Foreclosures Edge Closer to Normal Levels

It’s a bit past time for our detailed look at August foreclosure stats in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. First up, the Notice of Trustee Sale summary:

August 2014
King: 327 NTS, down 44% YOY
Snohomish: 235 NTS, down 30% YOY
Pierce: 336 NTS, down 28% YOY

The number of trustee sale notices was down yet again from last year. After adjusting for non-holiday weekdays, weekday rate of foreclosures per business day was up month-over-month in Snohomish County, but down in King and Pierce.

Here’s how the latest month’s weekday rate of foreclosures in each county compares to the 2000-2007 average and the highest level that was reached during the housing bust.

Daily Rate of Foreclosures

County Latest YOY ’00-’07 Max
King 15.6 -41% 13.4 73.4
Snohomish 11.2 -27% 7.0 37.1
Pierce 16.0 -25% 11.2 47.7

All three counties continued to fall dramatically from last year’s levels, although Snohomish County did see a bit of a month-over-month increase from 7.9 in July to 11.2 in August.

Here’s your interactive Tableau dashboard updated with the latest foreclosure data:

The percentage of households in the chart above is determined using OFM population estimates and household sizes from the 2000 Census. King County came in at 1 NTS per 2,552 households, Snohomish County had 1 NTS per 1,183 households, and Pierce had 1 NTS for every 941 households (higher is better).

According to foreclosure tracking company RealtyTrac, Washington’s statewide foreclosure rate for May of one foreclosure for every 1,683 housing units was 25th highest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Note that RealtyTrac’s definition of “in foreclosure” is much broader than what we are using, and includes Notice of Default, Lis Pendens, Notice of Trustee Sale, and Real Estate Owned.

Hit the jump for a larger version of the chart that shows the percentage of households in each county receiving a foreclosure notice each month:

Note: The graphs above are derived from monthly Notice of Trustee Sale counts gathered at King, Snohomish, and Pierce County records. For a longer-term picture of King County foreclosures back to 1979, hit this chart and drag the date slider to its full range. For the full legal definition of what a Notice of Trustee Sale is and how it fits into the foreclosure process, check out RCW 61.24.040. The short version is that it is the notice sent to delinquent borrowers that their home will be repossessed in 90 days.

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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

    What I Learned from Shopping Kansas City Foreclosures

    Its luck to find the ones you can possibly purchase directly from the bank [without auction bidding it up in price], albeit with a short sell contract from the old foreclosed owner [not occupying the house] and a Title Agent. It helps to know the potentially displaced tennant and negotiate a “seamless” contract not requiring tennant eviction and staging remodeling…

    If you have friends renting and they tell you their landlord has been foreclosed on, get the name of the bank like I did and ask about replacing the old landlord as Title Owner….its that easy and you’ll get a much better deal too. You’ll need cash to swing this.

  2. 2

    I’m surprised by the Pierce County numbers. I occasionally make fun of Ray’s “They’re all coming back” prediction, but if you go down to Pierce County you can see why he said that. The market really hasn’t recovered much, if at all, in some parts there. I would expect their foreclosure numbers to look much worse, even today.

  3. 3

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 2

    You’re Right Kary

    IMO, the Seattle City Limits has sales based on a lot of folks that don’t work in town, meaning they’re already very rich in equity and/or cash. There’s a lot foreclosures there too, but probably most are health and job related anomalies.

    The subburbs are a different story and that’s where the foreclosures [again, a very small percentage of total occupied homes] likely compare in numbers to listed to sell [again, a very small percentage of total homes listed or not listed]. Zombie foreclosures [empty unit delayed bank actions] add to the mess I’m sure, but aren’t counted.

  4. 4

    RE: softwarengineer @ 3 – There’s also the fact that Pierce County had a lot more subprime loans back in the day (as a percentage, maybe not as a total number). That created more problems to work through.

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 2
    My area here in West Seattle doesn’t seem like it has recovered much either. We are poorer down here than the people of seattle proper. This comes back to my favorite corndogs quote, “Dumb money recovers last.” The poorer areas will be the last to recover. It is coming to fruition before our eyes. Look at the data. Seems like a good investment to buy something in pierce county, marysville, ever-rot, and even here in south seattle. I did buy in Alki because it seemed like that last nice place that hasn’t fully recovered from the crash. It has come up a little bit, but I think there is still a big upside to be had.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Been there... says:

    RE: Erik @ 5

    In my experience, buying an area by thinking you have some “magic” intuition about a bad place getting better rarely works. Before you get too mad, I have made the same mistake and bought property in both FedWay and West Seattle… my thinking was the price was so low compared to Seattle proper, prices HAD to go up faster than the over-priced closer in, worse-house neighborhoods. Only problem was they didn’t. The always went up less or went down more than the close-in properties.

