Posted by: Timothy Ellis (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.

74 responses to “Seattle Times Really Wants You to Buy a House (or a Condo)”

  1. Hector

    Sorry, a little OT Tim, but it’s still relevant. We’re always hammering away at the local RE’s, but it’s time we pull RE/MAX into that circle. Has anyone see the latest add? If not, here’s a link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSTdelX3_gU

    According to them, there has never been a better time to buy than now, and I am assuming they are broadcasting that nationally. What’s in the juice they are drinking?.

    This ties into the latest mortgage news about applications “surging” 32%, a headline attempting to induce people to buy, but it isn’t until you read the article that you find 78.5% of all applications were re-fi’s.

    It gets better, later in the article “Leif Thomsen, chief executive of Mortgage Master in Walpole, Massachusetts, said his company is doing more business now than every before, with just over $1 billion in total mortgage lending since the beginning of the year, 85 percent of which has been in refinancing.”

    “The housing market is coming back, but not roaring back,” he said. “We have gone from a crawl to a brisk walk and we will still have to navigate some pitfalls before we are able to get running again.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29875544/

    Coming back? If only 15% of your applications (50% of which were likely denied), how does that constituate a comeback?

    Is it that difficult for these people to be realistic? I guess that all ties into your statement about this phantom pent-up demand that they are all expecting in which buyers will become so desperate they will eventually give in and pay the unrealistic prices that over-mortgaged folks are asking.

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  2. Kary L. Krismer

    By Hector @ 1:

    This ties into the latest mortgage news about applications “surging” 32%, a headline attempting to induce people to buy, but it isn’t until you read the article that you find 78.5% of all applications were re-fi’s.

    Reading the article wasn’t really necessary to know that most of the activity was refinancing. The government is trying to get people to refinance by driving interest rates down. It’s apparently working.

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  3. Kary L. Krismer

    As to the second article, with the job loss guarantee program, I’d be curious what that really does for anyone, over simply getting a single loan? Let’s say you lose your job. You’re still going to have to return the property, so effectively it’s a deed in lieu transaction. Maybe Jillayne or Rhonda could comment, but I wonder how much better off someone is down the road with a deed in lieu versus a foreclosure?

    Also, if you happen to get a judgment entered against you prior to returning the property, they’re probably going to have to foreclose in any event to get clear title. So what’s been gained?

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  4. Mike2

    Downtown prices for a view of a park-and-ride lot. How could that not be tempting?

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  5. Cheap South

    During the bubble years, the industry borrowed demand from the future by offering ridiculous dangerous financing.

    This sentence says so much.

    But wait; now is backfiring in 2 ways. Foreclosures are putting yesterday’s units back in the market and those ex-owners will be forced out of the game for 7 years (cutting today’s demand).

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  6. Hector

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 2:

    By Hector @ 1:
    This ties into the latest mortgage news about applications “surging” 32%, a headline attempting to induce people to buy, but it isn’t until you read the article that you find 78.5% of all applications were re-fi’s.

    Reading the article wasn’t really necessary to know that most of the activity was refinancing. The government is trying to get people to refinance by driving interest rates down. It’s apparently working.

    Did you read the article, or are you arguing just for the sake of arguing?

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  7. Kary L. Krismer

    I just realized that was a front page article! Wow. Must be a slow news day.

    On page 4 there’s an article about bankruptcy that claims that currently you can’t discharge credit card debt in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. I don’t know where these reporters get such bad information, other than perhaps from reading other news reports.

    The quality of reporting in this country is really pathetic.

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  8. Kary L. Krismer

    By Hector @ 6:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 2:
    By Hector @ 1:
    This ties into the latest mortgage news about applications “surging” 32%, a headline attempting to induce people to buy, but it isn’t until you read the article that you find 78.5% of all applications were re-fi’s.

    Reading the article wasn’t really necessary to know that most of the activity was refinancing. The government is trying to get people to refinance by driving interest rates down. It’s apparently working.

    Did you read the article, or are you arguing just for the sake of arguing?

    I’m saying I knew that before reading the article. Well not the exact percentage, but it’s not shocking news. We’ve known for a long time that refinancing activity is high. It’s what I would have expected.

    Stated differently, from reading the headline I knew what they were talking about.

