May Stats Preview: Another Terrible Month for Buyers

This post is a little tardy, but I wanted to make sure these charts were posted nonetheless. I’ll post yesterday’s NWMLS numbers a little later this morning. 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 & Snohomish County Stats Preview

Unfortunately there isn’t really any good news in the May data for home buyers. Sales remain strong and inventory is still flatlined near all-time lows. Foreclosures also remain near their all-time low levels.

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 increased 10 percent between April and May (a year ago they rose 6 percent over the same period), and were down 1 percent year-over-year. Still a slight decrease from the previous month during a time that typically sees gains, but overall sale levels are still fairly strong. It doesn’t look like competition is going to lighten up much this year.

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

Deeds in Snohomish rose 13 percent month-over-month (vs. an 8 percent decrease in the same period last year) and were up 13 percent from April 2015.

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 26 percent from a year ago and Snohomish County foreclosure notices were up 2 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 up 15 percent from a year 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 rose just 4 percent between April and May in King County. Active listing inventory was down 18 percent from a year ago. Snohomish County it’s a similar story: Listings were up 3 percent from April, but still down 26 percent from a year ago.

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.


  1. 1
    Sam Hunter says:

    Great news! Housing in huge demand with no end in sight!

    Thanks strong jobs, thanks low supply, thanks seattle regulation which limits supply.

    Can’t wait for 10-15% growth in 2016, 2017, 2018, and maybe even beyond!!!

  2. 2
    Doug says:

    Wow – what a pitiful month.

  3. 3

    RE: Sam Hunter @ 1
    Spoken Like a Great Warrior for the NWO

    You probably believe the U3 unemployment statistics as valid data too? You’re next, get ready to train your foreign replacement….thank God that new foreign worker’s family and relatives will need homes in Seattle? Or should I say thank “666” for the plan…..LOL

    Hillary hates Trump because he’s attacking this “World Order”. She said it those words too.

  4. 4
    AJT says:

    RE: Sam Hunter @ 1
    Sam, do you plan on selling and moving away?

  5. 5
    greg says:

    I think Sam was just having a little fun.

  6. 6
    uwp says:

    Where is the inventory?

  7. 7
    Doug says:

    RE: uwp @ 6 – Seems like the private market is booming. Those sales wouldn’t show up in active listings, but deeds would be registered at close, right?

    Any agents on here care to opine on the private market in general?

  8. 8

    RE: Doug @ 7 – The recorded deeds would include condos, vacant land and commercial sales that wouldn’t show up on the NWMLS stats that Tim regularly posts. So that is most of the discrepancy. Non-listed SFR sales by NWMLS agents make up roughly another 100 sales per month.

    Number estimate from NWMLS sources, but not compiled by or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

  9. 9
    AJT says:

    RE: greg @ 5
    I must have slept through sarcasm in college.
    But my point in asking the question was I don’t understand why people cheerlead astronomical home price gains unless they plan on selling and moving away or are landlords??? All it does for most residents is increase their tax bill. Am I missing something?

  10. 10

    RE: AJT @ 9 – It only increases the tax bill slightly, because most of the bill is not “ad valorem” in that the tax rate gets adjusted down as total values increase.

    But you do make a good point. Unless you are either downsizing or moving to another area entirely, the increase or decrease in value makes little difference because you’ll still need some place to live.

  11. 11
    Matt says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 10
    It increases one’s borrowing power too. I have always wanted an airplane…

  12. 12

    RE: Matt @ 11 – Yep, the old house as an ATM machine works a lot better in a rising market. /sarc

  13. 13
    ARDELL says:

    RE: uwp @ 6

    Sold quickly and pending. See next post.

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