October Stats Preview: Early Sales Dropoff Edition

Now that October behind us, let’s have a look at our monthly stats preview. First up, here’s the snapshot of all the data as far back as my historical information goes, with the latest, high, and low values highlighted for each series:

King & Snhomish County Stats Preview

Sales dropped off a decent amount month-over-month, during a time when they rose a year ago, so the year-over-year growth fell off dramatically. Meanwhile inventory in both counties saw another year-over-year decline that was the biggest in two and a half years. Foreclosure notices in both counties were down slightly month-over-month and year-over-year.

Next, let’s look at total home sales as measured by the number of “Warranty Deeds” filed with King County:

King County Warranty Deeds

Sales in King County fell 8 percent between September and October (in 2014 they rose 5 percent over the same period), and were up just 1.4 percent year-over-year. Thanks to the reversal in month-over-month compared to a year ago, that is a dramatic decline from the 15.4 percent year-over-year increase in sales in September.

Here’s a look at Snohomish County Deeds, but keep in mind that Snohomish County files Warranty Deeds (regular sales) and Trustee Deeds (bank foreclosure repossessions) together under the category of “Deeds (except QCDS),” so this chart is not as good a measure of plain vanilla sales as the Warranty Deed only data we have in King County.

Snohomish County Deeds

Very similar story in Snohomish. Deeds fell 14 percent month-over-month (vs. flat in the same period last year) and were up 3.5 percent from October 2014 (vs. up 20 percent just a month ago).

Sales in both counties are drying up this year a lot earlier than they did last year.

Next, here’s Notices of Trustee Sale, which are an indication of the number of homes currently in the foreclosure process:

King County Notices of Trustee Sale

Snohomish County Notices of Trustee Sale

Foreclosure notices in King County were down 18 percent from a year ago, and Snohomish County was down 13 percent from last year.

Here’s another measure of foreclosures for King County, looking at Trustee Deeds, which is the type of document filed with the county when the bank actually repossesses a house through the trustee auction process. Note that there are other ways for the bank to repossess a house that result in different documents being filed, such as when a borrower “turns in the keys” and files a “Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure.”

King County Trustee Deeds

Trustee Deeds were down 41 percent from a year ago, and down 13 percent from a month ago.

Lastly, here’s an update of the inventory charts, updated with previous months’ inventory data from the NWMLS.

King County SFH Active Listings

Snohomish County SFH Active Listings

Inventory fell yet again in both counties month-over-month, which is typical for this time of year. However, the year-over-year decline in each county was the largest since April/May 2013. King was down 32 percent from a year ago while Snohomish was down 19 percent.

Note that most of the charts above are based on broad county-wide data that is available through a simple search of King County and Snohomish County public records. If you have additional stats you’d like to see in the preview, drop a line in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Stay tuned later this month a for more detailed look at each of these metrics as the “official” data is released from various sources.

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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.

34 comments:

  1. 1
    ess says:

    Interesting to note that while housing sales numbers are up for the 2015 year, inventory is lower than 2014. At the same time, numbers not reflected in these numbers is the population increase in the Puget Sound area, especially in King and Snohomish counties from 2014 to 2015. There are more people residing in those counties in 2015 than 2014 while inventory has actually dropped. In other words – more people vying for less housing for sale, which indicates scarcity of product which should allow for more healthy real estate price increases.

    http://blog.psrc.org/tag/population/

  2. 2

    RE: ess @ 1
    But is This Scenario a Good Time to Buy

    Or just wait for the dust to settle?

  3. 3
    GoHawks says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 2 – Besides a recession, what will bring about an increase in supply?

  4. 4
    Jay says:

    Voters saying yes to “Move Seattle”, http://www.seattletimes.com. Most of the people on this blog were against it, but they didn’t seem to represent the majority of the voters in Seattle. I guess their opinions are irrelevant anyway.

  5. 5
    GoHawks says:

    For those thinking this market is going to slow from a demand standpoint……….wow.

    Seattle Times: Office tenants gobbled more space in Seattle than NYC, Chicago

  6. 6
    Amy says:

    RE: Jay @ 4

    I was against it, but only from the standpoint that:

    1. It had no explicit plan as far as to what the money has to be spent on, just a bunch of “guidelines.”
    2. I felt it was recommending spending money on the wrong things.

