No News Here: Prices Fall in December

But nothing’s ever that simple, is it? Here are the Northwest MLS’s statistics for December home sales.

Seattle home prices fell YOY, down 1.52% from December 2006. Closed sales were down 13.88%, pending sales down 22.77%, and the number of listings is up 70.48%.

Comparing these numbers to last month’s, it would initially seem that the slowing has slowedlast month’s median was down 4.71% YOY.

But inventory percentages grow. Few would have advised last month as a good time to sell a property—either seasonally, or due to the market slump—so my guess is people putting their homes on the market in December are either desperate, foreclosed on, or fearing a slide in prices that will outlast their desire to live in their home.

Year over year stats may not be as meaningful as overall price drops. Remember the headlines when the median home price in Seattle hit $500,000? Five months ago the market median saw its high of $501,000. That number now is $416,950. If you were selling a home in that price range, I suspect this would seem like a substantial difference.

If it seems like inventory keeps growing, bear in mind that this number is relative to the buyers in the market. In fact, there were 3,465 active listings in Seattle in August of 2007, and only 2,963 in December. However, in December of 2006, there were only 1,738.

North Seattle Stats

  • Areas 705 and 710 (North Seattle, west and east of I-5, respectively) had median price drops YOY: from $439,000 to $430,000 for 705, and from $460,000 to $435,000 for 710. In August of this year, area 710 was priced at $476,000.
  • When you exclude condos, prices are still up YOY in area 705, by a slim 1.28%. However, area 710 shows a drop of 8.42% since December 2006.
  • The quicker price drop in area 710 seems to create a below-average YOY increase in inventory. 710 was “only” up 48.84% in active listings. Similarly, pendings were only down 3.51%. Area 705’s active listings are up 81.87% over December 2006.
  • November 2007 total listings, area 705: 799; December: 622. Area 710, November: 439; December: 320.

Considering the market’s downturn and the hype around it, these statistics don’t seem terribly dismal to me—or at least no more dismal than the last few months. But the downturn continues. If there’s a glut of new homes on the market in January, I could be singing a different, more minor-key tune next month.

  • PugetSounder

    HI Ruby, lots of corporations relocate personnel this time of year, and many of those people put their houses up for sale in December. December is always a slow month, but things do sell. Don’t color an already slow month by saying someone selling in December must have some drastic problem. Life brings many reasons to sell, and a job relocation is SOP for many, but not a drastic problem :-) .

  • http://seattle.redfin.com/blog/author/ruby.kane/ Ruby Kane

    Point taken. :)

    Do you think relocation is a substantial influence? There were 463 new homes on the market in December. How many do you think were listed due to relocation? I have no idea, nor do I know how I’d find that information, so it’s a sincere question.

    I simply couldn’t think of a single positive reason to sell when the slumping market was essentially closed for the holidays. But people’s individual motivators are varied, it’s true. There will always be one I didn’t think of.