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.

50 responses to “Poll: If I had the income and savings to support it, the most I would spend on a house is:”

  1. me

    Well, “no limit”… but… that depends on the house. For the horrible wood huts I can find here in Seattle, probably 250k tops. Anything with large garden in a nice area, with a view, directly on a lake, with actual architecture (you know, rooms I don’t feel ashamed to show but proud of), heated tiles throughout, yup, much much more. Unfortunately, no such house available (and I don’t mean at my pricepoint, I mean at all). Luckily there’s always moving somewhere meaningful.

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  2. Ira Sacharoff

    It’s kind of an odd question. ” If I had the income and savings to support it…”
    If I had Bill Gates’s money, I would not be checking the 500,000 dollar box.
    I’m just trying to figure out what the question is really asking. Is it ” No matter how wealthy, I would not spend more than x on a house?’
    As far as it goes, I always preach living within one’s means, and not spending an extraordinary amount on housing costs. But if I made ten times the amount I currently make, would I be living in a different house? Sure.
    Still, I’d rather continue living in my Renton area old bungalow with my garden than one of those 3500 sq ft new homes on a tiny lot which pretend to be French chateaus.

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  3. ray pepper

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 2

    agree Ira……….What a crappy question…

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  4. ray pepper

    RE: The Tim @ 4

    again….even more ridiculous after the explanation. If you had all the money you wanted you would not set a limit on the price of 2 mill..Instead you would FIND THE HOUSE YOU WANTED or HAVE IT BUILT where you wanted….then you would PAY THE PRICE…

    Nobody that rich would set a parameter of 2 mill when they found a house they LOVE for 4 million…..or whatever…..

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  5. Pegasus

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – Its all relative. Bill Gate’s net worth fluctuates most days by more than that house in SoCal. Looks like a lot of these guys end up buying multiple high priced homes in various parts of the world. All gated with security to keep out the riff-raff, of course.

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  6. Pegasus

    RE: ray pepper @ 5 – But Ray what about when that one guy built his dream house and you keep criticizing him here for losing money?

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  7. Pegasus

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – That’s a tear-down if I ever saw one.

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  8. ray pepper

    RE: Pegasus @ 7

    it was NEVER his house or his losses and denial..IT WAS HIS LIES and outright insult of my avatar that made me pounce…

    Millionnaire Mike can self-flagellate all he wants to his house and construction of it. But, please do NOT lie and say…” I have no idea “…when he has a nice CRISP WFC appraisal in hand from his RE-FI…as the story unfolded we all learned what a BUFFOON in denial we witnessed….because I assure everyone WFC did have an IDEA and this IDEA was passed onto their client…

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  9. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: The Tim @ 4
    I think Gates’s house cost 100 million, and that was how many years ago? And Warren Buffett still lives in the same house he bought in Omaha 50 years ago for something like 60 thousand. Nice places in desirable areas do cost money. I looked at a major fixer on the top of Queen Anne that ended up selling for nearly 900 thousand.

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  10. wreckingbull

    RE: ray pepper @ 5 – I disagree. I went to school with some filthy rich kids from old money families. Yes, they typically had comfortable homes in neighborhoods such as Laurelhurst, but I was always struck by the crappy cars and average lifestyles they led.

    I guess there is a reason the money is ‘old’.

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  11. robotslave

    I do agree that it’s pretty confusing to first stipulate “money is no object,” and then then ask us for a hard price ceiling. Surely you can concoct a fantasy home for yourself for which you’d gladly just pay the asking price, given an infinite stack of otherwise idle cash? Suppose it’s not even a particularly ostentatious property– just your own absolutely ideal combination of lot, structure, and location– for twice your “top” price?

    With that said, maybe something can be salvaged here: the question doesn’t say anything about whether or not you’d be using the house as your primary residence. Maybe we can use that to tease apart “place to live” vs. investment.