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  9. Hector

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 8:

    By Hector @ 6:
    By Kary L. Krismer @ 2:
    By Hector @ 1:
    This ties into the latest mortgage news about applications “surging” 32%, a headline attempting to induce people to buy, but it isn’t until you read the article that you find 78.5% of all applications were re-fi’s.

    Reading the article wasn’t really necessary to know that most of the activity was refinancing. The government is trying to get people to refinance by driving interest rates down. It’s apparently working.

    Did you read the article, or are you arguing just for the sake of arguing?

    I’m saying I knew that before reading the article. Well not the exact percentage, but it’s not shocking news. We’ve known for a long time that refinancing activity is high. It’s what I would have expected.

    Stated differently, from reading the headline I knew what they were talking about.

    I see, but what I’m trying to say is that Times isn’t the only outlet using flashy headlines and industry pro quotes such as:

    Mortgage Master, to keep up with sales, has hired over 100 people in the past 90 days alone, Thomsen said.

    “There are some fantastic deals out there and as more people begin to realize that, competition will come back and drive a significant amount of activity,” he said.

    to encourage people (ie the non-RE pro’s) to get into the market.

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  10. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Hector @ 9 – I don’t like those type of quotes either. I don’t really consider that type of information news.

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  11. DaveyDave

    Ahhh, sorry. Here is a decidedly downbeat article from Bloomberg on this rainy morning. They clearly did not get the memo about writing news with the proper tone.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aRhTT4MNBjlM&refer=home

    Here is a quote.

    The median price for an existing, single-family detached home in California sank to $247,590 in February from $418,260 a year earlier, the Los Angeles-based group said in a statement. The U.S. median price fell 16 percent during the same period, the second-biggest drop on record, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    And for you Kary, another one regarding the applicability of median price comparisons:

    “The median, for all its imperfections, tells a really interesting tale right now,” Andrew LePage, an analyst at research firm MDA DataQuick, said in an interview. “It tells you what is and what is not selling. What’s selling right now is foreclosures.”

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  12. DaveyDave

    Continuing with Bloomberg, here’s a video of a David Crowe interview, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. To be honest, there is nothing mind blowing presented here and if your time is short, I wouldn’t take the time to watch it. What struck me though, was how relatively honest this guy was in his interview responses regarding housing demand, housing supply, potential for a housing recovery, etc. If this was Lawrence Yun, he would have been seen in his pleated skirt cheerleader outfit…
    http://www.bloomberg.com/avp/avp.htm?N=av&T=David%20Crowe%20Sees%20Pent-Up%20Housing%20Demand%2C%20%60Mild'%20Recovery&clipSRC=mms://media2.bloomberg.com/cache/vV66dF0Iiq7I.asf
    If somehow this link doesn’t function, it can be accessed on Bloomberg’s home page.

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  13. Joel

    I noticed since a few years ago that homebuilders in general were much more honest about their numbers and pessimistic about the near future. I think the reason is that they’re angling for a bailout.

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  14. DavidB

    Did any of the local papers cover the Case Shiller data that was released yesterday? I haven’t seen a single article written on it. I went to the S&P website to see the data so I could see the price changes for Seattle relative to the nation.

    I heard a report on the radio that discussed the MLS numbers released on Monday. They said sales were up in the West and said that the “West” covers 11 states but they didn’t talk about Seattle at all.

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  15. DaveyDave

    RE: DavidB @ 14 – I read something they were due out yesterday, but that was in error. They come out the last Tuesday of the month, I believe, and that’s the 31st — next Tuesday…

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  16. DaveyDave

    RE: DavidB @ 14 – And also about the y/y sales increase for February, the Bloomberg article referenced @11 above also indicated a large increase in sales for CA. That was due to foreclosures… Here’s another quote from the same article:

    The California price drop led to an 83 percent increase in the number of houses sold in February from a year earlier, the state association said. The number of existing, single-family detached homes sold jumped to 620,410 on an annualized basis, up from 338,970 a year earlier. Sales dropped 0.8 percent from January.

