Posted by: The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

21 responses to “Seattle Bubble Stats: Where are the Condos?”

  1. Ardell DellaLoggia

    I took some time this weekend to go back to the origins of “Seattle Bubble”, in an effort to better understand your viewpoint.

    To include SFH under $250,000 would suggest that you might be interested in the SFH market in Federal Way, Auburn, Burien, points south and some out of the way places, where the SFH under $250,000 market exists. Seems to me, and I could be wrong, that you are not likely to choose SFH in Federal Way vs. renting in Kenmore.

    When you started the site you said a SFH would cost $300,000, presumably in a place you might live and not in Federal Way, and interest rates were 5%.

    If you could go back in time, would you still suggest waiting for the “bubble to burst”? Do you think there will come a time in the next five years when you can get a house near where you live for less than $300,000 with an interest rate better than the 5% of that time?

    What are your aspirations for the market from a personal perspective? From day one until now, do you see the market slipping further away from you? Do you ever say “shoot! shoulda…”

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  2. The Tim

    Ardell,

    I don’t know what you’re trying to get at about Federal Way and “including SFH under $250,000.” My statistics include SFH in all price ranges. Clearly I am not in the market for a house in the $750,000+ range either.

    As far as the going back in time part, I definitely believe that homes in 2005 were overpriced. Just because they gained another X% doesn’t mean they weren’t already way too expensive. Even if I had really wanted to buy a home in 2005, the only way I could have done so would have been by using financing methods that are simply unacceptable to me. The problem is, many people in my income bracket (and below) are all too happy to sign up for risky loans in order to jump on the home equity “escalator.”

    As for me, I’m quite happy where I’m at, living 100% debt-free and rent-free. We’re banking some serious coin and will eventually be able to afford a house, price declines or not. That being said, if home prices in the Seattle area keep climbing, while prices in most of the rest of the country stagnate and decline, I may very well say “to heck with Seattle,” and go find a more affordable, hospitable place to live. I doubt I am alone in that sentiment, and that is part of the reason why I believe that prices in Seattle are not likely to buck the trend, at least not for very long.

    As far as predictions go, I’ll direct you to the timeline post that I made back in April. So far the situation is progressing fairly closely to what I expect. Notice that I have not predicted any noticable weakness in prices really until late next year.

    From day one until now, do you see the market slipping further away from you?

    That’s a variation of “buy now or be priced out forever” and I honestly thought you were above such platitudes.

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  3. Grivetti

    If you could go back in time, would you still suggest waiting for the “bubble to burst”?

    I know this post was directed at The Tim, but I’ll give my $0.02. I’d say that since the blog’s been going, and the housing price increase that’s occurred sense. The reason I didn’t buy into the “buy now, or get priced out” talking-point, is the following.

    Choice A)
    Median, $300,000. Low inventory, bidding wars, waved-inspections the norm, Realtors with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude, week and under listing that force you to buy on a dime, feeding the mania…

    Choice B)
    Median, $350,000. Robust inventory (pick of the litter), no more bidding wars, homes ‘priced to sell’, sellers willing to ‘work with’ the buyer, adequite and thorough inspections, a week or two to make a decision, Realtors willing to hoof-it for the %6. My life’s biggest financial decision based on solid fundementals…

    My choice? B) in a heartbeat.

    Its not all about price…

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  4. Peter Taylor

    >Do you ever say “shoot! shoulda…”

    I said that when I didn’t buy MSFT and GOOG at IPO. I also said it when I didn’t buy that 1 acre lot on Lake Washington East of Market in 1912 for $300.00. Shoot!

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  5. Peter Taylor

    Sorry, I meant “West” of Market in Kirkland. Of course.

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  6. Richard

    Heck, there are alot of illogical/uninformed decisions one could have made at some point past and had it work out for the better. Or not.

    It’s like a co worker of mine said about ICOS after the buyout news last month. “Gee, I wish I would have bought their stock back in 2002 before they released Cialis! ED drugs are a sure thing. How much would my $5K investment have been worth today?”

    Answer: about $2800

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  7. MisterBubble

    Personally, I said “shoot! shoulda….” when I didn’t sell AMZN at 100 and INTC at 80.

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  8. Ardell DellaLoggia

    The Tim,

    Maybe we should have coffee sometime. I honestly have no interest in antagonizing. Maybe if we met, you’d have a better idea of where I’m “coming from”.

