Are sales really “failing” to sell?

(From near the end of this post: “Looks like of the 1,081 combined pendings since 6/1/09, at least 21% are short sales. But of the 1,379 closed in 30 days, less than 2% were closed short sales.”) Read full post for more info. That indicates a HUGE failure rate on Short Sales, though some of the variance could be attributed to other factors.

It seems that since the mls removed STI (subject to inspection) as a status, more pendings are failing.  Is this partly because we are now counting the same property twice, and so only 1 closing for 2 pendings in many cases?

1) IF it is first “Pending Inspection” or “Pending Feasibility” study – Every house that is put into “pending subject to inspection” will “fall out” into “pending”, before it goes to “Closed”.

2) Likewise a large number of bank-owned sales are previous listings that may have been pending as short sales.  They DO sell, but by the bank seller vs the owner occupant seller. The house IS sold at the end of the day. We are just showing two pendings for that one sale, with one closing and the other one “failing”, due to the change of seller name from owner to bank.

The only way for us to know this is to track them differently going forward. There is no way to get prior stats of the switch out from Pending Inspection to Pending or failed short sale = closed bank-owned sale, without looking inside each transaction by hand.  Too cumbersome.  But in recent history I believe these are clearly marked and can be identified for individual study, so if we begin now, we should have some really good data as time moves forward.

Today is the first day of the rest of our…research. Let’s begin on the “right foot”.

I’m going to go to the beginning of June, assuming anything that “went Pending” on June 1 hasn’t closed yet.  We can turn it into graphs after several weeks of raw data are obtained. Sticking to “Residential Only” (which in Seattle includes townhomes and on the Eastside does not, by and large). Most stats available are for SFH, such as on Seattle Bubble, so I will exclude “condo” and other types of property. I will also exclude manufactured/mobile homes and houseboats, which may have different #fail as to finance issues.  There is also a status called “Pending BU Requested” which indicates the agent is thinking the buyer in escrow may not close and is looking for BU offers.  I am going to show them separately as they don’t “fall out” into another Pending status before going to Closed…but should indicate a higher expectancy that the sale will fail.

In future posts containing these Pending stats, I will link to this post and not repeat the parameters each time. If anyone disagrees with the parameters, speak up so we can make the changes at the beginning together.

King County: Went Pending since June 1:

Pending = 456  (PI – 499, PF – 6, PBU – 120)

Note: a property can’t have two statuses at the same time.  So the 456 “true” pendings, are not also contained in the other categories.  PI used to be STI-subject to inspection. PBU is generally reserved for properties expected not to close with the current buyer who is in escrow. PF always had a high fail rate as the buyer is saying I only want to buy it IF…”. PI and PF should eventually move to “Pending” and only counted there. PBU we will try to break down further:

89 of the 120 PBU (Pending BackUps) are noted as “Short Sales”

7 more appear to be short sales, but some with prior lienholder approval

Many of the remaining properties in PBU are also short sales, but the field is new and some are not yet using it properly, especially if the property went pending since 6/1/09 BUT was listed long before the SS field was implemented. This data should improve over time. For now note that MOST of the 120 PBUs are Short Sales.

In addition, at least 135 of the 499 Pending Inspections are Short Sales.

Closed in the last 30 days – 1,379

Best I can tell, given pendings are closing in longer and undertermined timeframes, we can’t study a relationship between recent pendings and closed sales. Unless someone has some ideas here.

But at least we can track and see if the “true and full” Pendings are increasing or decreasing, if the short sales are increasing or decreasing.

Let me check for one more thing.  How many of those closed sales were noted as Short Sales. WOW! only about 24.  There you go…as I’ve said before, A Short Sale is not necessarily for sale!

Looks like of the 1,081 of combined pendings since 6/1/09, at least 21% are short sales. But of the 1,379 closed in 30 days, less than 2% were closed short sales. I’m going to leave this here, but also bring it up to the first paragraph.

Now that you can see how we will be able to break down the stats into the future, your thoughts on meaningful arrangement of data much appreciated.

Seems to me we need to note closed since 6/1 here (451) as Pendings will drop as they are Closed.

The primary purpose of this post is to show you what data is available, so that you can request a customized format in the comments below this post. (I am going to tag this “Sunday Night Stats”, just so that tag will pull up the full year and a half of my data related posts. You can get more data in this link of Tracking the Market.)

Required disclosure Stats are not compiled, verified or posted by NWMLS

UPDATE: I am compiling median prices and price per square foot of “normal” sales vs. short sales and bank owned.  I just found a drop down vs. check box for identifying bank owned properties.  … link HERE to the additional data . Breaking it down to North King vs. South King. There is a huge variance in pricing and the distressed sales are not dragging down other property sales “to their level”. Though I do think as time goes forward, identification of distressed sales will be more and more accurate as the new required field is used often and properly from here forward.