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  17. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: DavidB @ 14 – If you go to their main page you can see that the December data was released February 24, November January 27, etc.. So at best, Case-Shiller is just under 2 months behind, and at worst just under 3 months behind.

    http://www2.standardandpoors.com/portal/site/sp/en/us/page.topic/indices_csmahp/0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1,1,0,0,0,0,0.html

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  18. Groundhogday

    I had two different individuals ask me yesterday whether I was getting ready to buy since housing prices in Pullman had “crashed.” Really, down 10% after prices doubled over 4 years is a crash? Both just heard from their realtors (they are recent homebuyers) that this was a great time to buy now that the local market had bottomed out. These folks just don’t give up, do they? Up until 6 months ago, they adamantly denied that there was a bubble in Pullman, and then overnight we’ve crashed and hit bottom.

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  19. Boyflux

    I live a block away from Northgate, and Mike2 @ 4 has it exactly right. It’s not an interesting enough neighborhood to warrant that kind of $/sf price. If you read up on Thornton Creek, it’s a mixed use community with Condos, “Luxury” apartments, and senior living (I believe). It sits next to the mall, which is frankly the consumerist epicenter of Northgate. Any one that’s been to Northgate knows it’s not exactly a happening neighborhood outside the mall. It’s not NW Market in Ballard, it’s not Upper Queen Anne, it’s not Greenlake, etc. It’s a mix of commuter neighborhood and consumer convenience – sounds good in theory, but just not that lively or attractive in reality.

    I mean, even Hjarta and Canal Station have dropped and are starting at 377-430 /sf in what IMO is a nicer neighborhood. The only unit I found at TC on Redfin is at $459 /sf (370k for 805 sf, 1/1). Add to that the HOA dues at $291 a month, and it really makes sense that they’re having trouble selling.

    Also, FWIW, the “planned” communities like this in West Palm Beach, where I moved from, went from $250k entry level to $200k in the two years that I was there. Checking in now, shows that the place I’m specifically referencing has entry level units at 100k.

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  20. Ray Pepper
  21. singliac

    RE: DaveyDave @ 15

    I read that too. I hit refresh about a billion times yesterday waiting for some news here. I think it was Aubrey’s article that had the wrong date. Oops. I’m always so excited for the Case-Shiller numbers. Much more fun than looking at your 401K each month.

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  22. Dave

    Add to that you can pick up a two bd/one bath house with a good sized lot (for seattle) for 330-340 k and dropping.

    I overpaid by about 100k on a two bedroom house (1500 sqft) in 2007 (oh well) but 300k for a 600 sq foot condo next to a parking lot surrounded by retirees and gang bangers? really?

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  23. PhinneyDawg

    I can attest to the rise in applications for mortgages being largely a product of refi’s, as I just completed one. We now have a 30 year fixed at 5.0%, from a 10 year interest only/ 20 year interest and principle at 6.5%. A savings of $110,000+ over the life of the loan.

    I’d love to cram down the principle (we bought in December ’07 in Phinney with the intent of living there for 15+ years) but I have to suck it up and accept the prospect of 10 years of negative equity. Love our house though, so I can’t say I regret it at all. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

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  24. Slumlord

    I agree that the Times’ real estate promotion is a disservice to the community. I also think that the Blethen family and the writers have a rational need to appeal to their biggest advertisers, and that means promoting real estate. Do I think this will save newspapers as a dying industry? No. However, it will probably buy them a little more time.

    One thing I like about this blog is that most people here rely on multiple sources of information. Anyone suckered by the bias of a single newspaper deserves what they get.

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  25. patient

    By Cheap South @ 5:

    During the bubble years, the industry borrowed demand from the future by offering ridiculous dangerous financing.

    This sentence says so much.

    But wait; now is backfiring in 2 ways. Foreclosures are putting yesterday’s units back in the market and those ex-owners will be forced out of the game for 7 years (cutting today’s demand).

    I agree, the pent-up demand will come from foreclosed ex-owners and with foreclosures just starting to build around here it is years out before we’ll see any significant release of that. And these people will be very,very careful with what they pay.

    There is however a large potential demand to unleash and that is current renters which is about 40% of the US population. But for sellers and agents to dip into that pot of gold prices needs to come down a lot from todays levels. I think California and Florida is starting to get their feet wet in this pool with their foreclosure prices.

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  26. Lake Hills Renter

    By Groundhogday @ 19:

    Really, down 10% after prices doubled over 4 years is a crash?

