NWMLS: Closed sales plummet, listings still scarce

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

Home Buyers Still Competing for Sparse Inventory in Western Washington, Driving Up Prices – Especially for Sought-After Condominiums

“The Seattle area real estate market hasn’t skipped a beat with pent-up demand from buyers is stronger than ever,” remarked broker John Deely in reacting to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report on January activity shows a slight year-over-year gain in pending sales, a double-digit increase in prices, and continued shortages of inventory.

“The decline in sales last month can’t be blamed on the holidays, weather or football. It’s simply due to the ongoing shortage of housing that continues to plague markets throughout Western Washington,” said OB Jacobi, the president of Windermere Real Estate.

Bummer for home salespeople that they can’t use the “football” excuse they usually throw out in January. Not that there’s really anything in these latest numbers for them to be concerned about.

Now let’s dive into the numbers for January.


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):

January 2018 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 1,243 +6.4% -20.8%
Closed Sales 1,259 -39.9% -20.4%
SAAS (?) 1.01 +17.4% +26.1%
Pending Sales 1,747 +19.7% -9.9%
Months of Supply 0.99 +77.0% -0.5%
Median Price* $628,388 -1.0% +19.7%

Inventory is at its lowest January level ever, and new listings were only barely above last year’s record-low level. Despite having nearly the same number of new listings as last year, closed sales and pending sales are both down considerably. Meanwhile, prices are up nearly twenty percent year-over-year.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

Closed sales fell forty percent between December and January. Last year over the same period closed sales were down twenty-seven percent. Year-over-year closed sales were down twenty percent. That’s a pretty big decline. It will be interesting to see if sales pick up in the next few months or keep dropping.

King County SFH Pending Sales

Pending sales were up twenty percent from December to January, and were down ten percent year-over-year.

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

King County SFH Inventory

Inventory rose six percent from December to January, and was down twenty-one percent from last year. Total on-market listings are the lowest level for any January on record.

Here’s the chart of new listings:

King County SFH New Listings

New listings were up just 0.3 percent from a year ago—a whopping six more homes hit the market this January compared to January 2017.

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

The drop in closed sales is actually pretty sudden and severe in this chart. The last time the year-over-year change in closed sales was anywhere near this low was late 2010.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Year-over-year price changes shot up to their highest level since March 2016, nearly hitting twenty percent again.

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 December and currently about $30k below the all-time high hit last July.

January 2018: $628,388
July 2007: $481,000 (previous cycle high)

Here’s the article from the Seattle Times: King County housing market kicks off 2018 even hotter than before, as Seattle breaks price record

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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. 751
    ARDELL DellaLoggia says:

    RE: David @ 747

    Your link says listed at $460,000. Looks like they may have gotten a quick and high offer and changed the list price to the offer price twice.

  2. 752
    David says:

    RE: ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 748 – They changed it the same day as listing. I think they just corrected the price. No way a house would sell in that area would sell at $460k.

  3. 753

    By David @ 749:

    RE: ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 748 – They changed it the same day as listing. I think they just corrected the price. No way a house would sell in that area would sell at $460k.

    They changed it the first hour! Exactly $100,000. I would agree it was most likely just a correction.
    Probably just hit the wrong key when inputting, or maybe a brain fart being off by $100,000.

  4. 754
    ARDELL DellaLoggia says:

    RE: David @ 749

    It was changed up again. Both errors? Seriously?

  5. 755
    David says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 750 – I bet the people that paid that extra $70k are slightly pissed. I’ll also bet they didn’t report that sale until the exact same moment as the second house.

  6. 756

    RE: David @ 752 – I was only looking at the price history before, and just noticed now that those are new construction. As such it’s possible that one had $70k in upgrades. I once sold a house where when new it had over $100k in upgrades.