    West Seattle is not a bad place to live, but if you are only living in west seattle to maximize profit potential, admit to yourself you were wrong on this one. Don’t bother waiting 10 years (like I did) being stubborn. Sell as soon as you can minimize losses, and buy in the best, closer in neighborhood you can afford, even if the house itself is smaller, older and needs work. That’s where the next group of buyers will want to live. Stay close to either Seattle or Bellevue near the main arteries and in the long run, you’ll do better financially than trying to “pick the next hot area”.

  8. 8

    RE: Erik @ 5

    Yes Erik

    I had an old friend in W. Seattle in the 2000s and I’m sure this demography of incomes takes decades to clear, so hasn’t changed a whole lot….lots of lower class bought there in past decades, as it was too close to SEATAC’s airplane noise and much cheaper, like Des Moines. Tiny older homes and lots there too.

  9. 9

    West Seattle, for some reason I don’t understand, is an area where agents are most likely to overstate their listing–e.g. number of bedrooms, square footage, etc. Maybe it’s because they’re trying to push the value in the area due to the issues mentioned in this thread???

  10. 10
    Saffy The Pook says:

    West Seattle is a nice place to live in and of itself but let’s face it, if you’re commuting to downtown Seattle for work, it’s almost as bad as living on an island. There’s only one way in or out so it can easily take 30 minutes to commute and God help you if there’s an accident on the bridge coming or going. There was a period there before the crash when West Seattle and Ballard were both coming up as the new affordable neighborhoods with walkability, a diverse mix of local business, some culture, beaches, and other quality of life amenities for young families. West Seattle had even better Sound views than Ballard but Ballard prospered due, primarily IMHO, to proximity to downtown.

  11. 11
    Erik says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 6
    I chose the area because I think it is gonna recover dummy, not the other way around.

  12. 12
    Erik says:

    RE: Been there… @ 7
    Good points. I chose nasty yucky north everett in 2004. It was suppose to be going up, so I looked at it as a stepping stone. All the BS never came true. North Everett stole 6 years of my life I will never get back as far as I’m concerned. By the way, I was talking bad about the area long before Tim bought there. I am still shocked he bought there and wish him the best.

    Let me post a link to the palace I live in over the water looking down Alki beach.,-122.4111391,3a,75y,233.17h,75.18t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sm8cavAETwT2K_NZwJtUsMw!2e0

    This is by far the nicest living situation I have ever had. A place like this would be way out of my price range in Bellevue or downtown Seattle. I do agree with you that suffering by speculating on real estate is a losing battle. That is why I will not live in North Everett, Marysville, Tacoma, Lakewood, and similar areas ever again. I love it here in west seattle and I am thankful that I am able to afford such a nice place. I am remodeling and when I am done, I will have to figure out when to sell. I will wait a year, maybe 2 to avoid paying capitol gains tax. I think it is likely I will make another $100k profit or better when I sell. That can be done without the area booming.

    You are preaching to the choir. I have made that same statement on here many times. Some people think they have to suffer in impoverished areas to see a big profit. The opposite is true.

  13. 13
    Erik says:

    RE: Saffy The Pook @ 10
    I agree with you on this one. West Seattle prices will likely not increase more than average unless they fix the traffic situation leading to downtown. Maybe things will change in the next couple years? If they don’t, I will still make a good profit based on my remodel. In my complex, condos that are not updated sell for about $100k less than updated condos. When I finish remodeling, my condo will go from the worst condo to the nicest condo. With my plans, I will no doubt have the best looking unit in the building. I paid 300 and I’d love to sell for around 460 in a couple years, but we’ll see. Could be higher, could be lower. Based on my history of making my place beautiful, it will be higher.

  14. 14
    Jonness says:

    Good for you Erik! Do you live in a house or a condo?

  15. 15
    Erik says:

    RE: Jonness @ 14
    Condo. I’m around the middle on the second floor.,-122.4111391,3a,75y,233.17h,75.18t/da

    Not bad for a dirt bag like myself from North Everett.

  16. 16
    Jonness says:

    Looking good Erik!

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