Need cash flow? Don't be afraid of unpopular sales and…

mobile home
……..selling uncoventional listings otherwise known in the real estate world as “Mobile Homes.”

You think to yourself…pshttt. Yeah, you laugh. You say, “whatever. That’s not going to make me a listing star or a top producer!”

Guess again. You may find this hard to believe, but one of the top two producing agents (in both sales and commissions paid out of our escrow office, I believe two years running) who uses our office to close mobile homes, comes in to collect commission checks darn near every week. Sometimes more than once a week. Sometimes, three a week. This unassuming agent is in our office so often we nearly gave ’em a desk and phone. (ok, not quite).

It is not unusual for the agent to stop in with two transactions on Wednesday and say, “let’s close these by Friday.” Sounds good to us.

Don’t discount this lucrative market. The sales are closed as fast as the parties can make it to our office to sign their paperwork. Two thousand dollars here, three thousand dollars there…it all adds up to well into the six figures in earned commissions. For crying out loud, wouldn’t you like a transaction that can close just about as fast as popcorn pops in the Microwave!

Used Car Salesmen, Trial Lawyers and Real Estate Agents

[Editor’s Note: It’s been a while since I added a new contributor to our mix here at Rain City Guide, but when Gordon Stephenson showed some interest (after at least two years of requests by me!), I can’t help but be excited to have him on board! Gordon is the Co-owner and Managing Broker of Real Property Associates. I first came across Gordon when Zillow added him to their Board of Directors in July of ’05, and have run into him both online and offline since then. He’s a great guy and a virtual real estate institution in Seattle, so I couldn’t be happier to bring him on board as a contributor!]

When I started selling real estate fresh out of college, nearly 20 years ago, my parents were confused, even apoplectic: “You just earned this degree and you’re choosing to sell real estate? How are you going to pay back your student loans? Couldn’t you have done that with a GED?

HouseValues knows the hard sell

A friend of mine contacted HouseValues once to get the scoop on their system and now receives (actually pretty funny) high pressure emails sprinkled with phrases like

“If I don’t hear from you by end of day, I’ll ask the next real estate agent on my list – possibly one in your own office.”


“If you are not planning to be in real estate for the next year, then you are not the right candidate for us”.

The qualifications to work with them are pretty rigorous:

1. You can professionally handle 10 to 20 buyers and sellers every month.
2. Plan to be in real estate for the next 12 months.

Lucklily, they seem to find an additional 10 – 20 customers who need an agent NOW every week or two, so my friend feels like he can start picking these low-hanging fruits when he is good and ready.

The “starter price” condo market

Many years ago, I did a study of the “starter price” condo market and received some very surprising results. Based on Dustin’s post, I re-did the research and obtained the exact same results as I did back in Bucks County, PA some 13-16 years ago! Interesting…

The two highest months for people making decisions to buy a condo in what we might call a “starter” price range are March and July. March because first time buyers are often urged by their accountants, or simply by their tax return on their own, to own instead of rent. July due to downsizing of empty nesters or now single, divorced persons selling their single family homes in June and July and moving to a condo. Of course, every month has a mix of reasons to buy, but I find these two reasons account for the fact that these two months tend to be the highest in a yearly cycle.

Sales in June and August are not too far behind and on a quarterly basis, sales are more fairly consistent year round for condos than single family homes, with a slight drop in the last quarter. Again we are not talking about million dollar condos, we are talking about the lowest rung of the price chain.

Actual statistics of 2 bedroom condos under $300,000 (most about $250,000) within a short distance of Sundance in Klahanie.

2005 – Jan. – 10, Feb. – 14, March – Twenty eight – Sold in the 1st quarter – 52

April – 18, May – 19, June – 24 – Sold in the 2nd quarter – 61

July – Thirty, Aug. – 24, Sept. – 13 – Sold in the 3rd quarter – 67

Oct. – 13, Nov. – 9, Dec. – 15 – Sold in the 4th quarter – 37

Inventory in 2006 is way down with only 39 sold in the first quarter compared to 52 in 2005. This does not appear to be because there are fewer buyers, but because fewer people are putting their properties up for sale. However this low inventory in the resale market should not necessarily lead you to believe that demand will be high as supply is low. There is a lot of pressure on the resale markets from New construction and Condo Conversion Projects, generally. Even if the new construction or condo conversion is not in your back yard, people will drive an extra mile or two for brand new.

I have to admit that I almost fell off my chair to find the results almost identical in this scenario, to the study I did some 3,000 miles away back in the early to mid nineties.