NWMLS: New listings dry up as home prices plateau

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The NWMLS published their August stats yesterday, so let’s take a look at how the month shook out for the housing market.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s preview post, the biggest story is a sudden, renewed shortage of inventory.

Before we get into our detailed monthly stats, here’s a quick look at their press release.

Home Buyers Seeking Affordability Are Expanding Search Outside Greater Seattle Job Centers

Depleted inventory continues to frustrate would-be buyers in Western Washington. Many of these potential homeowners are expanding their search beyond the major job centers in King County, according to market watchers who commented on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“While August is always a slower time for listings and sales, what is really surprising this year is the decrease in new listings taken, while pending sales increased,” observed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain.

Multiple offers are still commonplace with many buyers walking away disappointed, according to Wilson. “Traffic is strong at open houses and our average market time is still very low for correctly priced homes,” he added.

“The August numbers offered a few interesting nuggets,” stated OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “The Seattle area housing market is still coming off the ‘sugar high’ that we saw last summer, but homes sales and prices are stabilizing, which is reassuring to both buyers and sellers.”

Quick note: According to data from Redfin, multiple offers are far from “commonplace” now. In August fewer than 10 percent of offers in the Seattle area faced competition. (Disclosure: Tim works for Redfin.)

However, new listings are indeed way down. Let’s get into the data to quantify the drop.


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):

August 2019 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 4,194 -4.7% -10.1%
Closed Sales 2,531 -3.9% +6.1%
SAAS (?) 1.11 -4.8% -22.9%
Pending Sales 2,623 -10.1% +7.9%
Months of Supply 1.66 -0.7% -15.3%
Median Price* $670,000 -1.5% +0.1%

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

King County SFH Inventory

Inventory fell five percent from July to August. During the same period a year ago, inventory rose 12 percent. The 10 percent year-over-year drop in inventory is the biggest decline we’ve seen since January 2018.

Here’s the chart of new listings:

King County SFH New Listings

New listings were down 10 percent from July to August, and were down 18 percent from a year ago. Only 2011 and 2012 saw fewer new listings in August than we had in 2019.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

Closed sales fell four percent between July and August, and were up six percent from last year. Closed sales have been in a fairly tight range between about 2,400 and 2,800 in August every year since 2013, and this year fell right in the middle of that range at 2,531.

King County SFH Pending Sales

Pending sales fell 10 percent month-over-month but were up eight percent year-over-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

The good news for buyers with respect to housing supply was short-lived. Supply is back in the red.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Home prices dipped a bit last month, but not by as much as they did this time last year, so we ended up back in the black year-over-year, just barely.

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

August 2019: $670,000
August 2018: $669,000
July 2007: $481,000 (previous cycle high)

Here’s the article about these numbers from the Seattle Times: The market’s chilled out, but Seattle home prices still too hot for many first-time buyers

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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. 251
    Notme says:

    RE: Bumble @ 250

    >>Seems like you are blaming the rain on the guy selling umbrellas.

    If you want to speak in symbolic language: I’m blaming (some of ) the shortage of reasonably priced umbrellas on the guy that bids up older more reasonably priced umbrellas, buys them, wrecks them, and then sells new umbrellas that are flat and square and half the areal size, umbrellas that will not last in the rain, for 2X the price. All the while claiming, in not so many words, to do God’s work.

  2. 252
    Juststoppedby says:

    RE: Eastsider @ 227
    We are in total agreement that the housing market has split into different segments.

    My argument is that the money from China inflated the top portion of the market and, now that it has dried up, that is the portion that is floundering most.

    Particularly after the backlog of home buyers that had built up from so many lost bidding wars has been worked through the system.

    China DID have an impact on the lower-priced segment, though, basically due to the domino theory.

    As prospective home purchasers lost out on bidding wars, some would have waited (building the backlog of purchasers) and others would have had to adjust their sights lower, similar to the “drive to affordability” concept,

  3. 253
    BacktoBasics says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 245
    I don’t think Seattle housing price will increase the same pace as last 10-20 years. But the housing sq and lot sq will decrease lit PG tooth paste at the core area. Large house would be built further from city center and the buyer will regret wasting hrs on the cramped HWY traffic. In core area, those old 1950 house with sizeable lot would be subdivided for two high rise slim houses or a single big house. Overall, Seattle housing will still outpace inflation above nation average. Wrong or correct my prediction, time will tell.

