Around the Sound: More Listings, Fewer Sales

It’s time for us to check up on stats outside of the King/Snohomish core with our “Around the Sound” statistics for Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties.

If there is certain data you would like to see or ways you would like to see the data presented differently, drop a comment below and let me know.

This month’s story in a nutshell: More supply, fewer sales, higher prices pretty much across the board.

First up, a summary table:

May 2014 King Snohomish Pierce Kitsap Thurston Island Skagit Whatcom
Median Price $442,250 $325,000 $235,000 $230,500 $229,000 $247,250 $233,500 $272,900
Price YOY 5.9% 8.2% 9.3% -5.9% 0.8% -1.0% 1.5% 3.0%
Active Listings 4,158 2,206 3,428 1,238 1,274 767 783 1,288
Listings YOY 10.6% 43.8% 23.5% -7.4% 18.0% -4.8% 5.5% 4.0%
Closed Sales 2,326 858 1,086 298 310 120 153 215
Sales YOY -7.6% -11.2% 3.3% -8.3% -4.6% 9.1% 11.7% -11.5%
Months of Supply 1.8 2.6 3.2 4.2 4.1 6.4 5.1 6.0

Next let’s take a look at median prices in May compared to a year earlier. Prices were up from a year ago everywhere but Kitsap (down 6 percent) and Island (down 1 percent). Gains in the other counties ranged from as low as 1 percent in Thurston to as high as 9 percent in Pierce.

Median Sale Price Single-Family Homes

Listings are still increasing year-over-year in King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Thurston. This month Whatcom and Skagit also saw more homes on the market than a year ago. Interestingly, the only two counties with declining inventory were Kitsap and Island—the same two counties with decreasing prices. This is opposite of what you’d expect, where more supply typically puts downward pressure on prices.

Active Listings of Single-Family Homes

Closed sales fell in May in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Thurston, and Whatcom, but were up from a year ago in Pierce, Island, and Skagit.

Closed Sales of Single-Family Homes

Here’s a chart showing months of supply this May and last May. The market was more balanced than a year ago in every county but Skagit, where months of supply dropped from 5.4 to 5.1.

Months of Supply Single Family Homes

To close things out, here’s a chart comparing May’s median price to the peak price in each county. Everybody is still down between 8 percent (King) and 29 percent (Island).

Peak Median Sale Price Single-Family Homes

Most counties are still inching toward a more balanced market, and while prices are still increasing, the size of those gains seems to be shrinking.

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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 King County Homes in Seattle City Limits

    Aren’t all old museum pieces [most are though]…in going through the 240 repos from Zillow this morning I saw a 1977 gem [2 car garage split level with 4 bdrm on a better sized lot], for like $475K….be picky if you’re buying. Don’t settle for a high priced money pit, unless this old charmer means more to you than a sound real estate investment….there’s always exceptions :-)

  2. 2
    Mike says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1 – Interest in 70’s houses has picked up some. This “jem” sold a few months ago for $562K, now it’s under contract again listed at $775K (?!?!?) Back when I posted the original listing Ardell mentioned it’s in the “wrong part” of 98117 and would not sell for a premium.

    Odd that it ended up being one of the higher (starting) priced flips I’ve seen in 98117 this year. Nearly $800K for a fairly typical 70’s home, on a street without beach access. Who said you can’t polish a turd?

  3. 3
    Deerhawke says:

    Buying for $562K and selling for $775K grossing $213K six months later sounds like a huge home run.

    But this house has seen a lot of upgrades. New kitchen cabs (or repainted?). New kitchen appliances. New flooring. Iron Beams. New tile and fixtures in bathrooms. Paint inside and out. Landscaping. Staging. I am not crazy about a lot of the design choices but it is hard to see how this happened for less than $100K. If they were very thrifty and bought a lot of close-outs (which sure seems possible given the complete lack of a design theme) lets say $90K.

    I am guessing that this was done by someone with a real estate license but you would still lose 5% on the sale. So deduct another $38,000 there.

    What would you put in for the cost of capital? Say $10,000?

    So that leaves us $213K minus $133K in costs equals about $80,000 in profit. It is not bad for a quick turnaround, but given the amount of time this takes and the risks involved, it is more like a single or a double rather than a home run.

  4. 4

    RE: Deerhawke @ 3

    Contractor Estimates are Contractor Estimates

    I had my 1991 home re-carpetted and the inside completely re-painted and refurnished the whole house and built a wonderfully designed home bar [myself] for like $10-11K….this flipper staging cost is way over estimated IMO, especailly if they’re just painting over all the old wood laminate edging [big mistake too, it looks cheap and its not OEM] in the kitchen cupboards too.

    I call this flipper white washing.

  5. 5

    RE: Deerhawke @ 3

    Also Deerhawk

    Why pay some greedy flipper insane profit after they buy the auctioned house cheap, when there’s 225+ repos in the Seattle City Limit to choose from on that website alone?

    I’m sure some have already been remodeled recently anyway too. Be choosey!

  6. 6

    RE: Mike @ 2

    You have mentioned my name in similar fashion before, and I asked you to quote what it is you are referring to that “I said”. Pretty sure I did not use those terms nor would I have been referring in that manner to the area where that home sits. I believe you misunderstood what I was trying to say to you at that time, but I have not had a reason to retain the quote for this purpose.

    If you are going to say that I said something…and this is the 2nd time you have done this, please give me the courtesy of actually quoting me in context.

    Thank you.

  7. 7
    Not So Average Joe says: Only 3 out of 10 biggest counties nationwide saw wages rise in in 2013 and King county was one of them.

