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.

63 responses to “Beating a Dead Horse: Gas Prices”

  1. budbrad

    Gas prices are just a stalking horse planted by the industry.

    Then, when gas prices retreat this fall, the industry will be yelling “Gas prices are low! Its a great time to buy a house!”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  2. budbrad

    To be clear, I don’t think the RE industry is behind high gas prices. I think they are just trying to get ahead of the issue and create a ‘buying opportunity’ moment in the future.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  3. Lake Hills Renter

    Once again — not all jobs are downtown!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  4. vboring

    exurb prices are plummeting b/c they were the areas that rose the most on the way up. they are the areas with ghost developments, high percentages of underwater owners, and bankrupt local gov’ts.

    some experts are idiots.

    that being said, i put a high premium on living in town, but this has nothing to do with the price of gas. my wife doesn’t drive, so a suburban house would mean complete isolation for her. most ‘burbs have nothing in walking distance and pretty rubbish or nonexistent bus service.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  5. one.person

    I live a few miles north of the Seattle city limits and choose to commute to the U-District where I work by bus due to these factors, in this order:

    1. price of parking
    2. price of traffic (in terms of my time)
    3. price of gas

    I would not consider buying closer in just because of the price of gas.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  6. kbro2699

    How are these people who “drive until they qualify” going to afford higher priced houses closer in? Will they show their current gas pump receipts against lower forecast gas pump receipts as additional monthly capital to put towards a mortgage? Will the banks buy that? I don’t think so.

    These people who “drive until they qualify” will still have to “drive until they qualify”.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  7. Swing Ninja

    I think it’s the question of accessibility. Many people still fail to see this. If those public transportation serves all over the suburbs, it doesn’t matter wherever you buy your next house.

    Case and point. I live near Kent train station and work in Redmond because both places near Sound Transit (aka “express”) bus stations. It’s about 1 hour commute (1 way) using Sound Transit bus.I use my time in the bus watching videos on my Zune player. Some people opt to read books, doing stuff with their laptops to get things done, etc. It’s much better than driving my car since the bus is also air conditioned :)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. Sniglet

    I was visiting someone in the Issaquah Highlands development this week-end, and was taken aback at the forest of for-sale signs dotting every street. I doubt gas prices completely explain the high inventory in remoter suburbs like this, but it certainly can’t be helping.

    Why anyone would want to live in the Issaquah Highlands is beyond me. The homes are so dense (no yards, and crowded parking) that you’d may as well live in Seattle proper. I’ve heard that things aren’t going well in the Snoqualmie Ridge market either.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  9. EconE

    “Cortright says he’s starting to see proof of change in cities nationwide — from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, from Tampa to Seattle.”

    So basically Cortright is F.O.S.

    why do I say that?

    Because he uses Los Angeles as an example.

    “Closer In” in L.A. means Compton, South Central, East L.A., Watts et al.

    The REIC is gonna desperately latch onto any possible scenario and when they find their *one* example they will of course have a big fat story on it in the local newspaper…Just like they did for the idiot that paid 650k or so to buy a unit at Olive8.

    And as LHR says…not everybody works downtown.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  10. economist

    House prices are determined by affordability., If gas becomes more expensive, people have less to spend on housing. If people use more gas in the suburbs, the decrease in disposable income will be higher and prices will go down more than in the city.

    Note I said “go down more”. City dwellers will see their disposable income go down too and city house prices will fall, just not as much as the suburbs.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  11. Ira Sacharoff

    I think it’s a combination of traffic and gas prices that drive( no pun intended) people closer in. Between 2001-2005, the neighborhood with the largest home price gains was the Central District, and I think largely due to it’s proximity to downtown. True, not all jobs are downtown, but even downtown Bellevue has seen enormous home price increases, so I think it’s safe to say that homes near big employment centers where the economy is fairly robust may endure this housing downturn in somewhat better shape.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  12. Bella

    I think even if anything temporarily encourages some people to move in closer, that will just cause suburban prices to drop further, and re-balance the whole issue. The even lower prices will make those further out homes appealing again.
    And as I’m sure someone has pointed out already, buying a home is (supposed to be) a long term purchase, whereas the price of things (like gas) can be pretty short term. Not that the price of gas will go down, but because more alternatives should become available, either better transit or technology.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  13. Scotsman

    Looks like Liz reads Seattle Bubble.

