people in the 48-68 year old group.

  14. 14
    Tim Deerhawke says:

    RE: Mike @ 13 – I agree. Whether or not it is Mom and Dad helping out with the downpayment, the buying demographic that I am seeing at open houses in 98103 and 98115 is primarily younger people. At the higher end, you see the tech couples with a lot of cash. At the lower end are those people who scrimped and saved to put together a down-payment while renting during the recession. They are all 28 to 38 years old and a lot of them have little kids in tow.

    I think we may see a summer slump in sales, but no deeper than we normally do. I don’t think there will be much of a summer slump in prices here in Seattle. The problem made clear in the Yahoo Finance article is a lack of inventory, not a lack of interest.

  15. 15
    redmondjp says:

    All I can say is that in my neighborhood near Microsoft, things are even more crazy now than back in 2007. A brand-new 3800sf big-box house with a driveway only accessible from the northbound lanes of 148th Ave NE (meaning that you have bumper-to-bumper trafffic blocking your driveway for about two hours every afternoon) just went on the market . . . at $1.33M!!! The new house next door to it on the corner (with much better street access) recently sold for $870K.

    Nicer-looking, similar-sized homes (down the street from me) than the one above, on quieter streets with excellent street access, were selling for less than $1M back in 2006-7.

    Bubble 2.0? Or just due to the demand by multi-generational newcomers to our fine country?

    I think I’ve seen this movie before . . .

  16. 16
    drshort says:

    By softwarengineer @ 6:

    An interesting demographic for Seattle area home buying would be the average buyers’ age….I’m guessing 48-68.

    You’re about 20 years off. Nationally, the median age of the first-time home buyer is 31 years, while the median age of the trade-up buyer is 47 years. If anything, Seattle home buyers probably skew a little younger because (1) our population > 65 is lower than nationally and (2) the prevalence of high paying, stock based compensation IT employers. Older people are probably moving out to lower cost areas once the need to be close to the employment center goes away.

  17. 17

    RE: redmondjp @ 15

    Last night…Bellevue over by Lake Sammamish…almost a tear down house with a great view…46 offers. My client was all cash, no contingencies and 50% over asking…and he wasn’t highest or even 2nd. My client was not a “newcomer”, not sure what you mean by “multi-generational” newcomers.

  18. 18
    Jay says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 17 – I know which house you are talking about. I’m completely shocked by it. By the way, why would your client get involved in a huge bidding war with all cash? Is there a better way to invest other than real estate? I think 50% over the asking price is totally not worth it. I didn’t even bother submitting an offer. Winning an offer is almost like winning the lottery nowadays! It’s so ridiculous.

  19. 19
    Jay says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 15 – I think the housing bubble now is worse than the tulip mania, especially in Bellevue!

  20. 20
    Azucar says:

    By Jay @ 18:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 17 – I know which house you are talking about. I’m completely shocked by it. By the way, why would your client get involved in a huge bidding war like that if he were not a “newcomer”? I think 50% over the asking price is totally not worth it. I didn’t even bother asking my agent to submit an offer for me.

    What does how much over asking price it is have to do with whether or not you should buy a place? Shouldn’t you put a bid in on a place that is what you think it is worth and what you will get it for? What does it matter if someone lists a place for $300,000? If the place is worth $500,000, would it not be worth it to get it for $450,000 just because it was listed for a much lower price?

  21. 21
    Azucar says:

    RE: Erik @ 5

    I don’t think you were even commenting on the blog at the time that you short sold – you’ve talked about it since you started commenting here, but as I recall it’s always been in the past tense…. so how is it that “me and my kind” were angry about it?

    I think that when people do something that they know to be wrong, but have rationalized it to themselves, they get very defensive when people bring up things that counter that rationalization.

  22. 22
    Jay says:

    RE: Azucar @ 20 – To answer your questions, I have to use a famous quote here:
    “There is no such thing as a stupid question.

    There are stupid people that ask irrelevant questions, don’t support their arguments, and/or continually brag about how one of their previous two endeavors have been successful…

    But there are no stupid questions.”

  23. 23
    Jay says:

    Wow, this article ( is GREAT! I wish I read about this before. Real Estate is the second most depressing job in America!

    He also wrote:
    “I’ve gotten tear stained e-mails from potential buyers where people say ‘but we made an offer $50,000 above asking and included a story on our family. Why didn’t they accept our offer?’ Like a dejected Romeo asking for Juliet’s hand, some people can’t step back and realize how irrational they sound. Plus, they are buying a structurally beat up place but they have to somehow keep up with all the other lemmings around them. Peer pressure is still a wonderfully powerful force.”

  24. 24

    RE: drshort @ 16

    National Figures Don’t Work for Seattle

    You need local Seattle city limits recent average buyers’ age. Especially this $500K- $1M listing prices many bloggers brag about as normal in that area on this website. Also, how many bought with old money they didn’t earn, if they are younger?

    I ask these questions not to shock recent buyers, but like Dragnet’s Police Seargant used to say, “just the facts mam”….

    Another good question another blogger above brought to my mind, assuming its all mostly “old mioney” or wealthy older home owners with mass wealth to burn buying recently in Seattle proper, why would their “easy” financial decisions with none of their “job income skin in the game” motivate anyone else to pay too much for an old house requiring a “job income” stability assumption for high mortgage payments?

