Be Careful What You Ask For, the Tax Assessor Just Might Give it to You

The King County Tax Assessor’s office recently added the photos they have available on line.  It’s a pretty cool feature where you can possibly see the history of your home.   I wrote a post showing old photos of my former home on North Lake in Auburn and how to obtain the King County Tax Assessor’s photos.   However, I learned today is that the King County Tax Assessor’s office is also making note of the asking price on listing flyers and the comments are available on line under the “property details” section.


Check out how it’s noted on October 2008:  “Fabulous renovation per sales flyer. Listed for $999,000“.    This is not my home but I have knowledge of it and I can tell you that it never sold for anywhere close to that…in fact it never sold. 

It’s amazing to me that King County is looking at listings and making notes such as this about any property.   Sure enough, the following year, this property’s tax assessed value increased by just shy of $100,000 (or 12%).   

Did the listing flyer impact the tax assessors opinion of value on this home? 

The Buyers are out, and trying to buy, but…

Buyers are out, and trying to buy, but they don’t seem to be quite as successful as some of the more breathless news reports would lead you to believe.  I have always liked the Pending Sales statistics from NWMLS because they represent the most recent monthly snapshot of new contracts on listed properties – i.e. a Buyer and a Seller have made a deal.  But recently a lot of those ‘deals’ have not closed, the Seller has not gotten his or her money, and the Buyer has not gotten possession of the property. It appears that a lot of these current transactions, which are indicating a high level of Buyer’s intent to purchase, are falling out or being delayed for long periods.

Here is a chart built from NWMLS published statistics of Pending vs Sold data – the chart is built by taking a two-month moving average of Pending (previous month) vs Sold (current month) data. Note that this post expands on an earlier post by Ardell in her Sunday Night Stats.

Let’s call this chart the Fall-Out Ratio – we may want to keep an eye on it.

(Required disclaimer: Statistics not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service)reilingteamcom-fall-out-ratio-0906

Historically the fall-out rate has been well under 10%, but then in early 2008 the fall-out rate started climbing like a rocket. Recall that we had the mortgage market meltdown in late 2007, and lenders started dramatically tightening their lending practices. Then we had the larger financial and business crash in late 2008, and more people started losing their jobs – and the other 90% got nervous. It was also in late 2008 that we started seeing a lot more short sales in our Seattle/Bellevue area. Recall that in a short sale, the insolvent seller is trying to avoid foreclosure by selling the property and getting the lender to accept less than is owed on it. That lender approval process is often slow and uncertain, and it certainly is contributing to this rise in the Fall-Out Ratio. Short sales may be 20% or more of our current sales activity, and those delays may also be a major contributor to why the average Days-on-Market measure isn’t dropping in concert with Months Supply. Other contributors to the fall-out rate would include failure to reach agreement on inspection, and failure of financing. I’m sure we’ll get a lot more insight on causes from the comments by our great RCG contributors.

2009 FHA Loan Limits for Seattle-Bellevue and Beyond

King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties loan limits effective January 1, 2009 are:

  • Single Family: $506,000
  • Two Family:  $647,750
  • Three Family:  $783,000
  • Four Family:  $973,100

The new loan limit is lower than the current FHA Jumbo limit of $567,500 and is happens to be the same as the jumbo-conforming (aka high-balance) loan limits for our area for 2009.

Sunday Night Stats – Seattle Real Estate

Median price per square foot for condos sold is starting to fall below 4th quarter of 2006 numbers, and is down 11.8% from peak pricing. 