    Issaquah Highlands and Snoqualmie Ridge are suffering because they were largely built and sold during the peak bubble years, and relied on easy financing. They’re mostly younger buyers who often stretched to get into a home. Once the resets and option arms run their course those areas will experience a real collapse. After all who would want to live so far out from even Bellevue, in such a dense development?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  14. NotaBull

    “After all who would want to live so far out from even Bellevue, in such a dense development?”

    Exactly right. If you’re the kind of person that wants to live away from urban areas (like I am) you’re very unlikely to want to live in the Issaquah Highlands. If you’re OK with density, then why not live closer to Bellevue/downtown/whatever. Or live in “downtown” Issaquah in a townhouse there – it’s actually quite a cute little area. In addition, the properties out there are insanely overpriced for what you get.

    I think the Highlands appeals to so small of a segment of buyers anyway, and they built too many houses. Prices there are going down fast.

    One thing that it great there is the park n’ ride is so close. Transit to downtown Seattle (if that’s where you’re going) is actually very good and very convenient.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  15. Darby

    One of the reasons we did not want to move way out, like Lake Stevens or Snohomish, was gas prices. Even though we could have got a really nice house out there compared to what we could get in Shoreline/LFP/Kenmore/Bothell.

    When we factored in what would have been a higher monthly payment to buy vs. our current rent, plus increased gas payment, plus increased wear on our car, we’d be paying a lot more per month than we would finding a much smaller but similarly priced house in our target area, close to work.

    But “closer in” to us is not Seattle, it’s Bothell. :) And we scrapped our buying plans anyhow… but our goal is still to live closer to work, for gas prices as well as quality of life.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  16. NotaBull

    “And as I’m sure someone has pointed out already, buying a home is (supposed to be) a long term purchase, whereas the price of things (like gas) can be pretty short term. Not that the price of gas will go down, but because more alternatives should become available, either better transit or technology.”

    I completely agree. If you have a 15MPG pickup/SUV then your choices of a better MPG vehicle are endless. I’m fortunate in that I work from home, so I don’t need to care about the mileage of my 16MPG SUV, but I assure you that if I got a job where I did a decent commute I would immediately get out there and get a more efficient car. I don’t care that my SUV isn’t worth much any more, it’s a 2001 model anyway.

    I’d probably buy a Prius or a Honda Fit or Camry hybrid or something like that. That’ll half my fuel bills immediately, or more so if I’m gentle with the Prius. And that’s with today’s technology! I look forward to the future headlines:

    “New Chevy Volt causes spike in suburban house prices”
    “Condo dwellers flee towns and are seeking electrical outlets and garages for their new cars”

    This whole gas price debate reminds me of the “that’s it, I’m moving to Canada” crowd. Sure, you can always find someone that *did* move to Canada when (insert political candidate) won some election, but most didn’t. Most just doged about it and then got on with life.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  17. NotaBull

    “House prices are determined by affordability., If gas becomes more expensive, people have less to spend on housing. If people use more gas in the suburbs, the decrease in disposable income will be higher and prices will go down more than in the city.”

    I know this is going to sound absurd, but I don’t believe gasoline is “more expensive”. Instead it is “much less cheap”. The reason I make the distinction is that people have made vehicle choices in the last decade or so based on hyper-cheap gasoline. People commonly bought 15MPG SUVs/Pickups *and* bought houses in the suburbs.

    They didn’t buy these vehicles because they were the best MPG available, or because they were much cheaper. Dodge and others have very cheap family sedans available that get approximately 30MPG. If gasoline was still “cheap” at $2 a gallon (with a 15MPG pickup) then it will once again be “cheap” at $4 with a 30MPG sedan.

    Gas prices cause problems when they go up too quickly because you can’t make a car buying decision this fast, as most people will be stuck with their pickup for a year or more due to financing, etc. However, the high prices will make them buy more efficient cars next time, as was demonstrated by the recent earnings reports from all the manufacturers.

    If gas prices go up to $8 a gallon, then we start to really have problems because the technology isn’t yet with us. We’d need 60MPG to make that kind of gasoline “cheap” and I think we’re realistically at about 45MPG with the Prius, and that’s not a cheap car.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  18. Shaq

    “Why anyone would want to live in the Issaquah Highlands is beyond me. The homes are so dense (no yards, and crowded parking) that you’d may as well live in Seattle proper.”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I live there and think it’s great (last place I lived before IH was in Belltown and then NYC before that.) The homes are dense, but that’s everywhere.

