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.

142 responses to “Which is Larger: Pent-Up Demand or Pent-Up Supply?”

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  1. sead97

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 99:

    By sead97 @ 98:
    One of the biggies is new babies.

    Not sure I follow. You’re saying people had babies and didn’t want to move? Most people I know think about moving when they have a baby. Do you believe there were more babies during the bubble than than in the years before and after (a mini-baby boom)? Maybe – I hadn’t heard anything about it though.

    Another way to look at Tim’s statistics is the % of listings that sold. It goes from about 50% in early 2000s to high 70%s during the bubble. I have a hard time believing that 50% is the baseline – that 1 out of 2 houses doesn’t sell and the owner just gives up and decides to rent or continue living there. Therefore, I would hypothesize that some of those “New listings” are not in fact new, but are people relisting to get a new MLS and clear their asking price history. You see a ton of that now. And unless these stats control for that, they’ll skewed the numbers.

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  2. mj4

    Good stuff. I’m no economist, and I’m pretty sure I can’t buy the pent-up-supply / pent-up-demand argument wholesale, but the discussion is enlightening.

    My best guess is that we’ve just experienced the first lurch from heavy on the supply side to a bit heavy on the demand side. I’d also guess that it won’t stay that way. The low interest rates and tax bonus pulled some buyers off the fence and that clipped some supply from the market, but I doubt it will stay that way.

    Any market where it is taking so long to close deals is not close to finished with adjusting. I’m guessing that we’re not going to see a straight line down, but more lurching in different sectors (with single family low, middle, high and condos all in the mix) before we flatten out.

    I do see a flattening. I can’t see the people who managed to stay in their homes while the market took a tail spin have much of a stomach for getting into new homes until they see values become more stable. The thing I find funny is all the agents who keep suggesting the concept of a “market bottom” with a chart that reaches a sharp bottom point with prices climbing in a steep jag on the other side. They are trying scare tactics on buyers with a sharp market knife.

    They’ll probably pull more folks off the fence with fear mongering, but it’s to their own detriment. The more people they’ll pull in at this point, the stronger the next lurch down. They should be satisfied with the artificial heat the government is already applying to thaw the market. For now, I think the safe place is on the fence.

    I do have two questions to toss into the mix. Both have to do with numbers (as I can tell I’m clearly out of my league talking numbers here).

    1. In an attempt to understand the crazed market, I’ve been trying to anchor myself as best I can with a metric drawn before the swing, tax assessment values. I’ve seen places coming on the market 25% on either side of assessed value, and seen houses going off the market near the assessed value (with some slight adjustment up or down usually based on condition of the property). Is it safe to use assessed value as line of market measure? Can we effectively use the assessment line as a place to alert us as to volatility (meaning when we see that 50% spread shrink to 15% on the high or low side –depending on where the market goes– we’ve got a de facto indicator that we’re getting realism in pricing because enough forecloses and crazed agents have worked through the market? (The reason I ask is because I’ll be more willing to come off the fence and buy when I see the market calm)

    2. I agree with folks who are saying that we’ll likely see market compression. How do folks see that compression playing out over time.

    Thanks for the great conversation.

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  3. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: sead97 @ 101 – What I mean is that the couple gets pregnant, needs more room for the kid, and then wants to buy a bigger place (or a first place). Almost a nesting activity.

    It’s just an example of what I always say. Most people don’t want to buy or sell real property because they think it will go up or down in the next year. Most people do so for other reasons: Marriage, divorce, kids, jobs, retirement, etc.

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  4. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: mj4 @ 102 – Assessed value is practically meaningless in many parts of King County, and even worse in Snohomish County.

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  5. sead97

    By mj4 @ 102:

    Is it safe to use assessed value as line of market measure?

    I don’t put much stock in assessed/taxable value. Many of the places I see have 10% increases 2008 to 2009, which makes no sense at all.