    What we really need yesterday is rail/light rail connecting more of the region, with bus service for and large park & ride lots for the rail stations. And we should seriously prioritize it as much as possible. More people would take public transit if it was a viable option. More buses that only really go to-from downtown unless you make multiple connections, and can’t even hold a schedule, are not a viable option. (My bus to-from work is often 15+ minutes late when it’s supposed to come every 10)

    I’d like to see rail going into Ballard, West Seattle, and Magnolia, at least as far north as Lynwood, and connecting Renton/Auburn, Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, and Woodinville at the least. Then bus service could be local and more likely to meet its schedule, rail would of course be on its own right of way and almost always on schedule, and there would be less reason to sit in the parking lots that are I-405 and I-5.

    That said, I know I’m an optimist and this will never happen. :P

  7. 7

    RE: Amy @ 6
    The Simple Problem With Your Well Thought Out Solution

    There’s no room for a workable transit or monorail type system in the general King/Snohomish/Pierce counties without bull dozing much of the scarce homes and business structures down. This problem existed in the 70s too….its just gotten much worse now.

    Nope…..depopulation is the only answer for this small strip of land closely bordered by mountains to the east….and going car-less provides no real answer either. Its called logical demographic planning, something almost none of our politicians are skilled at.

  8. 8
    redmondjp says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 7 – SWE, that’s just plain nonsense! There is plenty of room, IF we were smart. Example: two-track, elevated monorail, like we’ve been beta-testing in Seattle for the past 53 years. It should go right down the center median of all of our existing freeways, connecting to overhead stations at the existing overpasses (which would have to be expanded or rebuilt).

    We could also use the same solution on all of our under-utilized rail corridors, preserving the ground-level space for bikes and joggers. These corridors exist all over the area, from Snohomish to Renton, from Sammamish to Redmond, from the Eastside over the lake to Seattle, etc.

    The right-of-ways are there. The technical solutions have been here for decades. What is missing? The political willpower. And as long as voters here are dumb enough to keep voting ‘yes’ for everything on the ballot promising free candy and sunny skies forever, nothing will change. Sound Transit’s primary purpose, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is a taxpayer funds redistribution machine, which is great if you are on the receiving end of it.

  9. 9
    Jay says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 7 – “Depopulation is the only answer” – it is good that you are getting old!

  10. 10
    Scotsman says:

    It’s a North/south oriented city- they need to bite the bullet now and build a second major freeway parallel to I5 and then connect everything with a standardized design elevated rail system- a relatively inexpensive solution. But they won’t. Remember when there were plans for a 605 bypass east of 405, now long dead? But the population continues to grow east of 405. Have you tried driving on 405 during rush hour? Walking on 405? It’s a bad joke. Seattle- too much consensus seeking, not enough reality slinging leadership.

    Despite all this business will continue to grow and housing will continue to become increasingly expensive. Reminds me of the old car joke- “you know who buys and drives Ferraris?” People who can afford them. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean…….

  11. 11
    Blardian says:

    RE: Amy @ 6

    Do you honestly believe that you better know how to spend $1 billion on transportation than a group of experts? You’re reaching into your gut to come back with criticism of a plan from some pretty smart people with a lot of experience in transportation who spent a lot of time on this plan.

    My only problem with the levy is that it shouldn’t be a levy — laymen shouldn’t have the opportunity to second-guess the experts, to vote with their gut on whether or not the allocation of funds is correct. Infrastructure maintenance and expansion that matches population growth should come from the city’s general budget, like it does in most other cities. Seattle is exceptional in that our DOT’s funding from the city’s general budget is limited to personnell, payroll and benefits. If we voted down the levies it would effectively shut the DOT down, we couldn’t even fill a pothole.

    On our next ballot we need a measure that permanently adds a comparable tax, going into the city’s general budget earmarked for the DOT.

  12. 12
    boater says:

    RE: Blardian @ 11

    You do realize we had a housing bubble in 2007 because the experts all agreed that one act was true. There had never been a collapse of housing prices that affected the whole US. That was the underpinning on how housing debt was graded. Sure Miami might crash but Miami LA and Topeka would never all crash simultaneously.