    So if you had Scrooge McDuck money sloshing around in your swimming pools, what’s the most you would invest today in a single-family residence, without living in it? And as long as we’re inventing scenarios, let’s also say that you can’t resell in the short term, because a relative will be renting it for two years (come up with your own “no flipping” rationale, if that one’s too fraught).

    For me, this would change my answer quite a lot, from “no limit, I am planning to buy a medium-sized continent and custom-build my home on it” to “very little, unless I know there’s oil under it or something.”

    Incidentally, how did you pick $500k for the lowest possible answer? Particularly, why no “zilch” option, if only to satisfy those end-of-civilization-tract aficionados who are drawn like moths to any blog with a bearish economic outlook?

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  12. Ray pepper

    RE: wreckingbull @ 12 – my contention is this. First until we live in others shoes we cannot know for certain. However, if we fantasize about unlimited wealth we should also fantasize about our dream home. Thus doing, with money as no object in Tims fantasy, I do not see Tim OR anyone halting construction near 2 mill because you are near a perceived limit, looking at homes 2 mill and under only, or only buying 1 property.

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  13. Ira Sacharoff

    Maybe it’s because I’ve never been filthy rich, and maybe because I’m very in touch with my inner cheapskate, but I think I’d be uncomfortable living in a 2 million dollar home. To me, owning a house like that wouldn’t be about comfort. It would be about being a pretentious show off.

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  14. Scotsman

    RE: ray pepper @ 5RE: ray pepper @ 3RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 2

    Not a crappy question. You guys aren’t thinking in broad enough terms.

    There are three aspects to the question that I see. First is affordability and the issue of living within your means. That’s pretty straight forward as most of us aren’t making millions a year. Second is a moral issue- is it right to spend tens of millions, even if you can, on a personal residence when so many others are suffering around the world? And last is an appraisal of personal needs. Most of my dream homes are out of state and fall in the $2-5M range. I just can’t see myself wanting or needing to be involved with more house than what that would buy. YMMV.

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  15. John Bailo

    If I ruled the world
    Imagine that
    I’d free all my sons

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  16. Pegasus

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 16 – C’mon Ira…. you just aren’t letting your imagination run wild. Think about it. If you had a place like that every time the wife left town you could ice up a tub of Old Milwaukee brewski’s, invite over the Swedish Bikini Team and snort some lutefisk with them.

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  17. Scotsman

    RE: The Tim @ 4

    Interesting pool design when seen from the air.

    With a 5/1 arm payments are only 1/4 mill a month- not bad. ;-)

    More my style, but still too big, and it should be in Montanna or Idaho:

    http://www.redfin.com/WA/Snoqualmie/8100-428th-Ave-SE-98065/home/483481

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  18. Scotsman

    We interrupt this thread for a public service announcement- just remember here in the USA it’s 9-1-1 you want to dial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ILxjxfB4zNk

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  19. karl

    The big log house in Snoqualmie( Scottsman @ 20) once belonged to Phil Condit (ex Boeing CEO) his exwife got it in the divorce. Been forsale for years! Started at about 13 million I think.

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  20. Sweet Pea

    By Scotsman @ 17:

    RE: ray pepper @ 5RE: ray pepper @ 3RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 2

    Not a crappy question. You guys aren’t thinking in broad enough terms.

    There are three aspects to the question that I see. First is affordability and the issue of living within your means. That’s pretty straight forward as most of us aren’t making millions a year. Second is a moral issue- is it right to spend tens of millions, even if you can, on a personal residence when so many others are suffering around the world? And last is an appraisal of personal needs.

    Agreed. I find it a bit sickening how much people are willing to spend on themselves. Not that others “deserve” to have it spent on them, but I think of how much humans spend on war and treasure in comparison to how little is thrown at many relatively solvable problems.

    Regarding Bill Gates, I think of his home, at least in part, doubling as a kind of bunker for his family. He is very careful about his kids’ security, and that is part of his personal need.