    That’s what gets me. The house I rent in Lake Hills literally doubled in value (according to Zillow anyway) in 4 years, and now that prices are down ~15% everyone freaks out. My heart f-ing breaks.

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  27. patient

    By Lake Hills Renter @ 27:

    By Groundhogday @ 19:
    Really, down 10% after prices doubled over 4 years is a crash?

    That’s what gets me. The house I rent in Lake Hills literally doubled in value (according to Zillow anyway) in 4 years, and now that prices are down ~15% everyone freaks out. My heart f-ing breaks.

    That’s beacuse with zero down a 15% decline is crushing many of these owners. So with the logic that it can’t possible be that they made a bad investment they instead make the conclusion that we must be at the bottom of this unfair and unfounded “crash” driven be evil doers on blogs that wishes harm to come to others.

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  28. Slumlord

    RE: patient @ 28

    A lot of the complaining comes across to me as whining from a society that conditions individuals to see themselves as victims. Perhaps adjusting to a more constrained economy will teach some personal responsibility. As an investor, I too have taken a beating recently. It is a hard pill to swallow, but no one is responsible for this other than me.

    Hopefully, the housing bust will help people see themselves as citizens and not just consumers. Maybe then, our society can mature enough to deal with the disruptions to our lives that the next oil price spike will bring. Declining house prices are just the beginnings of our future problems.

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  29. Groundhogday

    RE: patient @ 28

    Home values shoot up: I’m a terribly smart investor.
    Home values fall: I’m unlucky.

    A very common lack of symmetry.

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  30. softwarengineer

    THE 8% SEATTLE AREA UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS HALF-SIZE AND EXCLUDES GIVE UPS AND UNDEREMPLOYED

    In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area, the post 1998 halfsize unemployment rate rose from 6.7 percent to 7.8 percent. But this is totally deceptive and doesn’t capture the true pre-1998 method of unemployment calculation that the 17% Great Depression unemployment in our history books references [or that we current compare to]. We’re clearly kidding ourselves. See the proof in part from the BLS data base:

    Feb. Jan. Feb. Feb. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb.
    2008 2009 2009 2008 2008 2008 2008 2009 2009

    U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached
    workers, plus total employed part time for
    economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian
    labor force plus all marginally attached workers.. 9.5 15.4 16.0 9.0 12.0 12.6 13.5 13.9 14.8

    The rest of the BLS URL:

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm

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  31. David Losh

    The first time buyer article this Sunday was shocking. Sorry she paid too much for a questionable location.

    Speaking of location the Northgate development was the last set of community meeting I went to. Of all the things that could have been done with the South Parking lot they chose what would do the most damage to the area and environment. That set of buildings is a monument to greed.

    Simon Properties purchased from a greedy old man then promised they could push the project through city permitting. They did it with threats. What we got was a few facades and over priced housing units.

    The developers are blaming the delay in permitting on the creek, which they should. There should be a 200 foot buffer from the creek, there is not.

    Our city council will kill anybody any time if they can get a campaign contribution.

    It’s just shocking what people will do to one another. Responsibility? How about morals. How about one person doing what is right for another?

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  32. Slumlord

    RE: The Tim @ 31

    Tim,

    I like your idea. When do you plan to run for office?

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  33. Herman

    RE: The Tim @ 31 – I thought that party was called the Libertarians.

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  34. Herman

    Can someone remind me how to calculate the rent vs. buy multiple? And what the historical ratio is?

    I’m seeing a lot of high end homes listed for sale on the MLS and also for rent on craigslist. $850k buy vs. $3200/mo rent. $1.25M buy, $3600/mo rent.

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  35. Slumlord

    RE: David Losh @ 33

    David,

    I’m speaking from memory here, so I could be wrong. Thornton Creek was previously in a culvert under the parking lot. In cases where there is severe existing damage to the habitat — which was certainly the situation at Northgate — it is possible to negotiate smaller than normal buffers in exchange for improving the habitat. It is a common practice in urban areas and I think that the developer of Thornton Place did this.

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  36. Slumlord

    RE: Herman @ 35

    Herman,

    I sometimes vote for Libertarians out of spite for our political duopoly. On foreign policy, the L’s are usually spot on. With local issues, especially land use, they would allow individuals to destroy the very things that make living in a community worthwhile. I could never be an enthusiastic supporter of the L’s. In my opinion, we need a party that emphasizes both personal responsibility and responsibility to society. Libertarians only seem to get the first part.