    How directly will that translate to house prices or has that already been priced in? We are “at” affordable level last time Tim put up the affordability graff.

  8. 8
    mike says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 6 – Sure. In response to my post mentioning that particular home:

    “This is particularly true in some Ballard neighborhoods to be on the better side of 85th, as example.

    So you can’t really talk about housing in Seattle anymore simply by zip code, as the lines have been drawn in the sand…and those lines are called school boundary lines. ”

    Now, in the context that this house was the one I mentioned in the post you replied to, and it’s one of the ones that was ‘downzoned’ to the less desirable high school in 2009 (Ingraham – after being zoned Ballard since it was built) one could easily infer that it’s not on the ‘better side of 85th’ school wise – since it isn’t. I still see listings here that have the homes incorrectly identified as feeding Ballard, and met some people that were disappointed at the change.

    The 2009 school zone change you mentioned did put that ‘north of 85th’ house in a less desirable school zone, so it would be easy to conclude that’s what you were talking about. I realize you’re not allowed to comment on active/pending listings so perhaps this isn’t the best time to bring this up for clarification – but here’s the thread I’m referring to.

  9. 9
    whatsmyname says:

    Hey, let’s get behind those King County numbers for a minute.

    May sales are down 7.6%. That might signal a trend if it weren’t for the fact that more than 7.6% of last spring’s sales were wall street funds buying for cash. Remember how unfair and unsustainable that was? Maybe that is why it is done now. Anyway, no room in the numbers for continuing the trend there. Sure, it could happen anyway, but if you revisit Tim’s NWMLS summary post, you can see that pending sales are up both MOM and YOY. May 2014 sales are exactly at the 15 year median. Not really signs of weakness.

    Inventory is up over 10% YOY. Great, but from what? Back to the NWMLS post, and listings were still 17% below the next lowest May in Tim’s 15 year chart. How long to get from 1.8 months to 6 months at even an accelerating rate?

    Price increases are slowing! Yes, but not stopping. That current 5.9% rate on the median is about $26,000 per year. A reduction to an average of 4% is still nearly 18,000. How does that compare to saving while renting?

    Happy Thursday.

  10. 10
    Erik says:

    RE: Mike @ 2
    Polish a turd? That is prime time real estate with a view. The entire place looks great minus the siding. The siding looks too much like T11 yuck yuck.

  11. 11
    Erik says:

    The reason that prices are still going up while market conditions are getting worse for sellers is because price is the last thing to react. What we are about to see are prices leveling out or going down with the apex near December 13th 2013.

  12. 12
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 3 – The unstated underlying assumption being, of course, that one should always receive a gain on a RE investment.

  13. 13

    RE: mike @ 8

    Correct and thank you. It doesn’t make the area bad, or even lesser for the portion that was already in the less preferred school. The impact is on the area of change…for a time. Once values have redistributed as a result of the change, the influence of the change diminishes over time. Same is true for annexed areas in Kirkland as opposed to “the wrong side of 1st” or “the wrong side of 6th” which are based on factors that are not as subject to change. As long as the pricing to purchase on the wrong side of 1st is not based on comps from the other side of 1st, the buyer is aligned with the appropriate value proposition.

    But neither is an indicator of “good” vs “bad” neighborhood…just a demarcation of value shift. Since appraisers generally pay no attention to these value shift points, it is important for the buyer to do that, and not rely on an appraiser to do it for them.

  14. 14
    Deerhawke says:

    By softwarengineer @ 5:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 3

    Why pay some greedy flipper insane profit after they buy the auctioned house cheap, when there’s 225+ repos in the Seattle City Limit to choose from on that website alone?

    I am not sure which website this is. Could you supply the URL?

  15. 15
    Mike says:

    By Erik @ 10:

    RE: Mike @ 2
    Polish a turd? That is prime time real estate with a view. The entire place looks great minus the siding. The siding looks too much like T11 yuck yuck.

    Originally this house was a northwest contemporary, and in 35 years it’s undergone at least 2 major remodels substantially changing the character of the home. It’s a borderline frankenhouse. The view is a telephoto shot from the upstairs bedroom. Houses that far up the hill have peek a boo views at best, and with no view covenant it may not be around long. Unlike homes further down this one doesn’t come with a beach key. It’s about 4 blocks past the cutoff so you’re stuck going to Golden Gardens with the riff-raff. That said, they did a decent job of fixing the err… “eclectic” style of the prior owner, hence the polishing.

  16. 16
    Erik says:

    RE: Mike @ 15
    No beach key?!!!! I could never survive without a beach key and be forced to share a beach with the dirty middle class.

  17. 17
    wreckingbull says:

    When I lived in Ballard, Golden Gardens was a winter-only beach for me. In the summertime it turned into a douchefest like none other I have seen to this day. Shootings. burning trash, 1000 watt thump. No thanks. If I had access to North Beach, I’d be there. Mike’s point is valid.

  18. 18
    Erik says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 17
    I have never been to that beach, but if the people that live in Ballard go there in bikinis, I need to check it out.

  19. 19
    Mike says:

    RE: Erik @ 18 – They do, but you also have to deal with the drunk high school students that make a huge mess.

    North Beach (and Blue Ridge Beach) you usually just find a family around a camp fire and some old ladies waking their dogs. No eye candy, but it’s a better place to relax or bring your kids.

  20. 20
    Sam says:

    How does months supply in Whatcom County compare to 2011 and 2012? I notice that months supply increased from 5.1 to 6 months from May 2013 to May 2014. Is this a continuing trend?

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