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  21. bd

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 16

    There are plenty of places where 2 million is just the entry fee for the given location.

    I have no desire to show off, but I can imagine buying a 2 million dollar house just to live on Lake Washington, in SF with a view, or in a nice place in Manhattan.

    It’s an impossible question to answer. I’m sure if I had an unlimited amount of money, I’d be a very different person and would probably consider buying a much more expensive house not such a big deal.

    That said, when I look at the 78 million house Tim links, the first problem I see is not the price tag. It looks like a monumentally awful place, I can’t imagine wanting it under any circumstances. It’s absolutely horrid. I’m not sure what went through the mind of the person who built it. I’m guessing they were prioritizing impressing over enjoying

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  22. wreckingbull

    I don’t see why people are having trouble with this question. I think automobiles can be used in the same context. I have driven POS trucks my whole life. I finally got to a point where I could, within reason, afford something new without really pinching my budget. I continue to drive POS trucks because I just feel money is better spent elsewhere.

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  23. jonness

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – I have to agree with you about being turned off by the house for $78 million. Having a meaningful quest in life is much more valuable that having unlimited money. That house looks to me like nothing other than a gigantic waste of time. Next thing, you die. What did it all mean? Absolutely nothing.

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  24. John

    I look at expensive homes for fun on redfin and these multi-million ones often sit on the market for years. I just can’t bring myself to experience that and to pay that much in property taxes, insurance etc. Besides, I wouldn’t want to hire people to take care of the place. So I am not going to buy a really big home. Also, I can’t imagine spending more than 10 seconds to walk from the bedroom to the living room.

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  25. One Eyed Man

    RE: Scotsman @ 17

    I’d like to be on the short list for the gardener and pool boy jobs if you’ve got on site quarters for the hired help. My former employers will verify the requisite weak mind and strong back for those positions.

    If by some quirk, I become incredibly wealthy, I’ve told myself I’d get 4 or 5 places in locations I like and make them all available to a long list of friends and relatives kind of like a free time share club. It would be fun, it would help me avoid the guilt that would otherwise haunt me for buying millions in residential real estate, and it would make me feel like there was some benefit to my friends for putting up with me. (My wife would probably object to the idea so it probably wouldn’t happen.)

    If it was to be just one place that I picked, it would probably be a nice but rustic, maybe mid three thousand square foot place out in the wilds, on or near some water with some land and room for guests. Probably between one and three million. But now that I’m old, I’d probably need to at least rent something in a warm climate for a month or two in the grey season too.

    If my wife gets a say in the matter, and if past behavior is any indication, my wife and I would get something reasonably nice, judged by being comfortable and high quality but not outrageously ostentatious, although probably a little bigger as in 4000+ sq ft. If it were on the water in the Puget Sound area, the San Juans or BC, that probably means from two to four million if you stay away from high end Lake Washington waterfront. We’ve never gone too far over board on expensive luxury items. We’ve never had a mortgage for more than 200K and we’ve never owned “expensive” cars (none were over 40K) even though we could afford them.

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  26. BelNotRenter

    I don’t know how to answer this question. If money were no object, I would have equivalently equipped houses in a few locations and the price would vary wildly based on location. The home that costs over 1m in Brooklyn would cost a few hundred thousand in Las Vegas. I know I would not spend more than a few million in today’s dollars but pinning it between 500k-3m is not possible. So…

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  27. Dorothea

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – The kind of person who would consider purchasing that monstrosity is also the kind of person who might pay $78M for it. There’s just no accounting for taste, however.

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  28. corndogs

    I just bought this house previously tax assessed for 1.1M paid 490k after seller consessions…. only 2 years wages…… all that I need….. don’t really need a sauna and heated mirrors in my master bathroom but, what the hell it’s bargain basement time. get what you can… it’s awesome. You King county guys keep debating Ballard/.Eastside etc. King County is an armpit…. terrible demographics in all areas… gig harbor/seattle commute is 35/45 minutes… well worth t… do it… have peace in your life.