    I like it because the commute is easy on I-90; I work in downtown Seattle and feel like that’s very close, but I can also start hiking Mount Si in 20 minutes if I want to. A 3 minute drive puts me on I-90, yet we often remark how it feels almost like we live in the country. We see deer and bears fairly frequently. It’s quiet at night. There are parks all throughout the development that are very kid friendly, many with awesome views. (My house is actually on a park, but I can also walk to 5 others in 5 minutes or less.)

    It’s not just a random development – it actually has been fairly well planned. There is a sense of community. There is a community gardening area where people grow all kinds of stuff and share ideas. There is a community center and retail that is owned by residents of the community.

    The “High Streets” retail development has been annoyingly delayed, several times, but Central Market just signed on to build a store in the development. There’s a Cafe Ladro, a wine bar, etc. already (all within walking distance.)

    In short, it’s not for everyone, but I certainly wouldn’t paint it with some broad suburban brush. Your original statement boiling it down to merely yard size and parking is condescending and ignorant IMO.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  19. ?

    I’d like to propose a poll:
    What percentage of your gross income goes to gas?
    For me -2 not hybrid/not SUV average cars and total of 50miles every day to work goes under 6%-lets say 3-4%. My electric/gas /utility bill is in similar range. Why we are so focused on gas bill?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  20. NotaBull

    “What percentage of your gross income goes to gas?”

    0.1%

    I work from home and my wife works 5 miles from home. We live in Sammamish. Most of our gasoline usage is on the weekends heading out to mountains or friend’s houses. We mostly drive a PNWSUV: Subaru Outback.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  21. Rebecca Allen

    They aren’t moving to Capitol Hill (which I agree would cause a massive hit to the square footage/housestyle). They are moving to Roosevelt. Roosevelt is a city neighborhood the character of which is not substantially different from Kirkland (altho the housing stock is older, it is being replaced with multi-family like the townhome they are buying; think Ballard a few years back), with excellent bus service, great amenities and decent schools. The cost of buying a townhome of similar size in Kirkland vs. Roosevelt is probably either a wash, or slightly cheaper in Roosevelt.

    This couple (both of whom appear to work in Seattle) may further be able to get by on just one car, which would save them $5K-$10K + per year, over and above the gas price per se (licensing, taxes, insurance, maintenance, payments and/or saving for a replacement vehicle, garaging, etc.).

    I think it probably pencils out more or less instantly.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  22. Carol Bryant

    I consider myself to be blessed. I get to live on a 60 acre estate and drive through the country to work winding past cows munching on grass and horses eating a bale of hay. My drive is 10 miles and totally stress free. I don’t even think about how much gas it takes or what the gas cost me. I am too focused on my beautiful surroundings.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  23. Sniglet

    Shaq,

    I appologize for any insult you may have gleaned from my earlier post. Let’s just say that the Issaquah Highlands would not appeal to me. If I was going to live farther out I would definitely want more space (i.e. a yard).

    By the way, seeing as how you live in the highlands, do you have any insights as to why so many of the homes are for sale? Is this just the normal volume of listings?

    I wonder if the builders have been increasing prices on newer units recently?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  24. Shaq

    “By the way, seeing as how you live in the highlands, do you have any insights as to why so many of the homes are for sale? Is this just the normal volume of listings?”

    Of course not. The precise reason for the number of homes for sale is the housing bubble (payment shock, “investor” properties” etc.) I post on a community forum for IH and let’s just say that the people on there are totally Panglossian and are in for a rude awakening. For awhile, I was persona non grata on there because I would not let them get away with their relentless RE cheerleading. Some of the residents are realtors, and anytime they would start their spiel, I would smack them down (becomingly increasingly vicious because I feel like their advice is paid too much attention by the uninformed, and thus the consequences are potentially big.)

    My continual question to the residents is: Now that you’ve bought your IH property in March of 2007 on the advice of your realtor that “now is a great time to buy”, in which format will he/she be rebating back to you the enormous mark-to-market loss you have now taken?

    The vast majority of the properties up there are back to late 2005 prices, if not worse.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  25. NotaBull

    “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I live there and think it’s great (last place I lived before IH was in Belltown and then NYC before that.) The homes are dense, but that’s everywhere.”

    That’s the point, it isn’t everywhere. You live in a city that has significantly less density than your particular location. Most areas in Issaquah have average lot sizes of .25 acres and Klahanie and similar areas are lots perhaps half that size. IH, on the other hand, has taken the density to a local extreme.