King County Condos

2004 – 1Q – 1,694 – $188, 2Q 2,636 – $199, 3Q 2,540 – $196, 4Q 2,176 – $195

2005 – 1Q – 2,066 – $198, 2Q 2,925 – $209, 3Q 2,769 – $226, 4Q 2,266 – $224

2006 – 1Q – 1,956 – $242, 2Q 2.748 – $252, 3Q 2,737 – $269, 4Q 2,217 – $278

2007 – 1Q – 2,042 – $295, 2Q 2,862 – $302, 3Q 2,676 – $311, 4Q 1,618 – $294

2008 – 1Q – 1,258 – $299, 2Q 1,535 – $287, 3Q to date 895 – *$274


Active Listings: 3,983 – DOWN 47 – median price $319,950 – MPPSF  asking $307 (Down $3) – DOM 67 (up 2)

In Escrow:  804 –  UP 10- median asking price $289,700  – MPPSF asking $291  – DOM – 53 (up 3)

Sold YTD :  3,710- UP 650 – median list price $289,000 – median sold price  $282,450 – MPPSF – $287 (down $2) DOM 49  

Residential King county

2004 – 1Q 5,650 – $152, 2Q 9,237 – $160, 3Q 8.737 – $163, 4Q 7,467 – $165

2005 – 1Q 6,402 – $173, 2Q 9,093 – $185, 3Q 9,131 – $192, 4Q 7,301 – $195

2006 – 1Q 5,596 – $201, 2Q 8,248 – $214, 3Q 7,771 – $216, 4Q 6,204 – $217

2007 – 1Q 5,304 – $222, 2Q 7,393 – $230, 3Q 7,944 – $229, 4Q 4,301 – $221

2008 – 1Q 3,640 – $219, 2Q 4,676 – $220, 3Q to date 3,106 – *$215

*Residential median price per square foot is down another $2 per square foot since I ran the numbers two weeks ago.  That brings prices back very close to where they were in the 2nd Quarter of 2006.

Some sigificant changes for property in escrow.

In Escrow: 2,429 – DOWN 139- median asking price $409,950 (down $10,000) – DOM 51 (up 3) – MPPSF $197 (down $7)

SOLD YTD: 11.451 –  Actively for sale 12,027 – DOWN 280

Sold Year to Date and currently for sale are getting very close.


Stats not compiled or published by NWMLS. (Required disclosure)

Sunday Night Stats – King County

We’re just past the halfway point on the third quarter, and condo prices are getting much lower.  Unless we see a major change in the next 5 to 6 weeks, the MPPSF is showing down over 11% from peak At $274 vs. $311.  Not a big surprise, as pending stats have been low, so it was only a matter of time before those low numbers in pending status started showing up in the closed sales.  Still I wouldn’t be surprised if they bounce up a little by the end of the 3rd Quarter.

Inventory is getting pretty darned flat.  For condos the number of properties for sale hasn’t changed much since May.  3rd week of August – 4,082, July 3,958, June 4,049, May 3,953.  Pretty much flat for four months in a row.

I’m not even going to talk about pending sales as there is so much junk stuck in there and not closing.  For now I’m not counting anything until it actually closes.

King County Condos

2004 – 1Q – 1,694 – $188, 2Q 2,636 – $199, 3Q 2,540 – $196, 4Q 2,176 – $195

2005 – 1Q – 2,066 – $198, 2Q 2,925 – $209, 3Q 2,769 – $226, 4Q 2,266 – $224

2006 – 1Q – 1,956 – $242, 2Q 2.748 – $252, 3Q 2,737 – $269, 4Q 2,217 – $278

2007 – 1Q – 2,042 – $295, 2Q 2,862 – $302, 3Q 2,676 – $311, 4Q 1,618 – $294

2008 – 1Q – 1,258 – $299, 2Q 1,535 – $287, 3Q to date 685 – $274

Residential properties seem to be holding on to value a little better than condos, but still showing more weakness now than they have since late last year.  MPPSF is only down 5% – 6% from the peak of $230 to current numbers of $217, and we may not see much of a change in those numbers by the end of the 3rd quarter.

Inventory in the single family markets has flattened out a bit, but only in the last 30 days or so.  Some of that is being caused by people renting instead of selling or pulling their properties off market to wait for next Spring.