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  29. Peter Witting

    I’d go with a half-million place in Anthem, Arizona for the rainy months, and a sweet Northwest-style home along Chuckanut Drive for the other 8 months of the year. Those run around $1.5 million, so put me down as needing $2M max to meet all my needs and wants.

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  30. Pegasus

    RE: J Hammy @ 31 – Nice house. Short sale or distressed, REO or damaged?

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  31. ray pepper

    RE: J Hammy @ 31

    couldn’t agree with you more….couldn’t get me to live in King County after living in the 98332/98335. The only way I leave the GIG is as a snow bird because I do NOT think there is anywhere better in/re to schools, crime, health care, affordability, and amenities.

    After living in Lynnwood, North Seattle, Ballard, Bellevue, Kirkland, Seahurst, Renton, Auburn, Federal Way, and Tacoma the last 25 years I would NEVER go back but still have a fondness of Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Bellevue Square, and Mercer Island. I wouldn’t live in these places but can understand why people enjoy it.

    Nice house hammy…too big for the 4 of us..I always found 2500 square feet to be more then enough and after selling the 1312 Madrona Way NW (98332) house I realized I wanted more acreage (you have 1.5 acres and that should give you adequate privacy) , smaller home, and privacy more then a view (5-10 acres)…Good Luck and see you at The Galaxy or at least Panera.

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  32. ray pepper

    RE: J Hammy @ 31

    Hammy BTW not sure how you make that commute to Seattle in 35 min from the Gig..With no traffic, and obeying speed limits MAYBE 45 min to downtown Seattle but thats if the stars are aligned….

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  33. Nick

    I checked the box at $10M+. If I had unlimited money, I’d probably have a house worth more than $10M. It wouldn’t be unlimited for a personal residence, but there are plenty of places which are more than $10M which would be awesome to live in.

    My number is probably less than $50M, though.

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  34. Scotsman

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 28

    Agreed. Don’t need to impress anyone, just want it comfortable, throw in some artistic design, water and land are always nice. Gonna need a second place with sun as the years roll by. Outside western WA your money goes a lot further.

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  35. Scotsman

    RE: J Hammy @ 31

    Great buy. I’m a boater though and couldn’t stand just looking at the water- I’d need to be on it with my boats tied up out in front.

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  36. corncob

    Is this house or land? It is very easy to spend big $$ on good/sizable land and have a $1m house on it.

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  37. ARDELL

    How could that $78M house be “built in 2011″? No builder would “spec” it for $78M. Did someone build it and then say “On 2nd thought…nah…”?

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  38. Jillian Cariola

    This is pretty surprising, considering that the economy is not in the best shape. You’d think that people would consider their other needs as well, but I guess to anyone who really wants a house, money would be no object. Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of people lose their house, too.

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  39. ChrisM

    RE: Scotsman @ 21 – Interesting what “education” looks like when public education has totally failed.

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  40. ChrisM

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – Given your constraints, I would be looking at the cost of security. Islands would be attractive. Also, I’d be looking at penthouse suites in various “attractive” cities such as Manhattan, London, Singapore, Sydney, and Zurich. Sandy Weill’s biography went into this.

    It would be “interesting” to see what security Warren Buffet has – if I were investing in his over-priced stocks, I’d certainly be praying he has a decent platoon of private security pros.

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  41. ChrisM

    RE: The Tim @ 4 – Also, given your constraint:

    “I couldn’t help but think that even if I had as much money as Bill Gates, I don’t think I could stomach spending that much money on a house. ”

    given the places I’ve visited, I’d purchase St. Paul’s Cathedral, an island in Venice (or probably in the Caribbean), a penthouse in Manhattan/Singapore/Sydney/:London as well as a host of other places (Dublin, Paris, Madrid, Vancouver BC, Halifax, San Francisco, etc.)

    I certainly wouldn’t be fixating on prices in the Pacific Northwest.