    “I like it because the commute is easy on I-90; I work in downtown Seattle and feel like that’s very close, but I can also start hiking Mount Si in 20 minutes if I want to. A 3 minute drive puts me on I-90, yet we often remark how it feels almost like we live in the country. We see deer and bears fairly frequently. It’s quiet at night. There are parks all throughout the development that are very kid friendly, many with awesome views. (My house is actually on a park, but I can also walk to 5 others in 5 minutes or less.) ”

    All these things are true for pretty much every house in Issaquah, with the exception of parks. Areas like Klahanie also have parks. I live in Sammamish – there are many parks. I don’t have kids, but if I did I would be more than happy with the park situation here.

    I think you may be trying to justify your decision based on positive factors which are also present in most other locations in Issaquah or surrounding areas. If you like the area, that’s great, but based on my own experience of showing people the area it appeals to a very small minority of buyers.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  26. Shaq

    I’ve seen plenty of the neighborhoods in Issaquah/Sammamish and IMO they are not of the same “planned community” variety. They tend to be more of the stereotype of the “isolated suburb”. I personally would not live in Klahanie and I don’t think of it as a very similar development to IH.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  27. Sniglet

    I personally would not live in Klahanie and I don’t think of it as a very similar development to IH.

    I am glad you like the IH. I guess it just isn’t for everyone.

    Back to my earlier question though: why are so many places for sale up there?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  28. Shaq

    Please see my answer to that above.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  29. NotaBull

    “The precise reason for the number of homes for sale is the housing bubble (payment shock, “investor” properties” etc.)”

    So you’re saying that IH has *more* payment shock and/or investor properties than the rest of Issaquah, which is why there are more properties for sale as a proportion of the overall housing stock?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  30. jcricket

    I am glad you like the IH. I guess it just isn’t for everyone.

    I have the same reaction to IH – why live so “far out” if you’re not going to truly get space. But we have really close friends that moved there. For the wife, the “newness” of it was super appealing (she comes from Mexico, and doesn’t equate old houses with anything but being rundown). Plus there are lots of families like theirs around.

    It really is a case of “to each their own”. Some people would never live in a condo (my parents, for example) – too much feeling of “shared space” or being “closed in”. Other people think owning a SFH is ridiculous (maintaining everything yourself, etc).

    And to answer Tim’s question, I don’t think of the gas price articles as being particularly literal. They may be written that way, but they’re indicative of a trend. Just like the articles about people trading in their gas guzzling SUVs. It’s not about reporting on the facts behind it (for better or worse), but on what it indicates about how people are feeling. Just like the whole notion of “consumer confidence”.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  31. Shaq

    It certainly would not surprise me. I suppose part of it could be that people are tired of waiting for the big retail development to show up.

    By which % more would you see the IH listings exceed the rest of the area?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  32. NotaBull

    “I’ve seen plenty of the neighborhoods in Issaquah/Sammamish and IMO they are not of the same “planned community” variety. They tend to be more of the stereotype of the “isolated suburb”. I personally would not live in Klahanie and I don’t think of it as a very similar development to IH.”

    It may not be similar, but it seems to have a lot of the things you said you liked about IH. Obviously, everyone has their preference and IH is yours – that’s fine by me.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  33. NotaBull

    “And to answer Tim’s question, I don’t think of the gas price articles as being particularly literal. They may be written that way, but they’re indicative of a trend. Just like the articles about people trading in their gas guzzling SUVs. It’s not about reporting on the facts behind it (for better or worse), but on what it indicates about how people are feeling. Just like the whole notion of “consumer confidence”.”

    I don’t think it is like the articles about people trading in their SUVs. In that case, you have actual statistics across the entire industry. You have people saying there are X% more SUVs traded in than this time last year, and Y months of inventory compared to Z months last year. Prices are A% down, etc. Of course, those articles are always littered with anecdotes too. Perhaps we’ll speak with “Bob” who couldn’t trade in his Ford Expedition.

    The difference with these articles is that it’s ALL anecdote and no statistics/facts. Because it’s hard to get facts for this, it’s “ok” to just use anecdotes and to speak with real estate agents. Because we all know that real estate agents are good at predicting the future. :)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  34. Yaoyao

    I looked at IH in 2003 and had the same feeling about it occupies in a forgotten corner of the space-urban tradeoff continuum. But to each its own, at least it was new shiny and comparatively cheaper than urban equivalent.

    softwareengineer: where do we get arsenic level data for different areas? thanks

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  35. Dave

    Not meaning to be a troll but I think this coudl stimulate some discussion. I apologize if I offend – it certainly was nto my intent.