    The way I do it:

    1) I use Case-Shiller numbers to establish a trendline. I use 1990-2002 for Seattle. This probably sets the trendline a little steep, but I don’t think we’ll go back to the 1990-1997 trendline that I also look at, and I’m comfortable with a little downside risk.

    2) I take any property I’m interested in and all it’s sales since 1990. If it has nothing, I find comps and estimate what it would have sold for in some year since 1990 (for instance, if an identical house down the street sold for $400K in 2000, I assume the one I’m looking at would have sold for 400K in 2000)

    3) I use Case Shiller numbers to generate a current estimate. For example, suppose Case-Shiller was at 100 in 2000. The house sold for $400K. Per the 1990-2002 trendline, Case-Shiller should be at 130 today (in reality it’s at 155). Therefore, the house should be worth 30% more than 2000, or $520K.

    Finally, I factor in any improvements or wear-and-tear that I think have occured since the last sale. Let’s say they put in a new kitchen in 2004 and it’s looks like a $30K kitchen. Even though you often don’t get dollar for dollar out of remodels, I usually just tack it on to inform my estimate. So in this example, I’d say $550K is a price that gives me some comfort that my downside is limited.

    Of course, I then compare this number against current comps, what I think I could rent the place for, and taxable value just to make sure it makes sense. Most of the places I see these days are 10-30% above the trendline, and I find a few that are right near it (and they tend to go pretty quickly).

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  6. Kary L. Krismer

    By sead97 @ 105:

    I don’t put much stock in assessed/taxable value. Many of the places I see have 10% increases 2008 to 2009, which makes no sense at all.

    Actually it does make sense, because the 2009 values are based on 1/1/08 values, which were only a few months after the peak. We won’t see declines until 2010, but it really doesn’t matter because your tax is based on the percentage of your value to all the other values. So when your assessments do finally decrease, that doesn’t mean you’ll see a reduction in tax paid.

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  7. Ira sacharoff

    I also see assessed valuations as practically meaningless in King County. Not that many years ago you could assume that the actual value could be somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% ish higher than the assessed value, but not now. Now it’s all over the map.

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  8. The Kid

    Just throwing my 2 cents in here. There is both a pent up demand, and a pent up supply. Allow me to illustrate.

    Anyone who is convinced that there are a bunch a “Young Couples” and recent college grads interested in jumping right into the market, get their homes, start their familes is 100% correct. Every “young couple” (I put that in quotes because that definition can range from mid 20’s to mid 30’s these days) I know, including myself and my wife (I am in my late 20’s, married about five years now) would love a home. What is grossly overestimated is our ability to PAY for one at these prices. Most recent college grads are drowning in student loans, with college grad jobs that pay, generously, around $40k a year, probably less. On their own, working with $60k+ of student loans (which thankfully, I don’t have), recent college grads can afford a nice three bedroom Jack with attached two car shiat. Even people working with a dual income, no kids, no debt (such as myself) have to jump to grab the bottom of the market in Tukwilia. Generate a down payment of $60k cash? Not likely.

    So yeah, there is a demand for homes, a fairly sizable one.

    There is no demand for $350k “starter homes”.

    And there is also an enormous pent up supply. Of $350k “starter homes”. See where this is going? There are a fair amount of professional positions in this area, paying upwards of $80k a year. Look at the age of who is holding them. Know any first time homebuyers, wanting to start a family, pushing fifty?

    So, to sum up, in order to tap into this massive pent up demand, we’re going to have to see a median home price in King county of about $200k. I think we will, soon enough, which jibes with the bottom of 50% to 70% off peak numbers I hear thrown around alot, but until that happens, the market will just be baby boomers trading homes around. Sorry to burst your bubble :-)

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  9. sead97

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 106:

    By sead97 @ 105:
    I don’t put much stock in assessed/taxable value. Many of the places I see have 10% increases 2008 to 2009, which makes no sense at all.

    Actually it does make sense, because the 2009 values are based on 1/1/08 values, which were only a few months after the peak. We won’t see declines until 2010, but it really doesn’t matter because your tax is based on the percentage of your value to all the other values. So when your assessments do finally decrease, that doesn’t mean you’ll see a reduction in tax paid.