    Experts are always right. And as long as they intend to spend the money I earned you damn well better bet I expect a say it what they do with it.

    You might also go look at a tunnel these experts are building under the seattle waterfront. Per the original schedule you should be driving on it next year.

  13. 13

    By ess @ 1:

    Interesting to note that while housing sales numbers are up for the 2015 year, inventory is lower than 2014.

    Not so sure why that’s interesting/surprising. If you’re going to have X people decide to sell during a given period, the more sales there are the lower the inventory will become. Each sale removes one unit from inventory. It’s a constant battle between the number of people wanting to buy and those wanting to sell.

    On a similar note, Tim wrote:

    Sales dropped off a decent amount month-over-month, during a time when they rose a year ago, so the year-over-year growth fell off dramatically. Meanwhile inventory in both counties saw another year-over-year decline that was the biggest in two and a half years.

    Even ignoring the fact that this year’s summer sales were at a higher level than 2014 (and thus more likely to result in a later drop), if you have lower inventory it’s going to be harder to maintain the same level of sales. If inventory somehow fell to zero for an extended time, there would be zero sales during that period.

  14. 14

    RE: Scotsman @ 10

    Yes Scotsman

    I was in LA and noticed 30-40 miles east of the city center was wide open real estate [with lower than Seattle home prices] and the mountains to the east were still a distant landscape…..plenty of room for sprawl, unlike the Seattle area and close enough to LA commute. In the NE America States its a building code….no new home traffic dumped on your main freeway(s) access neighborhood streets, turning them into a Central Ave [Kent Valley] or 128th [Mill Creek, Snohomish County] parking lot at rush hour with meter lights on freeway entrances to clogged I-5 and Hwy 167, i.e…..you have to build fresh new freeway access streets first, then you can add new homes in the NE American States…..

    Drive out there and Wash DC has huge lots and lots of trees so you can’t see houses….so does Boston, etc….the population growth had demographic planning, environmental green belt zoning and effective building codes defining it. We don’t. We have large mostly treeless asphalted areas and strip malls. Postage stamp sized building lots.

  15. 15
    Erik says:

    RE: Blardian @ 11
    If you listen to the experts, you will live paycheck to paycheck just like the system is set up. If you are too dumb to think for yourself, you have a tough road ahead of you.

  16. 16

    RE: redmondjp @ 8

    Ahhhh…Your Property Taxes are Way too Low Anyway

    We must all roll up our sleeves, take out our billfolds and vote lots of new taxes in? The Seattle economy can handle more property tax burden, or better yet a State Income Tax? I’m glad you’re wearing your tin hat.

  17. 17
    David B. says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 10 – Because this has worked so well for Houston. Everyone knows how that city is famous for its free-flowing traffic at all hours of the day. LOL.

  18. 18

    RE: GoHawks @ 5
    And Who Gets Stuck With the Billionaires’ Large Construction Bills in the City Center for Cramped/Over-priced Condos and Apartments?

    “…Who do billionaires turn to when they want to buy apartment complexes? The U.S. taxpayer….”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/taxpayers-may-funding-billionaires-biggest-100000876.html

  19. 19
    Amy says:

    RE: Blardian @ 11

    In this case, yes. For the most part, the rush hour traffic jams in this region aren’t caused by people living in Seattle, they’re caused by people commuting to/from Seattle from everywhere in the region. So how exactly do bike lanes and more RapidRide routes in Seattle itself help this? They don’t. If you want to reduce car traffic in the city, the first goal should be to make traveling to/from different parts of the city, from outside the city, via public transit an actual viable option. Buses are extremely flexible and routes can be changed much more quickly than rail, so once the rail projects have been completed routes can be shifted around to improve travel within the city itself.

    Also, if you want to make housing in the city more affordable, you definitely want to make the suburbs more accessible. I guarantee you that many people would choose not to pay $700k+ for a house in Seattle proper if there were commute options other than sitting in traffic for 2 hours every day.

  20. 20
    David B. says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 18 – Just like they’ve been funding single-family homes in the suburbs for decades.