    I’ve got to say Issaquah Highlands reminded me of the Truman show or an oldie version of the twilight zone/stepford wives.

    Shaq – you realize you live in a “gated community” right? If the roads going to it are 40-50 mph roads and there are no sidewalks going to the community it is essentally a gated community, right? It may not have the walls but inaccessibility is as much of a gate as a physical wall. I didn’t see any economic integration (and I’ve been there a couple of times) whatsoever and hardly any racial integration of many separate groups of people – ususally economically disadvantaged people.

    I thought my buddy’s place in Sammamish was pretty monochromatic – but IH makes his place look like an urban center.

    Seriously – what’s it like living there?
    Dave

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  36. B&W Nikes

    I agree that “home prices will fall more in the further out suburbs and less in the close-in neighborhoods.” Tim is still totally right in pointing out that gas prices are the sole correlation leading us there is incomplete at best. Are gas prices driving up rents in town by themselves? Probably not, but rents are going up much more quickly than they have in the last 5 years – we are leaving our apartment of 5 years and the rent is going to be raised about 20% for the tenants following us. I haven’t seen that much of a turnover increase since the tech bubble.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  37. Shaq

    “I have the same reaction to IH – why live so “far out” if you’re not going to truly get space. ”

    For the same $ amount versus a place in Seattle, you DO get a lot more space. Your house is bigger and you do have a yard. Perhaps living in New York so long affects my evaluation of it. i.e. I lived AND worked in Manhattan and my commute was still 1.5 to 2X as long as my commute from IH to Seattle. Like I said – it feels like I live in the country, yet my commute is ~25 one way. Not a bad trade-off.

    IH is definitely all new construction – which I like, so I guess to some people that seems “Truman Show” or “Stepford wives”. To me, it looks crisp and clean and new.

    Re “gated community”: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. There are sidewalks and trails all over the place in IH (both intra and inter) There are no gates. And the main road has a speed limit of 30MPH going down to 25MPH.

    Re economic integration: again, not sure what you are talking about or looking for. There are rental apartment complexes on up to $2M + view homes. The moms in my 15 month olds playgroup belong to all groups except the $2M.

    Re racial integration: again, not sure what you are talking about or how you could possibly know enough to render this assessment. My kid’s weekly play circle includes: Indians, Egyptians, Africans, moslems, Jews, Christians and atheists. At 15 months he has already eaten home-cooked ethnic cuisine of these varieties and more purely due to the relationships formed from living in IH. What’s more, I live on a cul-de-sac that features: whites, Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and gays. Now, are any of them poor, no. But that’s not a negative. (They are adding a HUGE Section 8 housing piece right down by the Park and Ride.)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  38. b

    Snoqualmie Ridge and Issaquah Highlands have the following makeup:

    – 90% investors, people buying for 2 years to “move up”, etc
    – 10% people who want to live there for more than 2 years

    These are perfect investor chocolatebox communities, and also perfect for people who had to “drive until you buy” and never had any intention of staying past the capital gains tax window. They remind me very much of the sprawling high density developments built here in Silicon Valley, often way away from the job centers. Areas like Stockton are filled with them, and now have foreclosure rates that are insane (like 50%) and highest in the country. Very very few people really /wanted/ to live there long term, most bought because they were peer pressured or were investors.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  39. Shaq

    Exaggerate much?

    Investor chocolatebox? IH was started 10 years ago and has had residents since then. It’s much more community oriented than any other place I’ve ever lived.

    Some of you people need to STFU until you become less ignorant. You’re making yourselves look as bad as the bubble-deniers.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  40. NotaBull

    “Re racial integration: again, not sure what you are talking about or how you could possibly know enough to render this assessment. My kid’s weekly play circle includes: Indians, Egyptians, Africans, moslems, Jews, Christians and atheists. At 15 months he has already eaten home-cooked ethnic cuisine of these varieties and more purely due to the relationships formed from living in IH. What’s more, I live on a cul-de-sac that features: whites, Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and gays. Now, are any of them poor, no. But that’s not a negative. (They are adding a HUGE Section 8 housing piece right down by the Park and Ride.)”

