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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sales Up, Inventory Up More, Prices Flat

February statistics from the NWMLS have been posted. As is the custom, the Seattle Bubble Spreadsheet has been updated and uploaded.

Some of my guesses for King County were fairly close, with the notable exception of Pending Sales (Res), which shot up to 2,375. That's +7.66% YOY, ending the 15-month streak of declining YOY sales.

Interestingly, despite the sudden surge in buyers last month, the median price was essentially flat compared to January, thus leading to the first single-digit YOY increase in median price (+9.41%) in over two years. This could be because although the number of sales is finally on the rise, the amount of inventory is still rising considerably quicker (+7.66% vs +22.50%).

Here are the vitals, with my guesses following:

Median Price (Closed)
Res + Condo: $393,250, +14.00% ($372,000)
Residential: $429,925, +9.41% ($425,000)
Condo: $285,250, +24.59% ($272,500)

Res Only
Active Listings: 6,124, +22.50% (6,250)
Pending Sales: 2,375, +7.66% (1,900)
Here's the supply/demand YOY graph:Here's an update to the graph I posted last month of the YOY percent change in the median sale prices of single-family homes in King County since 1994:I predict that the local press will focus their reports on the increased number of sales, while downplaying the still-declining rate of "appreciation." Just a hunch.

(NWMLS, February 2007 Recap, 03.2007)


FinanceGuru said...

Tim is showing that condo prices have increased by 24.59% over the past year and I can attest that condo prices have gone up significantly, as my unit has gone up between 10% to 15% (by appraisals of similar units in my building) since June 27th 2006 (when I put money down). There is a woman that was transferred to Colorado in my complex and her unit that is 51 sqr ft smaller just sold for more than my purchase price (her company also paid the agent fees so she really came out ahead).

Is this market overheated, probably (maybe…yes), is it still profitable for those that own real estate…at least for now. As for myself Im going to refi so I can get rid of my second mortgage in the next month or two. That will reduce my pmt $200 to $300 per month (from what my broker told me, yet assuming towards $200 to be conservative). Overall if the market does decline I will already have a decent amount of equity built up and lower pmts locked in.

The recent increase in sales is an encouraging sign and have heard from two broker friends lately that other speculators from California (and a few from Florida and the NE) have started to move up here in early 2007 and are buying quite a bit more than they dealt with last year. Not sure what that means, ok I do. It means that prices are going to continue to escalate quickly until the bubble pop. Hurry up and buy before it is too late (sarcasm)!!!

Grivetti said...

Is this market overheated, probably (maybe…yes), is it still profitable for those that own real estate…at least for now.

Hahahahah! I love financeguru, so full of bubbly-goodness, you almost have to wax nostolgic, like he's living in an Eisenhower utopia or something!

Profitable? Dude, let me give you a two-bit economics lesson.

Profit does not come to owners of real estate, it comes to sellers of real estate, or people who can extract dividend (aka P/E rent/income ratios). If you're still holding on to your Fight-Club-esque condo-world dream you may be better off moving down to Paper St. and soon.

BTW, 2200 Westlakes still mostly dark, these places aren't selling out, sales offices overflowing with schwag just to get you in there, a ton spent on junk-mailers...

The gig's up...

matthew said...


It will be interesting to see what happens to the condo market when a lot of the new projects currently under construction, are finished. Something tells me the added inventory coupled with the tightening of credit, are going to make a usually volatile condo market, fall like a rock.

I also have to agree with Grivetti, you are not realizing any "profit" until you sell real estate. I have a feeling that like many condo owners in San Diego, you may wake up tomorrow to find out all your equity has been erased in a matter of days.

meshugy said...

It's also worth noting that the median price for Res. Pending Sales is $450k....looks like we'll see a much higher median price next month. Most years, appreciation is flat between Jan-Feb. March is when the magic happens. That pending sales figure says it all.

Also, I'm seeing sold signs EVERYWHERE in Ballard. Especially Single Family Homes. Basically, it's impossible to find them now with out paying well over 500K. The only option under 500K is a townhome or condo.

Zillow is showing my houses' value shot 30K in the last month. So something is going on...

biodieselchris said...

the news sure is "better" over at than it is here.

