Foreclosures Back to Pre-Bust Levels Around Seattle

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It’s been a few months since we took a detailed look at foreclosure stats in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, so let’s update those numbers. First up, the Notice of Trustee Sale summary:

August 2015
King: 279 NTS, down 15% YOY
Snohomish: 149 NTS, down 37% YOY
Pierce: 250 NTS, down 26% YOY

The number of trustee sale notices is still falling year-over-year. Aside from the oddities in the data brought on by various state legislation that modifies the foreclosure process, foreclosure notices in all three counties have been on a relatively steady retreat since peaking in mid-2009.

Here’s the chart of foreclosures per business day. All three counties are down year-over-year by that metric as well, but month-over-month notices increased in all three counties.

Notices of Trustee Sale: Daily Rate

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 13.3 -15% 13.4 73.4
Snohomish 7.1 -37% 7.0 37.1
Pierce 11.9 -26% 11.2 47.7

All three counties continue to drop double digits from last year’s levels.

My January prediction that “2015 seems likely to be the year foreclosure levels return to their pre-bust levels” seems to be true.

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 3,012 households, Snohomish County had 1 NTS per 1,881 households, and Pierce had 1 NTS for every 1,274 households (higher numbers means fewer foreclosures).

According to foreclosure tracking company RealtyTrac, Washington’s statewide foreclosure rate for August was one foreclosure for every 1,354 housing units. 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 Bank-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

    Also down are short sales and REO sales. I can’t go back to 2007 to determine the levels back then, but both were below 75 in August (SFR-King County). Numbers from NWMLS sources but not compiled by or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

  2. 2

    If Anyone’s Interested

    There’s a somewhat nice looking $60K 3 bdrm [from photo] in Tacoma getting set for the auction block.

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