Residential King county

2004 – 1Q 5,650 – $152, 2Q 9,237 – $160, 3Q 8.737 – $163, 4Q 7,467 – $165

2005 – 1Q 6,402 – $173, 2Q 9,093 – $185, 3Q 9,131 – $192, 4Q 7,301 – $195

2006 – 1Q 5,596 – $201, 2Q 8,248 – $214, 3Q 7,771 – $216, 4Q 6,204 – $217

2007 – 1Q 5,304 – $222, 2Q 7,393 – $230, 3Q 7,944 – $229, 4Q 4,301 – $221

2008 – 1Q 3,640 – $219, 2Q 4,676 – $220, 3Q to date 2,366 – $217

Stats not compiled or published by NWMLS. (Required disclosure)

As is true most years, the prices will start to be better for buyers from now through year end.  In the hot markets of the past few years, that only meant that appreciation would slow down.  But this year and last year, the prices just kept getting better and better…for buyers that is.  If you can wait a year or two, I think prices will be even lower.  But if you plan to buy in the next 6-9 months…the next 3 may be better than waiting just a few months longer.

Sunday Night Stats

So far it looks like sellers have a 50% chance of selling vs. last year.  I’ll keep tabs on that as we go.  You were twice as likely to sell your house last year as this year, if you put it on market.  For those of you who think it’s a new year and if it didn’t sell last year it’s time to raise the price…I’d rethink that.  Hopefully low interest rates will improve the stats moving forward.  But I wouldn’t count on the improvement being more than a 66.6% chance of selling.  We’re not talking about selling at the price you want.  We’re talking about selling at all.  Not a good time to be stubborn or overly optimistic.  You have until 4/1/08 to get real with your pricing, or possibly be back on market in 2009.  Stop pricing off what other people are asking.  Stick close to the comps this year.  No more than 5% over the comps is a good rule of thumb.  And don’t skimp on condition.  Condition will be the MOST important factor in 2008, second to not pricing more than 5% over the comps.

King County – Residential

For sale – 8,508 – UP 132

In Escrow – 1,906 – UP 97 – 6.5% of those are contingent contracts

Closed month to date – 439 – UP 203


King County – Condo Market

For sale – 2,929 – UP 59

In escrow – 798 – UP 18 – 2.6% of those are contingent contracts

Closed month to date –  144 – UP 75

UP means over last Sunday’s data.  Sales of single family homes kept pretty good pace against homes coming on market this week.  But still running at about half the pace of this time last year.  Let’s assume 1/3 of the buyer pool is gone and that this year’s sales will be 2/3rds of last year in total number of properties sold.  That’s my prediction based on what we’re seeing so far.

“Statistics not compiled or published by NWMLS.

Sunday Night Stats – King County

An update to the Property Stats for King County from last week:

Residential – Single Family

For sale – 8376 – UP 279

In escrow – 1809 – UP 27

Closed in Janaury so far – 236 -NEW CATEGORY


For Sale – 2,870 – UP 125

In escrow – 780 – UP 47

Closed in Jan so far – 69 – NEW CATEGORY


Apologies Sandy, no Bellevue Stats today.  I’ve decided to do them in map grid first, and visit some of the new on markets for commentary on how the new is comparing to old listings, and to track if the new listings are selling at a higher rate than current inventory.

Broker’s Opens are on Thursday.  I’ll report afterward.

“Statistics not compiled or published by NWMLS.

Sunday Night Stats

I know how much I enjoy being able to check RCG for mortgage rates every Friday, thanks to Rhonda.  I’m going to try to do the same for King County Stats on Sunday nights.  Each week I will also highlight a different City or Seattle Zip Code over on my blog.  Tonight I did Kirkland Stats.

I don’t have any commentary for King County Stats tonight.  But there’s plenty of commentary on the Kirkland Stats.  There’s less than a three month supply of inventory for property priced at or below the median price sold in 2007.  There’s a very strong buyer’s market in the high end of $1M or more for condos and $1.5M or more for single family homes.