    Maybe I should have been more clear – “makes no sense at all for computing the value of a home (e.g. the amount one might want to pay)” Death and taxes may be unavoidable, but overpaying for a house is not.

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  10. David Losh

    RE: The Kid @ 108

    This is truly a very fair assesment. What I would like to point out is the debt aspect. Today a person graduating with a professional degree of doctor, lawyer, architect, marketable computing/programming, financial, or business has huge tuition debt. On top of that to start there is the slave wage mentality of the industries they enter. It’s all big, very big business. Then to open a place of thier own is another big round of debt. Putting a mortgage on top of that nakes financial security an unrealistic dream.

    Owning a home should be a responsibilty rather than a burden.

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  11. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: sead97 @ 109 – Correct. Not only is the assessed value based on some time over 12 months prior than when you’d be considering buying, but they probably didn’t even get that value right. I’d guess it’s about as reliable as Zillow, but less up to date.

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  12. Snigliastic

    RE: The Kid @ 108
    There is a lot of pent up demand. I have several friends who make 80k+ with no debt, no kids and want to buy a house, but aren’t willing to spend 350k to get a “chocolately” house. Myself, I make six figures, no debt, and have the downpayment (29 years old), but decided to keep renting. I want a nice house with a nice yard, not some overpriced POS abutting another overpriced POS that will fall about in ten years. As it is, I just stockpile cash, waiting for the right time to buy the right house at the “right” price.

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  13. The Kid

    RE: Snigliastic @ 112

    Fair for you, certaintly. But do realize that a six figure income, minimum, puts you over the 92nd percentile for income in king county. Even $80k+ is well over the median king county single male income of $45,802 (according to wikpedia and the state census site). So what I’m saying is that while there IS demand for housing, there is no demand for the housing being offered at the prices that they’re being offered at. You assesment of your own situation, even considering the relative abnormality of it, seems to echo that sentiment.

    For the money you make, you deserve far better than it will currently buy you. Therefore, you are part of the same “pent up demand” as I am. Pent up demand for reasonably priced housing. From the top to the bottom, we’re all holding out for fair pricing, which the market hasn’t even touched.

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  14. Mikal

    RE: The Kid @ 113 – Good luck with that. You will get that in certain neighborhoods, but where is it you both are considering buying?

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  15. The Kid

    RE: Mikal @ 114
    Eastside, Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah. I know it may sound laughable, but hey, it’s where I was born and raised. I’m hoping to find something in the crossroads/lake hills area.
    I will admit a personal, emotional resentment for the bubble essentially pricing me out of my hometown. The modest three bedroom 2 and 3/4 bath rambler that I grew up in, purchased by my parents, construction worker (ran bulldozers) and preschool teacher respectively, for $30,000 in 1979 went on the market for over $600k a few years back, without any appreciable updating. It all kinda feels like a sick joke to me.

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  16. Snigliastic

    RE: Mikal @ 114 – Snohomish county. Lots of crap up here. Lots. Either you are getting a 20 year old, poorly maintained house our a new place built out of construction paper. Pretty depressing. I almost pulled the trigger on a house about 7 months ago, but fortunately did not. Yeesh.
    You would think 20+ miles north of Seattle people would be more realistic about pricing, but alas, no.

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  17. what goes up must come down

    The Kid see the problem is you are mixing reality with the fantasy land that some people here believe in. The reality is the historical trend line for housing versus the fantasy that was the bubble. Be patient we are going back to the historical trend line — i.e. that is why it is a long term fundamental trend line. The people who think the current prices can be maintained are IMHO smoking the wacky weed.