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  37. David Losh

    RE: Slumlord @ 37

    Yes it was culverted and yes the developer circumvented the Army Corps of Engineers recommendations. The State had culverted for the freeway, but private land ownership has stewardship responsibilities. Once the creek was day lighted it should have been given the same consideration it has on the other side of 5th Avenue.

    A park would have been a better use of the property, the city could have made that happen. The problem is as varied as the reasons brought up here today. It’s a mish mash of mixed use without proper infrastructure. How’s the traffic flow going to work? What about pedestrian passage? all questions brought up in meetings until everybody got tired of talking about it.

    This was the first Comprehensive Plan and in my opinion a failure.

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  38. Jillayne

    As a former underwriter, I would have lots of questions regarding the builder paying 6 months worth of mortgage payments if a condo buyer loses his/her job.

    1. Where is this money coming from and where will it be held (if a borrower loses his/her job?)
    2. Is this a seller concession and if so, are the values being propped up for no reason? If so, then an FHA underwriter would have the power to reduce the appraised value, leading to a re-negotiation of the price.
    3………Maybe this is obvious…….an underwriter with half a brain would see that any homeowner stupid enough to buy one of these units because of the promotion is giving the bank a big red flag that says: “I might lose my job!” Ha! I’d be extra cautious about signing my name to that approval.

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  39. DavidB

    Thanks for the info about Case Shiller. I looked at the last report issues and I didn’t realize it was so old.

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  40. Thomas B.

    Unfortunately, there are enough dumb people in Seattle to buy into the hype.

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  41. kfhoz

    By Herman @ 36:

    I’m seeing a lot of high end homes listed for sale on the MLS and also for rent on craigslist.

    I am seeing this also. The craigslist listings sometimes seem to hide the fact the property is also for sale. Moving in to a house that the owner may prefer to sell sounds a bit unsettling. What are the odds that the lease can be renewed in 12 months or can be continued on a month-to-month basis?

    I wonder what some of the strategy is for these. Maybe some of it is people who are recently and expecting to be temporarily out of work, but who think that they will be able to resume the mortgage payments in a year? Can some be folks who are about to be foreclosed upon but who can collect rent in the meantime as some foreclosures are taking like a year from when payments to the bank stops? How much is folks who think prices will recover in only 12 or 24 months? Other motivations?

    On the blog topic: Aubrey Cohen has a skeptical tone as he discusses the Thornton Place prospects:
    http://blog.seattlepi.com/realestatenews/archives/165043.asp

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  42. patient

    By Thomas B. @ 43:

    Unfortunately, there are enough dumb people in Seattle to buy into the hype.

    Agree, but how many are there that both are being tricked by the propaganda and qualify for a mortgage without crazy financing that is no longer available? My guess, not many.

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  43. ElPolloLoco

    By The Tim @ 39:

    RE: Herman @ 35 – The Libertarian Party has some good principles, but with phrases such as “the cult of the omnipotent state” in their official platform it is hard to take them very seriously. Also, they seem to be in favor of almost zero regulation of financial markets. I think we have seen that this theory doesn’t work so well in practice.

    More precisely, I think they’d point out that regulations that distort risk are worse than no regulations at all.

    It’s awfully hard to argue with that.

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  44. Lake Hills Renter

    I consider myself mostly a libertarian in philosophy, but from my experience the Libertarian political party is a bit of a joke, primarily full of extremists who ultimately want to do away with all forms of government. Both freedom and personal responsibility are extremely important ideals to me, but there is indeed a place for federal laws, protection and even (gasp) taxes.

    I’d vote for you, Tim.

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  45. Slumlord

    RE: David Losh @ 40

    I agree that the stream should have had the same consideration. The question is what did the regulations require? I believe that the regulations allowed a narrower buffer in exchange for partial restoration. If this is the case, then the problem is really with flaws in the regulations, not with a developer who followed those flaws.

    I know the above is a legalistic response. If people want to improve development in their neighborhood, they need to work with the local jurisdiction before a developer proposes a project. As you point out, change happens at the local comprehensive plan level. Waiting to challenge a specific project is usually too late.