    Read this.

    http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/02/22/73-gentrification/

    Remember, you live on the Eastside. There are only white people there, and you are not experiencing true culture. :)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  41. Dave

    Hi Shaq;

    Okay – I stand corrected. No offense meant. It did not appear very diverse – but then again i don’t live there. Proabably not racial segregated – though certainly economically segregated. The times I was there I saw people of caucasian, South Asian (India), or SE Asian backgorunds. – and nothing else. It looked more like Canada than any other place in the States I’ve seen (Canada has a history which is the primary cause for that – I can expand if anyone wants that). I’m glad the area is more diverse than what I saw.

    But i was curious about this comment:

    “Now, are any of them poor, no. But that’s not a negative.”

    Is not economic stratifcation a bad thing? The section 8 housing is a good step – have they broken ground yet?

    I have to say that IH left a bad taste in my mouth. It gave me a very strong isolationist/exclusionary vibe of the “we’ll take care of our own and let the rest of the area rot” type that I have seen in other areas of the country. Much stronger that the North Seattle/South Seattle thing we see over here.

    Anyways Shaq – not criticizing – but I wanted to ask someone who lives there. Sociologically and psychologically it is an intersting place. We can discuss it more if you wish.

    Dave

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  42. b

    Shaq –

    Give me a break, I used to live in Issaquah proper not very long ago. The highlands was the glimmer in someones eye maybe 10 years ago, but the initial plan when they actually started to level the place and build the new I-90 offramps was to create another Klahanie/Lakemont type of development. Meaning, large detached homes on normal sized lots spread over a huge space and built in many phases. It wasn’t until the bubble heated up in 2003 that the developers decided to build a bajillion high density homes on 1/4th the original land size and charge the same price. Sorry if you bought into it, but the sea of for sale signs and for rent listings on Craigslist in that development and Snoqualmie Ridge shows you its mostly inhabited by investors. I predict it will be a ghost town for a while and the future phases stalled indefinitely, similar to Montlake and the early 90’s RE implosion. That development was not high density, but sat with paved and lit roads for nearly 10 years before actually filling back up.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  43. Shaq

    I know everyone has their preferences, and that’s fine. I just don’t like the level of ignorance that’s being displayed here. I still don’t know what you meant by “gated community”.

    Re economic stratification: no, I don’t think it’s bad. I think it exists and that it is not static. (i.e. I come from a low strat and have moved higher and hope to move higher still.) I choose not to live in White Center for a reason. But what nicer neighborhood (even with the profligate financing of recent years) is not going to be stratified?

    In any event, it’s a safe, open, cheerful environment with lots of green areas. I don’t know where all this venom is coming from everyone.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  44. Dave

    Regarding IH – wasn’t the original plan turfed in 2002 and 2003 when Microsoft canned the expansion over there at that point? Are they still going over there? I stopped paying attention when I moved out of Issaquah.

    Dave

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  45. b

    Here is some further reading, Shaq. It looks like I stand corrected, it was actually a “compromise” between King County and the developer which lead to the high density mess of the IH. Although I am sure the developer shed crocodile tears at the thought of spending significantly less money to make the same amount in home prices.

    The Warjones’ initial plan had been to spread 4,750 homes and 1.8 million square feet of commercial space over 2,250 acres of timberland once owned by Burlington Northern.

    In a compromise worked out between the developer and then-King County Executive Gary Locke, Port Blakely agreed to trim its scheme to 3,250 “living units” and to squeeze them into just 490 acres, all on the urban side of the county’s new line.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  46. Shaq

    What does turfed mean?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  47. Dave

    Sorry – cancelled/put on indefinate hold = turfed.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  48. Shaq

    Then, no, it was not turfed at that time.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  49. Bill

    Generally I don’t agree with the posts here, but I have to agree on this one. I think people are blowing the cost of gas way out of proportion at least in this regard to where they live.

    Not that I’m typical, but I’m not that atypical either. I live in N Seattle and I commute to the eastside daily (as a previous post cites, not all jobs are downtown, I just wish they were *grin*). This is a 20-mile commute each way. I have a decently efficient car (not a Prius, but not a Suburban). A $2 increase in gas prices, say from $2.50/gallon (which people would kill for) to say, $4.50/gallon is about the equivalent to me buying a grande mocha at Starbucks every workday (not even everyday, just 5 days a week). I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that do this. So those folks looking to move because of high gas prices should just get the free coffee at work and all their problems will be solved. :)

    Of course, that being said I think the suburbs are a bad thing in general and love the fact that we’ve voluntarily decided to curb development into areas where cougars and bears feast on your pets and then are looked at as the enemy. Seattle needs more density in order for mass transit to succeed especially well and therefore welcome folks to move from Kirkland to the city limits for whatever their reasons may be.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  50. Bella

    Oh yeah, the other thing is, even though traditionally jobs are assumed to be “permanent”, these days, many people often only work at a specific location for a few years before moving on. it doesn’t make much sense to base where you live solely on traveling to work, because many people will move on to a new job, or new job site before they want to sell their home.

