Case-Shiller Tiers: Low Tier Prices Increasing Fastest

Let’s check out the three price tiers for the Seattle area, as measured by Case-Shiller. Remember, Case-Shiller’s “Seattle” data is based on single-family home repeat sales in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

Note that the tiers are determined by sale volume. In other words, 1/3 of all sales fall into each tier. For more details on the tier methodologies, hit the full methodology pdf. Here are the current tier breakpoints:

  • Low Tier: < $304,021 (up 0.4%)
  • Mid Tier: $304,021 – $483,387
  • Hi Tier: > $483,387 (up 0.6%)

First up is the straight graph of the index from January 2000 through August 2015.

Case-Shiller Tiered Index - Seattle

Here’s a zoom-in, showing just the last year:

Case-Shiller Tiered Index - Seattle

All three tiers were up month-over-month once more in August. The middle tier saw the smallest gain of the group.

Between July and August, the low tier increased 0.6 percent, the middle tier rose 0.1 percent, and the high tier gained 0.4 percent.

Here’s a chart of the year-over-year change in the index from January 2003 through August 2015.

Case-Shiller HPI - YOY Change in Seattle Tiers

Year-over-year price growth was up in the low and high tiers compared to July, but down in the middle tier. Here’s where the tiers sit YOY as of August – Low: +9.2 percent, Med: +7.7 percent, Hi: +7.5 percent.

Lastly, here’s a decline-from-peak graph like the one posted earlier this week for the various Case-Shiller markets, but looking only at the Seattle tiers.

Case-Shiller: Decline from Peak - Seattle Tiers

Current standing is 13.1 percent off peak for the low tier, 6.7 percent off peak for the middle tier, and 1.1 percent off peak for the high tier.

(Home Price Indices, Standard & Poor’s, 2015-10-27)

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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

    Perhaps a Refinement?

    Like where the sales increases clump? More square footage for your buck is an example? Bigger lots?

  2. 2
    Scotsman says:

    Affordability issues drive buyers to the bottom tiers.

  3. 3

    RE: Scotsman @ 2
    Speaking of Lower Tiers And You Thought I Was Crazy for Recommending Kansas City Over Seattle For Techie Millennials


    “…After all, Kansas City was the first city to roll out Google’s (GOOGL) fiber network. “Google put us in the spotlight with an entirely different set of people — the young, technical crowd, millennials, businesses that need broadband, and creative types,” James says.

    This has led to further technological inroads for the city, including a recent partnership with Cisco Systems (CSCO) on the connected city. And increased efforts to boost entrepreneurship by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, founded by the late former Royals owner Ewing Kauffman, respresents other areas of focus for the city. Goodbye Silicon Valley and hello Silicon Prairie?…”

    Hey, San Francisco Techie Jobs without the “Sanctuary City” high real estate and property taxes to fund social supports for the poor that flock to the more desirable coasts?…..more available jobs to job seekers than say…..Seattle. LOL

  4. 4
    Scotsman says:

    Softy- always enjoy reading about your daughter and Midwestern real estate with interest. Certainly more affordable and not a bad lifestyle. My daughter in San Jose is at the opposite end of the scale- highly paid and can’t buy anything. In fact she observes that only the 3 founding partners in her firm can afford homes- everyone else, even married/couples with two individual 6 figure incomes, rents. Seattle’s future?

  5. 5
    greg says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 4

    naw we have plenty of land all we need is the common sense to open it up to building. We have water, land, roads and plenty of power. public policy is the real limiting factor.

  6. 6
    David B. says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 3 – It’s going to be a long time (if ever) before KC offers the number and variety tech jobs in Seattle, let alone the SF Bay Area.

  7. 7
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: David B. @ 6 – Stated as a black and white, simplistic statement like that, you are absolutely correct, but the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Successful companies still need employees, at least for now. Those employees still raise kids, save for the future, and strive for a high quality of life, things that are getting harder and harder for Seattle to offer.

  8. 8
    David B. says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 7 – Yeah, but SWE was talking about KC ending up with “more available jobs ” than Seattle, not just more than it currently has.

  9. 9
    David B. says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 4 – Doubtful. This is merely an upswing in the business cycle; it won’t last forever. In every Seattle housing bubble I’ve lived through, there has been talk of Seattle being the next SF Bay Area, yet it’s never happened. For a variety of reasons, barring any major natural disaster, Seattle is always going to be a notch or two below the Bay Area in both housing price and economic opportunity.

    In other words, Seattle is to Silly Valley as KC is to Seattle.

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