  4. 254
    Eastsider says:

    RE: Juststoppedby @ 252 – Yes, I am not denying that Chinese money has no impact on the lower end, but it has been minimal compared to the high end. Someone also claims that supply and demand will continue to push prices higher. True to a limited extend but I doubt it will have as big an impact now that prices are out of reach for most families. Imagine an overcrowded Indian city where demand far outstrips supply. Even if its population doubles, price gains are limited by income.

  5. 255

    Update on Seattle Area’s Baby Orcas Extinction in Puget Sound

    I haven’t educated myself on this topic with recent news on the topic in a while. They’ve found hungry live Orcas [their food is running thin with no fish left to eat] and dead babies, albeit they did find a rugged calve [single left?] barely surviving in our fishless Puget Sound, as their numbers shrink to zero. GROWTH is causing their extinction.


    BTW, Marine Oceanologists can do a much better job describing their extinction cause, like heavy elements [sewage rinse?] contaminating their blood, which the article above mitigates. You can talk to these professionals on Orcas tours from the San Juans, to get at the cause, I imagine the sewage waste toxins in Puget Sound keep the fish populations thinned down too, as well as Salmon runs slowed to a halt on our OVERPOPULATED rivers. They’re studying the causes now, but lets hope politics on human land use causing increases sewage waste doesn’t cloud the research. Heavy elements in their blood aren’t caused by starvation, its water pollution folks. GROWTH is the source culprit IMO, whether we admit it or not.

    Cheer up Bubbleheads its time for the Friday Yuban and the Seattle Times Brief:

    The Seattle Times
    Friday, September 20, 2019
    Alaskan Way Viaduct section and machines
    Farewell to the final waterfront stretch of Alaskan Way Viaduct
    This weekend, crews could crumble the last double-decker section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle’s waterfront, capping nearly 20 years of work and planning. The last chunk of the highway between Pike Place Market and the former Battery Street Tunnel will come down later this fall. (Photo: Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
    Crowds of Washingtonians today will join the Global Climate Strike. Here’s which Seattle streets will be affected. The strike is controversial in Seattle, where the schools chief said state law prohibited schools from excusing students’ absences for the strike. But it turns out that’s not true. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are joining in, many of them inspired by Greta Thunberg — a Swedish teen “superpower” who sailed across the Atlantic to a climate meeting, rather than fly.

    Traffic alert: A key route into South Lake Union will close Monday for 18 months while the Fairview Avenue bridge is replaced. Detours will affect thousands of drivers, bus riders, bicyclists and walkers, and congestion will likely spread through the area. Plus, be aware of traffic changes this weekend on Highway 18, I-5 in Tukwila and Highway 99.

    A school-bus driver was arrested after a child called 911 to report that “she was drunk” and had run several red lights, police say. The driver in Longview, southwest Washington, was arrested after completing two bus routes with about 90 students, KGW 8 News reports.

    Where have all the birds gone? Three billion fewer wild birds are soaring than in 1970, according to a comprehensive study that has shocked even researchers and conservation groups. Some of the most common birds are taking the biggest hits.

    Amazon has embraced an enormous challenge: Become carbon neutral by 2040. CEO Jeff Bezos yesterday outlined huge changes to the way Amazon will power its transportation and infrastructure, including a plan to have 100,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030. The fast-growing company has a loooooong way to go.
    Enjoy Morning Brief? Then you’ll love full digital access. Help us continue to bring you the news you care about, now. Subscribe to The Seattle Times for just $1 to start.

    Orcas visit local waters
    The newest orca calf born to endangered southern resident killer whales pays a playful visit to local waters yesterday with her family members, while researchers seized the rare moment. The orcas have been spending most of their time on the outer coast of Washington, where the feds have proposed expanding the whales’ critical habitat. (Photo: Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times, under NOAA permit 21348)
    Is Whole Foods getting a little too Amazon-ish? A new touch screen at checkout stands asks shoppers to rate their experience on a scale of one to five stars — just like Amazon customers do on product reviews online. That’s among recent changes that aren’t going over well with every worker.

