King County Sales Ring in the New Year! (Dec. 2010 Insider)

Redfin’s monthly Seattle real estate insider report draws from our proprietary database of information on homes for sale and that just sold, along with insight from our agents to get a sense of what’s going on in the market right now. If you’d like to receive the report via email, just sign up.

Greetings Redfinnians,

With December’s sales volume up a hearty 16.2% over last month, you could say that the Seattle area real estate market ended the year on a celebratory note. But, before you get out the party hats you should know that inventory was in its usual decline of 13.7% and the price per square foot for homes in King County went down 1.4%. Overall, not a bad way to end the year and gives everyone a bit of hope for 2011.

We’ll dive into the numbers in a jiff, but first the latest Redfin news: as promised, we launched Redfin in Dallas, with Denver up in the coming week. We now offer our home-buyers an online Deal Room, to guide them through the whole escrow process. And we let you to log-in via Facebook, which will help us personalize your real estate search. Plenty more good stuff is coming up, so stay tuned!

Now, onto the numbers…

Good Inventory is Hard to Find

The number of homes for sale dropped across the board in King County with Seattle and Redmond experiencing 18% drops from November to December.

City Compared to Nov. 2010 Compared to Dec. 2009
Seattle -18.7% +2.8%
Bellevue -15.7% -15.9%
Federal Way -13.3% -9.7%
Issaquah -13.8% -14.9%
Kent -7.3% +12.7%
Kirkland -15.9% -12.7%
Renton -13.1% +4.0%
Shoreline -13.6% +18.8%
Redmond -18.5% -13.2%

Change in # of King County Houses for Sale on December 31st 2010, By City

With buyers hitting the streets, and inventory scarce it stands to reason that sellers who list their homes for sale now, instead of waiting until spring, have the advantage of less competition. “I have quite a few buyers just waiting for an increase in inventory, which seems stale at the moment,” said Robin McCue, a Seattle Redfin agent, “Sellers should consider listing earlier than later in the season, as there are a lot of buyers just waiting for good homes.”

Pow! Zap! Lots of Action on the Sales Side!

The number of homes sold surged in some unexpected places. Kirkland and Renton saw an increase of over 46% from November to December. Seattle stayed relatively flat losing a mere 2.2%. Only Redmond saw a true decrease of 22%.

City Compared to November 2010 Compared to November 2010 Adjusted for # Weekdays Compared to December 2009 Compared to December 2009 Adjusted for # Weekdays
Seattle +2.2% -2.2% -14.5% -14.5%
Bellevue +21.2% +15.9% -7.0% -7.0%
Federal Way +32.5% +26.7% -11.7% -11.7%
Issaquah +11.9% +7.0% +9.3% +9.3%
Kent +28.0% +22.4% +16.4% +16.4%
Kirkland +53.2% +46.5% +10.8% +10.8%
Renton +53.2% +46.6% -1.0% -1.0%
Shoreline +42.3% +36.1% +5.7% +5.7%
Redmond -18.4% -22.0% -13.9% -13.9%

Change in # of King County Houses That Sold in December 2010, By City

“Buyers are jumping off the fence,” said Febe Cude, a Seattle Redfin agent. “Homes that have been on the market for ages are suddenly going under contract. One client had every home in his tour queue go pending inspection the day of his tour – twice! Increasing interest rates have people waiting with bated breath for new inventory.”

Price is in the Eye of the Beholder

December saw the usual drop in home prices almost across the board. Shoreline was the only true exception with an increase of 3.3% in the size adjusted median.

City Median Price in December 2010 Median $/SqFt Change since November 2010 Median $/SqFt Change since December 2009
Seattle $418,750 0.0% -3.0%
Bellevue $585,642 -6.2% -10.9%
Federal Way $235,000 -5.6% -6.9%
Issaquah $499,995 +0.5% -3.6%
Kent $225,975 -2.2% -12.1%
Kirkland $560,000 -9.1% +1.7%
Renton $301,000 -2.5% -6.6%
Shoreline $305,000 +3.3% -3.5%
Redmond $525,000 +0.4% -6.2%

Change in Median Price of King County Houses That Sold in December 2010, By City

Does this mean that it’s a buyer’s market? Not quite. While overall prices may have stayed on the low side we are seeing quite a bit of activity in desirable areas that keep pushing prices up.

“We just submitted an offer on a new construction home in Sammamish where the listing agent told me that they sold almost ten homes last month and the builder decided to raise prices across the board by $10,000,” said Kurt Pepin, a Redfin agent specializing in Bellevue and the Eastside, “Even after that increase they sold four more homes right away. I haven’t heard of a builder doing this since mid-2007. Back then they would raise prices by $3,000 every time one sold. But, in the past couple of years builders have had to slash prices or give the developments back to the lenders, so this is encouraging news.”

If you want even more data including specific cities, town and neighborhoods, be sure to download our master spreadsheet and dive into all the data you ever wanted. To learn more about how we calculate these numbers, check out our methodology page. If you have any questions or feedback about our report, just leave a comment below!

Michelle Broderick, Redfin Analytics Team