  21. 21
    greg says:

    Perhaps driverless cars will resolve much of this.

    We could add a couple of driverless car lanes to highways, no drivers allowed in those lanes or huge penalties!

    those lanes could hold double or triple the number of cars with ease and move faster than the other lanes….

    in fact there could be barriers to the lanes with a view to making all highways 100% driverless as soon as we can. Doing this would relieve the need for new roads for at least 30 years , but most likely forever.

    Sure we will have some cry babies but the tens of thousands of lives that would be saved along with the trillions saved growing our road networks would more than offset the minor hassles and growing pain.

  22. 22
    David B. says:

    RE: Amy @ 19 – The problem is twofold. First, many suburban areas are built at a density that makes good mass transit service difficult or impossible. Second, one needs to have a genuine commitment to making the bus transit rapid and reliable, which takes money (dedicated right-of-way doesn’t come cheap). If the buses end up getting stuck in the same traffic people driving alone are in, there is no reward in reliability or saved time for taking the bus. Alas, “bus rapid transit” tends all-too-often to be a sham; not enough money is invested in providing the buses with enough dedicated right-of-way to avoid congestion.

    The problem on the second one is that BRT tends to be sold as a way to provide reliable transit service at a small fraction of the cost of rail. It really can’t do that: by the time you have enough separate right-of-way for BRT to truly live up to its “rapid transit” label, you’re well beyond a small fraction of the cost of rail (even though BRT still typically ends up being less costly).

  23. 23
    Amy says:

    By David B. @ 22:

    First, many suburban areas are built at a density that makes good mass transit service difficult or impossible.

    Assuming you’re talking about low density, and not high. Yeah, this is why I suggested large park and ride lots at the rail stations. (At least in the suburbs. May not be possible in Seattle proper, would probably need buses. But those would also help people from outside the city get where they’re going once in the city.)

    Second, one needs to have a genuine commitment to making the bus transit rapid and reliable, which takes money (dedicated right-of-way doesn’t come cheap). If the buses end up getting stuck in the same traffic people driving alone are in, there is no reward in reliability or saved time for taking the bus. Alas, “bus rapid transit” tends all-too-often to be a sham; not enough money is invested in providing the buses with enough dedicated right-of-way to avoid congestion.

    Yep, definitely agreed. That’s why I feel like the best plan is to reduce the number of cars clogging up the city with rail first. Dedicated right-of-way may not even be necessary after that, but it might be. It should probably be installed on main arteries regardless so that the bus routes fanning out from the rail stations are efficient.

    The problem is, the Move Seattle! approach of doing dedicated bike lanes and bus lanes first is just going to make traffic that much worse. Best to start the long-term projects earlier so they finish earlier. This is a solvable problem…

  24. 24
  25. 25
    David B. says:

    RE: greg @ 21 – “Perhaps driverless cars will resolve much of this.”

    Unlikely, because the cars have to exit the freeway to get to places people actually want to go (most destinations are not right at an off-ramp) and surface streets in many areas are at or near gridlock conditions already. Throwing more freeway capacity at such a problem (which is basically what driverless cars do) won’t fix it.

  26. 26
    Azucar says:

    In my opinion, a good and quick solution is to tax gasoline more, and USE THAT MONEY FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Buses immediately, and also rail lines or other mass transit solutions. With things like subsidized buses and ferries (West Seattle ferry could reduce traffic over the bridge a lot if it were reliable enough, which it could be if some money were thrown at it), and rail lines (could be paid for now with bonds, and the income from the additional gas tax paying off the bonds eventually).

    With the above solution, people would be incentivized to NOT DRIVE by the additional cost of gas as well as the cheaper and more reliable mass transportation. People who really want to use their car still can – they just need to put their money where their mouth is and pay for the gas. People who cry “foul” and say that they need to drive but don’t want to subsidize their neighbors (who are taking subsidized public transportation and not clogging up the streets with single occupancy cars) could work around it by getting an electric car. It would also help with the pollution problem.

    Keep raising the gas tax and lowering the cost of taking mass transit and making it more convenient (by pouring the gas tax money into bolstering it up) until you get the balance that you want. Done!