    Fireproof your tree. A certified arborist explains how to tell how your tree is really doing – what signs of distress to watch for, the best time of day to water and other tree-TLC and tips to help trees thrive all year long.
    A whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump centers on Ukraine, sources told The Washington Post as Congress and intelligence agencies are locked in a standoff. The intelligence official’s complaint involved an alarming “promise” that Trump made, two former U.S. officials said. House Democrats are probing whether Trump tried to manipulate Ukraine into helping his reelection campaign.

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out of the presidential race today, saying, “It’s clearly not my time.” Here’s a guide to who’s still standing, and what the candidates say about key issues.

    Take that, buddy: A Chicago lawmaker was talking about a pigeon-poop problem when — splat!
    Yes, these UFO videos are real, the Navy says, but please stop saying UFO. Don’t tell that to the crowds trying to “see them aliens” this weekend near Area 51.
    Jenna Evans dreamed she’d swallowed her 2-carat engagement ring — then woke to find that she had.
    Crime is getting to be a really hairy problem in Florida.

    Produced by Advertising Publications
    Flu, gloom, politics: Fall’s damp chill, gray skies and busier schedules can pile on the stress. Enjoy your pumpkin spice latte in peace with these fresh ideas for taming fall stress in big and small ways. Ax-throwing, anyone?
    The revocation of states’ ability to make stronger limits than the feds on cars’ air pollution will have destructive consequences for the environment and carmakers’ stability, The Seattle Times editorial board writes. And while today’s marches to support better climate policy will signify how deeply the drive for a better environmental future is felt, real change requires registering to vote and deploying political power.

    ‘America’s Got Talent’ gave Benicio Bryant a little taste of his dream. Now, what’s next for the Maple Valley teen?
    Burien’s Travis Thompson makes good on ‘Reckless Endangerment,’ the rapper’s first major-label album
    Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ijeoma Oluo, David Sedaris and Rachel Maddow top the list of authors who’ll be speaking in Seattle in fall 2019

    Clouds, then sun. High 68. Low 57. Sunrise 6:53. Sunset 7:11.
    A cougar wanders in 1890 into downtown Seattle, on Pine Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, and “for a few minutes owned the street.” The cougar leaps into the window of a stable at Sixth and Pine, creating a disturbance among the horses. The owner of a secondhand-goods store fires two shots from a revolver, killing the 8-foot-long, 160-pound cougar. The only other fatality is a chicken the cougar kills in the stables. (Compiled from HistoryLink.org)

    Since when does some Swedish teenager dictate when we close our public schools for whatever reason folks. I’m sure she’s a Climate Change theory degreed expert…LOL

    The Seattle PI alleges cats are killing all the wild birds, we need leash laws for cats?

    This DNI whistler blower [fake news?] allegations will not proceed and cannot proceed to possible lynching party impeachment surveillance. Its that simple and is meaningless partisan gossip. A nothing burger.

    My next door neighbor bought a 2019 minivan for their family of six. I told him he’ll need to replace it with a dinky tin can Leaf and scrap it it by 2025 while still paying its 75 month loan….if California emissions have their way….money down the toilet and pea sized golf carts for families…LOL…but they have a 162 mile range if the battery doesn’t lose capacity. LOL….hey its like a “clown car” they all can cram in…

  6. 256
    Justme says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 255

    Yo, SWE, I think the morning brief commentary often is not so relevant to Seattlebubble. Perhaps you can post the commentary over on your own blog and just post a link here?

    (For those who don’t know, SWE has a blog that can be reached by clicking on his name.)

  7. 257
    richard says:

    RE: Eastsider @ 254 – Chinese money has absolute impact on every price level. If it is true that Chinese money is focus on high end, it will have big ripple effect. It will block people to upgrade their house to higher tier therefore their house can not be sold and cause the supply shortage. It is very misleading to say Chinese money is focus on high end. that’s is exactly how my real estate “friend” misled me three year ago.

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