Around the Sound: A Nasty Winter for Home Buyers

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.

This month’s story in a nutshell: Listings are declining from a year ago, while sales are up across the board. Overall the winter is shaping up to be very unfriendly to home buyers.

First up, a summary table:

November 2014 King Snohomish Pierce Kitsap Thurston Island Skagit Whatcom
Median Price $440,000 $330,000 $231,350 $245,000 $237,000 $271,500 $239,500 $267,750
Price YOY 6.3% 6.5% 7.6% 8.9% 3.8% 5.6% -4.2% 0.2%
Active Listings 3,658 2,120 3,162 1,039 1,098 544 558 1,018
Listings YOY -4.2% 0.6% 0.7% -18.4% -1.5% -15.5% -19.7% -3.3%
Closed Sales 1,870 743 854 279 283 108 132 188
Sales YOY 5.4% 7.4% 3.5% 14.8% 12.3% 12.5% 0.8% 5.6%
Months of Supply 2.0 2.9 3.7 3.7 3.9 5.0 4.2 5.4

Next let’s take a look at median prices in November compared to a year earlier. Prices were up from a year ago everywhere but Skagit County. Gains ranged from as low as 0.2 percent in Whatcom to as high as 9 percent in Kitsap.

Median Sale Price Single-Family Homes

The number of listings on the market fell year-over-year almost everywhere. Even Snohomish County, which saw gains of as much as 48 percent earlier this year, only gained 0.6 percent in November compared to a year earlier. The biggest loser of listings was Skagit County, where listings fell 20 percent from a year ago.

Active Listings of Single-Family Homes

Closed sales increased in November compared to a year earlier in all eight counties. The biggest gains were in Kitsap County, which saw 15 percent more sales than last November.

Closed Sales of Single-Family Homes

Here’s a chart showing months of supply this November and last November. The market was less balanced than a year ago, skewing more toward sellers in all eight counties.

Months of Supply Single Family Homes

To close things out, here’s a chart comparing November’s median price to the peak price in each county. Everybody is still down from the peak, with drops ranging between just 9 percent in King County to 22 percent in Island County.

Peak Median Sale Price Single-Family Homes

With home prices up considerably from the early 2012 bottom, inventory down and sales up, this winter is definitely shaping up to be an unpleasant time to try to buy a home.

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.

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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

    Sounds Just Like the Seattle Area I Knew in 1978 to Present

    Where it took one income to buy the house and another to eat.

  2. 2
    Erik says:

    This is the best news I’ve heard all day. Prices have nowhere to go but up as buyers get desperate for shelter. Us sellers will jack prices up and get a premium price for owning a home in 2014/2015.

  3. 3
    Joe M says:

    RE: Erik @ 2

    Gunning to be a Friday Flashback, Erik?

  4. 4

    RE: Joe M @ 3 – Thumbs up not working, and your post is the reason I know that! ;-)

  5. 5
    Erik says:

    RE: Joe M @ 3
    I just don’t see prices not increasing with this low of inventory. I don’t think it can happen unless the tim has a counter example.

    Here is another idea for a tim post… Graph median home prices in king county and inventory together over a long period of time so we can see how closely related median prices are to supply and demand. Low months of inventory would suggest higher demand and lower supply. Graph that and median price on the same axes.

  6. 6

    By Erik @ 5:

    RE: Joe M @ 3 – Here is another idea for a tim post… Graph median home prices in king county and inventory together over a long period of time so we can see how closely related median prices are to supply and demand. Low months of inventory would suggest higher demand and lower supply.

    Technically you cannot graph supply and demand with inventory and sales levels, because supply and demand are more than both those things. The easiest way to explain that is right now there are a lot more buyers who would buy if there were more active listings, but that’s not showing up in the monthly sales data, because they’re not buying.

    Also I would note that I don’t think you’d see all that much consistency in the results. Back in 2007 there were a lot more active listings at relatively the same price, because the prices being ever increasing for years seemed higher, causing more people to want to sell. The second time around the prices don’t seem as high, so they are not enticing as many sellers. This is a flip side (buy side) example, but It’s sort of like how the first time gas hit $3.00 a gallon it was an outrageous price, but earlier this year as it was falling to $3.00 a gallon that seemed great. The point is, median prices being high the second time are not generating the same seller reaction as the first time.

    Of course there are other things going on too. Using my 2007 seller example, selling back then was a bit more enticing when there was more inventory to select from on the buy side. Right now our higher prices might be most attractive to owners looking to move out of the area. If you’re looking to just move to a different house, the prospect of having to find a new place might keep you in place.

  7. 7
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 6
    Tim could graph something like (total inventory)/(sales that month) or something of that nature and compare it to median price. I’m sure a data man like tim could figure out something clever. I would like to get a better feel on how supply and demand affects prices in the seattle area.

  8. 8
    boater says:

    Months of supply seems to me to be the best proxy for a relative supply demand curve datapoint.

    It tells you nothing about absolute supply demand but unless you’re selling a large number of homes I’m not sure you’d really care about absolute numbers.

  9. 9
    David B. says:

    This fall was a great time for me. Finally found something that met my standards and bought it.

    But until that happened, this low inventory market was an exercise in frustration.

  10. 10
    ChrisM says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 4 – For Tim, the exact error when trying to thumbs up is: error: mysql: can’t find file ‘wp_comment_rating’ (errno: 2 – no such file or directory)

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