    But also, people don’t know what another sold for while it is pending, and agents are very reluctant to give that information out. The example I have given of that is two nearly identical condo units where from memory both listed for about $225,000. We knew they wouldn’t appraise anywhere near that, so we made much lower offers to the first owner and then when the second came on the market to the second owner. We offered something like $195,000 with low appraisal protection down to something like $192,000. It appraised at $191,000 (or $1,000 below whatever our protection number was). Our buyer just ate the difference since the valuation issue seemed to be related to the garage. But while our offer was pending a cash buyer came in and snapped up the first unit for something close to $225,000. All he/she knew was that a nearly identical unit went pending at a list price of $225,000. I image he/she was very upset when our transaction closed.

  7. 757
    David says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 753 – I’m watching a couple of properties where I am suspicious of the sale reporting techniques. Seems designed to obscure the sale price apparently to protect pending sales.

  8. 758

    RE: David @ 754 – Giving free upgrades or even paying the capacity charge would be a way to obscure the price–I don’t know how much of that is occurring in this market though.

    If you want to know the gross price just go to the King County Recorder’s website and look at the deed.

  9. 759
    pfft says:

    The BEST people!

    Kushner company accused of falsifying records to harass tenants, earn huge profits

    This is the kid that is basically charged with fixing the whole world. No joke, look it up.

    The best part is this is about real estate. I hit the trifecta.

  10. 760
    pfft says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 755:

    RE: David @ 754 – Giving free upgrades or even paying the capacity charge would be a way to obscure the price–I don’t know how much of that is occurring in this market though.

    If you want to know the gross price just go to the King County Recorder’s website and look at the deed.

    kary I see you are at other sites doing kary things in the comments section.


  11. 761
    David says:

    RE: pfft @ 756 – In my mind’s eye, I see you sitting naked, in the dark, watching MSNBC.

  12. 762
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: David @ 758 – I view pfft’s return to the comment section as an act of mercy. SB is understandably moribund and the return of pfft is a final death blow. Why someone would choose a locally-focused real estate blog as a catch-basin for political vomit is sort of beyond me, but we are living in strange times so I don’t try to understand much anymore.

  13. 763

    RE: pfft @ 757 – You mean giving useful information? Yep, you should try that sometime.

  14. 764
    Kmac says:

    It seems that some other long missing characters seem to also make an appearance at the same time pfft does.
    You must have some groupies.

  15. 765
    Brian says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 741
    Thank you Ardell! That was a lot more info than I expected to get. Appreciate it.

  16. 766

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 760
    Give Pfffft Some Slack Kary

    Open Border Progressives can’t stand opposing view points and never will negotiate deals with that “pig-headed” attitude….they must have it only their way. They rarely compromise and call those who oppose their view point “deplorables” or racists.

    Those are not quality blogger attitudes.

  17. 767

    RE: softwarengineer @ 763 – Being extremely partisan either direction is not good.

    Just this last week the two Trump firings bothered me a great deal, not necessarily because the two were fired, but because of how they were fired.

    But then Hillary Clinton came rushing in saying a bunch of delusional nonsense at a gathering in India. I then remembered that it was apparent over two years ago that we were screwed.

    Hillary and Trump are what extreme partisanship brings.

  18. 768
    Blake says:

    Agree… the choice between Trump and Hillary last election was the worst ever… no choice really! Our system is broken…

    “New NBC/WallStJournal poll: Trump receives net positive approval ONLY from Americans whose education went no further than high school.”
    … but, as “David” told us last week, these are the smartest people in the country! Luckily for us dummies, the same poll shows that these people are least interested in the mid-term elections and much less likely to vote!! ‘Merica f*ck yeah!

  19. 769
    Blake says:

    And… The Trump Tariff Layoffs Begin!!
    A keg manufacturer lays off workers as domestic steel prices rise.

    Wil E. Trumpy… Super Genius!

  20. 770
    David says:

    RE: Blake @ 769 – Actually Trump won the caucasian, college educated vote – including caucasian college educated women.

    Can we get back to real estate? I know it isn’t easy maintaining useful thought after 800 comments – but…

  21. 771
    uwp says:

    *Alert* * Alert*
    Inventory has surpassed YOY in the sidebar tracker.
    Still at ridiculous lows, but I shall now page in the bears for their required doom postings…

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