Tag Archives: infoporn

Homeageddon 2011: Mercer Island Real Estate Update, Part 1

Talk of a housing non-recovery or a real recovery has got me thinking about the Mercer Island market again. So in a series of blogs we’ll look at the numbers to get the story: about 3 and 1/2 years of sales data.

Single family homes

The view above shows trends in single family homes:

  • Volume hasn’t changed much, despite the housing implosion.
  • But median home price is down from about $1.08 million in December of 2007 to $865k so far in June 2011. Lest you think it’s just smaller homes selling, the price per square foot has dropped substantially too.

Condos & Townhomes

What’s the story in condos & townhomes?

  • For starters, if you didn’t already know, Mercer Island is primarily a single family home market, with 20-30 home sales in the summer months to 5-10 condo sales, generally. But condo sales have been picking up in the last two years as new downtown condo buildings sell their inventory.
  • The median home price for a condo has taken a hit as well, from about $405k in Dec 2007 to about $321k so far in June.
  • Future Real Estate Infoporn

    Note that the post title says Part 1: in coming weeks we’ll geek out on this same data, looking at it different ways until we’ve got a good picture of where the market stands. So check back.

    All these graphs are interactive and you can find them here. Data courtesy Redfin and visualization courtesy Tableau Public.

    Mercer Island Real Estate Update, Part 1

    It’s time for a look at the health of the Mercer Island real estate market. Windermere said, “September 2009 Awesome for Mercer Island!

    But was it awesome? Homes were indeed selling this summer:


    With the exception of two bigger sales, $4 million was about the top of the market– Mercer Island’s biggest and blingiest homes either weren’t selling or were selling for much less than normal.

    Comparing 2009 (YTD) to 2008

    More interesting is to look at what homes have been selling for. Here I’ve broken it down by month and neighborhood.


    Some interesting findings:

    • Prices down: Though it’s hard to see in the line chart, prices have declined from 2008 to 2009. On the Island as a whole, the average price per square foot dropped from $440 per square foot to $341.
    • Especially in South Island: South Island houses saw the biggest decline, from $485 per quare foot to $323 per square foot.
    • Lower offers: As you might expect with these drops, owners were getting less than they listed their houses for. Average sale-to-original-list price dropped from 91% Island-wide to 87%. This means that in 2008, when an owner put a house for sale, the ultimate price would be on average 91% of the list price (excluding any price drops), but in 2009 the ultimate price would be only 87% on average.
    • Volume down: 262 homes sold in 2008 and 176 have sold year-to-date in 2009, with about two months to go.
    • More condos: Already 41 condos have sold on the Island vs. 27 last year, probably due to the new developments in the business district.

    Methodology & sources: I downloaded the last two years of home sale records from Redfin and did a bit of analysis with them with Tableau Software. Areas are somewhat arbitrarily designated as North Island (north of SE 40th St), Mid Island (north of SE 60th St), and South Island (south of SE 60th St). And by the way, I’m not affiliated with any real estate organization, just a homeowner.

    In part 2 we’ll look at listings: homes currently for sale on the Island.

    Where to Get a Flu Shot on Mercer Island

    There are a few places to get seasonal flu shots on the Island:


    • Walgreens and other pharmacies- it costs about $25 but some health plans won’t cover it.
    • MI Primary Care will do seasonal flu shots for all comers, patients of the center or not, on a walk-in basis with no appointment needed.
    • MI Pediatrics will give seasonal flu shots to kids in their practice.

    I got my seasonal shot at Mercer Island Primary Care and they did a nice job- no hurt, no bruising, and I was in and out in 15 minutes.

    As for swine flu, it’s not quite available yet. And if you’re not pregnant or between 6 months and 2 years old, you’re not getting one.

    For some gratuitous infoporn, here’s a flu tracker map from flutracker.org.


    Scary red! But notice how the data is a distorted by the size of each county?

    Here’s some practical flu info from the city. Stay home if you get sick!

    Today’s Infoporn: Mercer Island School District Test Scores

    There’s something in those Mercer Island house prices: school test scores. I came across this data on the Federal Education Budget Project site by the New America Foundation. They give you data in tabular form, so I used Tableau to create some interesting visualizations of Puget Sound school districts:


    The NCLB scores are defined “according to state-defined proficiency standards,” which makes me think they’re WASL scores. One can absolutely question the WASL as a measurement of student success, but for comparing district by district it should be fine since students throughout the state take the same test every year.

    So that first visualization shows that yes, Mercer Island Schools are at the top of area schools in terms of test scores. Now let’s look at some factors that go into test scores: poverty and funding.


    Mercer Island has the highest math scores, but also one of the largest per-pupil expenditures at $8,357 (Seattle is the only district with a higher per-pupil figure, at ($9140). Mercer Island gets less of its budget from the federal government than any other district, at 2.9% (the average is 5.7%). And out student poverty rate is lower than all but Issaquah.

    This data doesn’t do much more than reinforce the well-known link between affluence and school performance. Higher poverty rates make schools’ jobs more difficult. Federal funding helps, but doesn’t fill all the gaps. We’re lucky to live in Mercer Island but we’re part of a larger region as well, and not all kids in the region are getting the same public education.

    Info Porn: The Evolution of Mercer Island

    The site PropertyShark is worth a look. It’s got all kinds of data, like demographics and zoning. Here’s a map (in two pieces) of the age of MI homes.

    Notable on North Island is the group of older homes in Mercerdale, the first neighborhood on the Island.

    South Island is much newer, with a cluster of pre-1949 and pre-1925 homes on the East side of the Island.

    Together, these maps say a lot about the settlement pattern of the Island:

    • The oldest homes (dark blue) are primarily on North Island.
    • A few other old homes are around the edges of the Island. These must have been built as vacation homes with only boat access.
    • The newest homes (magenta) are also around the edge, showing where property values have encouraged owners and developers to tear down and build anew.
    • The majority of homes in the inner neighborhoods were built between 1950 and 1969.

    Those old houses on the east Island waterfront are intriguing. Does anyone know their story? Who built them, when, and why?

    Thanks, PropertyShark.