I’ll try to post the stats here every Friday night for King County, but until we get a couple of months of sales, or the full first quarter of 2008, commentary would simply be conjecture.  I don’t expect the number of homes sold in 2008 to be dramatically different in the first half of 2008, as they were in the last half of 2007. 

I expect that brown slice of December 2007 closings to change a bit each week as agents post late.  There were even a few late postings for November and October since last week.  I’ll try to update and keep the data as accurate as possible.  As always, and by mls rule, I must disclose that I, ARDELL compiled these stats using MLS as a source only.  The data is not compiled by NWMLS.



“Statistics not compiled or published by NWMLS.

It may not be your business…but it is all mine!

Two years ago, our company switched our loan operating system to Encompass, so I have data available for the past two years (closed transactions from March 2005 – March 2007).   I’m pretty surprised at the results after analyzing my purchase transactions and so thought I would share this with you.

Mid Credit Scores

3% had credit scores between 600-619

17% had credit scores between 620-679

25% had credit scores between 680-719

47% had credit scores between 720-799

8% had credit scores above 800

25 % of clients purchased with 100% LTV Financing (80/20 or 100% LPMI)

Average zero down mid credit score = 723

7% FHA Financing

  • Mid credit scores ranging from 644 – 744
  • Average FHA mid credit score = 720

39% had 20% or more for down payment.

The most popular loan programs for my clients:

  • 47% opted for a 30 year fixed conventional
  • 26% have 5 year fixed period ARMs

So what do I make of this?   The consumers with scores under 620 will have a much tougher time, if they’re able to purchase at all.   Especially without a down payment of 5% or better.   Depending on credit history (1-2 years of no late payments), they may be able to go FHA or VA for financing.   The 3% (credit scores of 600 – 619) of my clients who I helped with financing over the past two years, would probably need to go back to drawing board and work on their improving credit scores (and, more importantly, work on changing their credit/spending habits) before being able to obtain financing for a home.   With that said, out of the 3% who were able to buy, I’m only worried about two buyers who may not have followed my advice of working on their credit and revamping their budget (and one of them has a 5 year fixed period ARM).

The 17% (credit scores between 620-679) would probably fit into FHA financing.   Over the past two years, most of my clients would opt for 80/20 or 100% (LPMI) financing over FHA for the following reasons:

  • The upfront PMI (1.5% of the loan amount) is no longer refundable on new loans.
  • Monthly PMI was not tax deductible (VA does not have PMI) for loans originated before 2007.
  • The payment with 80/20s was lower than FHA.
  • Borrowers could keep the 3% down (required with FHA) in reserves instead of draining their savings.  

This information is just a reflection of my purchase business from March of 2005 to my closed transactions as of today.   Historically, I have served more south King County families.   Just over the past year, with my move to Seattle, my business is beginning to expand to Seattle and Bellevue areas.

Before reviewing this data, I was certain that a larger percentage of my business was zero down or subprime.  Now I can see that I’ve done many zero down/subprime “prequalications or preapprovals” and they just didn’t pan out…but the effort that goes into a preapproval almost feels like you completed a transaction…especially for a subprime buyer. 

Again, I don’t represent every lender…just little ol’ me!  😉

Speaking of Trojan Horses!

After reading John Cooks blog, ‘Beware of what you post on Zillow?‘ I started to think, how much is to much??? Much like my last post about the ‘Trojan Horse‘ are we all becoming so connected that it makes sense for the County Assessor to start using these tools as a way to fuel the County. In my case, King County Assessor Scott Noble was even quoted as saying, “the new Zillow service could be used as a tool to make sure that homeowners are paying their “fair share.” If the KC Assessor’s office would have used Zilllow’s Zestimate for the tax assessed value of a home LTD Real Estate just sold they would have almost doubled the tax bill. That would mean from this home alone, $2,601.51 more towards the bottom line. Hopefully Ron Sims doesn’t read this blog post…

I think I am going to keep my home information my own information.