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.

20 responses to “Local Development Roundup: March 2014”

  1. KyleK

    The anti-development groups seem good at pulling out the worst tendencies from both sides of the political spectrum.

    Seattle Displacement Coalition is the left’s answer to faulty if/then statements about supply and demand: Stop developing more units because (*underpants*) the rent is too high!

    On the right we have the *you are destroying the “character” of this formerly great neighborhood that I was lucky enough to get into years ago* Oh… and did I mention that I hate poor people?

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  2. mike

    This has been an ongoing discussion over at MyBallard as well. What’s funny is the zoning there hasn’t changed, yet people are complaining that they bought a house in an area with high density zoning – well after the high density construction was underway in the area south of 65th.

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  3. Shoeguy

    Do you have a view? Do you love looking at green space??? /eyeroll

    Everyone gets real estate fever until they buy. Everyone wants to build more more more! Seattle house prices at a 5:1 Median income ratio? Doesn’t matter, build more more more!

    Until they’re actually in something. THEN the brakes must go on! You bought your 1920’s shack for $450,000 with a tiny view? Too bad, they’re going to throw up something worse right in front of you and some other idiots are going to come in and pay $450,000 for it. THAT complex is walled off by another project, someone will pay $500,000 for that one!

    I get a bit tired of home owner hypocrisy after a while. Its like they lose their mind and start running on that property treadmill as soon as they buy something.

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  4. mike

    RE: Shoeguy @ 3 – Ironically, when we bought our house we were concerned that the place next door that was kind of run down would be replaced with a $1M monstrosity and we’d lose our sound view. After we met the neighbor’s meth addicted son who was in line to inherit the house from his dad, the prospect of a monster house the son could never afford to live in didn’t sound so bad.

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  5. David B.

    Fighting any and all increases in density won’t preserve the character of existing middle-class neighborhoods. It will merely turn them into upper-class neighborhoods as the laws of supply and demand raise prices beyond what the middle class can afford.

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  6. boater

    San Francisco chronicle recently reported that increased density in poor neighborhoods is preceeded by zoning rulings limiting density in wealthier neighborhoods.

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  7. softwarengineer

    RE: KyleK @ 1
    I’ve Lived in the Seattle Area All My Life

    Believe me, we were out of land to build homes within 10 miles east of Puget Sound since the 70s. Packing in $2200/mo 1 bdrm apartments with no feasible parking [IOWs no cars] near Lake Union may be the San Francisco way….but an environmental “tree hugger” like me says what land is really left [outside of building way east in the mountain hills or way north past Marysville or way south of Olympia for development]?

    I know, you like all the Seattle area trees mowed down and replaced with cramped postage stamp lots, no feasible freeway accesses and strip malls…..yuck!

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  8. David B.

    RE: softwarengineer @ 7 – Actually, the “San Francisco way” is banning most all new development that might increase density (they like to call it “Manhattanization” in SF), thus ensuring housing costs go sky-high and price the non-affluent out of the city entirely.

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  9. softwarengineer

    RE: David B. @ 8
    More “Pipe Dream” IMO

    San Francisco also wants their Sanctuary City [like Seattle] over-run by overpopulation… least they say that….then contradict their open border politics letting in all the world’s poor when it clashes with the rich elite’s fenced off neighborhoods…

    San Francisco doesn’t live in America, they reside on an imaginary America with imaginary open border politiics and imaginary Mother Goose immigration law enforcements they make up. I imagine they co-tow to foreign/corporate banker criminals for slavery too.

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  10. Kary L. Krismer
  11. mmmarvel

    Um, ick, I really, really dislike those attached housing, side by side units shown in the artists drawing. To be fair, I dislike condos too (and apartments). Never lived in Seattle, did spend a large portion of my life in Portland, but am now in a nice suburb outside Houston. So glad I didn’t end up in a position where I had to battle (with a high price tag attached) for an attached/high density dwelling. Have fun y’all.

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  12. Shoeguy

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 10:


    Good! More power to them! I hope these micro motels pop up all over Seattle. Long ago, Seattle saw the direction San Francisco had gone and decided to sell it’s soul and head the same direction. House prices have tripled in Seattle in the last 15 years while median incomes have all but flatlined.

    Now you’re seeing the result, and just because you “got yours” in the past doesn’t make you immune to economic realities of the present. You reap what you sow.

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  13. wreckingbull

    RE: boater @ 6 – Glad you brought this up. Often those who are yammering on about how we need density are those who live in airy 1920s craftsmen homes on 12000 square foot lots.