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  18. Mikal

    RE: what goes up must come down @ 117 – So that house that sold for $60,000 on Capitol Hill 45 years ago hasn’t appreciated? Some of those trend lines may be correct. But the area has increased in population has quadrupled since 1950 and we should expect 1 million more before 2020 according to a USA today article. Tell me that doesn’t mean certain close in areas are worth alot more now. The guy wanting to move somewher in Snohomish should be able to find a decent deal when this all bottoms out. Kirkland? Good luck with that. My brother in law is a day trader living in New Jersey. He makes in excess of $1 million a year. He has called bottom and is now looking for good deals there. We aren’t here yet, but it isn’t that far off.

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  19. The Kid

    RE: what goes up must come down @ 117
    Totally agreed. I think the overvaluation of, well, everything was a hell of alot higher than alot of people think. We WILL return to historical norms. That would make the house I grew up in worth about, hmmm… $180-200k. We still have a ways to go.

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  20. Kary L. Krismer

    One thing that is probably hurting the upper end a lot, and can’t be explained at all by looking at graphs of prior house prices, is the huge decline in the stock market. If you’ve lost $1,000,000+ in asset value, it’s harder to think about buying a $1,000,000+ house.

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  21. Mikal

    RE: The Kid @ 119 – Are we going to return to the old population levels as well?

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  22. EconE

    RE: Mikal @ 118

    USA Today? You’re kidding right?

    Next time you’re “dropping the kids off at the pool”…grab the People Magazine on the back of the toilet and let us all know what they have to say also!

    ;^)

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  23. S-Crow

    Snigliastic @ 116:

    I completely agree re: pricing in Snohomish Co.. Also, many vacant developments are reaping the benefits of more sunlight these days; ie, overgrown grass and weeds on vacant lots. Some framed out homes are sitting without siding; OSB sheathing exposed to the elements is not a pretty sight with 5 mos. of PNW moisture and mold growth. I really don’t understand how building depts. let this stuff get covered with cement board siding when they’ve been exposed for so long in our climate.

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  24. Mikal

    RE: EconE @ 122 – It was the first thing I could find. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council the Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Snohomish County region went from 1,196,172 from 1950 to just under 4,000,000 today . So while we are at the pool, there are still people moving here and guess what, they drive prices as well. If Boeing leaves we could become the new Detroit. It hasn’t happened yet. To think that growth doesn’t affect the long term patterns as to prices in certain neighborhoods like Kirkland or Queen Anne is a bit foolish. Historical trends can change unless you think everything is static. Putting a factory in a small town will make living there more expensive than it had in the past. Microsoft gearing up in the late 80’s changed the historical patterns of this area especially in the 90’s.

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  25. Snigliastic

    RE: S-Crow @ 123
    Do you live up here? I’d like to own up here, but really, too many overpriced POSs. But I get frustrated by how people price a lot of things I want to buy: boats, jet skis, etc. Prices have not fallen enough. One of my best friends is trying to sell his two year old motorcycle for 15% less than a brand new, updated model. He has not gotten, or lowered, his asking price for months, but absolutely has to sell.

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  26. S-Crow

    Snig: yes, our escrow office is just north of Mill Creek (technically Everett) and I’m very close to organizing another Seattle Bubble informal get-together for our Snohomish/Everett/Lake Stevens/Arlington/Monroe Sky-Valley readers; probably in the Everett area soon. I live a stones throw from downtown Snohomish. If time allows I’m also hoping to make it to the Seattle Bubble meet up on April 21.

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  27. EconE

    By Mikal @ 124:

    RE: EconE @ 122 – It was the first thing I could find. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council the Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Snohomish County region went from 1,196,172 from 1950 to just under 4,000,000 today . So while we are at the pool, there are still people moving here and guess what, they drive prices as well. If Boeing leaves we could become the new Detroit. It hasn’t happened yet. To think that growth doesn’t affect the long term patterns as to prices in certain neighborhoods like Kirkland or Queen Anne is a bit foolish. Historical trends can change unless you think everything is static. Putting a factory in a small town will make living there more expensive than it had in the past. Microsoft gearing up in the late 80’s changed the historical patterns of this area especially in the 90’s.

    First thing you could find? LOL.

    1,196,172 to 4,000,000 in 60 years? So what? What does that mean? Should I offer 4x 1950’s prices?