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  46. Groundhogday

    By Herman @ 36:

    Can someone remind me how to calculate the rent vs. buy multiple? And what the historical ratio is?

    I’m seeing a lot of high end homes listed for sale on the MLS and also for rent on craigslist. $850k buy vs. $3200/mo rent. $1.25M buy, $3600/mo rent.

    RE: Herman @ 36

    The rule of thumb I’ve always heard is 120 times monthly rent (or 10 times annual rent). This is actually a price at which someone could purchase a home, rent it out, and have a cash flow business. But it is also a bit simplistic, doesn’t take into account interest rates, opportunity cost of capital, etc… See the NY times page for a more sophisticated calculator.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/business/2007_BUYRENT_GRAPHIC.html?_r=2&oref=slogin

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  47. David Losh

    RE: Slumlord @ 48

    The project was opposed and the original owner sold to Simon Properties. A lot of good came out of the opposition. We have the Thornton Creek Water Shed protection and national awareness of this blight in our city.

    This was all done with lies, coercion, threats, feet dragging, and finally Lorig fell into the trap.

    The entire Northgate process was derailed by personal interest activism whining it’s way to the city council and on to the mayor, chuckles the clown.

    Like many people in neighborhoods with dreams of increased property values dancing in their heads they trade short sighted developer promises for what’s good for the community at large.

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  48. Jonness

    “Also, they seem to be in favor of almost zero regulation of financial markets. I think we have seen that this theory doesn’t work so well in practice.”

    The flip side of the pro-regulation coin is having poor people subsidize the losses of wealthy gamblers who made insanely risky bets due to regulatory-induced moral hazard. I think the solution is to overhaul the entire system and get the corporations out of the business of politics. Bush, Obama, Clinton, et al. They’re all on the payroll of the wealthy. In the case of Bush, foregiving taxpayers needed a red neck to convince them to give up their future. Once that ploy became obvious, the powers that be switched to an eloquent mouthpiece with the ability of stealing much more than they ever could have stolen using Bush as their puppet.

    I like your idea of responsibility. But IMO, if people are held fully responsible for their actions, it annihilates the need for regulation. The real problem is, foregiving taxpayers have been brainwashed to believe that it’s not ethical to hold wealthy people fully responsible for their actions. We easily execute the retarded guy who kills his neighbor. We easily confiscate all the wealth of the drug dealer next door and put him in prison for 20 years. But we cringe at the thought of holding wealthy people to the same level of responsibility for their actions–despite the fact that their actions do much more overall damage to our system.

    He he, with such radical viewpoints it’s difficult for me to understand why people refer to me as a communist lefty. I’m liberal all right. But the catch is, if you mess up, you take full responsibility for that action.

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  49. Herman

    By The Tim @ 39:

    The Libertarian Party has some good principles, but with phrases such as “the cult of the omnipotent state” in their official platform it is hard to take them very seriously.

    Yes, well, the members of the party have almost no chance of being elected so they are pretty eccentric. If they were more mainstream, had a real shot, I think they’d attract more serious candidates and grow up. But it’s a vicious circle.

    By Slumlord @ 38:

    With local issues, especially land use, they would allow individuals to destroy the very things that make living in a community worthwhile.

    I hear you on that. I’m a Green Libertarian, if there is such a thing.

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  50. Angie

    Next time you have a chance to talk to a real live Libertarian, ask ‘em what ought to be done about single mothers and their kids. Ought to be an enlightening conversation. Libertarians aren’t usually so “libertarian” when you get to the place where the rubber hits the proverbial road.

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  51. Joel

    RE: Angie @ 53 – Huh?

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  52. Herman

    What Angie is saying is: she wants your money.

    Wait, not this time. This time she’s correcting your flawed assumption that we live in a black and white world where all Democrats are generous saviors, all Republicans are evil oppressors, and all Libertarians are fanatical extremists.

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  53. what goes up must come down

    Herman, most libertarians I have met stopped the individual choice when it came to choice and assisted suicide. Then it seems they want to tell you that you must have the kid and good luck with raising it and the pain really isn’t that bad.

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  54. Mikal

    RE: Angie @ 53 – You and DJO have the best posts.

