Redfin: “It’s All About the Inventory”

Redfin's Seattle heat map for July 2011

Redfin’s August round-up of real estate news, trends, and financing desiderata is out, and it’s a good news-bad news assessment. “Prices are stable again, rising in most markets since April,” writes Glenn Kelman, but he cautions that limited inventory is behind the stabilization, and that winter’s typically slower (than summer) sales volume lies ahead.

If you are a shadow-inventory catastrophist, you may be cheered to hear that Kelman thinks the problem may not be as first thought. Or you may calculate that any iceberg above a certain size is enough to sink a large ocean liner.

Redfin’s Seattle-area heat map for July shows a few bastions of hot property (prices up, multiple offers): Magnolia, Ballard, Queen Anne, and North Seattle. They’re enough to keep Seattle at 12th on the national heat index (but at a tepid 56.6 “degrees,” behind Portland at 59). Home values were down most in Lake Union, Rainier Valley, Lake City, Delridge, and Snoqualmie Ridge.

Seattle Bubble calls it a “flat, boring summer” and notes that King County’s median home price of $350,000 has rewound to roughly 2005. “[E]ven during the worst year of the dot-com recession in 2002 we had 25% more sales in August than we did this year,” offers Tim Ellis, for contrast, in his follow-up post on NWMLS stats.

To give you an idea of what foreclosures are still doing to home values, here’s $104,000 1-bedroom “Fannie Mae, HomePath-owned Condo” near 23rd Avenue and East Cherry. Someone on Capitol Hill really wants out of their condo: This studio’s price was dropped $20,000 to $119,000, and it sits at 17th Avenue and John Street, a hop, skip, and jump from Trader Joe’s and Madison Market. Plus, a classic claw-foot bathtub.