"Only" 9.4% increase?

FinanceGuru said...

Matthew - You are correct about the difference between paper and realized profits, however my cost of capital will decrease when I refi (and get rid of my 2nd mortgage) with a locked in lower monthly PMT...that doesnt change when prices do!

Meshugy makes a good point about the huge spike in pending sales...

Grivetti said...

Zillow is showing my houses' value shot 30K in the last month.

*yawn*, you can track 'Shug posts based on the whether his Ballard dinge-mansion ticks up a bit on the dot-com silliness that is Zestimate... Last month the joint took a bath, thus 'Shug's absense, although he'll B.S. about how his "business" is doing gang-busters...

Hey Shug', do you have some 'Bot post for you ro do you offer anything new at all to the discussion?

Grivetti said...

however my cost of capital will decrease when I refi (and get rid of my 2nd mortgage) with a locked in lower monthly PMT

Nice bravado, assuming you're able to refi into a stable product.

If you weren't able to swing the %20 in first place, I doubt you're on a standard product which will make the refi even more difficult when you go to apply...

You better start praying for some more paper profits soon or the short-bus to Refi-apalooza will leave you behind.

FinanceGuru said...

grivetti - I put down 10% and with ~10-15% appreciation will allow me to refi into the 80% Prime mortgage...thus the elimination of my high cost portion of my mortgage. I have great credit and in the prime market, and mortgage rates have recently dropped (due to the 10 yr at 4.501%).

Grivetti said...

I put down 10% and with ~10-15% appreciation will allow me to refi into the 80% Prime mortgage

Again, NOT able to swing the %20, as I said, ergo your piggy back loan to avoid PMI (which is most undoubtedly an ARM).

I'm curious if you got some magic loan with no-prepayment penalty that'll allow you to breeze into your refi? Also you're going to have to find an appraiser willing to hump up the price by your ~10-15%, which might be more difficult now that there's a condo-crane everywhere you look. Also unless you've thrown down for the ubiquitous granite coutnertops and Zub-Z applaince sweet, it might be harder to convince him.

Good luck.

EconE said...

nothing is moving at the 2200...more rentals come online at CL every day. There are currently over 25 units for rent and over 25 units for sale.

None are moving.

The Cosmopolitan just came on how fast those build up on Cl also...both sales and rentals.

The MLS numbers for condos are crap in my opinion. The 24% increase is only because of the plethora of high priced one bedroom condos that will NEVER sell.

EconE said...

Id be curious as to what complex FinanceGED lives in. I'll start following that one also.

meshugy said...

I you look back over the last 7 years, you'll see that Feb. 2007 has had by far the biggest YOY and MOM price increase of any February on record. A 3.98% MOM increase and a 14% YOY increase. Even the crazy years of 05 and 06 pale in comparison. Feb. 07 has the sorts of #s you'd expect of the later Spring and Summer months. So that makes me wonder, is this year going to see an unprecedented spike in sales?

Grivetti said...

I you look back over the last 7 years, you'll see that Feb. 2007 has had by far the biggest YOY and MOM price increase of any February on record.

'Shug, lay off the glue. For starters your 98117 digs are ~%1 appreciation. Why your McCrafstman (or whatever the hell it is) shot up, you have no explanation grounded in fact.

So unless you can fess up to the exact reason your joint shot up by 30K (Leprachaun's? Unburied a 2007 Hummer in the drivey? Italian Granite countertops? etcetera...) while everyone else around moderated, you're post is silly and meaningless...

Mana from heaven dude. I had a friend post their house with the Zestimate sticker, five months down the road and 20K worth of price drops, she pulled it and is now renting it out for the interrim.

Chucky Cheese said...

Econe - I count only about 10 units for rent at 2200. You can't count the same one over again when you search for "2200" at craigslist. I challenge you to list where 25 rentals is coming from. Remember, you can't count the same listing twice when they re-list.

Also, note most of the rentals at 2200 are 1BD units. The 2BD units went very quickly.

If you drive by 2200, it's about 80% full in the Pan Pacific hotel tower. About 50% full in the other towers. Should get to 75% with a couple months when everyone else moves in.