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  55. Mikal

    RE: what goes up must come down @ 56 – How is that not also the Republican slant?

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  56. PublicEnemy#1

    By The Tim @ 31:

    RE: Slumlord @ 29 – I want to start a new political party: the Responsibility Party. My party would emphasize personal responsibility, corporate responsibility, and government responsibility. Make a bad decision? Dang, that sucks for you. Now how about you be an adult about it and take responsibility for your own decisions, good or bad?

    RE: The Tim @ 31

    Ahh, but how far are you truly willing to accept the idea of personal responsibility?

    I am an advocate of extreme personal responsibility, where you, and you alone, are responsible for ANYTHING that happens to you, good or bad.

    Someone runs a red light and hits your car, landing you in the hospital.

    Who is responsible?

    I would tell you that YOU are responsible because you elected to be at that intersection at that time, on that day.

    If you weren’t there, it would not have happened to you.

    How about if you are home and a plane crashes into your home, killing you in the process?

    Who is responsible?

    YOU are, you were the one who bought the home and elected to be there at that moment.

    The problem is, most people only want to take personal responsibility so far.

    True personal responsibility means you don’t blame anyone else, for anything and most people cannot handle that concept.

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  57. old ballard

    My definition of personal responsibility primarily focuses on the interaction between individuals as part of a societal unit.

    Personal responsibility has to be more than personal selfishness, or some sociopathic justification for social irresponsibility.

    My problem with Libertarianism is that it turns the issue of personal responsibility inward. Libertarians make it an issue internal to the individual as apposed to an outwardly social issue of community interaction. In the Libertarian worldview, it is always the “other” that is not taking responsibility. You never hear from Libertarians that society as a whole is failing in taking responsibility.

    Why this is I am not sure, but it could be that Libertarians have a fear of their responsibility to society so they turn the issue inward.

    When I hear people say,

    “True personal responsibility means you don’t blame anyone else, for anything and most people cannot handle that concept,”

    I believe that their using the word “blame” to define human actions incorrectly. People do not “blame” others for their personal mistakes, or personal shortcomings, in as much as they demand that everyone acknowledge the causal effects that all human action has on society, and we as a society work together to correct the negative outcomes.

    I understand that this works both ways, and that all people at some point will have a negative impact, but that is the point. External definitions of responsibility demand action in a societal context where as internal ones do not.

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  58. Slumlord

    RE: old ballard @ 60

    Well said!

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  59. Herman

    The primary Libertarian tenet is to preserve personal freedom whenever possible (Liberty). Freedom to make choices, and freedom to live with your own consequences. Of course, it’s not an absolute, and that’s where the useful debate comes in. Exactly where do you draw the line between personal freedom, and general impact and risk such that government force can be used to intervene?

    For example, I would think that most Libertarians agree that it should not be legal to construct a nuclear bomb in the basement of your Seattle home. You could take an extremist Libertarian view and argue that it doesn’t hurt anyone if it doesn’t go off. But rational L’s would say that the risk to the society outweighs the individual right in that case.

    The same is true of the individual right to construct a marketplace of trillions of dollars of unregulated CDO’s and CDS’s. It doesn’t hurt anyone if it doesn’t collapse. But the risk to society makes this the financial/moral equivalent of a nuclear bomb in your basement.

    Where Old Ballard-types tend to go too far is when they want to use government force to shape society. He assumes that everyone shares his opinion of the ideal society, and so everyone can be compelled at gunpoint to be a part of producing his Utopia. This results in uneven and unfair impositions on certain individuals (the minority). And unintended consequences.

    Case in point, this poor guy has to spend $15,000 to build a sidewalk that nobody wants (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008924424_websidewalk25.html). That’s a case where someone’s plan to compel individuals to build an Old Ballardian Utopia has an unintended consequence at the margin.

    This is a quaint illustration, but problems can happen on a massive scale with massive consequences when individual freedoms are not protected.

    Don’t forget that the biggest source of non-natural human death over history is your government. Today Old Ballard wants sidewalks for society, and tomorrow he’ll make the case that all Jews should be purged for society’s benefit.

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  60. old ballard

    RE: Herman @ 62

    What can I say.

    You’ve totally outed me.

    I’m clearly the most dangerous human live.

    You should kill me while you still have the chance!