    So why am I “coming” at all? Honestly, I’m here for the same reason everyone else is here. To find “The Bubble”…to compare notes regarding where I think the bubble is with your notes regarding where the bubble is.

    What’s my point regarding Federal Way? Simple. I went to the mls today. Hit SFR, King County, < $250,000, got 153 active listings, opened them up and saw Federal Way, Auburn, etc. Points South for the most part. No alterior motives...just what is. If you are going to exclude condos because you wouldn't buy them; why not exclude all things you might not be interested in buying?

    I look at your stated purpose, “News and discussion about the real estate/housing bubble, specifically as it pertains to the Seattle Area.” I expect you to be true to your own stated purpose. If it’s a blog about what’s happening in markets where Tim might buy one day…Great! But that’s not what it says. “real estate…Seattle area”…

    Given you show a category for < $250,000 and 75% to 80% of that category happens to be condos...doesn't seem true to your own stated purpose to exclude them. Totally skews the graph to exclude 80% of the real estate that fits that category. Maybe the people who have been here since day one know it is only SFR, but new people like me happen by and say WT?

    As to platitudes, I think you know me better than that. You may not “know” me, but you know me better than THAT.

    I’m just saying do you ever simply come clean in hindsight. Like I wrote an article about my bathroom and boy was I wrong, wrong, wrong. What a freakin’ mess. So I say at some point, looks like I was wrong…so far. Maybe time will prove me to be right in the end. Just looking for that kind of honesty and integrity, that’s all.

    Now I have to go back and give that update on the bathroom :-) Seems you would have your 20% down right now if you had taken another path, that’s all. Expect you to say that. Not saying if someone buys TODAY and goes out 18 months from now that will be the case…depends where. But in Kenmore, the market moved dramatically since you started this blog. You would have a low rate and 20% down right now if you had bought then…seems to me.

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  9. The Tim

    I’m just saying do you ever simply come clean in hindsight. … Just looking for that kind of honesty and integrity, that’s all. … Seems you would have your 20% down right now if you had taken another path, that’s all.

    What is there to “come clean” about? I don’t know how to make it any more clear, but I’m 100% debt-free and am currently not paying any rent. That is a pretty nice situation to be in, and I don’t regret my current situation at all.

    Just four years ago my wife and I had over $40,000 in (mostly) school loans and were paying $850/month to rent a ~900sqft townhouse in Woodinville. Since then, we have:

    - paid off all of the $40,000+ debt
    - contributed steadily to a 401(k)
    - saved some cash
    - invested some money in other accounts
    - bought two vehicles (with cash)
    - paid for a year of education for my wife at the Art Institute (with cash)

    …all on a slightly above-median income.

    Sure, if I had made minimum payments to our school loans, bought cars on credit, taken additional loans for my wife’s art school programs, we could have bought a house and “built equity” enough to generate a decent down payment (while still living under the shadow of tens of thousands in non-mortgage debt). However, when it comes to a decision as major as spending 1/4 to 1/2 a million dollars on a home, I’m more interested in making decisions based on what I know, rather than what I hope. I know that by paying rapidly paying off our debt, we saved thousands of dollars and provided ourselves with a certain degree of financial freedom. If we had stretched our budget and bought a house with the aid of some kind of 80/20 ARM scheme, it would have been on the hope that appreciation would generate a financial safety net for us. That’s not good enough for me.

    Hindsight is 20/20. If God had come down from Heaven and told me in no uncertain terms that the housing market would appreciate 50%+ in four years, yeah, I would have bought a house. However, lacking any such foreknowledge, I have to go with what I know, and I have no regrets about that course of action. That’s not to say that I never take financial risks, but that in my opinion a decision as major as a home purchase is not to be taken lightly.

    I apologize if this comment has an angry/defensive tone to it, but I’m not particularly fond of it when people insinuate that I’m not being honest.

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  10. uptown

    The reason condo prices matter is that they are the only thing being built in the inner parts of our cities (Seattle and Bellevue). This has 2 main effects:
    1) Many people sell a SFH further out to buy the condo, putting many houses on the market at the same time.
    2) The shear number of units built at one time. Lemmings (builders) just love to follow each other off the cliff and so just never seem to get the market timed right.