I think the 1BD rentals are overpriced because of the mortgages. But once they drop them by about 20%, it'll rent very very quickly.

EconE said...

sorry Chuckycheez.

I'm a little more thorough in my searches than you give me credit for.

First...take note of how many listings lists on CL...then go to their site. They don't list all of what they have, a search for rentals on a Realtor website.

Then...add up all the for rent by owners on CL and you will find that you are wrong.

I keep a weekly tally and have listed everything by either unit number/owners name& phone#/price etc) so overlap.

confused said...

I am very happy that sales bounced this last month. It would have been too painful for things just to drop off the table. It seems awefully similar to a dead-cat-bounce though. If I were a betting man I would say this looks very similar to a market top. Sales dieing off as the median price flattens out trying to stay afloat until it gives way. Then look out below. This Spring should be very interesting

We have not seen any, I mean zero, appreciation in this market in King County since June of '06. I don't know what Shugy is talking about. All the gain was in the first 5 months of last year. So far this year we have only seen it decline. Each month we get closer and closer to flat line appreciation. 4 more months and counting Shugy, then 0% appreciation. Will that prove anything to you. I would venture a friendly wager.

I don't understand how someone can ignore so many signs. I mean something has to get through about the subprime meltdown, the increased inventory, the spec inventory/over building, the number of cranes in the sky, increased lending restrictions, all the montra on how you can't lose with RE and the best saying "Land, they aren't making anymore of it".

If this isn't what a market top looks like, what does?

Jan-06 $390,000
Feb-06 $392,950
Mar-06 $405,000
Apr-06 $419,500
May-06 $427,950
Jun-06 $434,950
Jul-06 $435,000
Aug-06 $435,000
Sep-06 $425,000
Oct-06 $440,000
Nov-06 $435,000
Dec-06 $440,000
Jan-07 $429,495
Feb-07 $429,925

MisterBubble said...

"Feb. 07 has the sorts of #s you'd expect of the later Spring and Summer months. So that makes me wonder, is this year going to see an unprecedented spike in sales?"

That's odd, because the rising inventory, the slowing price appreciation, and the increasingly desperate real-estate advertising makes me wonder if this year is going to see an unprecendented collapse.

(I guess that's what happens when you use more than your own home's zillow value as a market indicator.)

andymiami said...

It will be interesting to see what percent of the pending sales do not close as credit begins to tighten.

The Tim said...


The median price of pending sales does not tell you as much as you think it does. Here are the pending sales vs. closed sales prices for the last two months:

Residential Pending Sales Median
December 2006: $419,900
January 2007: $435,250
-->M2M Change: +3.66%

Residential Closed Sales Median (1 month lag)
January 2007: $429,495
February 2007: $429,925
-->M2M Change: +0.10%

Grivetti said...

Econe - I count only about 10 units for rent at 2200. You can't count the same one over again when you search for "2200" at craigslist. I challenge you to list where 25 rentals is coming from.

If Chucky Cheese is the same Troll that haunted the SeattlePi 'sound off' section a few months back they were touting only 2 units for rent because the building is 'capped' via condo agreement for only a small percentage of rentals....

apparently that's not the case, but hey, even if it only went from 2 to 10? only a %500 increase in rental units available? That's a good thing?.

Although if the underwater specuvestors from FL or CA are as clueless as they seem, paying $3600 for a 2BR isn't going to be in the cards... the bath will continue.

All those dark lights at 2200 must be due to the fact that the building caters to a 'light sensitive' people then? Either that or Vampires...

Terry said...

financeguru, meshugy,

I've been reading your posts over the last several months and I think you two qualify as definite housing bulls. I'm curious as to how you see the future with respect to real estate.

Don't you believe affordability issues have to kick in at some point? Do you believe that the appreciation recently experienced is infinitely sustainable?

CRichard said...

“Feb. 2007 has had by far the biggest YOY and MOM price increase of any February on record. A 3.98% MOM increase and a 14% YOY increase. Even the crazy years of 05 and 06 pale in comparison.”