    You did a really good job at telling us who you are (the Jews?)

    I’m never really sure what to say to this sort of thinking.

    Except good luck!

    P.S. my brother Tralfamadorians will be landing in their flying saucers to force side walks on all you innocent earthlings.

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  61. Herman

    It’s not you specifically who is dangerous. It’s where your line of thinking can go, if commonly accepted.

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  62. silver9

    Sidewalks? Yeah, where the heck are all the sidewalks?!?

    As a Midwest transplant who wants to walk on the sidewalk and see the water rush past the curb on its way to a storm drain, the Pacific Northwest is deficient. A million dollar home with a crumbling road and no curb or sidewalks in front? It just seems so ghetto – except that is an insult to actual ghettos. All the big city ghetto’s Ive seen have sidewalks.

    If having a sidewalk impinges on your liberty, I can live with that. It improves our community.

    Democratic, Libertarian or Republican – there is definitely a mix of opinions here on the role of individuals and government. As a parent, I worry that the sense of personal responsibility my grandparents had is almost absent from our society today but the government-haters leave me cold. If you hate government so much, move to Afghanistan or one of the many choice countries in Africa… Lawlessness is not a better place to live.

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  63. old ballard

    RE: silver9 @ 65

    Careful, the next thing you know you’ll be purging Jews from this great country.

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  64. Herman

    Thank you, silver9, for proving my point. Your ignorance serves me well.

    Africa and Afghanistan are home to some of the most oppressive governments on earth. Personal freedom there is least. Minorities are slaughtered by the thousands in Rwanda by government troops and women are kept from schools and forced to wear burkhas in Afghanistan. That is not lawlessness. That is someone else’s version of a utopian society with plenty of law to create it.

    Personally I love sidewalks and so do you. I would pay more to live in a neighborhood that has them.

    Apparently they only impinge on the liberty of a man named Jesus Barajas, a 61 year old janitor who must pay $15,000 to build one on his property even though it will not connect to sidewalks on either side of his lot. Oops.

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  65. old ballard

    RE: silver9 @ 65

    What did I tell you. Your ignorance serves the earthlings well ! ! ! !

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  66. Jonness

    “True personal responsibility means you don’t blame anyone else, for anything and most people cannot handle that concept. ”

    So when I rape your wife in front of you, behead your children, and then slit your throat, it’s your and your family’s fault?

    Actually, I agree with you. But there is a catch. I think you should be free to do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm others. If you do harm others, then you are not just responsible for the actions you partook in, you are fully responsible for all future consequences of those actions. It is certainly your fault if I break into your home and sabatoge your family, but the flip side is, I’m responsible for my actions as well; therefore, it’s an eye for an eye, and I have to make fitting restitution. Let the punishment fit the crime, and the crime is harming others–whether purposeful or not.

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  67. David Losh

    A little off topic, but my personal responsibility is for the next guy.

    The whole thing has to be better for every one. Any individual, or family, is only as good as the community.

    You can live apart. You can take care of your own business. It’s important for your business to be a direct benefit to your community.

    When you talk about government those are broad strokes. In Afghanistan there is tribal law. Many countries in Africa are governed by tribal laws. Then you have the government that is for the benefit of the greater good.

    Last but not least is good and evil. You should be doing good. If your are doing evil it’s my responsibility to fight that.

    Life is full of choices.

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  68. Kevin Lisota

    Tim,

    While I won’t cheerlead for now being “the right time to buy”, I will disagree with your comment about pent-up demand. There IS pent-up demand at the moment. Our brokerage has a database of over 50 customers at the moment who we’ve been working with but are “on the fence” about actually buying. There is a segment of the population who is ready, willing and able to buy a home, but are simply waiting for the bad economic news to subside. I can’t say that the current pent-up demand is sufficient to turn the market around, but it is significant and we are seeing it every single day with the customers we are working with.

    Kevin

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  69. S-Crow

    Maybe April 15th will be the trigger, who knows?

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  70. Thornton Place Throws in the Towel on Condo Sales • Seattle Bubble

    [...] can move-in too – Fido and Hello Kitty are both welcome to join in the fun.Here’s what I had to say in March 2009 when they launched the “lose your job” marketing stunt:I think it’s interesting [...]

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