    I tried the search engines for this demographic age data and its definitely missing for the Seattle City Limits. I read recently other high priced real estate markets, like New York, are populated with 40% of the homeowners that simplly don’t work for a living [old money]…..Seattle too?

  25. 25
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Jay @ 18

    CC&Rs are key here. My guess is “the winner” doesn’t know that the feasibility is not the same as the house across the street. Different CC&Rs apply.

  26. 26
    Jay says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 25 – I’m wondering where you got the CC&R information. I checked the King County Parcel information for both houses, and the zoning code looks like the same to me. Are you implying the this house is not buildable, unlike the house across from it?

    By the way, are you specialized in that neighborhood? My friends and I are looking for a house around there. I tried sending out letters to owners, but got no response. There is nothing for sale around there. What are you advice and strategy for buying a house there? Do you think that you might have a better chance than me for contacting the owners to sell their houses?

    Thanks a lot!

  27. 27

    RE: Jay @ 26

    I cannot help you because I have a personal policy of not working with two people who want to buy in the same place. If my client had gotten this house, then yes, I do know a lot about that neighborhood, which I cannot discuss here.

    In fact I would have a listing in that neighborhood, possibly for you, if he had gotten that house. But selling it “off market” makes no sense given the market would likely price it differently than you, as we have just seen. That is why it is no surprise that people who are thinking about selling would not reply to your letters of inquiry. They are more likely to get more for the house if they list it, at this particular time. That is not always the case, but that neighborhood at this time is best sold in an open market situation. I think you will agree if you think about it from a seller’s point of view.

    The building and remodel restrictions are in the CC&Rs and not in the Zoning Code and there are several divisions of that neighborhood that don’t have the same CC&Rs and restrictions. The CC&Rs for this house are not as lenient as the ones for the home across the street TTBOMK.

  28. 28
    Eastsider says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 17

    This property also appears in today’s Seattle Times front page article. IMHO, the listing agent purposely priced it far below market value to generate intense buyer interests on the property. The current tax assessment is about $150k above the asking price. Given that many houses in Bellevue are selling at over $100k above tax assessment (which is behind the curve), it is no surprise that the best offer far exceeds the asking price by at least $250k.

    Yes, the market is competitive but not as bubbly as you have suggested. I am disappointed that the reporter is not doing due diligence and just accepted brokers’ hype at face value.

  29. 29

    RE: Eastsider @ 28

    I absolutely agree with some of what you are saying…and that is the answer to Jay’s question regarding why we were 50% over asking price. BUT, that said, had you seen the condition of this property, you would be hard pressed to not be astounded by the result. Of course the actual result is not yet public. But OVER $900,000, regardless of asking price, for a home there in that condition is pretty freakin’ insane.

    Can you pick out the Federal Law broken in the article? It amazes me that people, particularly agents, don’t pick up on the “familial status” issue when talking about these decisions made based on the couple with the cute kids. Not the same house, but really…that is against Federal Fair Housing and should not be allowed…let alone repeated as if it is “cute” or “an effective strategy” in a newspaper article. It’s clearly against the law for familial status to be a basis for winning in a bidding war on a home.

  30. 30
    Eastsider says:

    I agree that $900k would be a stretch for that neighborhood but people caught up in an auction frenzy tend not to be rational. This particular listing is definitely not representative of the current Bellevue housing market. In fact, if you look around in the Bellevue market today, there are many reasonably priced properties available at any given time. Yes, DOM is short but you don’t have to hugely overpay to find a decent home.

  31. 31

    RE: Eastsider @ 30

    It depends on the neighborhood. Early last year a client of mine closed all cash 25% over asking…similar condition house no view. Clyde Hill last year vs this year is no comparison. Are you trying to say the market is cold in Bellevue?

    I don’t know where that might be except a house in Enatai near the gas station or a house completely engulfed by tall pine trees in Bridle Trails. There’s always some houses that don’t seem to be what everyone wants…and clearly sections of Bellevue have a seriously low ranked Elementary School and suffer accordingly.

    But are you suggesting that it’s easy to buy a house in Bellevue that ticks all the boxes? Ask Jay up there…ask anyone…it is not, and has not been easy for at least 18 months.

    Where do you draw the line between “hype” and reality? It’s not all hype…really…it isn’t.

  32. 32
    Eastsider says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 31

    Yes, bidding wars occasionally break out on some Bellevue properties (btw, Clyde Hill is not Bellevue.) But a typical property listing in Bellevue is not getting 46 offers or even 5 offers. Robinswood is a “middle” income neighborhood in Bellevue and it does not witness the kind of frenzied actions. When Seattle Times (or you) gave this one-off bidding war as an example of “white-hot” Bellevue market, you are eliciting responses such as the following comment on Redfin Seattle forum –

    “Re: Maple Valley – future home values

    I get that Issy and Bellevue will always be more expense…my house would be about 50% more expensive up there than in Maple Valley.

    But, I’m a bit sad that the appreciation on my house doesn’t appear to have been very good, and then I read that it’s an uber hot market in some other part of the metro area. I guess I just feel that I missed out on something by buying where I did.

    Perhaps over time it’ll still pan out to be a good investment. It is a nice place for to raise my family.”

    To me, that is both misleading and irresponsible reporting.

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