How do you like them apples – bubble losers! As Shug so rigorously points out, all evidence suggests that 2007 will be the hottest year ever for prices! How can you possibly counter his solid evidence based on what happened in the last month! All your stupid trend data going back 8 years is useless, out-of-date garbage. Only what’s happening in the market right now (er…last month) matters.

It is clear that we should expect to see this years spring appreciation to surpass the 20% in the last two years. Shug is so smart for buying, while the rest of us are idiot JBRs for trying to wait until we can actually afford a house. It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford anything with all this golden appreciation!

PS I just got my free copy of Vista in the mail this week. That means that it is about to start raining dollars. One million dollar house for everyone (east-side residents only, please. *Some restrictions apply)!

EconE said...


here...I did a little legwork for you

2200 rentals by MLS


2200 rentals by Seattlerentals file number.


OK...that puts us at 16.

can you be a bud and now add up all the private party listings on CL?

oh...and thanks for letting me know that there are still unfinished units. That just means that there will be more coming up for rent and sale in the near future.

Where were you getting your figures?

I mean c'mon now...counting isn't THAT hard.

EconE said...



confused said...

Are kidding me? I just had to pull up the lsitings for the rentals for 2200. 1600-2400 for a 1 bedroom condo? That is nuts. Plus that area sucks. Unless you like to go to Far Fetched Imports or drive in construction. Atleast renters will only be evicted by their landlords, i mean banks.

Grivetti said...

OK...that puts us at 15.

econe, what's that make for percentages? I remember somebody on some PI blog going on about how all the condos downtown only allowed a spartan amount of renters in the building... apparently 25 isn't a 'small percentage'.

I'm guessing they're either changing the agreements, trying desparately to get the unwashed masses to rent the place out or the specuvestors are lying on renegging on their contracts... or nobody cares, just desparete to offload the overpriced boatanchor that is 2200 Westlake.

confused said...

Didn't Milliken sell that whole thing to Vulcan Ventures anyway? He can do whatever he wants.

matthew said...

I think my prediction of this market topping out in March 07 is going to be dead on.

confused said...


What do you mean exactly? I would say we have been in a tough environment from last July. DO you mean when we actually start to see YOY declines? Panic? I assume you are talking locally.

That is the tough thig about housing. It's not like you have Shugy's house blinking 5200 on all day and then close lower.

EconE said...


Due to the numbers of "liars" loans that have been issued over the years I wouldn't be surprised that some of the people trying to flip or rent their 2200 unit checked the "I'm going to be living here" box so that they could get a better interest rate on their IO loan.

just a guess though.

matthew said...

I believe that next months median house price will be the highest Seattle will see in the next 5 years.

EconE said...

And speaking of boat-anchors...just start watching the Cosmopolitan listings rise now that they are letting people in.

matthew said...

You would have to be a total and complete idiot to rent some of these places at the prices people are asking. I'm renting a one bedroom condo in the heart of Belltown complete with indoor pool, gym, etc for 1200 a month. Who the hell is going to pay almost 2 grand to rent a place in SLU????

Answer: a moron.

EconE said...

Cheezeball said...

"Also, note most of the rentals at 2200 are 1BD units. The 2BD units went very quickly. "

that's funny...I have only seen 4 two bedroom units ever listed for rent. Two of the four are still available.

then...Mr. Cheeze said something really dumb...

"I think the 1BD rentals are overpriced because of the mortgages. But once they drop them by about 20%, it'll rent very very quickly."

Currently...the rents only cover the HOD, Taxes and a "teaser" payment on a IO loan. If they dropped their prices by 20% then they would be losing money every month.

Also...what happens when they actually have to start making a REAL mortgage you really think that they will be able to pass that cost along to the renter? If so...WAKE UP!!!

Terry said...

Maybe there has been an influx of speculators from FL & CA as financeguru suggested:

Stolen from Ben Jones blog:

“‘The key to the analysis of where home builders are is the amount of speculative inventory still remaining on the market,’ said Robert Toll, CEO of Toll Brothers Inc. ‘There’s the most speculation right before the market cracks,’ Toll said. Although the shakeout has driven many flippers from the market, ‘it’s remarkable we still have speculative investment in the market even today.’

Mr. Toll is in a position to know what he is talking about.