    People don’t drive prices, money does. Lots of people crowded into many cheap areas.

    You are correct however when you say that “Historical trends can change”.

    Guess which historical trend is changing? It’s called “appreciation”.

    Cheers!

    Oh…wait…I just read The Enquirer…sorry…first thing I could find. Between the articles on the Bat Child and Alien Abductions they said that RE would turn around soon. Good thing eh?

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  28. Mikal

    RE: EconE @ 127 – I’m not saying that at all d!ckhead. I wouldn’t buy right now. To look solely at historical appreciation is foolish for many places in the Puget Sound region.

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  29. The Kid

    By Mikal @ 121:

    RE: The Kid @ 119 – Are we going to return to the old population levels as well?

    Nope, don’t need to, just the same housing to population ratios. Which we already have. We didn’t double or triple the population, and just happen forget to add any homes. If anything, by all available statistics, we have MORE homes than the population needs, just not at the right price.

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  30. Mikal

    RE: The Kid @ 129 – That would still compress the value of some neighborhoods therefore keeping bthem higher than before. If any of you really believe that Capitol Hill and Queen Anne will have houses selling for $200,000 I have a bridge to sell you..

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  31. EconE

    RE: Mikal @ 130

    Which bridge? How much?

    Where did I ever say I wanted to live on QA or Cap Hill…they’re nice areas and all but not what I’d be looking for personally. To each his own. If I lived on top of those hills I’d have to factor in a whole lotta 3k clutch replacements…not to mention…my mechanic’s in Huntington Beach. :^)

    I never expected to see 200k there either (for SFR’s)…if the rare case ever came up, I can assure you that it would be something so precarious that nobody would want it at any cost. Kind of like that row of “modern” homes on the northwest side of Cap Hill over I-5 that “tilted” back in the mid 90’s due to the super soft hillside land that “slipped” due to those rains. I’m sure you remember those. The land is still for sale.

    They’ll still see some significant haircuts IMO. How much? We’ll see. I can find better buys in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills…aren’t those places pretty special also?

    Let’s see how the Jumbo ARMs and Option ARMs shake out over the next couple years. The “Prime” toxic loans if you know what I mean. The (over)Stated Income (liar loan holders) will come to light also. I’m wouldn’t doubt that there was some HELOC abuse too. We’ll see in due time.

    However…for the Record…I don’t believe that the 80% off peak predictions will come true for the high end places either.

    And I was only teasing you about your reading material…sorry to have urinated in your Bud Light. ;^)

    I love you man!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYNNH8WX9Eo

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  32. The Kid

    RE: Mikal @ 130
    Actually, yes, I do believe Cap hill and Queen Ann will see houses in the bottom end of the market for ~$200k. Specifically, because those areas still have alot of much older, and much smaller homes. So yeah, I think, inside a couple years, you will be able to find a, call it 2 bedroom, one bath, freestanding home for around $200k. May not be BIG, but it will be there.

    Keep in mind, basically what the bulk of my argument boils down to is that you can only price anything at what people will pay, and people will only pay what they CAN pay. If the days of easy credit are behind us, which has reduced what people can pay, which will reduce what people will pay. Pretty simple. People cannot pay for $600k homes. At least not as many people as there are $600k homes on the market. Therefore, prices must keep coming down, until there are roughly as many people buying the homes as there are selling them.

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  33. Kary L. Krismer

    By The Kid @ 132:

    RE: Mikal @ 130
    Actually, yes, I do believe Cap hill and Queen Ann will see houses in the bottom end of the market for ~$200k. Specifically, because those areas still have alot of much older, and much smaller homes. So yeah, I think, inside a couple years, you will be able to find a, call it 2 bedroom, one bath, freestanding home for around $200k. May not be BIG, but it will be there.

    Well first, keep in mind that I think what is being said is something to the effect that you could have all of King County tracking inflation over the long term, but the close in areas are going to do better because of their location. Areas say in Kent or Auburn can be subdivided, which increases the value of the total land, but when you’re looking at median sales statistics, it lowers the value of each sale.

