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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Real Estate Honesty Spotted In Seattle Times

As is the custom each month when the MLS statistics are released, the Seattle Times yesterday published a short "foot in the door" article briefly discussing the numbers, followed today by a full-length feature that takes a certain "angle" on the "story." What's interesting to me is that the author of yesterday's blurb was not a name I recognized (Bibeka Shrestha?), and what she wrote was shockingly non-booster-ish. Even the headline was frank and to the point: King County home prices barely budge in July; sales down.

Home prices are still rising in King County, but not by much. The median sales price of a single-family home in King County in July was $435,000, up only $50 from June.
...
The number of homes for sale in the area generally rose in July, as the number of sales declined. Pending home sales fell 11 percent in King County, 15 percent in Snohomish County and 16 percent in Pierce County. The number of homes on the market rose 53 percent from last July in Kitsap, while Pierce saw a 52 percent increase in the same category.

"Home are taking a bit longer to sell," said Michael Tenore, area director for ZIPRealty.
Of course, when the "themed" article came out today, Ms. Rhodes got in on the action, and made sure to balance out Bibeka's reality check with a heaping dose of unbridled optimism and calming reassurance.
Home sellers spoiled by three years of record or near-record sales may have to lower their expectations.

If the Puget Sound area's July home-sales numbers, released yesterday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS), are any indication, homes might sit on the market longer.

But the slowdown was just a move toward normal levels, not a sign that any bubble might soon burst, said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University.

"Some consumers have become accustomed to homes selling in 60 hours rather than 60 days," Crellin said. "We have to remember that the year-ago market was operating at record levels."
...
July traditionally is a slower sales month, and last month's heat wave likely hurt sales, the MLS said. Vacations — of buyers, sellers and agents — and uncertainty about interest rates also affected the numbers.

But the region continues to enjoy a relatively strong market when compared with the rest of the country.

"You can see the national trend is happening here to a lesser degree," Tenore said.

Washington state has always been a little late to the party, Crellin said. While housing markets took off in other parts of the country, the state waited to recover from a recession. Now, as other markets have cooled, ours remains strong. And we're not likely to see a huge downward trend.

"We're just going to return to more normal sales expectations," Crellin said.
Wow. I guess this month's theme is: "Everything is fine—seriously. Seattle home prices are invincible." I'll be surprised if I see Bibeka Shrestha's name under another real estate story in the Seattle Times.

(Bibeka Shrestha, Seattle Times, 08.07.2006)
(Bibeka Shrestha & Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 08.08.2006)
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9 comments:

matt said...

Yeah, I noticed the rogue Bibeka article yesterday and I was like "Where's Bubble Booster Rhodes?"...

Of course, I was relieved to see here name added to the 'updated' article a little later. Not sure who the anger marketing imp was from JLS/Windermere that hit the panic button and dialed the 'Times hotline when the noticeable lack of embelishments failed to appear in the monthly numbers report. But it looks like Rhodes put on her Wonder-Woman outfit and swooped in just in time... whew!!!

My favorite is this bizarre explanation for the slowdown....

July traditionally is a slower sales month, and last month's heat wave likely hurt sales, the MLS said. Vacations — of buyers, sellers and agents — and uncertainty about interest rates also affected the numbers.

okay it does mention interest rate 'uncertainty', which to me looks like 'skies the limit folks!', but nice weather? Is all that glue they're using to install those obligatory granite countertops making them loopy? hot weather? This has got to be a joke, talk about grabbing at straws...

I'm guessing next month its going to be the BP induced gas-price spike. "All those homebuyers stayed home, not wanting to spend all that money driving around looking for houses. Even though they're trigger-happy when it comes to signing their life away on neg-am/no-docs"....

The hilarity continues...

meshugy said...

Perhaps some more honesty here?

Expensive housing not just in big cities

Lately, some common themes have been popping up in those columns: Escalating housing prices, the unaffordability of most properties for many in lower- and middle-income brackets and the construction of view-blocking condominiums priced well above what most people can pay.

Those are recurring topics in Seattle -- and in Astoria, Ore.

Peckhammer said...

And then BOTH local papers appear to have gone into damage control on behalf of the Real Estate industry today.

Seattle Times: "Homes take a bit longer to sell, but prices still up

Just because the region's housing market slowed in July doesn't mean a bubble will burst soon, experts say.


With this spin on bubble rumors: "Washington state has always been a little late to the party, Crellin said. While housing markets took off in other parts of the country, the state waited to recover from a recession. Now, as other markets have cooled, ours remains strong. And we're not likely to see a huge downward trend."

And the Seattle PI: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Condo price rise outpaces houses
Many first-time home buyers are looking at condominiums as an affordable way to get into the real estate market.


With notable quotes: "Hyde said he's optimistic that it's a good investment that will help them build the equity they need to buy a house in a few years."

"It's the American dream to own a single-family home, and it is something we are looking forward to doing -- the yard and the white picket fence, all of it," he said.

plymster said...

I threw together some charts after extracting data from the NWMLS data Tim posted. Thanks for the two URLs to the NWMLS PDFs, Tim. I interpolated the rest and found all but April 2001.

I'm just capturing the Residential Closed Sales and Median Prices in King County:
Prices and Sales Volume
YoY Percent Change
Yearly Moving Average

Median Prices are flattening and dropping, as they do most summers, and sales activity is still up quite high for the past few years. However, looking at the moving averages chart, sales volumes are trending down very quickly.

I plan on getting the average prices as well and seeing how King County monthly sales volumes (cash instead of units) has changed recently.

Let me know if anyone has any other data they'd like to see, and I'll try to cobble it together as I have time.

The Tim said...

plymster,

Are you aware that I have already put a large amount of NWMLS data into an Excel spreadsheet? It's available for anyone to download here. Also, I've made links to all the King County "Breakout" pdfs here, and I have the "recap" reports from 2001-present that I can email you upon request. You'll find my email in my profile.

plymster said...

Thanks, Tim! That sure saves me a heap of work.

seattle price drop said...

"Real Estate Honesty Spotted in the Seattle Times"

LOL ! Great title Tim.

Orion said...

Um... Tim, what's the deal with the cartoon website image link at the bottom of the post? "Everything is fine. Nothing is ruined." I don't see any other ads on the site, and that's an odd place for an ad. Did you get hacked? Is the Real Estate Industrial complex trying to shut you down?

The Tim said...

Orion said...

Um... Tim, what's the deal with the cartoon website image link at the bottom of the post? "Everything is fine. Nothing is ruined." I don't see any other ads on the site, and that's an odd place for an ad. Did you get hacked? Is the Real Estate Industrial complex trying to shut you down?


It's not an ad, and nobody "hacked" the site. I put it there as a joke. The frantic "everything is fine" tone of the article reminded me of that amusing cartoon, so I thought I'd put that in there with a link to the 'toon.