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  42. corndogs

    pegasus @ 33. This was a bank owned. Came for sale day before Xmas. I made offer day after Xmas. House was owned by local businessman who over invested in commercial real estate. He hoped to sell this place for 1.2M but couldn’t get it so he walked away. It was meticulously well kept… it was vacant 1 year, so moss on the roof, plants overgrown a bit… but definitely not a fixer upper…. this place has a heat pump with filtration… so not even any dust actually….

    scotsman @38. I’m 8223 Goodman, Seattle yacht club is 8224 Goodman. The yacht club is just below me so I can get to my boat very easily. ‘Only’ looking at the water is a bit of an understatement, my view is incredible, that’s in addition to my 4,600 sq feet, 80 year old doug firs and my 50 car drive in movie theater etc etc. But, if you’re dead set on waterfront.. Gig Harbor an especially good place to look. Putting money aside though… I wouldn’t swap houses with any of the waterfront homes below me. It’s always better for your land to be higher and larger… and you should have enough privacy to be able to skinny dip in you hot tub as well.

    Ray @ 35. hey, neighbor…I go to work at 4 or 5 am. been doing for 3 years now…. return about 2:30 pm. as you know the new bridge and off ramps has improved things tremendously, I experience almost no traffic problems. I’m only working 3 to 4 days per week in the office. otherwise working from home enjoying the view. I’m in east Gig now… when I was in west gig it took me 35 min to get to South Seattle/Duwamish… East Gig adds 8 minutes.

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  43. The Dude

    RE: The Tim @ 4
    One of the nearby similar listings is a home that belongs to former Mariner Adrian Beltre.

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  44. softwarengineer

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 10

    Buffet Drives a 2006 Cadillac too

    He says its a nice car too.

    The rich didn’t get rich by ignoring sound investment decisions, because they can….its just the opposite.

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  45. Kary L. Krismer

    Some people look for the cheapest flight, even if that means two layovers. Others do this:

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/02/23/Donald-Trump-buys-757-jet/UPI-37941298499845/

    (Trump upgrades from a 727 by buying Allen’s used 757.)

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  46. No Name Guy

    Well, the question, and many responses, seem to be focused on the HOUSE, not the whole kit and caboodle of house AND property.

    My dream place, if money was no object?

    I’d buy up a multiple sections of land that are up on the Pacific Crest Trail that are still privately owned. I’d develop my house site in a place that would be close to (within a 1/2-1 mile), but completely out of sight of the trail. The actual structure would be very modest in scope – perhaps 2k square feet at most. Construction would be of extremely long lived material – stone exterior, copper roof, etc that is also highly fire resistant and designed to withstand winters very well as well. Passive heating and cooling would be featured to lower on going expense. Long lived material would help insure maintenance would be extremely low – I wouldn’t have to spend all my time on upkeep. Modest interior size would insure cleaning and other house chores are modest in scope. Emphasis in the structure would be on functionality, not show for the sake of show.

    I’d donate the development rights on the remainder of the property (other than the immediate house site) to the appropriate agency, with additional covenants to restrict future development that would adversely affect the trail users experience in the event the agency later wussed out on their duty to protect the trail.

    Cost: Well, I suppose that would depend on how many sections of land I’d buy up. That would be the bulk of the expense. With Gates levels of cash, the ~300 miles of the trail that cross private land could be bought out. With lesser amounts….well, perhaps I’d stick to just the Washington parts that cross private land. Structure & other improvements cost – I could see keeping it well under 500k.

    Winter back country skiing / snow shoeing paradise – check.
    Summer hiking paradise – check.
    Doing something to preserve the outdoor heritage for future generations – check.

    So, to answer the question directly: No limit, if money was no object, up to the point of buying out the 300 miles worth of private property.

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  47. Anonymous Coward

    What’s all this about buying multiple properties in multiple locations? If money’s no object, I’d just “rent” from the Hilton.

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