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. 2001
    Juststoppedby says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1998

    Just like a self absorbed millennial.

    “OMG!! Of course everybody should hear what I have to say!”


  2. 2002

    Use Your Cursor and Skip “Juststoppedby”

    He never contributes a “friggin'” thing to the comments, but loves to insult SWE.

    Good news” “Juststoppedby” Thinks I’m a Millenial….hey, I’m actually a 66 YO, that was a compliment :-)

    You better take my advice now, I’m successfully retired at age 35 now…LOL…I like his lie.

  3. 2003

    My Yuban Cup Is Empty and The Thursday Brief Hasn’t Arrived Yet Today

    Other news ya can use to run your Seattle RE businesses:

    MSFT to end patches to Windows 2007 for 2020 they allege, meanwhile they automatically patched my Windows 2007 in 2020 yesterday with a big 4 part update. They speak with forked tongue? They’re not dumb, assuming the patches are basically irrelevant when mixed with anti-virus S/W and internet modem fire walls, they may have brainwashed us and they don’t want us to find out? LOL

  4. 2004
    Juststoppedby says:

    By softwarengineer @ 2002:

    Good news” “Juststoppedby” Thinks I’m a Millenial….hey, I’m actually a 66 YO, that was a compliment :-)

    You better take my advice now, I’m successfully retired at age 35 now…LOL…I like his lie.

    Yep, too self absorbed to actually read the first of four lines of comments.

    What I SAID was:

    “Just LIKE a self absorbed millennial.“

    And you’re still missing the point.

    Your unsolicited blathering takes up a lot of the real estate, and it drowns out the exchange of information and makes following the dialogue more difficult.

  5. 2005
    Ron says:

    Ohhh Tim~! Where are you?

  6. 2006
    Deerhawke says:

    Since The Tim is now officially MIA, folks who follow this blog should really spread out a bit and look elsewhere.

    Redfin has a few things on their website. Pretty bland, non-specific stuff. They mainly write on national rather than Northwest issues. I have found that what they write is accurate, but is often beside the real point. You can find this by googling Redfin plus Tim Ellis or Daryl Fairweather.

    Matthew Gardner is an economist who has long focused on the Northwest real estate market. He has been associated with the UW Center on Real Estate Research (The Runstad Center) and was independent for many years. More recently he has been the official economist for Windermere. If you can get an invitation to his presentations, they are well worth the time. In person, he is quite droll and very informative. But his shop also publishes several reports every year. They tend to be a bit blander, safer and more generic, but still worth your attention. Here are a few recent ones.



  7. 2007
    ohd1122 says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 2006

    Thanks for passing along the information. It’s important to pay attention to the national trends which are covered pretty well by Redfin, but as you and many others have pointed out sometimes the PNW does not follow the national trend. Still, a good reference.

    Have not read much of Matthew Gardner but will give his stuff a read.

  8. 2008
    JWoods says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 2006
    The main reason I check this site is for information about the local market, for insight and experience from people like you. It’ll be a shame to see everyone leave and let this site slowly degrade to irrelevance.

    Is there anything we can do?
    1) Is Tim willing to transfer the site to another owner? I’ll be interested in helping to keep it going
    2) If not, can we establish another forum where we can share and continue the discussion?

  9. 2009
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: JWoods @ 2008

    I completely agree.

    I come here to look at past charts that present the data in a particularly useful, thoughtful format. Occasionally I will go back and do some research using past postings or archives. I mainly write my thoughts down to clarify them for myself rather than to try to influence others. I really enjoy reading contributions by others who have interesting perspectives, particularly Ardell.

    But you are right. SB at this point is kind of like a vacant building that is so run down and neglected it is attracting squatters (think Yuban). To allow it to decline further into complete irrelevance would truly be a shame.

    Maybe as some have mentioned, Tim now has a conflict of interest with Redfin.. More likely he has a busy family life and this just looks and feels too much like work at the end of the long day.

    And honestly, it is not really clear that he even reads his own blog anymore.

    I would hope Tim would allow others to carry on the blog and share its burdens. I too would be interested in helping keep it going and think it could be given new life and new energy.

    Tim, are you listening. What do you say?

  10. 2010
    Brian says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 2006

    I appreciate the link but Matthew’s site doesn’t provide any platform for discussion. And as you said, Redfin is too broad for people that mostly care about the king county market.

  11. 2011

    The Seattle Bubble Has Repetitive Charts With the Same MOM/YOY NAR Conclusions Anyway

    Clients are all completely different to Deerhawk [a builder], Milenials [the low wage per capita wage buyers that sustain Tier III], the retired with $CASH$, the retired [most of them BTW] with no $CASH$, the Flippers and even the homeless with $15/hr burger flipping jobs and no way to pay rent. Every case is different, I believe the best thing to happen on Seattle Bubble, already happened.

    Stop blaming the voices on the blog that don’t address your prejudices. Of course we don’t all make the same pay, inherit money, invest or believe all alike….are we humans are robots? LOL

    I beg to differ, the Seattle Bubble is currently/continuously using boring unchanged “repetitive” data and you Yahoos blame folks that don’t agree with you???? Get a life….every attorney knows every case is different. Embrace diversity of thought and don’t shame Freedom of Speech in America.

  12. 2012

    Grab Your Yuban and Read the Friday Brief:

    “…Home prices zipped higher in Western Washington last year — except in King County, where the median price fell. Don’t expect that decline to last, say brokers and lenders, who are seeing signs of pent-up demand. One major brokerage predicts an “extreme frenzy” in some parts of the region. ..”

    SWE’s take: Where was the “extreme frenzy” Whatcom County with no jobs?

    “…George Buckingham didn’t expect his leg to be taken from his tent while he went to shower at a shelter in Pioneer Square. As hundreds of homeless camps are cleared away, so are the residents’ belongings — and few get them back. We’re talking about medical devices, medication, IDs, bicycles, clothes, photos and more. The losses add hurdles to finding housing and staying healthy…”

    SWE’s take: We treat illegal alien foreign asylum seekers much better than simply burning all their possessions.

    “…The Trump administration broke the law when it withheld aid from Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency reported just hours before the Senate opened its impeachment trial yesterday. Almost simultaneously, new revelations were emerging about President Donald Trump’s links to Ukraine. What does all of this mean? We might not get to see: The trial could suddenly veer out of public view at critical moments…”

    SWE’s Take: Watchdog Agency headed by Quid Pro Quo Biden’s campaign manager?

    “… The average salary of a software developer in the Seattle area is $121,250 per year. Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud computing and full stack web development are trends that open career paths…”

    SWE’s take: How many S/W Developers have they hired in 2019? Two? LOL The bulk of the jobs went to:


    Good News: the 5 bdrm Kent homes can be grabbed up for like $500-600K a piece , built new on postage stamp sized lots….the double parking lot driveways are ample space for three extra cars for 30-40 YO family members working that can’t afford rent….a nice cozy family relationship, with everyone “subletting” at other’s throats….LOL

  13. 2013
    David says:

    A 20-year bond is being introduced by the Feds. MAYBE a 50-year bond.

    This to lock-in lower rates for the Government.

    Do they keep printing money to inflate their way out of the debt?

    Either way, it seems this would normalize private rates – hence much higher returns on private money. Hence, higher interest rates?

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