  27. 27
    ess says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 13:

    By ess @ 1:

    Interesting to note that while housing sales numbers are up for the 2015 year, inventory is lower than 2014.

    Not so sure why that’s interesting/surprising. If you’re going to have X people decide to sell during a given period, the more sales there are the lower the inventory will become. Each sale removes one unit from inventory. It’s a constant battle between the number of people wanting to buy and those wanting to sell.

    On a similar note, Tim wrote:

    Sales dropped off a decent amount month-over-month, during a time when they rose a year ago, so the year-over-year growth fell off dramatically. Meanwhile inventory in both counties saw another year-over-year decline that was the biggest in two and a half years.

    Even ignoring the fact that this year’s summer sales were at a higher level than 2014 (and thus more likely to result in a later drop), if you have lower inventory it’s going to be harder to maintain the same level of sales. If inventory somehow fell to zero for an extended time, there would be zero sales during that period.

    The point that I tried to make, perhaps not so artfully is that these statistics don’t take into consideration the fact that not only is inventory shrinking, but the population is growing. Perhaps another way to view inventory is as a percentage of population, in order to consider any increase or decrease of population during each year

  28. 28

    RE: ess @ 27 – Yes, that would be sort of like adjusting price for inflation. Instead it’s adjusting inventory by number of people.

    That would be particularly important over long periods of time, but there are some times where lots of people are moving into the area and a even sudden short term change can have a huge impact.

  29. 29
    Erik says:

    This could be the year that inventory goes below 2000 in King county. Looking forward to hearing buyers complain and eventually dish out more savings as prices go up.

  30. 30
    ess says:

    From what I saw, the combined population increase for King and Snohomish Counties for 2015 could reach fifty thousand from the previous year. I don’t know how much that would impact the housing sales dynamics in those areas, but I assume it has some sort of impact. Of course one must also consider the size of the population where the increase or decrease is taking place. Fifty thousand more people in an area such as Puget Sound is going to have a much larger impact than the NY City metropolitan area.

  31. 31

    RE: Azucar @ 26
    More Taxes?

    Snippet:

    “… According to Schiff, the recent rally in the dollar (Intercontinental Exchange US: .DXY) is “the biggest bubble that the Fed has ever inflated” and “it’s the only thing keeping the economy afloat.” The greenback hit a three-month high this week after Yellen said a December rate hike was a “live” possibility.

    Read More Sorting out the influence of the strong dollar on revenues

    “[The inflated dollar] is keeping the cost of living from rising rapidly and it’s keeping interest rates artificially low. It’s allowing the Fed to pretend everything is great,” Schiff said. “Eventually the bottom is going to drop out of the dollar and we are going to have to deal with reality,” he added. “That reality is we are staring at a financial crisis much worse than the one we saw in 2008.”

    Schiff, a longtime Fed foe, has been doubting a rate hike for some time. And while his predictions for a stock market and dollar crash have yet to pan out, he has maintained his stance that the Fed’s hands are tied….”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/peter-schiff-going-horrible-christmas-120000472.html

    Its like pouring gasoline on the fire to put it out. Stocks, IMO, have been propped up by using the $120/bbl oil base to price things like food, building supplies and gasoline, etc….when we actually have a $45/bbl….I see the oil base stabilizing at $45/bbl this year, yet milk went up and so did gasoline….we’re being gouged. This stock anomaly is doomed for failure.

    Do Seattle area gas stations raise gas prices way over the real oil base profit costs secretly over the internet? Wouldn’t surprise me at all. Grocery stores do it too?

    God forbid we have deflation helping the poor. No wonder their are demonstrations against the rich going on lately.

  32. 32
    Azucar says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 31

    What does what you posted have to do with increasing the tax on gasoline (which takes the most money from people who drive luxury cars) to help subsidize, and make more effective, convenient, and inexpensive, alternative means of transportation (that can be used by the poor to get around better)?

  33. 33
    ronp says:

    Good blog on transit in Seattle area — http://www.seattletransitblog.com
    Good bike blog — http://www.seattlebikeblog.com

    Good urban planner to follow on the twitter @BrentToderian

  34. 34
    Magnolia44 says:

    This place is still going strong? Hello folks from 5 years ago….keep up the good work Tim.

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