    So if you were living in Issaquah, and decided you better move downtown so you could walk to work, what’s going to happen if you get laid off, or voluntarily change jobs to one in say, Redmond?

    Then you’ve paid (more than likely) quite a bit more for your home, only to go back to a long commute that is still going to cost you in gas if you choose to drive.

    I don’t know, the whole price of gas argument doesn’t make much sense to me relative to choosing where to live.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  51. NotaBull

    “I have to say that IH left a bad taste in my mouth. It gave me a very strong isolationist/exclusionary vibe of the “we’ll take care of our own and let the rest of the area rot” type that I have seen in other areas of the country. Much stronger that the North Seattle/South Seattle thing we see over here.”

    It left a weird taste in my mouth too, but I think that’s just because I don’t like the new construction high density thing too much. To each his/her own.

    The thing about the North Seattle/South Seattle thing is that people on the nice/north side get to talk about how they’d never live in South Seattle, but they get to benefit from the census data of the south because it’s all the same city.

    So whenever you hear someone from Greenlake saying “Seattle is much more diverse than Bellevue”, they’re not lying when you look at the census data. They just happen to live in an area that’s “nice”, but benefit from all the poor and/or brown people in the other area of town they’ll never go to. Unfortunately for those that live in Bellevue they don’t get such similar statistical trickery as they don’t have a crappy area of town to help them gain moral superiority at dinner parties.

    Some very quick research indicates that Bellevue, WA is 72% white whereas ZIP code 98103 (Wallingford/Greenlake) is 85% white. OMG, everyone in Wallingford is racist because they don’t live around enough non-whites! I lived in Wallingford at one point and didn’t feel racist, but maybe I was?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  52. NotaBull

    “Of course, that being said I think the suburbs are a bad thing in general and love the fact that we’ve voluntarily decided to curb development into areas where cougars and bears feast on your pets and then are looked at as the enemy. Seattle needs more density in order for mass transit to succeed especially well and therefore welcome folks to move from Kirkland to the city limits for whatever their reasons may be.”

    Kirkland *is* a city. Seattle used to have cougars and bears before they built it.

    Why not encourage companies to set up in Kirkland? Didn’t google or Yahoo or somebody open an office in Kirkland? Maybe we should direct all their employees to live in the city of Seattle in North Ballard?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  53. Angie

    The thing about the North Seattle/South Seattle thing is that people on the nice/north side get to talk about how they’d never live in South Seattle, but they get to benefit from the census data of the south because it’s all the same city.

    People who think north Seattle is “nice” and south Seattle is not have usually never been to south Seattle.

    Drive through Mount Baker, Lakewood, and Seward Park and tell me they’re not as “nice” as anywhere in the north end. Certainly put middlebrow neighborhoods like Lake City, Greenwood, Crown Hill and north Green Lake to shame. Probably on par with the froofier parts of Wedgewood, not quite as highfalutin’ as Madison Park (though there are pockets of Mt. Baker and Seward that are extremely tony)

    As far as I’ve seen the shabbiest parts of the Rainier Valley and Georgetown are about as shabby as anything up on the wastelands of N. Aurora. The only difference is that the people in the Valley are more likely to have brown skin than the ones up by Aurora and 130th. Draw what conclusion you will.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  54. Shaq

    “Sorry if you bought into it, but the sea of for sale signs and for rent listings on Craigslist in that development and Snoqualmie Ridge shows you its mostly inhabited by investors.”

    Mostly? Again, exaggerate much? What % of units would you say are currently up for sale?

    “I predict it will be a ghost town for a while and the future phases stalled indefinitely”

    I predict your predictions are wild-eyed. (And I’m one of the most ferocious real estate bears out there.)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  55. Jen

    Many people are willing to pay a premium to live “closer in.” As gas starts to close the gap between what it costs to live in the suburbs and what it costs to live in Seattle, I think it’s natural to see more people considering houses in-city. Obviously, there will still be a premium for this lifestyle, but as gas goes up, that premium goes down.