Grivetti said...

From the Aubrey snippet...

In a news release accompanying the data, Northwest MLS officials said the increase in pending sales and sales prices were "signs of a rejuvenating market."

"rejuvenating"? Hahahahaha!! Is that what you call it when the last little 'blib' before the patient goes dead?

Well its good to see David Learah's talking points are making onto the fax tray in time.

If this is their definition of "rejuvenation", toss away the hot stone treatment, I'll take a turn at the whipping post instead.

Chucky Cheese said...

Econe - Could you post the 2200 rentals list? Or email it to me at

I'd like to see for my own benefit.

It's hard to really tell how many are unique because they all use the same damn pictures for the listings.

Thanks in advance.

David said...

Yeah The Times focused on exactly what you'd expect them to. And no mention at all about inventory except to say:

King County continues to see a slight shortage of inventory in the more-affordable price ranges in neighborhoods close to the job centers in Seattle and Bellevue.

But, you know, nothing about the other neighborhoods.

EconE said...

Cheeze...I just posted 15 different ones...feel free to do some of your own legwork. I know whats for rent and have no need to prove it to you.

Why would you care anyways? You already bought in.

Oh...and another one came up for sale...W1107...two actually showed as new today but the S607 listing was just a relist.

You think I'm not watching?


Don Greenup said...

Have been discussing the subprime market with several mortgage reps. In the last few days loans have been pulled and we are going to see virtually no subprime loans in short order. All 5 % down will be the new standard and since 15-20% of the buyers were the zero down or double zero down buyers during the last few years I would speculate we will have a like decline in buyers. Thus, a crunch is and will be happening.A lot of the recent sales have been buyers that have been told get a house and buy because the loan program is gone. We will see how this progresses in any event the market will tell us shortly

Richard said...

A lot of the recent sales have been buyers that have been told get a house and buy because the loan program is gone.

I wouldn't doubt this is at least part of what is driving sales up this month.

Have the brokers told people when they pre-qualify "you better take this, because if it expires, there won't be another loan for you"? (Or just "this is better than any loan you'll qualify for next month")

deepcgi said...

Guru and Meshugy:

You have got only weeks left to sell if you want to profit. Lending standards have tightened so much in the last 60 days that your only hope is selling to other investors. If you are admitting that California is having a positive impact on Seattle sales you must also admit that it will eventually have a negative impact as well. This has been just a wonderful week on Wall Street. Investors are now officially terrified of the housing implosion. Get what you can quickly. The end is near.

SeattleMoose said...

March is truly the last hurrah for on it. The spring contagion/panic will spread like wildfire and no place will be immune. There will be more bank/lender fraud/layoffs, credit will tighten, nobody will be able to pay the wizard of Oz prices, and it will all start a vicious downward cycle.

The opening salvo against the Stock Market has already been fired.

The economic/RE roller coaster has been climbing for years and it is now at the top with nowhere to go but down...

Got MooseMunch?

Chris said...

I don't think we'll see the bottom drop out instantly. RE isn't nearly as liquid as securities. But by the time the summer hits, it should get pretty interesting. I agree with Matthew that it will increase again in March, but that will be the top.

To make it more interesting, my brother told me he would buy me a beer for every month that prices declined. I may buy next month, but after that it's gonna be getting expensive for him.

I better start thinking of what to order. Maybe I'll just order a POP. :)

rubyfan said...

From your neighbors to the south: Portland real estate agent admits that Portland is now in a buyers market due to credit tightening.

rubyfan said...

Let's try that again with a tinyurl:

"Our market has shifted towards the buyer. There are more homes on the market and they are taking longer to sell. There is not enough data yet to show how prices are fairing. Sellers (and some Realtors) are being forced to make the mental shift that houses aren't going up at double digit rates anymore. This has resulted on some aggressive opening listing prices which then force more rapid price reductions. We should see the percentage off original selling price drop."

And this is a real estate agent's blog. Let's hear it for honesty.

Chucky Cheese said...

Econe - I can't view the MLS ones. I tried to view at johnlscott &, but none of those work.

