Wednesday, May 26, 2010

April Real Estate Report

Depending on which press report you may have read today, you could either believe that Seattle’s real estate market is in recovery or continuing on a downhill path. The Seattle Times headline read “Home Prices in Seattle Inch Up in March,” which was true. But there was also this from the Wall Street Journal: “Housing Prices Remain Weak,” along with a chart showing Seattle prices down 3.6% for March. Which was also true.

Confused? Well both reports were from the Case-Shiller index for Seattle. One statistic was a comparison of house-sale prices from February to March 2010, which showed a small, .1% increase. The other statistic showing a decline of 3.6% was a year-over year number, March 2009 to March 2010. So, while Seattle’s home prices have not recovered even to last year’s levels, it looks like we may be witnessing the bottom of the trough. Here’s what the month-to-month price-change numbers looked like for the first three months of the year (the latest for which statistics are available):

It’s looking like a trend in the right direction.

Seattle sits somewhere in the middle of the top 20 largest American cities in terms of the housing “recovery” during the last 12 months. At the top is San Francisco, with a 16.2% increase year-over-year, and at the bottom is Las Vegas, with a 12.0% decline. The nation as a whole is up 2%, according to Case-Shiller.

Local real estate agents I’ve spoken to in the last couple of months are enthusiastic about the increased interest in the Seattle market. This anecdotal evidence is supported by statistics. For our area of the City, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) recently reported a 5.4% increase in listings, a 32.8% increase in pending sales, and a 9.33% increase in median home prices between April 2009 and April 2010 (single-family residences and condos combined). Our MLS coverage area includes Capitol Hill, Madison Park, Montlake, Madrona, Leschi, and parts of the Central District.

For Madison Park, the April numbers were consistent with the upward trend for the year: 10 total residential sales versus an average of seven sales per month in the first quarter of 2010. Even so, this is hardly a big comeback since the fourth quarter of 2009 averaged 10 sales per month.

Here’s a breakout of the sales activity for April:


Sales: 7
Median Sale Price: $1,266,000
Average Sq. Ft.: 2,805
Average Price per Sq. Ft.: $476
Average Days on Market: 61
Average Discount from List Price: 4.9%


Sales: 3
Median Sale Price: $410,000
Average Sq. Ft.: 1,062
Average Price per Sq. Ft.: $431
Average Days on Market: 176
Average Discount from List Price: 7.4%

National real estate reports have recently focused on an increase in inventory as many so-called “side-line sellers” have decided to enter the market in the belief that prices are recovering and potential buyers now have access to financing. Indeed interest rates are at historic lows (qualified buyers can now obtain a 30-year mortgage at 4.65%), and a fair amount of new inventory did enter our local market (24 homes in the last month, through a few of these were re-listings at a lower price point).

The median price of the 18 new single-family house listings in April was $1,800,000, and only one of these houses was listed at under $1 million. 14 of the 18 new listings were located in Broadmoor or Washington Park.

Although the average number of days on the market for sold properties has declined from the high levels of last year, there are still 14 houses and five condos currently available that have been for sale at least 200 days. At the other end of the spectrum, however, were the two houses that sold last month after having been on the market for only five days.

Here’s what the Madison Park market looks like right now (Washington Park and Broadmoor included), as reported by Redfin:


Listings: 65
Median List Price: $1,985,000
Median Sq. Ft.: 3,912
Median Price per Sq. Ft.: $507
Average Days on Market: 115
Percentage with Price Reductions: 29%
Pending Sales: 10
New Listings During the Month: 18


Listings: 27
Median List Price: $549,950
Median Sq. Ft.: 1,125
Median Price per Sq. Ft.: $489
Average Days on Market: 186
Percentage with Price Reductions: 41%
Pending Sales: 6
New Listings During the Month: 6
While it represents only about 18% of the total residences in Madison Park, Broadmoor has 21 of the 65 houses currently on the market in the Park (32% of the total). Only 18 houses are available in the Park outside of Broadmoor and Washington Park combined.

Next month: A look a declining real estate values in Madison Park, as measured by Zillow.

[Shown in photo above: a 1939 “traditional” 5,200 sq. ft. home located at 1620 Broadmoor Drive E., on the eastern fairway of the golf course. Listed at $2,795,000, the home has four bedrooms and 3.75 baths. It was a new listing this month.]
Thanks to Wendy Skerritt of Windermere Real Estate for her help in compiling the sales data.


  1. I think that Bryan is the very best reporter in the Pacific Northwest. He deserves a prize, such as the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in Seattle. Let's hear some cheers for the finest journalist we have. Hip - hip- hooray, for Bryan!!!!! Harvey G - Mad PK

  2. Great points, Bryan. I think that your analysis is well done, we're definitely "recovering" a bit, but it's nothing definitive. Total inventory is still significantly below 2009, which is good to see. Zillow has a "shadow inventory" prediction, but it's based on consumer polls--not necessarily the most scientific way to predict future inventory. I think we're in for a long, flat year.

    Sam DeBord
    Broker, Realtor,


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