    Keep in mind that many families have 2+ people commuting. My parents (live in Sammamish) pay around $700/month in gas, which is a significant amount of $.

    I doubt gas is the **only** factor people would consider making a move, but I don’t see why you’re so opposed to it being a factor at all.

    Also, homes in town are often smaller and carry fewer energy costs, have better access to public transport, etc. We pay very little to heat our 2-bedroom house and spend very little on gas each month. Sure–we could probably get a bigger home for the money in Lynnwood, but why would we want to?

    Like someone else pointed out in a prior post, generally people establish a buying range and then prioritize. We knew what we wanted to spend and the choice b/w a smaller house in Ravenna or a bigger house in Lynnwood (or similar) was clear.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  56. jcricket

    Because we all know that real estate agents are good at predicting the future. :)

    Yep, I 100% agree that the RE professionals are pretty one-sided in which statistics they look at when gauging the future. Sounds like another group of people I know :-)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  57. Laura

    Does nobody have kids here??

    I commented on this article driectly tot he writer specifying that the couple she chose to write about DID NOT HAVE KIDS.

    Had they had kids they would have not moved into the Seattle School District.

    Another reason people commute long distances is for better education for their children. The good schools unfortunately are not in the city’s center. We live in Ravenna and my son still is not getting a good public school education!

    Parents who care about their children want them in safer neighborhoods with other families and good schools. And will sacrifice the commute times or higher gas bills.

    We’re moving – and our commutes are about to triple. But my children need a better place to grow up.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  58. Ira Sacharoff

    Angie,
    i couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s a whole lot of people out there who are so dismissive of the south end, but in all likelihood have never been there, and this “superiority” complex is not new, it’s been here for as long as I have, at least.
    And the thing is, there are really nice houses in really nice neighborhoods in the south end, but some people, who have never been to Seward Park, only want to live on Greenlake.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  59. Civil Servant

    Another hat tip for Angie. More than once I’ve wanted to make a similar point to people in my approximate age/income/political demographic who say that their preference for Greenlake/Ballard/Phinney has everything to do with feeling just so comfortable there because of all the “people/families like us.” Oh really now — *do* go on. This rationale seems especially suspect in light of the fact that the schools in these neighborhoods have middling reputations. When people ask me what neighborhoods we’re considering to buy in and I name the same ones Angie does, I am no longer surprised to get a pitying look in return.

    I’ve never understood Ballardmania. Especially on weekends it just takes forever to get into or out of there, and Metro service is truly a cut below.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  60. Bits_of_Real_Panther

    Georgetown is just a couple of industrial plant closures away from being the best real estate value in town

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  61. kim

    I was just up on the Issaquah Highlands today. I felt charmed by the curvy walkways, gazebos, parks, rock features … at the same time seeing the flood of For Sale signs. I recalled that high density communities don’t work for people’s psyche, in general, especially in the long run. People just need space…and green. So, hopefully greed doesn’t get the better of the developers (and county) to cram in more volume in an already tight environment. I was impressed with a couple of knock-off house designs. (Brownstone, log lodge-style, dutch and craftsman). And I think this area can be saved still just by spacing out the last of the planned developments. It already has wonderful amenities. I like the newness feel of the area.
    My end conclusion to all of the signs is from the headache this last winter had on people trying to drive up that long (long if you are driving on ice) hill to get home! It seemed that every night on the news, there were more spin outs and problems reported here than anywhere else. We had a lot of snow and freezing that would make this a challenge for residents, and it dragged on. Not to mention that this area does attract a certain kind of resident. This area has a youthful feel. Possibly a younger buyer would opt for an arm type loan more easily and they have begun to expire en mass.
    It bothered me that it may be busy in the commuting tmes, a bit noisy and not as much privacy at these times.
    It being reminiscent of a big brother controlled community is a little amusing to me, but understandable.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  62. Seattle Bubble • Here Comes the Gas Prices Discussion Again

    [...] from Beating a Dead Horse: Gas Prices I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of convincing reasons to want to live [...]

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

Do you want a nifty avatar picture next to your name, instead of a photograph of Tim's dog? Just sign up with Gravatar, and make sure to use the same email address in the form below. It's that easy!

Please read the rules before posting a comment.

You have 4 comments remaining on this post.

Archives

Find us on Google+