Tonight, I’ve been playing engaging the inner real estate geekiness along the likes of Tom Dozier’s Seattle Property News blog… I’ve been following (from a distance) Tom’s “Home Tracking” posts and not exactly sure where he was going until today. When he said “since one of the signs of the strength of a market is whether high demand is causing people to bid prices above the original amount the seller seeks,” I decided to test out his theory with a larger sample size…
So here is my method. I took all the homes that sold in my neighborhood (Loyal Heights) over the past year and calculated the “Net (Sale minus List Price) as a Percent of List Price”, or this calculation:
(Average Sale Price – Average List Price)/Average List Price
- Average((Sale Price – List Price)/List Price)
The first thing I found interesting is the extent to which the “Gross Net as a Percent of List Price” varied seasonally… For two years running the % of List Price bottomed out around Feb/Mar and then quickly picked up to peak around May (with homes selling for 4% and 8% over the list price!). Note that February (the bottom) is also when the number of sales bottomed out over both of the last two years.
For reference, there were 182 homes sold between October ’03 and August ’04 in Loyal Heights with the average home selling for 1.2% over asking price. (I threw out September 03 and September ’05 data since I only downloaded data for the partial months…)
My conclusion is that Tom is wasting his time if he expect to see the health of the market by looking at whether or not homes are selling above or below the market price. As my chart demonstrates, there is way too much seasonal variation for a one or two home snapshot to be valuable. Even in the last two years where the value of homes in my neighborhood have consistently risen (quite substantially), there have been long periods (up to six months) where the average home has sold for less than the asking price. However, with that said, I want to say thanks to Tom for raising this intersting issue because you’ve given me an opportunity to learn about (and demonstrate) the huge seasonal variation in the local market!
I welcome anyones comments on my method if you have ideas on improving things (including the obvious improvement of adding more neighborhoods).
Update: I realized this morning in the shower that I was calculating the net (sale price minus list price) as a percent of list price, so I’ve corrected the text in the post (but not the chart!).