NWMLS: Seattle housing market still giving the finger to buyers

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September market stats have been published by the NWMLS. Here’s a quick excerpt from their press release:

MLS Brokers Detecting Seasonal Slowdown in Some Areas But Expect Price Hikes to Continue in Much of Washington

“October will be the best month for selection and availability until late February,” proclaimed J. Lennox Scott when commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“The pressure cooker for the housing market continues as the typical seasonal market comes into play for new listings coming on the market,” stated Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott. He noted new listings during September and October typically shrink 30 percent – and even more during the winter months – when compared to spring and summer months.

Buyers may be emerging on news of slightly improving supply. “For only the second time this year the available inventory was over the one-month mark in King County,” said John Deely. “A notable number of new listings went past their offer review date, and more listings had price reductions.”

The only way that buyers may be “emerging on news of slightly improving supply” is if said buyers are delusional. Supply is not improving. It is still at the lowest level it has ever been for this time of year.

Now let’s dive into the numbers for September.


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):

September 2017 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 3,104 +10.1% -16.1%
Closed Sales 2,512 -10.2% -0.2%
SAAS (?) 1.17 -2.7% -3.9%
Pending Sales 2,736 -11.0% -6.3%
Months of Supply 1.24 +22.6% -15.9%
Median Price* $625,000 -3.8% +16.2%

Still no good news for buyers. Listings are scarce, sales are strong, and prices dipped, but no more than they do every year in the second half of the year.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

Closed sales fell ten percent between August and September. Last year over the same period closed sales also decreased ten percent. Year-over-year closed sales were down less than a percent.

King County SFH Pending Sales

Pending sales fell eleven percent from August to September, and were down six percent year-over-year. It’s rather odd that for 2017 year-to-date, pending sales have been down an average of 3.8 percent from a year earlier, but closed sales have been up an average of 2.8 percent. There’s something strange about that.

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

King County SFH Inventory

Inventory rose ten percent from August to September, but was still down sixteen percent from a year earlier.

Here’s the chart of new listings:

King County SFH New Listings

New listings were down two percent month-over-month, and down four percent from last year.

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

Nothing new here unfortunately. As it has been for a few years now, it’s a great time to be a seller and a terrible time to be a buyer.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Year-over-year price changes fell a couple points between August and September but still sit at a very high level.

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

Down slightly from August, but still quite close to the all-time high.

September 2017: $625,000
July 2007: $481,000 (previous cycle high)

Here are a few articles about this month’s numbers from local news outlets:

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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.