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  14. wreckingbull

    I may be wrong, but I can’t help but wonder if eventually the pendulum swings back to outlying areas. Hear me out. Telecommuting is becoming more and more common. I have been doing it since 2006. I head into Seattle about once a month for kicks, but am completely happy living a few counties away. Cost of living is about 1/2 that of Seattle. Plenty of interesting homes and properties for sale in my neck of the woods. Easier access to boating, hiking and skiing.

    I think there comes a point where living in the urban core makes no sense, and for many, that time may be here.

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  15. boater

    I think for the just out of college crowd who are going to work at AMZN GOOG MSFT etc there’s no way their living in the burbs. For those folks I think they are transferring car and insurance payments into rent payments and happy to do so. We’ll see what they do if they have children and start to look at schools.

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  16. boater

    I think for the just out of college crowd who are going to work at AMZN GOOG MSFT etc there’s no way their living in the burbs. For those folks I think they are transferring car and insurance payments into rent payments and happy to do so. We’ll see what they do if they have children and start to look at schools.

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  17. Kary L. Krismer

    This would probably fit here. I just ran across two new construction houses being built, apparently both custom. but different builders. One is on a three acre lot and the other a two acre lot, and both were probably fully wooded lots when purchased. The larger lot has a 3,000+ square house being built on it, and the other has probably a 2,000 square foot house. One looks impressive and one looks very ordinary, but because of clearing so many trees, the difference in size and their placement, one looks like the guest house for the other. If I were the owner building the larger house I’d be extremely upset (although I think they did probably overbuild for the area).

    What’s really odd though is that the bank apparently is loaning a lot of money on the smaller house–almost $1M. It might be worth $500,000 tops.

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  18. mike

    RE: wreckingbull @ 14 – I think it’s a matter of preference. We bought our in-city house with the expectation that one or both of us would be working out of it. I know quite a few people in the neighborhood that work from home. Presumably some of them could have chosen to live in a more remote area, but didn’t. To some degree I think the less suburban/rural areas appeal more to working from home since it can be isolating already, compounding that by being in the middle of nowhere isn’t necessarily a bonus. You also have to take into consideration that the higher housing costs are offset by the lack of commuting costs.

    RE: boater @ 16 – You can already see what’s happening when “they” look at schools – at least the people that moved to the city and already started a family. Most of the ‘yuppie playground’ neighborhoods in Seattle have high achieving elementary schools currently. Areas with a high % of public school children receiving reduced price or free lunches tend to correlate inversely with the academic achievement level at the school. There are a couple of notable exceptions to this, but the trend is pretty obvious. My neighbor up the street sold his house in the Broadview-Thompson zone right before his daughter was about to enter kindergarten. They could have just as easily moved to Issaquah, but instead they located a few miles south of their old place. So far I haven’t seen their daughter sporting any gang tattoos or nursing wounds from a knife fight.

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  19. boater

    RE: mike @ 18
    Fair enough. Although it isn’t just as easy to move to Issaquah from North Seattle as it is to move a bit south. The commute is hell. I’d counter with the observation that many of the young families I see on Mercer Island left Seattle because of the schools.

    Keep in mind the ending of busing in Seattle is a newish thing. Prior to I believe 2007 you couldn’t be sure that your children would attend the school in the neighborhood you lived in. That change is still working it’s way through the system and through the mentality of Seattle buyers. Some folks are like your neighbors who aren’t concerned. Others are like the folks I’m talking about who don’t want to take the gamble. What the ratio between them Is I have no idea. It will be interesting to see how Seattle schools fair by neighborhood and as a whole city as the end of busing works its way through. My bet is you’ll see a tapering in public school attendance as you go from elementary to middle to high school.

    Personally I think the obsession with schools is taken too far. I think you can get a good kid out of any school. But I have a family member who teaches in a poor school district and high reduced lunch ratio. Their school spends a large amount of time and money dealing with problem children. When a kid pulls a knife or hits a teacher in class it adversely impacts learning.

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  20. KyleK

    I’m not sure where people get the comparison between Seattle and San Fran. San Fran has been under developing considering demand for almost 4 decades. We should be looking to avoid just about everything they have done — their development rules are a complete disaster. For the most part we are.

    Bottom line — we need to build more in Seattle to keep up with demand and build infrastructure (particularly transit) to serve those neighborhoods that have density.

    This is not a new idea — this is something that works well all over the world. Like even in Vancouver Canada. Sprawl is environmentally destructive and expensive to maintain. The American west was built on a faulty idea — we are just now waking up and trying to fix it.

    SoftwareEngineer: I have no idea what you are talking about. You went completely off the rails on a couple of those comments.

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