March Stats Preview: Sales slip slightly from last March

Now that March is done, let’s look at our regular monthly “preview” charts. Here’s the summary for March: Sales look to be a bit lower than last year, even as the spring bump has begun. Listings are still struggling to make gains. Foreclosures are still nearly non-existent.

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

If sales start falling off, we could see some hope for buyers later in 2018, but right now it’s too early to make a call like that…

Case-Shiller Tiers: To. The. Moon.

Let’s check out the three price tiers for the Seattle area, as measured by Case-Shiller. Remember, Case-Shiller’s “Seattle” data is based on single-family home repeat sales in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

Note that the tiers are determined by sale volume. In other words, 1/3 of all sales fall into each tier. For more details on the tier methodologies, hit the full methodology pdf. Here are the current tier breakpoints:

  • Low Tier: < $373,070 (up 0.2%)
  • Mid Tier: $373,070 – $604,377
  • Hi Tier: > $604,377 (up 0.3%)

Case-Shiller: Seattle kicks off 2018 with surging home prices

Let’s have a look at the latest data from the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. According to January data that was released this week, Seattle-area home prices were:

Up 0.7 percent December to January
Up 12.9 percent year-over-year.
Up 21.8 percent from the July 2007 peak

Over the same period last year prices were up 0.6 percent month-over-month and year-over-year prices were up 11.3 percent.

Seattle still leads the nation in year-over-year price growth. The only other metro areas with double-digit price growth from a year earlier are Las Vegas at 11.1 percent and San Francisco at 10.3 percent.

King County median home price now $77k higher than “Affordable” home price

As promised in Monday’s affordability post, here’s an updated look at the “affordable home” price chart.

In this graph I flip the variables in the affordability index calculation around to other sides of the equation to calculate what price home the a family earning the median household income could “afford” to buy at today’s mortgage rates, if they spent 30% of their monthly gross income on their home payment. Don’t forget that this math includes the (giant) assumption that the home buyers putting 20% down, which would be $129,990 at today’s median price.

Seattle-area affordability set to plunge to 9-year lows in 2018

If you’re wondering about the lack of posts on these pages recently, the explanation is pretty simple: There just isn’t much to say. The Seattle-area housing market has been in a protracted boom period with ridiculously low inventory of homes for sale and rapidly-climbing prices for years now. In a lot of ways it looks like the housing bubble that was in full swing when I started this blog in 2005, but what’s going on behind the scenes is very different this time around. Is it possible that Seattle really is special this time around and the “bubble” won’t burst this time? … Maybe?

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to update more of the charts of the “fundamentals,” so let’s start with an updated look at our affordability index charts for the counties around Puget Sound.

NWMLS: Closed sales plummet, listings still scarce

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…

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.

January Stats Preview: 2018 kicks off with the same tight market as 2017

Here’s the summary for January: Yet another new all-time low point for inventory in both counties. Sales were lower than a year earlier, but not dramatically. Foreclosures are still basically zero.

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

So far there are no glimmers of hope for buyers as 2018 kicks off.