I looked through the Seattle Rentals numbers you gave me and they all look legit. I then looked on craigslist and only 6 maybe 8 of them are unique (not listed on Seattle Rentals as well). So not quite as many as 25, but more than the 10 that I thought originally. I'd say about 16 to 18 max.

Regarding the 2BD units, 3 of the 4 are rented. 2 rented for $3000/ month. 1 rented for $3500/ month. All 3 of those were in the Aria tower, so highly desirable. The 4th one is in the Arte tower, with a bad view of the city, so it's having a tough time renting. I'd say if the guy dropped it to $2500-2700, it would rent instantly.

I'm only renting here so I'm fully taking advantage of the condo owner's misfortune. I plan to wait until the market collapses and perhaps buy it form him at 25% - 40% discount. So, I'm definitely in favor of a market correction. I want to know how many units are still renting, because I have friends who want to live here. They want 2BD units though with a good view, but 99% of the rental listings are small 1BD units. The cheapest is about $1600, but it's really worth $1300. It'll come down in price in a couple months. It is a great place to live - really. Just because it was part of the bubble doesn't mean it isn't a nice place. I really enjoy the amenities and I know other people would too.

If these damn speculators would just lower their prices back down to earth by about 25%...

EconE said... can view the MLS rentals at

I read your 2200 sure made it sound like you were a homeowner over there...not a renter...

what's the truth?

Why the need to try to hide the number of vacancies? They are out there for all to see...and no...I didn't count your recent CL ad that was really just a link to your blog.

EconE said...

OK...I actually would rather be reading the Peoples Daily out of China before the London Markets open...but here you go...private party(still can be an agent)...meaning NON MLS listed and NON seattle rentals...yes...I cross referenced. (also listed for sale in MLS but not for rent)

now remember...when I refer to private party...all I am referring to are those that are not included in the 6 MLS listings nor are they listed with Seattle rentals 9 listings.

looks like we are up to 27 currently for rent.

T,V & Mr.B said...

This is all really quite hillarious. I say that because this is a deja-vu for me. The exact same conversations, the exact same news reports "Seattle has no bubble", the exact same rising of prices, sales, mumbo jumbo. My wife was depressed yesterday when King5 newscaster said "Seattle has no bubble" I reminded her to think back to 2005 when San Diego's KUSI news said "It looks like San Diego is immune from all the naitonal bubble talk and dropping prices. Sales have increased along with Median price" RE Agents and brokerage houses where claiming that San Diego will not see falling prices. "We have an influx of jobs and massive population growth that will keep the prices where they are."
Anybody who said things were going to implode was chided and laughed out of the room. "San Diego is special". Man! I feel like I keep having this reocurring dream.

If we are 1 year behind San Diego, then things are right on track.

June July 05 was the peak..
houses sold with-in a week.
February came and there was still lots of hope.
My house will sell soon right?
The answer is NOPE!

the price points are the same, the talk is the same, This must be ground-hog day. I think I will learn french now and become a better person.

kpom said...

Chucky? From your blog, the immortal quote:

"If you're paying a million dollars for your condo, you don't want to feel guilty every time you drive your BMW by these starving artists while they mentally break your car's windshield with their bedazzled painted baseball bats."

So the person "paying a million dollars for your condo" isn't you, but somebody else?

Also, in the comments, you stated:

"Amir - you can kiss my ass. I'm not worried about the depreciation [on the condo] because "Seattle is different". :)"

So, you aren't worried about the depreciation, not because "Seattle is different", but because you didn't own in the first place?

Chucky Cheese said...

Kporn - Lol. I was being sarcastic about "Seattle being different". That's why I put it in quotes and a smiley because that's the inside joke among seattlebubblers.

kpom said...

Sheesh - next, we'll find out that you drive a Kia and not a BMW...

EconE said...

Oy Vey...ANOTHER 2200 unit on the market today (not a relist)...and only 1.3M.

I'm sure that one will just FLY off the shelves.

Scott said...

Thanks for putting self-explanatory filenames on your charts. That makes saving them very convenient; and one would want to save them because they are very informative++.

EconE said...

2 more MLS listed rentals at the 2200.


MLS has 8 listings
Seattlerentals has 9 listings
Private Party...plenty.

17+plenty=too many