    Second, the older homes are not necessarily smaller, and they are often sought after because of their age. There seems to be a bit of thinking on this board that newer is better. To a lot of people, new sucks. When we were looking a year and a half ago, we excluded anything built this century.

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  34. peanutgallery

    RE: pragmatist @ 15

    You may be correct about much of this, but what made me snort was the comment about recent college grads being part of a developing group of buyers. Think about this. Graduate into $45,000 dollar job (if they can get one), student loans nearing the same amount, average $4,000 credit card debt. Now think about the price of an average King County home. Um. Let me say from experience, they may want too, but they will be pent up for about 10 years.

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  35. what goes up must come down

    The Kid,

    You are right on target, some people here think the bubble was created by location, location, location or this mass influx of people to Seattle well guess what that wasn’t it. If Seattle’s population doubled over night but only a small fraction of those people could get loans do you think the prices would have doubled over night — NO. How many times do we have to go down this road — it was a bubble because of easy credit.

    The bubble has popped hello McFly. Will all neighborhoods see the same amount of depreciation — NO of course not but they will see depreciation. Will that be the end of world — NO. Will some people feel the pain — Yes.

    Kary I think most on this board just want a good value. Paying 500k for a two bedroom 1 bath 1400 sq ft place in Ballard is not a good value. As Ray has said before the gravy train has come to an end.

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  36. Mikal

    RE: what goes up must come down @ 135 – Your not going to get that home in Ballard for $200,000 either. At some pricepoint people will come out of the woodwork thereby keeping prices high in certain areas . You will find alot of overbuilding in Spanaway, you should be able to get great value there.

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  37. The Kid

    RE: Mikal @ 136
    Well, lets have some fun with sociology. Lets talk about Cap Hill for a second. Full of high priced homes. Lets take $500,000 cuz that is a decent range and the math is easy. So, at $500k, you’re looking at being affordable to someone that makes, oh, approx. $150k a year. Great. That is somewhere in the 94th precentile for income in the area, but they exist, and Cap hill is a pretty small area.

    Lets bring a little demographics into this. Who makes $150k a year? Well, the obvious, Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers (some of them), very successful businessmen and women, I’m sure you can think of a few more. And all these upper class professionals will positively FLOCK to cap hill to buy cuz of….. The high crime rate? The crappy schools? The gay bars? Oh I KNOW it’s close access to all those “leather goods” stores. Sounds like a great place to put a family to me! Where do I sign up! Or maybe it will be grandma moving up in the world, taking all the equity from her hard earned home and moving into something twice as expensive, and half as nice.

    Who.Do.You.Imagine.Will.Buy.These.Things?

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  38. Mikal

    RE: The Kid @ 137 Not you because you don’t make enough money.

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  39. what goes up must come down

    Mikal, come on dude he has a point even if you don’t want to acknowledge it. There is a reason for historical trends. Please answer this question do you think the last five years were the norm yes or no. If the answer is no where do YOU think things will go? If the answer is YES than tell me why.

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  40. what goes up must come down

    Mikal and concerning the 200K place in Ballard maybe it won’t happen but then who the hell wants to live in Ballard.

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  41. Mikal

    RE: what goes up must come down @ 139 – No, but do the last twenty with all the money that Microsoft alone has brought to the area. Those kinds of value added industries drive property values up. Therefore it changes the historical trends. There is alot of new houses that were built in Puyallup and Spanaway that are included in the overbuilding. You want a cheap house there you go. There is a reason it is cheap. If you honestly think Kirkland will drop anywhere near below $200,000 for a SFH you are deluded in your hopes. I’m hoping the properties around Times Square will go down in value. It used to be farm land and the historical trends can’t be wrong. Things change, even historical trends. I also do not want to live in Ballard. I also don’t think we are at the bottom.

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  42. what goes up must come down

    Mikal fair enough thanks for the reply.

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