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  11. MisterBubble

    “I honestly have no interest in antagonizing….I look at your stated purpose, ‘News and discussion about the real estate/housing bubble, specifically as it pertains to the Seattle Area.’ I expect you to be true to your own stated purpose.”

    Ardell, stop. Take a deep breath, think before you write, and explain, in 25 words or less, how Tim isn’t “true to his stated purpose.”

    Last time I checked, this blog exclusively discusses real estate and housing in the Seattle area, so I think you might have an uphill battle.

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  12. MisterBubble

    Uptown said:

    “The reason condo prices matter is that they are the only thing being built in the inner parts of our cities (Seattle and Bellevue).”

    Actually, this isn’t true. Drive through any “core” Seattle neighborhood, and you’ll see a number of newly-constructed, slapdash “townhomes,” in addition to the usual crackerbox condominiums and condo-conversions.

    I point this out not to be pendantic, but because the trend illustrates a problem with classifications in the NWMLS: as Ardell has pointed out on several different occasions (when the ambiguity has served her purpose), sometimes these “townhomes” are classified by the MLS as condos, and sometimes as single-family housing. In reality, they lie somewhere in-between.

    Condo prices certainly do matter — it’s well-established that condominiums tend to be leading indicators of the health of the larger housing market — but it’s not incorrect to exclude them from analyses, as Ardell implies. As long as comparisons are made between identical groups (SFH to SFH, Condo to Condo, etc.), the comparisons are statistically valid.

    As usual, Ardell is just tossing around (red) fish in the hopes of distracting everyone from the substance of the argument: the housing market is slowing down.

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  13. Ardell DellaLoggia

    The Tim,

    I don’t want to annoy you any more than I have. It’s not your “personal” integrity I question…it’s the integrity of the site’s stated purpose vs. not including all relevant data. I thought maybe everyone really wanted to talk about real estate and real data and real bubbles. Looks like I was wrong.

    I’ll leave you all to your parlor games.

    Ciao

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  14. Peckhammer

    “if home prices in the Seattle area keep climbing, while prices in most of the rest of the country stagnate and decline, I may very well say “to heck with Seattle,” and go find a more affordable, hospitable place to live.”

    My feelings exactly. Hell, I am oping Seattle is bubble-proof and that encephalites continue boosting the value of my condo like Las Vegas grandma’s plunking an endless supply of quarters into a slot machine.

    I just returned from Temecula where I have property. Six months ago you couldn’t buy a house for under $500K. Those days are gone. $300K buys you the same house today. So please make me a Seattle real estate gazillionaire so I can by a nice house where the sun shines more frequently, and I can buy 5 acres of property to live on for the cost of a 600 square foot condo.

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  15. Peckhammer

    “Ardell DellaLoggia said…

    Maybe we should have coffee sometime. I honestly have no interest in antagonizing. Maybe if we met, you’d have a better idea of where I’m “coming from.”

    I like that idea. Maybe we can podcast this event? I would gladly volunteer my services to make that happen.

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  16. redmondjp

    Billiards, anyone?

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  17. MisterBubble

    I prefer reindeer games.

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  18. betamax

    I made a post last night but can’t see it now, nor a couple of others – are you deleting posts that say unflattering things of ardell, Tim?

    If so, that’s a mistake: if she wants to play troll, then she can take her lumps like any other troll.

    Are you next going to censure posts that argue with Meshugy? At least he’s an honest troll and doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not.

    While it’s your blog and you’re certainly free to censure as you see fit, I won’t bother posting again if my time writing will be wasted.

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  19. The Tim

    As per the rules, I deleted posts that fell under the category of “personal attacks.”

    While I personally agree with the sentiment you shared in your comment, the rules aren’t worth much if I only apply them to people that I disagree with. It’s one thing to say “your argument is stupid, here’s why.” It’s quite another to attack the intelligence and character of another commenter.

    I’m sorry that you feel your time was wasted, but I am doing my best to judiciously maintain the integrity of my commenting policy.

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  20. betamax

    fair enough, thanks for clarifying.

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  21. uptown

    misterbubble:

    I said inner city not “core neighborhoods”. What I’m talking about are highrises; greater than 10 stories. Take a drive through the Denny triangle and Belltown (or downtown Bellevue) to see what I’m talking about.

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