NWMLS: Sales and Listings Both Inched Up in February

February market stats were published by the NWMLS yesterday. Before we get into our monthly stats, let’s have a look at their press release.

Early Spring Brings Bumper Crop of Homebuyers Who Face Inventory Drought

Favorable weather and restored confidence are propelling home buying activity around Western Washington to the highest level in nearly a decade, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service sources.

“The pent-up demand being unleashed has rocketed pending sales back to the levels of our record year in 2006,” said Ken Anderson, president/designated broker at Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Tumwater. Buyers have come off the sidelines, the former MLS director commented, adding “At the same time, homes for sale are near a 10-year low.”

The language in these releases is getting more and more over-the-top and reminiscent of the kind of thing we used to see 2005-2007. Describing sales as “rocketing” reminds me of the 2006 classic “last spaceship flight off a planet that’s about to explode.

CAUTION

NWMLS monthly reports include an undisclosed and varying number of
sales from previous months in their pending and closed sales statistics.

Here’s your King County SFH summary, with the arrows to show whether the year-over-year direction of each indicator is favorable or unfavorable news for buyers and sellers (green = favorable, red = unfavorable):

February 2014 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 2,721 +1.5% -14.2%
Closed Sales 1,383 +3.2% +11.4%
SAAS (?) 1.36 +32.4% -2.3%
Pending Sales 2,485 +16.1% +15.4%
Months of Supply 1.97 -1.7% -23.1%
Median Price* $429,900 -2.6% +6.0%

Feel free to download the updated Seattle Bubble Spreadsheet (Excel 2003 format), but keep in mind the caution above.

Unfortunately for buyers, the same trend we’ve been seeing for the last year continued uninterrupted in February. Very few listings and plenty of buyers. Prices

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

Closed sales rose 3 percent from January to February. Last year they fell 5 percent over the same period, so it looks like sales are getting a slightly early start this year.

Here’s the graph of inventory with each year overlaid on the same chart.

King County SFH Inventory

Thankfully for buyers, inventory rose slightly in February from the all-time low point set in January. Unfortunately it wasn’t much of an increase. Also worth noting: The 2,721 new listings that hit the market in February was only barely more than the 2,485 listings that went off the market to pending status in the same month.

Here’s the supply/demand YOY graph. “Demand” in this chart is represented by closed sales, which have had a consistent definition throughout the decade (unlike pending sales from NWMLS).

King County Supply vs Demand % Change YOY

Both supply and demand continued to move further in sellers’ favor in February.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Down slightly from last month, but still in a range that historically represents a very strong market.

And lastly, here is the chart comparing King County SFH prices each month for every year back to 1994 (not adjusted for inflation).

King County SFH Prices

Home prices dropped to their lowest point in 11 months, but don’t expect the trend to continue as we head into the spring with so few homes and demand so high.

January 2015: $429,900
May 2006: $427,950

Here’s this month’s articles from the Seattle Times. I couldn’t find any article on the P-I, perhaps Aubrey Cohen is on vacation.

Seattle Times: King County home prices up 6% from a year ago

Check back on Monday for the full reporting roundup.

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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.

6 comments:

  1. 1
    Mike says:

    Around the time I started shopping for a house 3 years ago I’ve been in the habit of favoriting the homes I’ve viewed on Redfin. Well, we’re at the point where significant numbers of the homes are coming up for resale again after being sold since the market recovery.

    These sellers often have significant equity. Most are coming out with $100K+ cash even if they put minimum down 2-3 years ago. Move up time! And this time the FHA 3.5%/ VA 0% down buyers of a few years ago can put in a strong offer with 20% down, virtually locking out new buyers with weaker financing offers.

    Based on this, I’d estimate that 2015 officially marks he return of buyers with generous amounts of resale equity as a significant force in the close-in Seattle market. I’ve been considering doing the same – jump back in and buy another fixer upper – the difference this time is I’d have enough cash to put 20% down AND do the most disruptive parts of the remodel (heating, plumbing, electric, roof, insulation) before moving in. It’s tempting

  2. 2
    Cap'n says:

    At least for median values, current prices are appropriate, if not lower, than would be expected in a healthy market. King County home price in Feb. 2001 = $250,000. February 2014 = $429,900. That is only 3.95 % appreciate/year, without adjusting for inflation. Tim’s right that prices will keep going up this spring and summer. And that is precisely the direction they should be going. It’s like global warming, don’t get spooked by the snow storm or the heat wave, pay attention to the long-term trend.

  3. 3
    Jonness says:

    I’ve seen something occurring that I haven’t seen in quite a while. Buildable lots out in the countryside are starting to sell again. The prices are low, but builders are beginning to step back into the water out in the sticks.

  4. 4
    Erik says:

    Remember in 2012 when I was praying for low invenory? The link below is part of the series that showed inventory may increase. It seemed like the buzz on here was that inventory was heading up. I thought that made no sense and said a prayer to keep inventory ow and solidify my guess.

    https://seattlebubble.com/blog/2013/07/02/inventory-now-on-track-to-beat-2012-by-august/#comments

    It turned out my prayers were answered! As long as inventory stays in the gutter, housing prices will be pushed upward. I love looking at all the hammerhead cranes building in the SLU. If you tax payers would agree to build me a railway or bridge or something to the SLU I would appreciate that greatly. How about another underground tunnel now that we have most the bugs worked out on the first one? We could dig it right under that pesky waterway. We could even morph the idea from San Fransisco’s BART and we can call it SART for Seattle Area Rail Transport. Who’s with me??!!

    Just read Marc’s comments on here. Oh boy was he wrong. He was calling me out saying I should prepare to be disappointed. Oh Marc, please comment! If Tim won’t be held accountable, will you?

  5. 5
    Deerhawke says:

    If you want a good indicator of where the market is going, check out the article by Gene Balk (The FYI Guy) in the Sunday Seattle Times, “Is Middle Class Shrinking?”

    Basically, between 2000 and 2012, King County grew by 85,000 new households. Of those 40,000 are poor earning less than half the median income of $35,000. Roughly 40,000 of those households are high-income with at least 180% of the median, or $125,000 or more in earnings. Only 5000 in the middle income group with $35,000 to $125,000 in income.

    We in the Northwest think of ourselves as the gentler, kinder part of the country. But we are seeing the same pattern as the rest of the country. Richer. Poorer. Disappearing middle.

  6. 6
    The Tim says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ – It’s worth pointing out that he noticed an important caveat in the income numbers, which also applies to all of the income-based data we’ve posted here in the past:

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/mapping-king-countys-disappearing-middle-class/

    Capital gains. It turns out that investment returns — which many of the ultrarich live on, rather than salaries — are excluded from household-income calculations by the Census Bureau.

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