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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Buyers Not Buying Thanks To... Football?

It's that time of the month again, when the MLS numbers from the previous month hit the streets and all our beloved local papers rush to press with nearly-identical stories "analyzing" said numbers. The Times, P-I, News-Tribune, Herald, King County Journal, The Olympian, and yea verily even the Puget Sound Business Journal all piped in today with their own stories, and they all sounded pretty much the same. For the sake of brevity, I'll just present you with some quotes from the Seattle Times' take on January's home sales figures:

Those wondering if our real-estate market is tanking — the so-called bubble bursting — will have much to chew on with the latest home sales numbers: They show a Puget Sound area market that's slowing and speeding up.

King County's pending sales were down 6.22 percent in January compared with a year earlier, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) reported Tuesday. Pending sales dipped 1.78 percent in Pierce County.
It's the long-term trend that counts. And long term, the local market is expected to moderate but generally head up, Scott [as in John L. Scott Real Estate] and others say, because of limited housing supply and increased demand fueled by job growth.

January's middling market may be a reflection of noneconomic events, the MLS said.

Last month was Seattle's third wettest on record, and its 11.65 inches of rain may have put a damper on house-hunting.

The Seahawks' climb to the NFC championship and Super Bowl XL also likely played a factor, Scott said.

"Now that we're through the worst of the weather and the Super Bowl has passed, February and March are expected to see a surge of buyers and subsequent sales," Scott said. "February and March are statistically the most productive months of the year on a daily basis."
We're blaming a slowdown in home sales on the Seahawks—the Seahawks. Wow. If that doesn't cry out "grasping at straws," I don't know what does. Take from the numbers what you will, but I really doubt that a football game or three is going to influence any significant percentage of the population in their home purchasing decisions.

(Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 02.08.2006)
(Reporter Name, Source, 02.08.2006)
(Dan Richman, Seattle P-I, 02.08.2006)
(Barbara Clements, Tacoma News Tribune, 02.08.2006)
(Mike Benbow, Everett Herald, 02.08.2006)
(Clayton Park, King County Journal, 02.08.2006)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 02.07.2006)
(Puget Sound Business Journal, 02.08.2006)


Dukes said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Football games do NOT cause people to stay away from a once in a lifetime purchase. Nor does the rain, especially in SEATTLE!

What a joke, I do worry about the stupidity of the general buying public up here though. I think it is going to take a sledgehammer over their collective heads to make them realize that real estate is NOT a good buy at this moment in time.

seattle price drop said...

Okay. The article says home sales are both "down" and "up".

They are down because that's what the real numbers show.

And they are "up" because (while the real numbers are down) they do EXPECT them to go up in Feb. and March.

Did I get that right?

Will somebody tell me if I missed something here?

Anonymous said...

From the P-I:

"In Seattle proper, the combined supply of condos and houses declined 5.3 percent, but sales increased 17.7 percent and the median price rose 14 percent, to $377,000."

I have very little skepticism left about the RE bubble, but it's pretty hard to spin those numbers as evidence in favor of imminent bursting, in the city anwyay. Didn't read the other papers, are they seeing things differently?

S Crow said...

Anonymous and others:

Do you see a problem with overall sales numbers declining, yet prices or median price gains? This relationship just can't continue. I firmly believe it's not due to supply and demand, but other reasons raised. Could one reason people may be reluctant to place the home on the market is due to the "anchor" of a 5% fixed rate loan on the home? I know it would take a major financial disaster to get me to even think about selling with my low rate. And I mean a total loss of income or other health disaster wiping me out. There are owners out there that are probably thinking along the same lines. Am I that different than others? Probably not.

If inventory stays flat and rates continue on a path up, will those few borrowers out there still drive prices upward? In my view, it just fundamentally can't continue that path.

S Crow said...

sorry for the poor writing/editing. A really challenging day at office and dealing with Loan Officers that need to get out of the business. If you all could just see the crap escrow deals with or be a bug on our walls. You'd just shake your head in disgust.

biliruben said...

In the past week, median home prices in Seattle went up $21,000, and inventory dropped 20% from 3,376 to 2,710.

The helium spout is being turned on full bore.

Beat's the livin' shiznet out of me what the heck is going on around here.

It sure doesn't look like the pin is poised for a-poppin'.

seattle price drop said...

Billiruben and others-

If you go to the link "Bubble Markets inventory tracking" that Tim has here, you'll see that, in that graph at least, inventory was UP last week in Seattle,not down.

That also jives with the searches I've been doing on Zip in my chosen area codes.

I wonder where you are getting your numbers from Biliruben?

Also, it's hard to imagine that asking price is going up when I see all these reductions on a daily basis (I check Zip every day).

For instance, in the 98105 zip here's the past few days:

Feb 6: 37 homes total/ 9 price reductions
Feb 9: 52 " " / 12 " "

In the 98115 zip:

Feb 6: 54 homes total/12 price reductions
Feb 9: 92 " " / 15 " "

That's a huge jump in the 98115. Zip sometimes list the same property twice on one list so that could account for a little bit of the jump, but obviously not all.

Something else I've noticed in the past 2 & 1/2 months:

When I first started checking the MLS daily, there were no single family homes on the market for under 300K.

End of Dec. one came on and was snatched up IMMEDIATELY.
The past couple weeks the under 300K group has been growing and growing.

I think if you choose one neighborhood and follow it faithfully, you will see that inventory is going up and prices are coming down.

biliruben said...

I wonder where you are getting your numbers from Biliruben?

Sorry. I thought everyone was aware of housing tracker:

These are asking prices from MLS. I have no idea how accurate they are. It may be that they just cleaned up MLS over the weekend or something.

No need to be unduly conspiratorial. Just ask for the source in a straightforward way next time.

I do watch my neighborhood (NE Shoreline) very closely. I see little inventory, and what little there is is mostly flippers. This jives well with the numbers in the link, as those are asking prices, and if inventory is tight and flippers are the main sellers, it is exactly what I would expect.

biliruben said...

It turned out to be just an odd blip in an otherwise nearly flat trend line: