NWMLS: Record Low For Listings, Sales Slip Slightly

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February market stats have been published by the NWMLS this week. Here’s their press release.

Housing Inventory Reaches Record Low

Home buyers are in a spring mood, but sellers are still hibernating, suggested one broker while commenting about the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Figures for February and feedback from brokers indicate record-low inventory is spurring multiple offers, rising prices, fewer sales, and frustrated house-hunters.

“Our robust market has created extreme conditions, and we’re seeing frenzy hot activity on each new listing coming on the market,” reported J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott. “We’re also experiencing some of the lowest inventory levels on record,” he noted.

Frenzy hot! Mad hot! Crazy hot! Hot hot HOT!

CAUTION

NWMLS monthly reports include an undisclosed and varying number of
sales from previous months in their pending and closed sales statistics.

Here’s your King County SFH summary, with the arrows to show whether the year-over-year direction of each indicator is favorable or unfavorable news for buyers and sellers (green = favorable, red = unfavorable):

February 2017 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 1,434 -8.6% -25.4%
Closed Sales 1,351 -14.6% +1.6%
SAAS (?) 1.13 +41.2% -12.8%
Pending Sales 2,084 +7.5% -9.4%
Months of Supply 1.06 +7.0% -26.6%
Median Price* $560,000 +5.7% +14.1%

The only glimmer of hope for buyers in this month’s numbers is the year-over-year decline in pending sales. Last year pending sales shot up 27 percent between January and February, but this year they only rose seven percent.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

Closed sales fell 15 percent from January to February. Last year over the same period closed sales actually rose one percent, so we’re definitely seeing some weakness in sales. That said, closed sales were still up slightly from a year ago (+1.6%).

King County SFH Pending Sales

As mentioned earlier, pending sales rose seven percent in February, but were down nine percent year-over-year.

Here’s the graph of inventory with each year overlaid on the same chart.

King County SFH Inventory

Listings fell nine percent from January to February, the largest decrease between those months on record. The previous record was a four percent drop in 2012. On average between 2000 and 2016 listings rose two percent. In other words, the change in listings last month is generally just terrible for anyone hoping to see more homes on the market.

Just to drive home the point of how terrible inventory is, here’s the chart of new listings:

King County SFH New Listings

Inventory isn’t just low because all the new listings are being sold quickly. There just aren’t many new listings coming on the market.

Here’s the supply/demand YOY graph. “Demand” in this chart is represented by closed sales, which have had a consistent definition throughout the decade (unlike pending sales from NWMLS).

King County Supply vs Demand % Change YOY

Everything is still strongly in seller’s market territory.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Year-over-year home price gains inched up slightly from January to February, but are still below ten percent.

And lastly, here is the chart comparing King County SFH prices each month for every year back to 1994 (not adjusted for inflation).

King County SFH Prices

Still looks like we’re likely to hit new highs in just a few months.

February 2017: $560,000
July 2007: $481,000 (previous cycle high)

Here’s the article from the Seattle Times: Seattle and Eastside home prices, after brief slowdown, surge to record highs


About 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.

394 comments:

  1. 1
    Deerhawke says:

    Thanks for providing this Tim. Having all of this information in graphical form really helps.

    For those thinking that this is a bubble in imminent danger of popping, the search for good news goes on.

    I am not sure that the drop in sales or pending sales is really that much a sign of a drop in buyier activity or interest as it is that it is so hard to find anything worth buying out there. I am talking to agents all the time who are frustrated that their buyers lost out in 5 bidder, 12 bidder, 15 bidder situations. We are back there again.

  2. 2
    Deerhawke says:

    Tim, I know you are super busy these days, but I wonder if you have had any recent thoughts on your SAAS and what it could teach us in this market. I am not asking for a complete update, just thoughts on its overall usefulness.

    For those of you who are wondering what I am talking about, it is in the KC summary under the caution sign above and also at

    http://seattlebubble.com/blog/2009/04/27/seasonally-adjusted-active-supply-a-new-measure-of-market-virility/

  3. 3
    GoHawks says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 1 – makes sense sales would drop with 25% less inventory. Can’t buy what isn’t there.

  4. 4
    Brian says:

    Bringing this over here because otherwise it would get lost…

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 66:

    To answer both of your most recent comments, no, not a glut or numbers that suggest price drops at the top will cascade down. Also not because the Spring market is not in full swing yet. Partly because $1 Million plus is much more common in some areas than others and the study area as proposed in Brian’s comment #50 is too broad (from Lynnwood to Renton) to draw conclusions from the data. While 16% over a million for that area is much less than the overall active numbers, that is not the case when you go to sub-areas within the whole where $1 M plus IS the market for that area.

    I’m using these 3 zip codes since they are the core of what I follow daily, 98033, 98004 and 98005 representing primary vs secondary markets in Kirkland and Bellevue. Of the 99 homes for sale almost 80% are over a million (78 of 99) but almost 60% of all homes sold sell for over a million (287 of 475 in 6 mos). That still looks like more than it is because even though it suggests that there is a 2 month supply of over a million product, there is virutally nothing for sale at just over a million (worth buying) and the glut doesn’t come in until you are much higher than a million.

    It seems to me like it is still worthwhile to look at the overall numbers, even for that broad area I selected. Your zip codes, 98033, 98004, and 98005 are three very hot zip codes. Zip codes that people would still want to buy houses and live in if the market doesn’t look great. If there’s an oversupply of homes above $1M, why buy one out in Sammamish when you can get one closer to Medina or downtown Kirkland?

    If only 16% of the homes over $1M sold in the last 6 months vs 52% of the homes between $500K and $1M, it appears there is a supply problem above $1M for the greater area. Given your data, it seems like those three hot zip codes accounted for the majority of the sales over $1M. The homes listed over $1M that are not in those three hot zip codes are not selling and are thus overpriced and their prices may need to be lowered to get a sale. That’s where things could start to rain on the whole parade.

    I’d also be curious in the trend of time on market for $1M+ vs below that. Has the average time on market been increasing lately for $1M+ (seasonally adjusted)?

  5. 5
    Eastsider says:

    By Brian @ 4:

    The homes listed over $1M that are not in those three hot zip codes are not selling and are thus overpriced and their prices may need to be lowered to get a sale.

    For new homes, labor and material costs are the same regardless of location. These new ‘overpriced’ million dollar homes may not be as lucrative for the builders to start with. And if they have to lower prices… (FYI – In the last bust, nearly all marginal builders went bankrupt.)

  6. 6

    RE: Brian @ 4

    “If only 16% of the homes over $1M sold in the last 6 months vs 52% of the homes between $500K and $1M, it appears there is a supply problem above $1M for the greater area.”

    Not really Brian, because you are including areas that never have a million dollar house which is diluting the statistics. Lynnwood as example has no houses sold in 365 days for a million or more and none for sale. So all of the Lynnwood sales, when deriving the percentage overall of $1 Million plus, are diluting the average down to 16%, and there are many more areas doing the same.

    Whenever you do statistics for real result, you have to do them for “a market” and not a random area of mixed markets. “A market” is determined by buyers en masse. If none say I will live anywhere in King County, then that is not a market. If none say I will live anywhere from Lynnwood to Renton, then that is not “a market”. The Million Dollar plus market is defined by where a large percentage of people spending a million or more would live and does not include the areas in your study group where no one has ever bought one.

  7. 7
    jon says:

    Obviously people do look at statistics for all of King County. I think what Ardell is talking about is one way to avoid what is called Simpson’s paradox, where strange results can come from mixing different groups together https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox. The key to avoid that type of problem is to structure the data according to a sensible model. Restricting a result to a uniform market is one way to do that. Another way is to identify different causal relationships and account for that, e.g. to adjust results for average income variations, etc.

  8. 8
    Brian says:

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 6:

    Not really Brian, because you are including areas that never have a million dollar house which is diluting the statistics. Lynnwood as example has no houses sold in 365 days for a million or more and none for sale. So all of the Lynnwood sales, when deriving the percentage overall of $1 Million plus, are diluting the average down to 16%, and there are many more areas doing the same.

    Why does the area matter? You said:
    “42% are over a million BUT only 16% of those sold in the last 6 months were over a million.”

    42% of the homes (for the whole area) are over a million but only 16% were sold (for the whole area). It doesn’t matter if Lynnwood has 0. The entire area has 42%. And only 16% sold. How is that not a demand problem? Either that or your statistic is confusing me. If you throw out those hot zip codes, I bet the problem would be even more evident.

  9. 9
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 6
    Thank you for the numbers in the previous post.

    RE: Brian
    Sometimes we make things too complicated. From Ardell’s numbers:
    – 453 houses over a million are for sale,
    -1,442 over a million sold in the last 6 mos ,
    – A one month supply of $1M+ is 240 and there are 453 for sale.

    You may be reasonably suspicious of the old saw that a 6 month supply is a balanced market. However, a less than 2 month supply is not a glut. It is a seller’s market.

  10. 10
  11. 11

    By jon @ 7:

    Obviously people do look at statistics for all of King County. I think what Ardell is talking about is one way to avoid what is called Simpson’s paradox, where strange results can come from mixing different groups together https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox. The key to avoid that type of problem is to structure the data according to a sensible model. Restricting a result to a uniform market is one way to do that. Another way is to identify different causal relationships and account for that, e.g. to adjust results for average income variations, etc.

    Or look only at properties within a geographic area, price range and type that you’re interested in. The King County median means nothing to any specific property–it’s just a data point that helps show how strong or weak the market is. The inventory number means nothing to any one particular buyer because the type of properties they’re interested in could either pop up once in a blue moon or several times a week. Again it’s just a market indicator.

    Note that the median shows a rather strong market and the inventory a rather unhealthy market, albeit one that’s good for sellers. Same market, different data.

  12. 12

    RE: whatsmyname @ 9

    I have to change the numbers slightly because I can’t go back to the same polygon search exactly or the same point in time as the original data set. Still using Lynwood to Renton but the lines may not be drawn exactly in the same place as before. Also since we are doing Absorption Rate and it didn’t start that way I shifted to a more accurate 15-380 rolling month basis vs 6 months. So data as of right now is

    479 over a million for sale breaks down as

    180 between $1M and $1.5M against 2,188 sold in a year is 180 a month or a 1 month supply

    94 between $1.5M and $2M against 633 sold is 52 a month or less than a 2 month supply

    61 between $2M and $2.5M against 235 sold is 20 a month or a 3 month supply

    41 between $2.5M and $3M against 148 sold is 12 a month or 3.4 month supply

    106 over $3 Million against 160 sold or 13 a month is an 8+ month supply

    Whenever I do stats to find a glut and potential push down on price I can’t stop at a million. I did that to try to give Brian the numbers he was looking for. But the reality is that stopping the breakdown at “over a million” never tells you the correct story as to where the market turns weaker.

    You don’t start approaching a slightly balanced market until you are over $2 million and you don’t get to a glut until you are over $3 million.

    While I don’t personally ever do Lynnwood to Renton when I do stats, the result for the areas I do is and has been about the same for quite some time now. The market is still very strong up to $1.5 million and reasonably strong up to $2 Million.

    Just over 10% of the $1M to $2M “available” homes are still in presale stage and not built yet.

    Required Disclosure: Stats in this comment are hand calculated in real time by Ardell and not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

  13. 13

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 11

    Do you have any idea why I have to post that Required Disclosure all the time to say the work is mine and not theirs. Seems odd. Wouldn’t it make more sense that I would have to credit them when it is theirs vs constantly having to disclose that it’s my own work?

  14. 14

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 13 – It’s because you’re using their data. If you went out and searched the public records to track sales you wouldn’t need to do that. But their concern is being sued, either if their data is off or your calculations are off.

  15. 15
    Deerhawke says:

    I am not sure why people are so shocked by a million dollar price tag for a house, especially if it was built in the last decade.

    It is not unreasonable that the house have 2×6 walls and that it would be well-insulated and fully engineered for seismic stability. It would have been reviewed by half a dozen reviewers and inspected at least two dozen times by city officials. All the materials would be new so you can count on them lasting without much of a problem. So there is some basic level of quality behind the walls.

    And then we continue to want bigger houses despite smaller families. We eschew laminate (Formica) for quartz or granite. We look down on vinyl flooring and want tile in every bath and the laundry. We look down on basic white appliances and insist that everything be stainless. The list of things that were once upgrades but now are considered standard just goes on and on.

    So the result is that there really is almost no difference between the $/sf figure spent to build some detached townhouses in Delridge and some high-end single family homes built in Wallingford or Greenlake.

    So when you compare the cost of something built to recent code and recent consumer tastes to something built decades ago, you are comparing things that are qualitatively and quantitatively different.

  16. 16

    RE: Deerhawke @ 15 – I would agree with that, except the guarantee that the new materials would last–at least if they are new technology. In the past 40 years or so there have been several types of new siding and new plumbing that failed to last. And I’ve heard that early high efficiency furnaces were not exactly durable, but I haven’t actually seen a specific example of that.

    But also as noted by someone else, a lot of that “value” can be in the land due to the location.

  17. 17
    Deerhawke says:

    The land is really one of the bigger cost drivers these days. I somehow thought that the 3X rule might break down once SF lots rose past a certain point. But with a year’s lag period, it is still very much in effect.

  18. 18
    kenmorem says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 15
    basic new houses are engineered in less than 8 hours. the seismic system isn’t rocket science and really doesn’t add too much to the cost of a house aside from continuous sheathing and more anchors/nailing. 2×6 vs 2×4 isn’t much cost difference, but i’m sure it adds up marginally.

    i agree that the finishes are where things have really crept. but, not $1M worth. i just completely remodeled my house, including a seismic retrofit. for 2300SF, all new appliances, paint, skim coating, floor, drywall in places, fixtures, insulation, basically everything, i’m at <$80k. sure, my labor was "free", but let's not claim materials = $1M.

  19. 19
    Umka says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 15

    I am not sure why people are so shocked by a million dollar price tag for a house, especially if it was built in the last decade.

    Because it is still the same CHEAP pile of wood which should not cost more than 50-80K.
    These kinds of structures are not even considered as livable residence by (for example) the Mexican laws. Sorry, but it has to be built for a robust material. Houses in NW are jokes. Expensive jokes…

    Asphalt composite roof? NO WAY. I wonder who invented THIS?
    Why not to use simple roof tiles made from clay (or something similar)?
    I’m actually surprised that people here are fine with the price tags for such a low quality.

  20. 20
    Doug says:

    RE: Umka @ 19 – Can you build a house in Detroit for roughly the same cost as a house in Seattle? I’m not a builder, but I’m guessing the answer is yes. I’m not aware of HomeDepot charging more for materials in Seattle than in Detroit.

    And yet, houses are sold for different prices in the two cities. Weird. It’s almost like there’s some law of supply and demand in play.

  21. 21

    RE: Umka @ 19 – Tile roofs? I’d much rather have composition here in the PNW. You do realize that houses face different conditions here than in most of Mexico, right?

    RE: Doug @ 20 – I suspect the prices are slightly different, just as gasoline costs less in Renton than Redmond.

    But is anyone building houses in Detroit? A few years ago they were tearing them down because they had too many.

  22. 22
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: kenmorem @ 18
    $80,000 for a remodel on a 2300 sf house. Just materials? No architectural, engineering, permit or inspection costs? No labor, overhead or profit? This is actually kind of expensive. It is just this kind of logic that makes people believe they can make a fortune as a remodeler/flipper. Forget that day job, Ken. You too can be a flipper/builder. Jump on in– the water’s fine.

    RE: Umka @ 19

    Most of the houses in Mexico are concrete block with a stucco coating. Put that together with a terra cotta tile roof and you have a cozy place to hang out during our next big Seattle earthquake. You might even get your very own Darwin Award for your design.

  23. 23
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 12
    That’s some pretty good work.

    As I read this, and using the 6 months supply for a balanced market theory, there are about 28 surplus houses over $3 million. The “spillover” would essentially bring the $2.5-$3 million market up to balance. By reducing “balanced market” to 4 or 5 months, you could spill down one more level. Moving down from there, it’s short supply and a seller’s market all the way.

    I was going straight for the short answer that if there is short supply in the aggregate over $1million market, there won’t be any spillover downward from that point. This has much more texture.

  24. 24
    jon says:

    How many of the owners of $3+ million houses are down to their last 6 months of mortgage payments?

  25. 25
    GoHawks says:

    RE: jon @ 24 – Plus don’t $3+ homes typically take longer to sell? Fewer buyers, pickier buyers. Not like they are buying since their lease is up.

  26. 26

    RE: jon @ 24RE: GoHawks @ 25

    Go Hawks: Looking at the solds for a year 20% sold in a week or less, 36% sold in two weeks or less and a full 50% sold in 31 days or less. Only 23% took longer than 90 days on market and most of those took a lot longer than 90 days but surprisingly did not sell for a lot less than asking. Less, yes, but not as much as one would think and several without a price change.

    I don’t really understand the basis for Jon’s question, but the answer is virtually none. Some never had a mortgage. Some have a small mortgage because they borrowed a small amount against their property after originally buying it cash. A fair amount still have a substantial mortgage. Why would you think they were down to their last 6 payments?

    Required Disclosure: Stats in this comment are hand calculated in real time by Ardell and not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

  27. 27
    Umka says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 22

    Most of the houses in Mexico are concrete block with a stucco coating. Put that together with a terra cotta tile roof and you have a cozy place to hang out during our next big Seattle earthquake. You might even get your very own Darwin Award for your design.

    Well, I have been in other places in the world where earthquakes happen. Japan, Armenia, Peru, Guatemala. Did not see any wooden buildings (except maybe some really old structures).
    Yes, an earthquake might potentially happen. But it might happen in 1000 years. Or even in million years. We don’t know, but this should not be an excuse to keep building really cheap wooden boxes which depreciate with the speed of light. Especially in our NW climate where there is so much moisture.
    And we need to pay a fortune for this? No. You know, there are places in the world where for 1M dollars you probably can buy a few villages with the habitants…

  28. 28
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Umka @ 27 – You are surprised that people overpay for cheaply-built homes? It’s the same reason why Walmart makes so much money. People don’t want quality; they want new.

    I agree with you, by the way. I pay close attention to how homes are built, and I’d be glad to point out how poorly the $900K homes down the street from me have fared over the past 15 years (and what is it with most homeowners these days that think that a new home needs no exterior maintenance?). But good luck changing human nature.

  29. 29
    GoHawks says:

    RE: Umka @ 27 – Do the places around the world you reference have two of the five most valuable companies in the world (plus a host of others) competing for top tech talent within miles of one another? The two wealthiest people in the country live on the same street here.

    You toss out the whole concept of location, location, location.

  30. 30
    Blurtman says:

    You know, there are places in the world where for 1M dollars you probably can buy a few villages with the habitants…

    Hmmmmm……..

  31. 31

    By Umka @ 27:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 22

    Most of the houses in Mexico are concrete block with a stucco coating. Put that together with a terra cotta tile roof and you have a cozy place to hang out during our next big Seattle earthquake. You might even get your very own Darwin Award for your design.

    Well, I have been in other places in the world where earthquakes happen. Japan, Armenia, Peru, Guatemala. Did not see any wooden buildings (except maybe some really old structures).
    Yes, an earthquake might potentially happen. But it might happen in 1000 years. Or even in million years. We don’t know, but this should not be an excuse to keep building really cheap wooden boxes which depreciate with the speed of light. Especially in our NW climate where there is so much moisture.
    And we need to pay a fortune for this? No. You know, there are places in the world where for 1M dollars you probably can buy a few villages with the habitants…

    Deerhawk–they even build 4+ story building out of concrete block, although there is some concrete support in there too typically, but likely very little.

    Umka, you seemingly know very little about earthquakes or wooden construction. You do realize that there are wooden houses in this area that are over 100 years old, right? A wood structure will flex in an earthquake, and properly maintained wood siding will last well over 50 years, if not well over 100 years.

    But more to the point, different climates mean different building materials. The Navajo didn’t make their residences out of ice. Japan and Mexico don’t have vast forest areas, and the other places you mention probably don’t have many trees which would be viable for construction. And moisture is not really an issue with wood houses if they’re properly designed and maintained. I do wish though that more houses had larger overhangs.

  32. 32

    By redmondjp @ 28:

    I pay close attention to how homes are built, and I’d be glad to point out how poorly the $900K homes down the street from me have fared over the past 15 years (and what is it with most homeowners these days that think that a new home needs no exterior maintenance?).

    Exactly. I’ve seen a number of fairly new homes where lack of maintenance (and possibly design) has caused issues fairly early on in the life of the house. Typical areas are window trim and other trim areas. Even most composite siding should (or must) be periodically painted, but the trim is typically the most exposed area of the house. Also exposed are those “wood chimneys.” They tend to need to be painted 2x as often as the rest of the siding, although on the bright side they’d probably do much better in an earthquake than a brick chimney.

  33. 33
    Umka says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 30

    Umka, you seemingly know very little about earthquakes or wooden construction. You do realize that there are wooden houses in this area that are over 100 years old, right? A wood structure will flex in an earthquake, and properly maintained wood siding will last well over 50 years, if not well over 100 years.

    Yes, I’m not an engineer. Just another consumer who has seen other places in the world to compare with and has his subjective opinion. And this subjective opinion still states that at least the outer walls of the houses must me built from the robust/solid material.
    As well as the roof.

    The reason we build here from wood is not because we have a vast quantity of trees available around us. In that case you would see many real LOG houses. But nobody builds log houses. Instead we get a “cardboard” version made from the pressed wooden particles.
    I really doubt that in our 21 century we cannot invent some more robust, longer lasting, more durable and low maintenance sidings, for example.
    The problem is nobody wants that. Not the investors, not the constructors. Not the banks. Not the Home Depot stores. All these entities want normal people to buy CHEAP stuff. So it depreciates fast, and you need to keep spending $$$ to keep it up.
    The only looser in this chain is a poor homeowner.

  34. 34

    RE: Umka @ 32

    Your comments remind me of something my Mom said to me when seeing a house being built in the 80’s from inferior wood products. She said “I don’t think they ever read The Three Little Pigs”. :)

    Many if not most newer houses use a product that looks like wood but is primarily cement and sand (some wood particles) called Hardie Plank. It is the most popular siding product nationally and originally from Australia. A very thick cedar siding is still better IMO, but much pricier. Hardie products technically meet your requirements as to low maintenance. I remember them being used first as replacements for broken asbestos shingle and then to replace the inferior presswood boards that came out in the early to mid 90’s. Today they are the most used siding for reasonably priced homes.

    There are differences around the Country. Where I am from in PA there are many stone and brick masonry buildings. When I worked in Florida, cement block construction was preferred as they have every kind of termite known to man and wood did not do well there. Here in the Seattle Area, brick (especially brick foundations) or block are not preferred because they have no “give”.

    In LA beaches where I have also worked and still keep up with the market, the homes are a bit more robust because the salt water creates caustic influences on many products. You see more metal beams vs wood beams and stucco, cement exteriors vs wood and also tile roofs as the norm and almost never composite shingle. But I see tile roofs in climates with a lot of sun and almost no rain more than here. I have seen a few here, but honestly they don’t do particularly well as the tile is actually not the product that keeps you dry. It is the underlayments. Tile roofs do much better in dryer, sunnier climes.

  35. 35
    Gabe Sanders says:

    Sooner or later the prices will rise enough to induce more sellers to list their homes.

  36. 36
    Go Hawks! says:

    RE: Gabe Sanders @ 34 – Only if they intend to leave the area. Higher prices force on the fence move up buyers to sit. The move up house is getting more expensive than their current home.

    Prices may reach a point where landlords decide to cash out.

  37. 37

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 33:

    Many if not most newer houses use a product that looks like wood but is primarily cement and sand (some wood particles) called Hardie Plank. It is the most popular siding product nationally and originally from Australia. A very thick cedar siding is still better IMO, but much pricier. Hardie products technically meet your requirements as to low maintenance. I remember them being used first as replacements for broken asbestos shingle and then to replace the inferior presswood boards that came out in the early to mid 90’s.

    The infamous LP siding and other similar products were one of the types of things I was thinking of when referring above to products that “failed to last.”

    When the market started getting hot a couple of years ago I started to notice houses with obviously defective siding going for prices that did not reflect the condition of the siding. That type of situation is still surprisingly common because a lot of the real wood substitute or composition products just don’t last, particularly if they are not painted regularly or are physically damaged (e.g. kids hitting it, screws put into it, etc.)

  38. 38
    kenmorem says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 22

    DH: you’re one of my favorite posters here and you’ve got boots on the ground and give good feedback.

    $80k included all new appliances, tools, and hiring a few specialty subs. no, i don’t get contractor discount prices either.

    but, if you’re saying $80k is expensive for materials (which was basically every single interior finish in the house), would you then be suggesting total materials cost for a new 2300SF house would be <$100k (extrapolating)? if so, how do we get to $1M?

    assuming a 4-person crew at $100/hr for a whole year you're looking at $208k for labor. you and i know 1 year is too long for building new. so, where's the missing $700k?

  39. 39
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 36 – I saw something that gave me hope today – along 140th Ave NE east of Bridal Trails State Park, there is new construction sheathed with ALL PLYWOOD (not OSB)! So there must be a few builders out there that still get it.

  40. 40

    RE: redmondjp @ 38 – Or someone hired a contractor to do a custom built house.

  41. 41

    RE: kenmorem @ 37

    Throwing in some basic numbers as building up from a 2,300 sf remodel to cost out new construction leaves out land cost, foundation cost, services to the lot if not already there and many other factors.

    Not answering your question, just throwing this out for Deerhawke and while I’m at it asking Deerhawke what the cost of a foundation would be for a 2,500 sf house – 1,300 main floor footprint not counting the garage floor and assuming on a crawl vs a slab for the house and a level lot.

    Using King County as a whole for these stats and built and sold in the last 6 mos.

    median price $727,500
    median home size 2,618 sf
    median lot size 4,825 sf
    median price per sf $274

    When you target what that median represents you find it is a 2 story house without a basement built in Renton by an average builder with the house of average quality. Lot value $240,000, sold price of new 2,530 sf house $732,500, lot size 5,000.

    To take that to $1 Million vs $730k-ish you get

    3,500 sf on a 7,350 sf lot in Redmond by the same quality builder and build-out with land cost of $350k OR 3,100 sf on a 5,800 sf lot also in Redmond by a higher quality builder.

    Move that $1 Million to Kirkland and you get a 3,250 sf house on a 5,200 sf lot and about the same as the 2nd Redmond example

    Move that $1 Million to Maple Leaf in Seattle and you get a 2,600 sf house on a 6,400 sf lot

    Back to your question “where’s the missing $700k?”

    $1 Million divided by 3 is $335,000 or so for the land. That leaves you $365,000 to account for. vs $700k. You started at interior remodel upgrades on a 2,300 sf house. Foundation, framing, roof, connecting utilities, plumbing and electrical from scratch, windows, etc. and PROFIT. Where the land is $500,000 vs $335,000 then the $1 Million changes to $1.5 Million (3 x lot)

    Deerhawke, I use 3X lot to price a teardown where a single new house will go in it’s place. Services already exist to the property and sometimes a new foundation poured but sometimes not. I don’t have to cost out what happens after the tear down sells and the new house comes on at 3 x tear down purchase price. Loosely I thought it was 1/3rd for land, 1/3rd for cost of new house, 1/3rd for profit and contingencies.

    In Seattle for a 1 out; 1 in exchange , not broken into 2 to 6 townhomes, do they usually use the existing foundation, main sewer and water lines and only new of those if they can’t for some reason use existing?

    This is helping me do my work at hand which is to price out a flip to test asking price. Bought at lot value but remodeled vs torn down. Theoretically it should fall halfway between 3 x lot and lot value depending on what they did to it. So I’m counting up the estimated cost of the improvements now because the limitation is double what was spent on it. So $300k for tear down equals $900k for new or $600k for remodeled. But are those new cabinets vs painted over old ones with some granite or quartz dropped on top of the old ones? Does it still need a new roof within 5 years? Determining the right price of a flip is harder than pricing a teardown or a new house, as all flips are not alike. To be $600k when bought at $300k I want to see about $150k in improvements and not just “a lick and a promise” remodel.

    Required Disclosure: Stats in this comment are hand calculated in real time by Ardell and not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

  42. 42

    For a used house the ratio drops from 33.3% land to 50% land depending on age of house and upgrades and remodels.

    I think I can use this example because it is/was my recent listing.

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Bellevue/12430-SE-25th-St-98005/home/508315

    Built in 1959.

    At the very end of 2012 the then agent priced it at lot value of $410,000 and it sold for $510,000 to an owner occupant vs builder. So at that time Owner Occupant buyers paid $100,000 more than the builder would pay to tear it down. That’s more of a rough estimate since I was on the buyer side and to see what builders actually offered you have to be on the sell side.

    Early this year, Feb 2 to be more exact, I did the same as the previous agent listing it at roughly lot value of $700,000. The lot value tested out at $730,000 but admittedly by the builder that was a bit on the high side with last lot selling for $650,000. It sold for $200,000 over lot value which adds up as the original $100,000 plus 2 x cost of upgrades.

    So 1/3rd = lot value is only for new construction. The house value diminishes as the land value increases. Should settle at 50% land to 50% house and maintained and modestly upgraded to preserve the 50/50 ratio.

    So that same Million Dollar house if older…say late 80’s, should be on a $500,000 lot vs a $335,000 lot.

  43. 43
    Gooddeal says:

    I’m glad to hear people care about how a house is built. I’m currently in the process of designing a house that will be built in the near future. It’s going to last forever. SIPS panel framing using MgO sheathing instead of OSB (Using Foreverboard sheathing, not the cheap Chinese MgO), liquid applied vapor permeable housewrap, exterior full brick siding, 1″ rainscreen air gap, mortar catcher, Boral flyash siding at gable ends, Boral trim, windows inset into walls (“Innie Window”) for protection with Tremco T3 window sealing for airtightness, 2 ft roof overhangs, all metal standing-seam roof, encapsulated crawlspace with 10 mil vapor barrier, 4″ EPS foam under slab and sidewalls, radon coating on concrete slab, Foreverboard instead of sheetrock, upper floor acoustically decoupled and insulated, Roxul insulation in interior walls, etc. etc.

    When completed the house will be extremely earthquake resistant, practically fireproof, moisture/rot proof, mold proof, and pest proof with energy bills averaging around $500 a year for a 3800 sq/ft home.

  44. 44
    Gooddeal says:

    I’m glad to hear people care about how a house is built. I’m currently in the process of designing a house that will be built in the near future. It’s going to last forever. SIPS panel framing using MgO sheathing instead of OSB (Using Foreverboard sheathing, not the cheap Chinese MgO), liquid applied vapor permeable housewrap, exterior full brick siding, 1″ rainscreen air gap, mortar catcher, Boral flyash siding at gable ends, Boral trim, windows inset into walls (“Innie Window”) for protection with Tremco T3 window sealing for airtightness, 2 ft roof overhangs, all metal standing-seam roof, encapsulated crawlspace with 10 mil vapor barrier, 4″ EPS foam under slab and sidewalls, radon coating on concrete slab, Foreverboard instead of sheetrock, upper floor acoustically decoupled and insulated, Roxul insulation in interior walls, etc. etc.

    When completed the house will be extremely earthquake resistant, practically fireproof, moisture/rot proof, mold proof, and pest proof with energy bills averaging around $500 a year for a 3800 sq/ft home.

  45. 45

    RE: Gooddeal @ 42 – My house has 33″ overhangs, but I think part of that is due to flying golf ball concerns. ;-)

    It does affect the slope of the roof, but the slope is still adequate and makes walking on the roof slightly easier.

    I wouldn’t be too assured of being pest proof. Rodent can dig under footings (unless maybe you somehow cement over the entire crawl space???), and I’ve seen them get in through an area on a fairly new (but inexpensive) house around an earthquake strap, and seen them get into an expensive house’s crawlspace through a drainage pipe. They are relentless!

  46. 46
    Jasper says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 42 – Four-inch thick foam is a poor material for letting your house rest on. Over the years, it is likely to compress by up to half an inch. The building codes do not take that long-term compression into account. Can you say “differential settlement”? There are other ways to insulate your lowest floor, such that your structure has a direct path to ground (instead of through horizontal foam).

    The Foreverboard (MgO) sounds like an intriguing alternative to OSB and gypsum board. I wonder why its manufacturer does not explicitly suggest it as an alternative to plywood. And an “extremely earthquake resistant” house with “exterior full brick siding” is quite a feat.

    I hope you have found window installers that are both confident and competent at installing “innie windows”. It has been so long since “innies” were used, that it is hard to find installers to put them in. I hope that you have placed and sized your windows so that they make your house beautiful (both inside and out), instead of for the convenience of the SIPS manufacturer’s designers. If your walls are thick, you might want to angle the interior walls at the sides of the windows, so that the light bounces around better.

    Please let us know if you are successful at acoustically decoupling the upper level of the house from the lower level.

  47. 47
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 41 – I am trying to understand who would pay $914,500 for a 1,990 Sq. Ft crap shack. Is Bellevue now San Francisco?

  48. 48
    Gooddeal says:

    Hi Jasper,

    No detail has been overlooked. Angle of the sun during summer and winter, wind direction, sunset azimuth – everything that will facilitate passive energy use and beauty. The windows will be installed under my supervision to ensure it’s done right. you’re correct, you don’t want your foundation on top of foam. The stem walls and footings connect directly to the earth. The foam is only on the sides of the walls and under the rat slab which isn’t structural.

    The sips panels have high shear resistance which is great against earthquakes. I expect the brick siding to need repairing after a major quake but it’s a worthwhile trade off for the ease of maintenance and fire protection.

    Foreverboard is currently only a Sheetrock replacement. The company is working on a structural sheathing product which hopefully will be released soon.

    I have to say, building your own house is the way to go.

  49. 49
    Jasper says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 46 – Awesome!

  50. 50

    RE: Blurtman @ 45

    I represented the seller so can’t answer that but am wondering if you would have said the same thing if it had sold at the $700,000 asking price. :)

  51. 51
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 48 – Great job, but jeepers! Not even token staged landscaping. Was the buyer from China or perhaps California?

  52. 52

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16
    Sounds Like the Current Lack of Evidence Data for Wire Tapping….LOL

    Either ya can’t prove the data exists and allegations are unfounded and should be redacted from the analysis…although “intuitively obvious none-the-less” to the politics of the moment?

    LOL….how about some “Russian” type allegations with the same exact data hole….ohhhhhh, that’s different? LOL

    I call that cherry picking data with no evidence?

  53. 53
    Brian says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 42

    RE: Blurtman @ 51

    Wow, 300ft from some massive power transmission lines. At least they won’t need to turn on the heat in the winter. Well, if they’re Chinese then they might not even care if they don’t even live there.

  54. 54

    “Oh what a Beautiful Morning” it is waking up to a compliment from Blurtman, of all people. :) No and No. I’ll add a third No to a question you didn’t ask as I helped the buyers buy it back in 2013 when there were 18 offers and they also bought it all cash and no. Not from China. Not from California. This time around same result and also not from China and not from California. 2nd highest bidder of many in this most recent sale, also not Chinese or from California. Long term PNW people were 2nd to relocating from the East Coast to here.

    I think you are in Sammamish and my closing this Friday was also multiple offers bidding up about exactly half of this amount and again…no…my buyer in the next closing in Sammamish won in multiple offers and not from China…not from California.

    My clients win in multiple offers almost always…that’s how they have houses. Rarely do I have a client from China. Almost never.

    I honestly think people are just pulling “fake news” out of the air sometimes. :) Alternative Fact: LOTS of other people buy houses…every day…win in multiple offers even.

    I did stage it but I price it before I stage it. I try to stage it more in a “place holder” fashion, I build bed platforms out of moving boxes, top it with an air mattress and lots of bedding. I just try to show what size of beds fit and give the rooms more perspective so that the photo array makes more sense. I don’t stage for people coming to the house as much as I stage for photos and I rarely change the asking price because it “looks better” in the pictures when I’m done.

    Now Blurtman, honestly asking here. Do you think this house might be worth $185,000? If the builder offered $730,000 to throw the house away then the “house” sold for $185,000. If I demo’d the house vs stage it I would have achieved $730,000 plus the cost of demo.

    Generally it is better to buy a $900,000 house on a $730,000 piece of dirt than a gorgeous $900,000 house on a $250,000 piece of dirt. Land appreciates. Houses depreciate.

  55. 55

    RE: Blurtman @ 51
    Staging a House is Not a Complete Remodel
    Or sellers would all lose money…just patch over rot, cracks and insect infestation with paint and plastics…the home inspectors will be fooled. Those laminated services cupboards can easily all be white washed with paint [albeit painters tape to preserve the laminate beauty costs more labor….it looks a Hades of lot better]

  56. 56
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 54RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 54 – I always am complimentary of your skills, Ardell, and may have in the past unintentionally offended you by assuming you were a Realtor®. Developer offer aside, what is the price of the land based upon comps? And I will of course keep you in mind when we put Blurt Manor on the market.

  57. 57

    RE: Gooddeal @ 44
    Don’t Use Cement Foundations and Especially Don’t Use Real Brick

    Earthquakes can crumble it all easily…use phony plastic bricking on glue-board exterior panels and add steel chimneys inside the old cracked brick ones…

    Pilings are much better than cement….the home will ride the earthquake waves with the base lumber flexibility….its that simple and overall, probably much cheaper to build too.

    Trump is right….ya can do things cheaper and better too. Money is not the answer.

  58. 58
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 57

    The house is in a forest and the #1 danger is fire which is why I’m sticking with real brick. I’ll be using additional reinforcements to anchor the brick wall to the sheathing but I’m well aware that if the big one hits all the brick is coming down. However, my house will most likely still be standing unlike most houses so it’s not too bad a compromise I suppose. Using real brick with an air gap provides additional insulation value, pest resistance and will protect the SIPS panels from damage in addition to the zero maintenance. Plastic brick veneer will deteriorate over time with UV exposure, and since it’s usually attached directly to the exterior panels you have thermal bridging as well as a conduit for moisture to travel through to the framing when it inevitably leaks and it’s higher maintenance. The life-cycle cost is higher than brick. As far as siding goes, brick has the cheapest life-cycle cost. Only stone may last longer but it is prohibitively expensive and more labor intensive to install..

    Besides, the brick is non-structural so it’s not a huge deal if it gets damaged. Also, no chimney for me. I’m not a fan of fireplaces.

    My foundation will have drilled pilings that connect to ledge. They serve as the main support. You cannot go without using concrete though for sidewalls if you’re going for an encapsulated crawlspace. I’m going this route to improve the indoor air quality and to reduce heating and cooling demands.

    Thanks for the tips everyone. Building science changes constantly and everyone has a different way of doing things. The most important thing I’ve learned is that you have to design everything to work together as a whole system to ensure that the house is dry, strong, energy efficient, healthy, safe and durable.

  59. 59
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 58 – Are you by chance incorporating any passive solar into the building, or do you not have the southern exposure to do so? I’ve been studying this topic since the 1970s (back when actor Dennis Weaver was building homes out of used tires packed with dirt). Having brick/stone floors and walls (and low-E glass) that absorb radiant energy from the sun, when the sun is at a low angle in the winter, with eaves that block the sun from those same surfaces in the summer – ideas like that.

  60. 60
    Gooddeal says:

    By redmondjp @ 59:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 58 – Are you by chance incorporating any passive solar into the building, or do you not have the southern exposure to do so? I’ve been studying this topic since the 1970s (back when actor Dennis Weaver was building homes out of used tires packed with dirt). Having brick/stone floors and walls (and low-E glass) that absorb radiant energy from the sun, when the sun is at a low angle in the winter, with eaves that block the sun from those same surfaces in the summer – ideas like that.

    Yes, I am incorporating passive solar ideas. I don’t have the numbers with atm but I believe the summer sun angle at 3pm is approx 60 degrees while the winter sun angle is something like 10 degrees. I will have a covered porch on the south and west sides with eaves that will block the sun during the hottest times but allow light through during the coolest times. South facing glass will have a higher SHGC for high solar heat gain and the rest of the windows will optimize for low u-value (0.17). All operable windows will be tilt and turn.

    I’ve been trying hard to follow the Passivehaus standards from Europe, though I’m willing to stray from the standard if complete implementation is not cost-effective. There’s a movement called the “pretty good house” which advocates for energy efficiency, durability and good indoor air quality to a reasonable level that won’t break the bank.

  61. 61

    By Gooddeal @ 58:

    Building science changes constantly and everyone has a different way of doing things.

    Yes, but a lot of those changes are designed to either save material or labor costs for builders, perhaps at the expense of quality. And if it’s something new technology, there’s possibly going to be concerns about durability.

    Just recently I saw a house that had a fake shake product. Turns out it was an Owens Corning product, and a quick search indicated there was an earlier product of the same name, but completely different materials, that was involved in class action lawsuits. That original product was released in 2002 and apparently didn’t even last five years before problems started occurring. And there have been similar problems in the past with siding and plumbing materials where problems started fairly quickly.

    A lot of problems though are also builder related. The Hardiplank siding Ardell mentioned is frequently improperly installed. And as I’ve mention many years ago, there were several Snohomish County condo projects built in the late 90s or early 2000s where installing vinyl siding properly was apparently beyond the skill level of the contractors’ workers.

    Building a custom house you have a lot of choices and a lot of control. That unfortunately is not true for most of those buying new construction. For them choices are made primarily based on cost savings.

  62. 62
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 41

    If you work back from the price of a given new house, roughly a third is the land, although I am seeing people buying at prices that I think must be closer to 34-36%. The assumption at around a third (or put another way, at 3X) is that the sewer and water connections are good and the teardown is not too large or filled with too much stuff. You would also deduct from that if there had a lot of trees that needed to be dealt with, slope that required export, other site conditions that would cost extra, etc.

    The next third is roughly the cost of the structure from soup to nuts– or rather, from plans/permits to staging/final clean. But this is really more like 38% for a good builder these days.

    The final third is more like 29%.

    The first 8 percent, the cream on the top of the bottle, goes to real estate agents (6%) and excise tax (currently 1.78%) and then the remainder of that 8% pays for title and escrow.

    That leaves 21% which seems like a healthy margin except we forgot to factor in financing which runs about 6%. Therefore the builder should make around 15% or the bank will simply not finance the deal. Banks don’t see a minimum 15% margin as the builder’s margin. They don’t care about that. From their perspective, that 15% it is half of their 30% margin of safety before they face any potential loss.

    So the builder makes, let’s say 15%. Not bad on a million plus dollar house. Sounds like a good payday.

    But many builders don’t have enough of their own money to do the deal. They bring in an investor to fund some or all of the equity part of the deal. The bank will fund– at most– 85% of the land and construction costs. They want somebody to put in that extra 15% as a part of their margin of safety against potential loss (that is the other 15% of their margin of safety).

    So to build a million dollar house, you have to put up $150,000 of your own money or have an investor put it down for you. Right now, most of them are getting a 10% return on their money.

    So this, in brief is the outline of the infill single-family spec building in Seattle. Or rather, it is the outline of things, when they go well.

    Remember that this is a speculative venture. If there is a downturn that lasts more than a few months, you might end up spending a year making building something and making little or nothing. If it is particularly bad like in ’82 and ’92 you end up taking a check to closing rather than going to pick up a check. If it is like 2008, you lose your house, your truck, your tools– it is like your life became the subject of some really bad country music…

  63. 63
    Deerhawke says:

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 41:

    RE: kenmorem @ 37

    This is helping me do my work at hand which is to price out a flip to test asking price. Bought at lot value but remodeled vs torn down. Theoretically it should fall halfway between 3 x lot and lot value depending on what they did to it. So I’m counting up the estimated cost of the improvements now because the limitation is double what was spent on it. So $300k for tear down equals $900k for new or $600k for remodeled. But are those new cabinets vs painted over old ones with some granite or quartz dropped on top of the old ones? Does it still need a new roof within 5 years? Determining the right price of a flip is harder than pricing a teardown or a new house, as all flips are not alike. To be $600k when bought at $300k I want to see about $150k in improvements and not just “a lick and a promise” remodel.

    Ardell, it is actually pretty hard to make money in the remodeling game. It is hard to know when to stop improving and putting in new stuff. You have to remember that the best remodel is a lipstick remodel. Finish some space in the basement, put in new entry level appliances in the kitchen, paint the cabinets, put some quartz on top, paint the exterior, spruce up the landscaping and put out the for-sale yardarm. If you put in $150K in improvements on a $300k remodel, it sure better sell for more than $600k or the only people making money are the agents.

    Also remember that the further out from the employment centers you go, the less the land is worth as a percentage of the new house. Cross from Seattle to Shoreline and the lot multiplier goes from 3X to 4X. The reason? If you build a house in Shoreline, it is going to cost roughly the same as the same house in Seattle. Sure, the subs are not travelling as far and don’t need to fight Seattle traffic as much, but they are not going to cut their prices because you are building outside the city. So people building in Shoreline or Everett and Mill Creek build less designed and detailed houses where they watch every penny. And they pay a lot less for the land so it accounts for a smaller proportion of the overall build.

  64. 64
    justme says:

    Capital controls in China have now proven to be effective, and the china-money is drying up, all over the world.

    A report from Better Dwelling in Canada.
    http://betterdwelling.com/chinas-capital-outflows-just-reversed-bad-news-for-global-real-estate/#_

    “The world’s greatest overseas real estate binge might finally be over. According to the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), China saw its foreign exchange reserves rise to over US$3 trillion. The unexpected rise is the first in 8 months, and may indicate that the new regulatory crackdown on capital outflows is actually working. This is bad for real estate markets that have seen a sudden surge of buying activity from Mainland Chinese buyers. Companies now require government approval to purchase property abroad, and they can’t easily obtain it unless buying property has always been their primary business. Break the rules, you get a three year ban on exporting capital, and are investigated for money laundering.”

  65. 65
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 61

    It’s so true that most contractors typically use the lowest-cost option when building tract homes. They don’t engineer the home to truly last, nor do they take into account the landscape and solar orientation. Many of these new materials have great benefits but significant drawbacks so the design should take these weaknesses into account so they don’t affect the overall build. That said, I have noticed that people are becoming much more attentive to how houses are built and companies are providing higher quality products to meet the demand. Just look at the Tremco T3 window sealing system, it’s nuts. Or Huber’s Zip sheathing. The construction industry is finally realizing that proper moisture management and airtightness are the key to a quality home. The rest of the world discovered this decades ago.

    As our fellow Bubble members have brought up, homes are currently selling for much more than their construction costs. I believe that the price of homes have risen more quickly than the cost of construction. It has reached a point where you will get much more value building a custom home than buying a tract home. You can pay 750K and get an older, ho-hum home with minimal architectural features, high utility bills and poor indoor air quality or spend $800-850K and get a showcase home with low running costs and every convenience. During the great recession it was worth purchasing a pre-built home since they were undervalued vs the cost of construction but that ship has sailed.

  66. 66
    Marc says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 65 – Gooddeal,

    Are you acting as your own general contractor and hiring subs directly or are you using a GC or design/build firm? The reason I ask is that in recent months I have encountered numerous situations where people bought a tear down or massive remodel, got well into if not all the way through permit and design, and then cancelled their plans and sold or are trying to sell the property. The costs simply rose too high from when they first began exploring this option to when they were ready or nearly ready to start.

    And even before that, over the past couple of years I have heard first hand from clients and people I come across professionally who did jump in only to become extremely frustrated when subs kept flaking out and/or raising their prices mid-stream. It’s hard for a person building one house to compete when a bigger builder calls the subs.

    As a result, I have advised clients for quite some time, that building new or even a major remodel must be approached very cautiously because it is as likely today as it has ever been for a project to take longer and cost more than expected (and probably moreso).

  67. 67

    By Marc @ 66:

    . . .. I have encountered numerous situations where people bought a tear down or massive remodel, got well into if not all the way through permit and design, and then cancelled their plans and sold or are trying to sell the property. The costs simply rose too high from when they first began exploring this option to when they were ready or nearly ready to start.

    I thought you were going another way there–to the issue of whether the owner had to be a registered contractor because they decided to sell. [For those who don’t know, Marc is also an attorney.]

    And even before that, over the past couple of years I have heard first hand from clients and people I come across professionally who did jump in only to become extremely frustrated when subs kept flaking out and/or raising their prices mid-stream. It’s hard for a person building one house to compete when a bigger builder calls the subs.

    You can also run into an issue where the various contractors just don’t get along as well because they don’t have a prior working relationship (and seemingly don’t want to develop one).

  68. 68
    Marc says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 62 – In this market I can’t believe builders are still giving away 6% in commissions on new houses (especially in Greenlake/Wallingford where I believe you build). Maybe I can understand giving 3% to an agent to list the house if he or she was materially involved in acquiring the property. But to me that means a lot more than simply writing up an offer on a FSBO deal. It really blows me away if builders are paying 3% to the listing agent and then paying for the staging on top. That is ri-donkulous.

    3% for the buyer’s agent commission seems excessive at your price points ($1M to $2M) but maybe it’s worthwhile if you’re going to be aggressive on pricing. But even then, that should only be if the house actually gets listed in the MLS. If you have an offer roll in prior to listing the house, I wouldn’t hesitate to knock that down to 2.5%.

    Tell you what, hire me and I’ll list your $1M+ houses for 2% and cover the cost of professional photos and staging. I’d also ask you to consider a 2.5% buyer agent commission. At your price point that is still a crap ton. And if they don’t have an agent, you keep all of the buy-side commission, i.e., no dual agency.

  69. 69

    RE: Brian @ 53
    Power Cables Radiation

    I’m a Nuclear Engineer so am qualified on this topic…LOL

    1st, power line radiation has been poo-pood by MSM and politicians as harmless [yet you can stand under a power line holding a fluorescent light tube by the ends and it lights up]…same with cell phones, no cancer risk [excluding the U of W Physics Dept Prof that totally disagrees and calls it dangerous radiation levels, especially long-term users and kids IOWs]. LOL

    Same with Global Warming….the evidence is glacier melt, but would this have occurred regardless of man’s impact? No one really knows for sure….ya need a blind study [an Earth without humans] and to my knowledge, that’s impossible.

    My take? I have an EMF meter I measure work space radiation [those old fashion adding machines were really bad] or that laptop curser finger movement is also red in EMF radiation. I can say LCD/LED TVs are very small green level EMFs, albeit the old CRTs were horrifying. When shopping for a home near power lines bring your EMF ghost hunter meter to find a safe home…LOL

  70. 70

    RE: Marc @ 68

    Deerhawke can update this with changes but it was common for a very long time for the agent who found the teardown to forfeit a commission on the purchase in exchange for listing the product(s) built on the property. So 3% on “new” was common but that included the commission on the purchase of the teardown lot.

  71. 71
    Brian says:

    By softwarengineer @ 69:

    RE: Brian @ 53
    Power Cables Radiation
    you can stand under a power line holding a fluorescent light tube by the ends and it lights up

    Wow… never knew that. Sure enough, there are videos. Yikes.

  72. 72
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: Marc @ 66

    I’m shocked that there are people that would get that far in the process only to pull out at the end because they didn’t do their homework. If you’re building you need to know precisely what your soft and hard costs are going to be before you break ground. A lot of contractors will even do a fixed package price.

    While I would love to be an owner-builder I believe it doesn’t work out well in the Seattle area. It’s tough finding quality subs to work with you and more likely they’ll charge you more since they’re in such high demand here. It took me a long time but I’ve finally found a design/build firm that can build me a quality home without charging me a premium. I’ve noticed a lot of custom home builders that are overcharging based on their name recognition alone though I won’t drop names…

    The firm I went with doesn’t use subs except for electrical and maybe plumbing so they don’t have the issues of subs changing their prices and they can maintain a certain level of quality. They also own their own heavy equipment so they don’t need to rent anything. This allows them to operate profitably while charging less.

    Ideally you would want an architect to draft your plans however they are expensive since they often charge a fixed percentage of the total build, like 8%. If you have the time to learn about construction and design (read books, watch Youtube, browse greenbuildingtalk) you can cut costs by hiring a home designer and just being more specific about what you’re looking for which is what I did. My design/build firm charges $10K to design a house. This includes engineering. If you select them to build it, they will credit the $10K back to you. To build, they charge only 12% over cost. I have the option of buying materials and supplies myself and they’ll just add their 12% fee to the invoices. They will prepare a package price for you and will not exceed it. However, if you know of a sub that can do the same work for less, or you find a fixture or appliance for less you are welcome to use your own. You can also do work yourself if you’re able to. I know of another local builder who can build for a lot less while maintaining high quality by forcing all subs to sign a contract with very, very specific requirements in order to get paid. That way you can use a sub that charges lower labor rates but still get quality work because they must do it to your requirements or they won’t get paid. I didn’t go with them because they don’t specialize in SIPS.

    There are a few builders who can build for less not because they cut corners but because they have low overhead and processes in place to reduce costs while ensuring a high level of quality. It’s worth doing your homework to find these gems.

  73. 73

    RE: Deerhawke @ 63

    I’m not really approaching this from that viewpoint. What I do is add up the money I see added to the house to come up with whether the asking price of the flip makes sense. This becomes very important due to appraisal issues. The one I am “working on” should not sell at the asking price or anywhere near the asking price. I have to change the numbers a bit so as not to identify the specific house I am talking about.

    My clients like it…but… House was just purchased for $560,000 a few months ago and now asking $925,000. I’m being generous when I say I can find about $20,000 of improvements.

    I’m not worried about the poor flipper making enough money. I’m thinking…really? $925,000? Cheapest “new” bathroom vinyl floors, spray painted the tub, bad job of new and cheapest looking subway tile above it. Spray painted all the doors and door frames with layers of paint stuck in the handles? Changed the existing hardwood floor color to dark, but with no “finish” on it at all?

    For a price jump to $925,000 I want to see about $150,000 of improvements and I’m not counting that pretty new mulch for much. :)

  74. 74

    RE: Blurtman @ 56

    I didn’t mean to suggest you ever treat me badly. Just was surprised to see you be so bright and sunny on a rainy Monday morning. :)

    “what is the price of the land based upon comps?”

    Once you are on market “comps” are meaningless. Once you have an actual offer from a builder, that IS the price of the dirt. You don’t have to guess it from comps.

    This agrees with Deerhawke’s #62 “…roughly a third is the land, although I am seeing people buying at prices that I think must be closer to 34-36%.” and the builder admitted he was over-bidding by that 1 to 2.6% because he lost out on the last one sold.

    It is not a theoretical guess at land price based on “comps” once you have a real offer in hand from a builder who is planning to tear the house down. That land value becomes “real” at that point.

  75. 75
    Kmac says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 63

    Thanks for injecting the reality of the numbers into the “those evil profiteering builders” conversation.
    I was tempted to do so myself, but wouldn’t have done as good of a job and frankly didn’t feel like type that much.

    Also good to hear you confirm my thoughts that outlying areas are more likely to be 4x lot, which is what I have experienced and agree with, instead of making the general 3x statement.
    Also, utilities (water, sewer (septic) and power) need to be included in that 4x number.

    But now even out in the county, dummies are running vacant land prices way out of proportion to where it makes sense to do anything with (unless it is your personal “dream” property?).

    Also, regarding osb sheathing (“glue board” for those not in the trades;-) ) , my experience is that osb is actually a better product in at least regarding short term exposure to the elements than what real plywood is.
    It initially repels water where the plywood actually absorbs it, which then can start to buckle and delaminate while waiting for the building envelope to be completed.
    I have actually even read some reports that verified what I was witnessing, but I don’t remember where.
    Long term performance of plywood vs osb (and which one is better? ) is another topic altogether which I will not make a statement about here.

    I have been surprised though at the amount of experienced tradesmen that don’t even install roof sheathing correctly. All panels, whether plywood or osb, are supposed to be gapped, but most of these guys go tight, which can cause some serious issues after the first season humidity change. Same with the wall sheathing, but to a lesser degree.

    I do love all of the “cheap builders using osb” cat calls from the uninformed sidelines though. Great entertainment….

  76. 76
    Kmac says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 67:

    By Marc @ 66:

    . . .. I have encountered numerous situations where people bought a tear down or massive remodel, got well into if not all the way through permit and design, and then cancelled their plans and sold or are trying to sell the property. The costs simply rose too high from when they first began exploring this option to when they were ready or nearly ready to start.

    I thought you were going another way there–to the issue of whether the owner had to be a registered contractor because they decided to sell. [For those who don’t know, Marc is also an attorney.]

    This is an issue that I wish would get more attention.
    Flippers are rqd. by state law to be licensed contractors even if they hire a general to do the job.
    Many (most)are not.
    Should be easy to prove at the closing table (<2yr ownership) with maybe an exemption for a hardship case.
    Level the playing field for those who play by the rules.

  77. 77
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: Kmac @ 75

    OSB got a bad wrap because in the past they were used with poor adhesives that delaminated when wet. These days you have Huber’s Advantech OSB that is superior to plywood when it comes to moisture retention and stability. Whether using OSB or plywood make sure to control moisture so it doesn’t stay saturated, such as using vapor permeable membranes that allow them to dry properly.

  78. 78
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: OA @ 78

    Sure thing. I’m not sure if I can post their names here so I’ll send you an email. You can now edit your post and remove your email address to prevent spam. Also, check out a housebytheparkblog. The writer did a great job of listing every cost incurred when building his home.

  79. 79
    OA says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 79

    Thank you, appreciate it!

  80. 80

    RE: Kmac @ 75
    How My Glue-board Exterior Panels Never Rot

    Don’t replace…seal for 1/100th the cost…I use Goop in $200 quantities on the bottom 18 inches of my house like every 5-20 years…seal all seams and cracks, repaint… the sun ultra-violet can crack it after like 10 years….no problem repair with Goop.

    Now, why don’t they build real new homes sealed right that way????

    Brainless contractors IMO.

    Trump is right, more from less…

  81. 81

    By Kmac @ 76:

    This is an issue that I wish would get more attention.
    Flippers are rqd. by state law to be licensed contractors even if they hire a general to do the job.
    Many (most)are not.
    Should be easy to prove at the closing table (<2yr ownership) with maybe an exemption for a hardship case.
    Level the playing field for those who play by the rules.

    Unfortunately it’s not that clear. That legislation was yet another of the legislature’s good intentions/poor implementation situations from the not-so-distant past. There is no 2 year holding period time limit. I’d have to look at that statute again, but the last time I did it really seemed to be very ambiguous about which situations would or would not be covered.

  82. 82
    Umka says:

    RE: Kmac @ 75

    Also, regarding osb sheathing (“glue board” for those not in the trades;-) ) , my experience is that osb is actually a better product in at least regarding short term exposure to the elements than what real plywood is.

    Is this the same OSB which contains significant amount of the formaldehyde? No, thanks! Not a good choice… It might be better for the exposure to the moisture, but not so good for a human’s health…

  83. 83
    Marc says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 70 – Yes, I’m well aware of the 3% bird dog fee and would consider it money well spent for a true off market opportunity the builder would not have found otherwise. And that goes double today because pretty much everybody with a pulse has probably seen a fixer down the street sell for a mint or received multiple “we want to buy your house” letters. Greed is contagious and it’s running amuk all across Puget Sound.

    I frequently represent homeowners who have received offers and/or solicitations from agents and builders and have come to know quite a few of the players. I also recently began compiling a list of small and medium builders for my own account as I will be selling some property soon. I was amazed how many people are doing this right now and that’s not even counting the mere flippers.

  84. 84

    RE: Kmac @ 75
    Just Replaced My Roof About a Year Ago

    It was about 24 years old with some peeling, but did not leak [I did have a septic vent pipe leak a couple times, same place]….fixed it with Goop….LOL….Goop fixes anything, even screen door plastic hinges stay glued longer than the original door.

    On the roof in pouring rain at the time…home maintenance is not safe…

    I see moss removal with steam machines on roofs….bad idea….forces moisture under composites IMO. Just replace the roof about every 20-30 years before you remodel, not after [leak damage potential to remodeling project]….my roof had no plywood rot BTW.

    Replace that old furnace too, I just did….its a fire hazard [keep a fire extinguisher near the furnace too]. Dryer vents should be kept unclogged too…fire hazard. Cleaning whole house vents with steam is a joke though…it doesn’t work….its all psychological and a waste of money.

  85. 85
    Anonymous Coward says:

    By Gooddeal @ 72:

    It’s worth doing your homework to find these gems.

    That sounds familiar! Where have I heard that before on this blog…? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

  86. 86

    RE: Anonymous Coward @ 84
    It Takes Blind Luck Too

    No one will admit it, I will.

  87. 87
    Gooddeal says:

    By Umka @ 82:

    RE: Kmac @ 75

    Also, regarding osb sheathing (“glue board” for those not in the trades;-) ) , my experience is that osb is actually a better product in at least regarding short term exposure to the elements than what real plywood is.

    Is this the same OSB which contains significant amount of the formaldehyde? No, thanks! Not a good choice… It might be better for the exposure to the moisture, but not so good for a human’s health…

    Nope! Advantech doesn’t contain formaldehyde, thank goodness.

  88. 88
    Kmac says:

    RE: Umka @ 82
    Plywood has it too.
    Pick your poison…..

  89. 89
    Gooddeal says:

    By Anonymous Coward @ 84:

    By Gooddeal @ 72:

    It’s worth doing your homework to find these gems.

    That sounds familiar! Where have I heard that before on this blog…? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

    Are you referring to to Ray Pepper of 500 Realty? True story – I purchased my first home using Ray during the downturn. The commission refund was the only way I had enough for my downpayment. He was great to work with.

  90. 90
    Marc says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 78 – I followed the housebythepark blog when he was building and currently live not far from that house.

    If you don’t mind, I’d also like to get the names of the firms you thought well of. I have a vacant lot in the south side of Magnolia that I’ll be selling or developing in the coming months. I’m marc at walaw realty dot com.

  91. 91
    Umka says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 80

    Now, why don’t they build real new homes sealed right that way????

    Brainless contractors IMO.

    I don’t think that constructors are brainless. Actually they are very smart. If you build low quality cardboard boxes which people buy for the price of gold, then why would you change anything?

    Who brainless here are the consumers, who allow such system to exist, who allow for the industry to set such low standards, who buy brand new cardboard boxes and already expect to have problem with them. They expect to have problems with the new houses. Is this how business should work? When you go to the store to buy a new computer, do you expect it to have problems right from the start? Why do we think this is “norm” for real estate then?

  92. 92

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 81
    General Contractors

    Do lousy work too….my brother-in-laws’ copper pipes had temporary plastic elbows installed and sealed into the sheet rock….passed inspections somehow….they burst and destroyed his new house 5-10 years later.

    The contractor lives in Venezuela now….LOL….what guarantee?

    That’s why I pay more for a large corporation contractor….at least they’re still in business a decade from now…

  93. 93
    Umka says:

    RE: Kmac @ 87

    I’m actually against either.

  94. 94
    Gooddeal says:

    By softwarengineer @ 80:

    RE: Kmac @ 75
    How My Glue-board Exterior Panels Never Rot

    Don’t replace…seal for 1/100th the cost…I use Goop in $200 quantities on the bottom 18 inches of my house like every 5-20 years…seal all seams and cracks, repaint… the sun ultra-violet can crack it after like 10 years….no problem repair with Goop.

    Now, why don’t they build real new homes sealed right that way????

    Brainless contractors IMO.

    Trump is right, more from less…

    Amen to more from less. That’s why my handle is Gooddeal, I love value. There must be a cheaper alternative to sealing than with Goop. How about an oil based primer or foundation sealing product?

  95. 95

    RE: Umka @ 89
    Yes Umka

    But if you know SWE, ya know I don’t like amnesty…

    But they accuse me of voting for it because the Rep/Dems were all Establishment Open Borders.

    LOL….that’s why I voted Nader in 2008….don’t blame me…

  96. 96

    RE: Gooddeal @ 92
    Actually, Calk is Not That Good…it washes away with scrubbing [like bathrooms], Goop doesn’t

    Cheap adhesives can be used at owner’s risk…Goop works [its about $7-14 a 3 1/2oz tube]….I’ve seen other products on TV, haven’t tried that black plastic paint yet….ultra violet can crack products, so user beware…

  97. 97

    By softwarengineer @ 90:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 81
    General Contractors

    Do lousy work too….

    I don’t think I suggested otherwise, and in discussing siding suggested just the opposite.

    The issue though is the legislature wanted to make professional flippers comply with the contractor registration law. There is nothing at all wrong with that, but the problem is more the implementation of the law. All too often the legislation coming out of Olympia is not well drafted. The worst recent example of that was the original version of the Distressed Property Law, which was amended the subsequent year, but even the amendments didn’t take care of all the issues.

  98. 98
    Gooddeal says:

    By softwarengineer @ 94:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 92
    Actually, Calk is Not That Good…it washes away with scrubbing [like bathrooms], Goop doesn’t

    Cheap adhesives can be used at owner’s risk…Goop works [its about $7-14 a 3 1/2oz tube]….I’ve seen other products on TV, haven’t tried that black plastic paint yet….ultra violet can crack products, so user beware…

    I agree, it would be inappropriate to use caulk since that’s not what it’s designed for. I was thinking more like Kilz oil primer. The thing with Goop is that it’s too viscous to get into all the pores while a liquid primer will. The primer is also made to adhere property to wood, has outstanding weathering characteristics AND is cheaper.

    Of course, this is assuming I understand your application. You’re talking about sealing the bottom edge of your siding?

  99. 99
    Kmac says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 81:

    Unfortunately it’s not that clear. That legislation was yet another of the legislature’s good intentions/poor implementation situations from the not-so-distant past. There is no 2 year holding period time limit. I’d have to look at that statute again, but the last time I did it really seemed to be very ambiguous about which situations would or would not be covered.

    I think many construction attorneys would say YES, flippers need to be registered contractors.

    And I was incorrect. 12 month holding, not 24.

    RCW 18.27.090
    Exemptions.
    (11) An owner who contracts for a project with a registered contractor, except that this exemption shall not deprive the owner of the protections of this chapter against registered and unregistered contractors. The exemption prescribed in this subsection does not apply to a person who performs the activities of a contractor for the purpose of leasing or selling improved property he or she has owned for less than twelve months;
    (12) Any person working on his or her own property, whether occupied by him or her or not, and any person working on his or her personal residence, whether owned by him or her or not but this exemption shall not apply to any person who performs the activities of a contractor on his or her own property for the purpose of selling, demolishing, or leasing the property;

    (Exemption 12 seems kind of circular regarding leasing and working on property that you own but don’t reside on.)
    Labor and Industry takes the position that a house flipper needs to be a registered contractor and we all know that the only winners in that argument would be the attorneys….:
    http://www.lni.wa.gov/Main/MostAskedQuestions/TradesLicensing/Contractors.asp

  100. 100

    On the topic of the Distressed Property Law and bad drafting:
    RCW 61.34.020
    Definitions.
    Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.
    . . .
    (5) “Distressed home conveyance” means a transaction in which:
    (a) A distressed homeowner transfers an interest in the distressed home to a distressed home purchaser; . . ..
    (6) “Distressed home purchaser” means any person who acquires an interest in a distressed home under a distressed home conveyance. . . .

    Note those are sequential definitions! It shouldn’t have been that hard to recognize that they were circular, but they didn’t recognize that in 2008 or 2009 when they corrected other problems with the legislation.

  101. 101

    By Kmac @ 97:

    I think many construction attorneys would say YES, flippers need to be registered contractors.

    And I was incorrect. 12 month holding, not 24.

    RCW 18.27.090
    Exemptions.
    (11) An owner who contracts for a project with a registered contractor, except that this exemption shall not deprive the owner of the protections of this chapter against registered and unregistered contractors. The exemption prescribed in this subsection does not apply to a person who performs the activities of a contractor for the purpose of leasing or selling improved property he or she has owned for less than twelve months;
    (12) Any person working on his or her own property, whether occupied by him or her or not, and any person working on his or her personal residence, whether owned by him or her or not but this exemption shall not apply to any person who performs the activities of a contractor on his or her own property for the purpose of selling, demolishing, or leasing the property;

    Labor and Industry takes the position that a house flipper needs to be a registered contractor and we all know that the only winners in that argument would be the attorneys….:
    http://www.lni.wa.gov/Main/MostAskedQuestions/TradesLicensing/Contractors.asp

    I don’t think many attorneys would say that they typical flipper does not need to be registered.

    As to the quoted portion of the statute, my comments would be:

    (1) #11 seems to require the owner of the property to be registered as a contractor even if they hire a general contractor to do all the work, but only if they own the house for less than 12 months. I used to office share with some attorneys who did a lot of bonding work, so I should maybe ask them if there’s a reason for that, but it’s not apparent to me.

    (2) #12 is really ambiguous. If a owner wants to sell, and they hire two subcontractors to make two repairs to the property, are they acting as a contractor, and thus not exempt?

    This also gets caught up in the definition of Contractor. I’m not saying the result is clear either way, but that it should be clarified.

    BTW, this WR video covers the topic, but here I don’t necessarily agree with Annie about the scope of the fix, but I have no doubt that was the intent of the change.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO_qsR4I4Bc

  102. 102
    kenmorem says:

    i used advantec for my basement remodel (subfloor over 1.5″ of XPS foam). stuff cuts nice. very quality product. i have a piece sitting outside, on mulch, that’s been there since september. there are zero signs of wear or delam. really impressive stuff

  103. 103
    Hugh Dominic says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 72 – can you tell me what design/build firm you’re using? The way you described it sounds like an arrangement that I’d like too.

  104. 104
    Macro Investor says:

    What are the basic things you need to know to properly moisture seal a Pacific NW home? I’m sure this is a complex subject, with lots of choices and debate about what is best. How does a consumer learn enough to not get screwed by bad contractors?

    For entertainment I occasionally watch This Old House. They seem to want to seal a house so air tight it needs constant fan-driven ventilation. That seems like a crazy amount of over kill. Who would want the electric bill for that, let alone the problems if the system (or power) ever failed.

  105. 105
    justme says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 102

    >>They seem to want to seal a house so air tight it needs constant fan-driven ventilation.

    Yeah, there used to lots of talk about “sick” buildings/houses that were so airtight they would make the residents ill.

    I think what really is desirablewant is watertight but not airtight. Not sure if all the current day Tyvek(TM) wraping is the right way to go. Not an expert, could be wrong.

  106. 106
    herrbrahms says:

    Things are getting nuts up in Shoreline. Prices have started to threaten $1M on new construction just off Meridian and 175th. This neighborhood is generally humble post-war construction, mostly ranches.

    Don’t let the wainscotting and coffered ceiling distract you — everything is still builder’s grade. Not to mention that four McMansions have been shoehorned into what used to be a single plat. Liking your neighbors becomes quite important when you all share a driveway.

    What are their property taxes going to be next year? $8000? $9000?

    Enjoy.

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Shoreline/1839-N-167th-St-98133/home/113116372

  107. 107

    RE: Gooddeal @ 96
    Wait Until Late August to Seal

    When it hasn’t rained for weeks and every thing is bone dry and hot….that’s when I do my walk around looking for cracks to seal and paint….doing this periodically catches new cracks you haven’t done yet…aluminum foil can be used as goop filler in larger rot holes…but you won’t need this aid after the first major treatment.

  108. 108

    RE: justme @ 103
    Yes Justme

    All the folks that bought exterior siding sold their mildew smelling homes within a year….it looks nice but traps moisture and rot.

    Nope, sealing cracks and painting is not air tight and does not promote mildew. My home was so air tight from the factory [tight tolerance frame building in a in-door factory with assembly jigs] they added carbon filtered breather vents in all the rooms….I keep all them open…

  109. 109
    Blurtman says:

    RE: herrbrahms @ 104 – I agree with you 100%. But I find there is a market that does not share my concerns. Those houses have wonderful looking interiors, and decent appliances. And they are new. Ardell points out that a lot of folks don’t want to deal with a large yard. But the fishbowl gives me the willies.

    Here is one that I derided while it and its twin were being built. Killer view of the lake from the sloped backyard. But there is an identical home with shared driveway right next door. Maybe I’d do this with close family. https://www.zillow.com/homes/232-210th-Pl-NE,-Sammamish,-WA-98074_rb/

  110. 110
    QA Observer says:

    I moved here from Washington DC about 5 years ago. When I move to DC back in 2003, in-migrations was exploding. Real estate kept up with the population explosion by pushing more and more people out where one could purchase the American dream. A big (toll brother) house on 3/4 acres with a white fence and the sound of cicadas. The DC burbs, particularly, northern VA and MD were a sea of urban sprawl. Then simultaneously came the traffic. The Beltway, Route 66, and Route 50 were awesome between 10 pm and 4 am. It was not uncommon to hear colleagues driving 2-3 hours each way to work. Typical work day + commute + sleep left about 3 hours a day to spend with the family or friends. Zero quality of life in my opinion of course.

    Eventually with cuts in government spending and jobs in the DC area and the same amount of traffic, DC metropolitan has seen a net emigration. Real estate prices are moderately increasing, but long time locals and millennials alike are trending for more of a live-work balance and moving away. Some people might love commuting and buying less for more, rinse and repeat, but I have not met any yet. I must be hanging with the wrong crowd.

    I foresee the same will happen here regardless if more housing is built. The civil infrastructure cannot keep up with population booms currently being experienced in Seattle. The golden years of Seattle openness, easy-going culture is sadly eroding away. One of Bob Marley’s famous songs, Rat Race, exemplifies the trend observed in DC 15 years ago and now here again in Seattle area.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/seattles-shortage-of-homes-for-sale-foments-disruptive-bidding-wars-2017-03-08

  111. 111

    By Macro Investor @ 102:

    They seem to want to seal a house so air tight it needs constant fan-driven ventilation. That seems like a crazy amount of over kill. Who would want the electric bill for that, let alone the problems if the system (or power) ever failed.

    Most (all?) houses built in the past 20 years or so are designed with some system of air exchange. The simplest is probably just an automatic timer on a fan in the laundry room so that the fan runs X hours per day. That would be in addition to the bathroom fans which are more for humidity and odor issues.

    But that brings up yet another of the failed technologies. There are window frames which have openings in them to allow air in, but the openings have open/close devices that can break or otherwise malfunction over time if the device is actually used. So at that point you’re either looking at an expensive window frame repair or duct tape.

  112. 112
    Kmac says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 112
    yes, my home that I just built a few months ago was required to be on a 75% ventilation schedule (3 out of 4 hours).
    Funny thing is the fan control actually has an OFF position on it.
    As far as building air tight, it is much harder to do than people think.
    I build a pretty tight property as far as quality control of workmanship is concerned.
    Tyvek taped seams and to windows…
    Sill sealed..
    Every crack in framing that possibly could allow air in was sealed.
    I used 5 cases of caulking sealing electrical boxes to drywall and sealing drywall edges to framing edges at door openings etc…
    My goal was to get into the 3 + ACH range…..no such luck.
    Even with all of the extra work and cost I could only achieve 4.15 ACH and the minimum allowed was 5 ACH.
    Most of my air leakage was coming from the fans though, so I will pay more attention to those on the next one.
    The guy doing the blower door test speculated that if all four fans had better seals in them that I would have easily been in the 3 ACH range.

    In the late 90’s a lot of windows had those adjustable air inlets, and yes many of them broke over the years. There also were mushroom shaped air vent controls that could be installed through the walls to handle the same venting requirement.

    The most recent ventilation code allows outdoor air ventilation to be with an “openable” and screened window as long as the room is connected to a forced air heating system and doors need to be undercut by 1/2 inch.

  113. 113
    Gooddeal says:

    By Marc @ 91:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 78
    If you don’t mind, I’d also like to get the names of the firms you thought well of. I have a vacant lot in the south side of Magnolia that I’ll be selling or developing in the coming months. I’m marc at walaw realty dot com.

    Several people have asked so I’ll post the names here. The SIPS design/build firm is Advanced Build NW in Lakewood. Unlike other contractors they don’t charge a premium to do SIPS which is what drew me to them. The other contractor is ACC Custom Homes out of Covington, headed by Lou Lincoln. He’s one of the few certified master builders in the state, not just a member of the master builder’s association. He has a designer that can create a house plan for you for a GREAT price. I can’t post the prices online but it’s very affordable. I’d also recommend Build, LLC. They’re a premium outfit but if you’re looking to build luxury $175 sq/ft and higher) they’re great at it and are reasonably priced compared to the competition. To give you an indication of price, I used this house plan as a reference when getting estimates:

    https://www.dongardner.com/house-plan/1178/the-carrera/

    ACC said it was not a problem to build this house with an all-in construction budget of 800K, which includes site development (septic, well, clearing, etc.) on forested, raw land. They’re currently building a house with super high end finishes and appliances costing $850K that will appraise for $1.25 million.

    Advanced Build NW estimated approx $700K to build this house, all in. Advanced Build keeps up on the latest building technology which I think is pretty cool. They estimated that the house would appraise for 1.2-1.5 million.

    For Build, LLC I didn’t show them the plan but asked for an estimate for around 4000 sq/f/t which came back at 1.1 – 1.3 million all-in cost. Now, you can’t directly compare the three prices because you don’t know the level of finishes and appliances they they’re using for the estimate. For Advanced Build they were using around $135 sq/ft. I’m not sure for ACC. For Build, LLC they were using over $250 sq/ft because they’re a high end builder who uses the best, like wall to wall windows, Nanawalls, radiant heating, Subzero, etc so their higher cost is simply due to the higher cost of materials and appliances, not because they charge more. Their design fees are higher though, around $40K or more which is in line with the industry.

    I have a feeling that if you’re stick building, you’ll get the most for your money with ACC.

    If you’re doing SIPS, Advanced Build is the one you should choose, no question however they also do remodeling during the slow seasons.

    If you want top of the line everything using the latest building practices then you can’t go wrong with Build. More likely then not they have experience implementing every design feature you can think of since they’re actual architects whereas ACC and Advanced Build may be like “No, we’ve never done that before but I’m sure we can figure it out”. If you don’t like being a guinea pig then go with Build.

  114. 114
    Gooddeal says:

    By kenmorem @ 103:

    i used advantec for my basement remodel (subfloor over 1.5″ of XPS foam). stuff cuts nice. very quality product. i have a piece sitting outside, on mulch, that’s been there since september. there are zero signs of wear or delam. really impressive stuff

    That is great to hear. I’m a big fan of it, as you can tell!

  115. 115
    Scott says:

    RE: Marc @ 66 – you are so right. I’ve been building a 5k sqft (including basement) house in Seattle for over a year now. Everything is harder and more expensive than I expected. I have built houses before in Atlanta. Here in Seattle, labor is crazy. The cost is easily $60/hour for skilled and insured subs. Plumbers and electricians can be $200. And if you haggle or complain too much they move on to the next job. I’ll easily be in $1mm in build costs for nice finishes (but not extravagant) and that is without a GC cost/profit. Labor will be almost half. I’m still trying to find a shingle sider willing to work for $12sqft. That is the top of the range nation wide. I would gladly hand over the keys to a buyer that would pay what I have put in.

  116. 116
    Gooddeal says:

    By Macro Investor @ 105:

    What are the basic things you need to know to properly moisture seal a Pacific NW home? I’m sure this is a complex subject, with lots of choices and debate about what is best. How does a consumer learn enough to not get screwed by bad contractors?

    For entertainment I occasionally watch This Old House. They seem to want to seal a house so air tight it needs constant fan-driven ventilation. That seems like a crazy amount of over kill. Who would want the electric bill for that, let alone the problems if the system (or power) ever failed.

    Actually, you *DO* want to make it as air tight as possible. Yes, it requires a an air circulation system but the electrical burden is very low and the savings from heating and cooling more than make up for it. Also, it allows you to move air to different areas more efficiently so the house maintains a consistent temperature and you can run it through a filter so that it cleans the air of allergens. If the power goes out it’s like you’re going to die or anything as the air is still breathable, it’s just not optimal air.

    To not get screwed by contractors you need to study up on construction so that you have the knowledge and can describe using construction speak what exactly you want the contractor to do so you can create the bids accordingly and get apple to apple comparisons. For instance, instead of simply saying please finish a room that is down to bare studs you break it out like:

    1) Wire outlets with 12 gauge wire for 20 amps instead of the traditional 14 gauge for 15 amps
    2) seal outlets with fire rated putty
    2) Insulate stud cavities with PU foam and seal all cavities
    3) install resilient channels for sheetrock attachment
    4) install 5/8″ drywall
    5) apply green glue to first layer of drywall
    6) install a second layer of 1/4″ sheetrock over first layer
    7) etc. etc.

    The more specific you are, the less they can omit things to screw you over. Also, when getting bids, get a materials and labor quote if you can that breaks down why things cost what they do, such as

    1) Toto Drake Toilet $300
    2) labor to install toilet $200

    Instead of a bid that says:
    1) purchase and Install toilet – $1000

    Which will invariably be more than a quote that is broken down for you.

    I’ll answer your other question in a separate post.

  117. 117

    One thing I’ve noticed on condos is a rental cap can really turn off buyers, including buyers who want to live in the unit, because they may want the option to rent it out later. Some condos have rather low caps (less than 10%), but on the other hand some at least have hardship exceptions that the board can grant.

    On the other hand, we recently lost out to two cash buyers on a condo without a rental cap. Given the price range I would suspect these are intended from the get-go to be rental units. So if this market continues, complexes without rental caps may see a significant increase in the number of non-owner occupied units.

    So seemingly there will be a difference in value between those with caps and those without, making an appraiser’s job even more difficult. As far as I know, appraisers have no way of getting the “resale certificate” type information on even the unit they’re appraising, not to mention the other units that are comps. We typically won’t even list a condo until we get a resale certificate, because pricing could be affected by what’s in the report.

    Finally, given fairly recent case law, it is now more difficult to create rental caps than what is was, so those without caps are now more likely to stay that way.

  118. 118
    Just Tom says:

    I am in the camp that new homes are sealed too tight. The biggest problem in my opinion is that these hermetically sealed tombs are always 2 months away from ruin. If the house remains unoccupied for any length of time, especially with the power off, the mold and mildew take over and that’s that.

    It would be a different calculation if you’re talking about somewhere that gets really hot or cold, ‘not trying to heat the neighborhood’ as my mom used to say. Here in Seattle we are very lucky to live in a temperate climate where you can get away with less energy-efficient building methods. Like many, I don’t even have air conditioning so insulation is largely irrelevant in the summer and I run the heat for a few hours/day in the evenings and leave it off (or set very low ~55) the rest of the time. I am not making sacrifices to my comfort yet my utilities bills are quite reasonable. (Tall ceilings and small square footage certainly help here, ymmv.)

    I live in a house built in 1903. I fully renovated when I bought it so I know this house has good bones. The only ‘insulation’ in the walls consists of newspaper clippings from the 1920s (unless you count the 7+ layers of wallpaper in some places.) I’m convinced there is no way a house constructed to modern standards would have survived the last 114 years. Houses need to breathe. Keep a good roof on it, keep the gutters clear, and monitor your foundation and you’re most of the way there.

  119. 119
    Brian says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 117:

    We typically won’t even list a condo until we get a resale certificate, because pricing could be affected by what’s in the report.

    I wish more agents would do that. It’s annoying when you’re looking to make an offer on a condo and haven’t seen the report yet. Even more annoying to the seller when you back out because you don’t like what’s in the report.

  120. 120
    Gooddeal says:

    By Macro Investor @ 105:

    What are the basic things you need to know to properly moisture seal a Pacific NW home? I’m sure this is a complex subject, with lots of choices and debate about what is best. .

    Indeed, this is a complex subject. For years, builders focused only on preventing moisture intrusion. However, houses experienced catastrophic failures because you can only keep mother nature out temporarily – eventually adhesives and materials will fail, gaps will widen, and barriers are penetrated by nails, or remodeling. The better approach is to manage moisture when it gets in instead of trying to keep it out. To do that you use materials that work well in specific applications due to it’s intrinsic characteristics. For instance, solid lumber has an indefinite ability to withstand wet and dry cycles. As long as wood can dry out it can continue to cycle between wet and dry forever as long as it isn’t saturated for very long periods of time. How do you get wood to dry? Well, when installing siding you create a rainscreen between the siding and the sheathing, such as creating an air gap with batten strips or a 3D mesh rainscreen. This will protect both the siding and the sheathing. Where the gap meets the roof you can design the rafters and eaves so that the air can ventilate out naturally so the moist air can escape. You can also use materials that thrive in moisture, such as Advantech OSB, fiberglass, aluminum and stainless steel and magnesium oxide. Instead of moisture barriers that keep out everything you want to use wraps that block out water but allow water vapor to permeate through so things can dry out naturally and not get moldy. For windows, Innie windows are much more weather resistant than outie windows but it requires better flashing and sealing during the installation. One thing I am a proponent of is designing for the lowest common denominator. A lot of products work really well if they’re installed properly but if they’re too complicated to install or too fragile then they often end up being compromised so it’s better to go with a product, technology or method which assumes that the installer is an idiot and will work well even if installed by an idiot. For example, Tyvek housewrap is great but it’s prone to tearing and it is compromised by nail penetrations. I’ve been sites where construction workers tear the Tyvek and don’t bother to reseal it. I recommend a thick, peal-and stick weather wrap like Delta Vent SA which is easier to install and is self-healing so that it seals itself around punctures or better yet, a liquid applied wrap like Tremco Enviro-Dri that can simply be sprayed on and rolled using a gauge to check for thickness which is easy to get into all the nooks and crannies and is also self-healing which mitigates the likelihood of poor installation.

    Fortunately building codes have caught up a bit with moisture management but I always recommend designing a house to surpass minimum building codes so that it can last 100 years or more. Unfortunately, that usually means going the custom home route.

  121. 121
    Gooddeal says:

    By Just Tom @ 118:

    I’m convinced there is no way a house constructed to modern standards would have survived the last 114 years.

    While I agree most modern homes won’t last 114 years, there are some really good builders out there using modern techniques with longer time horizons built into their builds. Check this out:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8i-93ABo3I

  122. 122

    By Brian @ 120:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 117:

    We typically won’t even list a condo until we get a resale certificate, because pricing could be affected by what’s in the report.

    I wish more agents would do that. It’s annoying when you’re looking to make an offer on a condo and haven’t seen the report yet. Even more annoying to the seller when you back out because you don’t like what’s in the report.

    That’s why we do it! We represented a buyer, did our inspection, got past that and then found out that the association was planning a huge siding replacement project with minimal funds and anticipated special assessments and borrowing. I’m pretty sure the listing agent didn’t know about any of that (and it’s possible the seller wasn’t following the association news). I suspect the HOA Board was being taken for a ride on the need for that extensive of work, because the wood siding showed some need for repairs as part of a painting project, but it didn’t look like total replacement was necessary. But either way a buyer would not want to buy into that project.

  123. 123

    RE: Just Tom @ 119 – On the tight house issue, I think people overestimate how much heat escapes with any escaping air. During the summer months you can use a whole house fan to try to cool down a house, but if your house is at 70 and the outside air at 60, you’d have to change the air in the entire house several times to get the temperature down under 65.

    RE: Gooddeal @ 121 – Another problem is painters coming along 10 years down the road and caulking things shut that should not be caulked, thereby locking the water in. The funniest example of that I’ve seen is caulking between the gutter and fascia board, such that any water that gets behind the gutter has no place to go. At least there the damage to the house would be minimal if the overhang was sufficient.

  124. 124

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 117

    The rental cap situation started correctly and then went sideways.

    Everyone knows that a “cash only” building destroys the value of everyone’s unit. There are several reasons why they fall to “cash only”, one of which is the % of rentals to owner occupied doesn’t pass any lender’s standard. Sometimes that is more than a third and sometimes more than half.

    When rental caps started at no more than 33.3% rentals it was needed as “cash only” buildings can easily fall to 50% of value and one of the jobs of the Board is to do things that help maintain people’s investment.

    33.3% rental cap is good. 50% rental cap is great. No rental cap can lead to disaster as to property values for the reason above. BUT it went sideways as Boards and Attorneys started moving the mark up to 10% rental caps and 15% rental caps…for no good reason really. Mainly because they didn’t understand why the rental cap was needed in the first place. For some reason they thought it was because owner occupants didn’t like renters…and they got carried away.

  125. 125
    Kmac says:

    By Scott @ 115:

    RE: I’m still trying to find a shingle sider willing to work for $120sqft.

    If you weren’t in Seattle I would poss. be interested in that cedar shingle installation.
    That is the type of work I specialize in, but IMO Seattle isn’t worth the headache commute and the snippy attitudes anymore.

    At $1200 a square you probably are looking for woven corners, short coursing and others more intricate details?
    I’ve never found those nationwide cost estimates to be very accurate.

  126. 126

    I used to manage this house, Woodford Mansion, built in 1750. Still standing. It was built in the “houses need to breathe” times and basements are not suppose to be interior living spaces.

    http://www.woodfordmansion.org/

    The houses that have lasted and lasted for centuries, were far from air tight.

    Another I lived near and is the oldest framed house still standing in PA is Bird in Hand house built in 1686 and has been a Tavern in beautiful, downtown Newtown Borough PA for some time now and still to this day I think.

    Pennsylvania, where I am from, still has tons of really old stuff including the oldest wooden roller coaster in the us. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_oldest_buildings_in_Pennsylvania

    I remember when we in the real estate industry started experiencing problems from people wanting more “air-tightness”. It started in the late 80’s to early 90’s when people started adding a lot of insulation when residing and also replacing their wood windows with vinyl clad ones that were air tight. Shortly thereafter most home inspections, and somewhat all of a sudden, had terrible mold issues in the attics.

    Then they invented “the ridge vent” but from what I have seen that is not a cure all.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time a home inspector told my clients “Houses need to BREATHE!”

  127. 127

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 124:

    BUT it went sideways as Boards and Attorneys started moving the mark up to 10% rental caps and 15% rental caps…for no good reason really. Mainly because they didn’t understand why the rental cap was needed in the first place. For some reason they thought it was because owner occupants didn’t like renters…and they got carried away.

    I think it was because they don’t like tenants–it’s class warfare. What makes you think it wasn’t?

    Back when I lived in a condo people used to complain all the time about tenants and assume that anything bad that happened was because of a tenant. I don’t remember a single situation during the time I was on a board that was traced to a tenant, and one of the worst ones was traced to an owner.

  128. 128

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 126:

    I remember when we in the real estate industry started experiencing problems from people wanting more “air-tightness”. It started in the late 80’s to early 90’s when people started adding a lot of insulation when residing and also replacing their wood windows with vinyl clad ones that were air tight. Shortly thereafter most home inspections, and somewhat all of a sudden, had terrible mold issues in the attics.

    Then they invented “the ridge vent” but from what I have seen that is not a cure all.

    I was told part of that is because when you go from 3-4″ of insulation to over a foot you’re reducing the area inside the attic, but it’s unclear to my why less airspace would require more vents. I would guess part of it has to do with reducing the heat level in the attic, sort of like how crawlspace pipes should be insulated if you insulate a floor. Switching from shakes to composition can also affect attic ventilation. And then there’s also the poor insulation installation job, where they don’t install baffles prior to increasing the insulation, and block the air intake vents. Finally, I’ve heard some inspectors say that OSB is more prone to mold/mildew issues, but I’m not sure I believe that.

    I hear differing opinions on the ridge vent systems. But generally newer houses will have more vents or houses with newer roofs will have more vents added. If not ridge vents they use so many of the mushroom vents it becomes unsightly.

  129. 129

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 127

    The correct answer is to preserve and maintain. That is the Board’s “job”. Preserve the values with a cap that prevents it from falling into “cash only” not financeable. That is why we started having rental caps. Not to discriminate against people.

  130. 130
    Gooddeal says:

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 126:

    I remember when we in the real estate industry started experiencing problems from people wanting more “air-tightness”. It started in the late 80’s to early 90’s when people started adding a lot of insulation when residing and also replacing their wood windows with vinyl clad ones that were air tight. Shortly thereafter most home inspections, and somewhat all of a sudden, had terrible mold issues in the attics.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time a home inspector told my clients “Houses need to BREATHE!”

    Respectfully,

    I think there is some confusion regarding what “airtight” means. When people say houses need to breathe they are referring to vapor permeability, not airtightness. It is desirable to isolate the outside air from the inside air, that is airtightness. It is not desirable to prevent moisture from evaporating and leaving the structure which has to do with vapor permeability. The problems you described in the past were caused by trying to make things airtight AND vapor impermeable as well as improper use of materials and just poorly designed products. These days the air barriers used in the home allow moisture vapor to escape. The only exception would be the poly sheeting underneath your concrete slab which is both a moisture and vapor barrier as you don’t want moisture and radon to permeate through into your home from the soil.

    In conclusion, don’t let confusion, myths and poor implementation sway you from building a home to modern standards. I recommend reading up on the latest building science as it’s pretty eye-opening. In the past, builders built houses without much thought to science. These days the industry, especially in Europe, realizes that buildings can be better built if they design using actual performance metrics that can be measured and analyzed. The failures of the past have been instrumental in providing great case studies of what not to do!

  131. 131

    RE: Gooddeal @ 130

    The moisture problems in the attic came up more due to improvements to existing homes than changes in new ones.

    Problems due to changes in new ones that I have seen are:

    Truss Lift Problems, which I still see with some builders to this day once in awhile.

    You see some articles like this one that say truss lift can’t be prevented, but I don’t see it often enough to believe that. It’s a bit freaky when you see the ceiling of the bedroom lifting up from the walls.

    http://www.acutruss.com/pdf/trussuplift1.pdf

    Seems to me this happened as a result of roof trusses being cheap, refab designs maybe in the 70’s and beyond. There were some houses built in Bothell not too long ago that had this problem. When I see it in a 70’s structure it doesn’t surprise me as much as when I see it in a newer house.

    LP, Georgia Pacific and other “class action suit” siding.

    Of course one of the reasons trying “new” stuff is a bit problematic is because we have seen some really big errors in that regard. Even in dry climates where the original product wasn’t bad, I have seen extreme damage caused by the sprinkler system aimed directly at the siding until it turned into cardboard on the ground. :)

    Water running through the walls and the floors to heat it.

    I know this is getting popular again, but we all know in recent times that the system to run water pipes through walls had it’s original problems of pipes bursting or getting pinholes in them and in some cases near impossible to truly fix without gutting the place. I’m not too fond of heated floors as I remember a house that had to be thrown away because the heating system under the floors failed and destroyed the foundation. The house was on a cliff though…so there’s that.

    Spending money on things that aren’t “tried and true” is too much of a gamble for most people. What I see most is a national builder bringing something that works in one area to another area where it doesn’t work at all. That was true of all of the above problems. So bringing something from Europe I would still worry that what works there may not work in all places here.

    I’m in the not air-tight corner though. See too many $20,000 or more problems created by wanting to save a bit on the heating bill…eventually.

  132. 132

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 131:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 130

    The moisture problems in the attic came up more due to improvements to existing homes than changes in new ones.

    I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’ve seen issues in newer houses that didn’t go through any changes after being built.

    I used to think that inspectors typically would do the attic and crawlspace last because of the mess. I now think they do those last because of the likelihood they’ll find something dire at the very beginning of the process and then feel compelled to offer a discount if they don’t inspect the entire house. ;-)

  133. 133
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 131

    I agree, there is certainly risk involved with applying emergent technology. Tons of people have ideas but I wouldn’t apply them without sound evidence that it’s well thought out.

    Also, I wouldn’t recommend changing one’s building envelope during a remodel without doing a holistic review of the framing, insulation, siding, windows and roof. It all needs to work as one system and you can’t just plug and play different materials and concepts without making sure it’s compatible with all the other elements.

  134. 134

    RE: Gooddeal @ 133 – Some things just sound so damn stupid it’s amazing anyone ever tried them.

    http://inspectapedia.com/roof/Masonite_Woodruf_Claim_FAQs.php

  135. 135
    Gooddeal says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 134

    Yup, can’t really say anything good about that product. :) If I’m going to use a substitute it better perform better than the original product. Case in point, look-alike cedar shake roofing made of aluminum or Boral composite exterior trim that doesn’t rot like wood nor contract and expand like PVC. That leads us back to tract builders that will substitute a cheaper product that lasts just long enough to get the sale but doesn’t last much longer.

  136. 136

    RE: Gooddeal @ 133

    I keep an open mind and wish you luck. I remember solar not working out before and now it’s making a comeback. Hopefully the newest products are better.

  137. 137
    Gooddeal says:

    By ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 136:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 133

    I keep an open mind and wish you luck. I remember solar not working out before and now it’s making a comeback. Hopefully the newest products are better.

    Thanks Ardell, I do love reading your posts. Last I looked at solar it wasn’t cost effective for our area. It was something like a lifetime or more to recoup the cost of it. Hopefully that has changed!

  138. 138

    RE: Gooddeal @ 137

    Thank you. I have lived and worked in 5 different States and 7 or more different areas within those States up and down both coasts. So when I say I have seen things tried and failed in the past I am talking over decades and in many different places. My brother in law wanted to do the Solar in Princeton NJ and Connecticut on two different houses, but he ran into that lifetime or more to recoup the cost. I saw them a lot in Florida, Orlando area, in the mid 90’s. They had thick frames that got goopy, filthy dirthy with green slime and people tossed them vs trying to clean them. :)

    I saw a very nice one done in Woodridge, Bellevue recently on a colored metal roof. Nice job on that one. Hope it works out.

  139. 139
    Scott says:

    RE: Kmac @ 125 – yes, looking for expert level installation including flared eaves and skirt, woven corners.
    You sure you don’t want to come down? It is northern Seattle near the water. Good views, no hipsters :) . The $12/sqft includes shingle cost which I already have on-site – extra clear eastern white r&r. So I have about $7sqft in labor to offer

  140. 140
    S-Crow says:

    RE: Just Tom @ 118 – ” I’m convinced there is no way a house constructed to modern standards would have survived the last 114 years.”

    I grew up on 23rd & Prospect on Cap. Hill in a circa 1906 House. I remember cutting through a 2×4 (which was a real net 2″x 4″) doing some work for my folks. I was cutting with a Sawzall. My 6″ Sawzall blade was smoking cutting through it and I remember thinking “what the heck?” I’ve cut through many studs in newer homes without any problem. That old timber is just remarkable. If people want to see incredible and durable exterior woodwork or scrolled fascia boards (like 2X12 or larger)just take a stroll down 21st or 22nd on Capitol Hill between Aloha and E Galer. Every time I sign clients on Capitol Hill and have extra time I will try to walk the neighborhood.

    If you look around at developments out in Snohomish Co. and look at some of the exteriors…… Projects built just within the last 5-8 yrs…..paint and stains are fading, failing and mildew covered. Suspect workmanship and materials.

  141. 141
    Kmac says:

    Framing materials dry out over the years and becomes very hard -almost impossible- to drive a nail into it or even cut it.
    Also, most of the old materials were old growth Doug Fir which is strong and durable.
    Doug Fir is still available as framing (I used this in my most recent home due to a supposed hem/fir shortage) and even new, it is very difficult to install nails even w/ a nail gun.
    Believe it or not, Doug Fir is actually somewhat resistant to rot even left exposed to the weather.
    I have seen many full dimension 2×12 fascia made out of R/S Doug Fir.

    But, you have NO idea how many old homes I have had to repair, alter, rebuild etc . and think to myself….”Yep, they sure don’t make them like they used to, THANK GOODNESS!”
    Aside from the old world charm, they can be a real hassle

    RE: Scott @ 139

    Your price sounds about in the right range – not excessively high by any means though. If there is any degree of difficulty or a large quantity of corner or flares I could see the price easily escalating from there.

  142. 142
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 120 – Thanks for the info. I had hoped a blog like this could focus more on technical issues, but I guess it’s just easier to cut/paste the same boring stats from the newspapers.

    I’ve also noticed few of the agents commenting here ever contribute anything technical. One who actually understands what to look for in terms of quality standards and market value would be worth the 6%. The reason consumers complain about the commission is lack of this basic knowledge.

  143. 143
    Macro Investor says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 137 – From what I’ve read solar panels on a cloudy day produce nothing from fall thru spring. And next to nothing in the summer. You need bright direct sunlight.

    The improvements in solar are from a cost per unit perspective. The actual solar gathering doesn’t change much.

    Even if the panels were free, the installation and electronics would make it a losing investment in the cloudy NW.

  144. 144
    Deerhawke says:

    By Marc @ 68:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 62 – In this market I can’t believe builders are still giving away 6% in commissions on new houses (especially in Greenlake/Wallingford where I believe you build). Maybe I can understand giving 3% to an agent to list the house if he or she was materially involved in acquiring the property. But to me that means a lot more than simply writing up an offer on a FSBO deal. It really blows me away if builders are paying 3% to the listing agent and then paying for the staging on top. That is ri-donkulous.

    3% for the buyer’s agent commission seems excessive at your price points ($1M to $2M) but maybe it’s worthwhile if you’re going to be aggressive on pricing. But even then, that should only be if the house actually gets listed in the MLS. If you have an offer roll in prior to listing the house, I wouldn’t hesitate to knock that down to 2.5%.

    Tell you what, hire me and I’ll list your $1M+ houses for 2% and cover the cost of professional photos and staging. I’d also ask you to consider a 2.5% buyer agent commission. At your price point that is still a crap ton. And if they don’t have an agent, you keep all of the buy-side commission, i.e., no dual agency.

    Marc

    I think the old saying is that custom can be much more powerful than the law. In my Greenlake neighborhood, you park one night in a neighbor’s prized parking spot and nothing happens, two nights and you get an email telling you that is not OK, three nights and you might get someone knocking on your door asking you what the (expletive) you were thinking.

    The arrangement between infill spec builders and agents is all governed by long-standing custom. Most of the agents who find dirt off-market have spent time putting together a sophisticated personal network for finding off-market deals or have built a sophisticated database and outcall operation. They expect to make little or nothing on the front end (on the purchase) but thoroughly expect to make the full 3% listing commission on the back end. This is whether or not they are actually capable of listing a property– which some of them truly are not.

    So anything that I buy off-market, I thoroughly expect to be paying the full 3 percent listing commission. I would probably write up my own “silent talkers” listing the features/benefits of the house. I would probably write my own listing comments. I might even hire my own photographer/videographer. I would definitely hire the stager and pay for the staging.

    Complain about this custom? Sure. Really think hard about not paying the 3% listing commission. Not unless one is contemplating retirement or a new line of work. You mess with custom at your peril– you had better be prepared for the consequences.

    In my current double-single family home project in the Tangletown area of Greenlake, a neighbor approached me about the property and I bought it directly from him. The listbacks are therefore not “owed” to any agent. It is a very very hot area, and it is pretty likely I will sell one or both properties off the market. It could be that neither of the homes goes on the market.

    However,if one or both of the homes were to go to market, the standard listing commission range where the listbacks are not owed to an agent is around 1% Generally this deal is offered as a gratuity to the last agent who brought an off-market dirt deal and as an example to other agents.

  145. 145
    wreckingbull says:

    By Gooddeal @ 114:

    By kenmorem @ 103:

    i used advantec for my basement remodel (subfloor over 1.5″ of XPS foam). stuff cuts nice. very quality product. i have a piece sitting outside, on mulch, that’s been there since september. there are zero signs of wear or delam. really impressive stuff

    That is great to hear. I’m a big fan of it, as you can tell!

    Trailer builders have discovered it too. It is now the de-facto material for flooring. It is so waterproof there is no need for additional material below it. It serves as both a subfloor and an exterior sheath.

  146. 146

    By Macro Investor @ 142:

    I’ve also noticed few of the agents commenting here ever contribute anything technical. One who actually understands what to look for in terms of quality standards and market value would be worth the 6%. The reason consumers complain about the commission is lack of this basic knowledge.

    Are you suggesting that a buyer’s agent ask for an additional commission on top of the SOC? Or do you lack a “basic knowledge” or the relatively simple matter of how commissions work? ;-)

    Your comment though reminds me of those people who think agents somehow try to steer their buyer clients to listing in their same firm. An agent who tried such a thing would quickly starve to death. It’s hard enough to find a property a client likes, if you restricted them first to listings in your own office they would quickly be disappointed. And that’s true even in markets with 4x the inventory. If an agent limited themselves to dealing only in houses with unusual construction methods and products they’d also go broke, which would probably be okay because they’d also eventually be sued for recommending some construction method which eventually failed. At least your way they’d be judgment proof first!

    Also realize only a fairly percentage of buyers are even interested in new construction, and unless they’re hiring their own architect and contractor they’re not going to find many choices of houses with the types of things you’re interested in. And if they’re interested in older houses, ditto. And then there’s the obvious fact that it’s really difficult to determine what is underneath siding! Is it plywood or OSB? What is layered in-between? How well was that installed? Seriously, an agent who could determine that would be worth your 6% figure, because they would have magical powers!

    In any case, I think you’re confusing the job of an agent with that of an inspector. Agents can screen out houses based on some fairly obvious defects, so that clients don’t get into contract, get all excited and then waste money on an inspector. I do that all the time, and it’s part of the reason I preview before showing houses. And agents can point out superior methods of construction when noted. But if you’re looking to an agent to be an expert on construction methods you’re looking to the wrong person. Unless maybe they’re also a contractor, at best they’ll have taken a course on new construction methods taught by someone who doesn’t know what they’re teaching. Agents tend to learn about things that fail, not about new methods which time may or may not prove to be a success.

    On the topic of inspectors, that’s where there could really be a lot of improvement. But that’s a topic that could expand into an entire book. They are often described as being a “Jack of all trades, master of none,” but sometimes it’s more a “Jack of some trades, master on none.”

  147. 147

    By Macro Investor @ 143:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 137 – From what I’ve read solar panels on a cloudy day produce nothing from fall thru spring. And next to nothing in the summer. You need bright direct sunlight.

    The improvements in solar are from a cost per unit perspective. The actual solar gathering doesn’t change much.

    Even if the panels were free, the installation and electronics would make it a losing investment in the cloudy NW.

    The main issue with solar electrical production in the PNW is our electricity is relatively cheap. I only pay about $100 a month on average for gas and electricity. At $1,200 a year (which ignores the gas portion) it would take a long time to pay back any investment in solar.

    Also, I think PSE may have a love-hate relationship with net-metering, and without that solar would make very little sense for the average person because it would be producing most of its power when they would be using very little.

  148. 148

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 97
    Kary

    Point taken.

    This blog has gotten very big and full of details, but interesting too…we all need Bubble 101 training constantly as we learn more and revise our “constantly changing” strategies with time. Keep up the excellent inputs bloggers!!

  149. 149

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 147
    LOL….Solar Panels and Even Wind Power

    Have BIG PROBLEMS the rich elite Progressive MSM will never “carbon footprint” admit….albeit this same open borders MSM uses Global Warming research without a “blind study” to validate results. The blind study is impossible to validate; because its the Earth with no mankind on it. IOWs, did temperatures change on Earth because of man or irrespective of man??? No one knows….no evidence.

    Solar Panels are mostly imported from China….where’s the jobs or tax base to America? Down the toilet without border taxes.

    Wind Power uses noisy “bird killing” giant wind mills….”not in my rich elite seaside neighborhood” screams open border Ted Kennedy….LOL

    Hypocrites!

  150. 150
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 147 – The golden age of net metering has passed. For the last several years, utilities have been making it less and less attractive, as their view is that those who net meter do not pay the true cost of the infrastructure used to deliver power.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/utilities-sensing-threat-put-squeeze-on-booming-solar-roof-industry/2015/03/07/2d916f88-c1c9-11e4-ad5c-3b8ce89f1b89_story.html

  151. 151
    Deerhawke says:

    On the topic of whether you want a house to be tightly sealed or to breathe more freely, the simple answer is …. yes.

    Yes. You want a completely sealed structure with really great insulation (preferably 2 inches of blown in rigid foam and the balance blown-in-batt system). You really want to have less than 2 air changes per hour in a blower door test. Better yet if you can really watch out for small building sins and down toward 1 ACH.

    And Yes , you need to fully ventilate the structure. To do this, passive ventilation won’t cut it. You need a really good heat recovery ventilator (HRV) that is actively ventilating the structure 24 hours per day. You take stale air out of the bathrooms and laundry and bring fresh air into the bedrooms and living areas. The incoming air is filtered and the energy is exchanged between outgoing and incoming air. If you can afford it go for a Zehnder system and if not then go for one of the good Canadian Brands like Venmar. These systems are small, whisper quiet, energy efficient and relatively inexpensive to build into new construction.

    In places like Canada where it is really cold, this is the code. All new construction is this way and it works out really well.

    This is also the way I build my houses here in Seattle and it is a huge step up from the dead air structures of the past. Dramatically healthier for the house and its inhabitants.

  152. 152

    RE: S-Crow @ 140
    Ask the Extinct(?) Spotted Owl

    Old Growth is almost all sucked dry in Washington State….demographer scientists label this overpopulation for you “brainwashed MSM rich elite Progressive Types” that can’t see the forrest through the trees….LOL

    I’m not a perfect environmentalist type [who is???]….but my facts are generally scientifically sound based on what we do know on overpopulation demography science to date and constantly changing with new evidence constantly changing all around us….

  153. 153

    RE: Deerhawke @ 151

    I find that most people disconnect and do not run them after they buy the house. So now what?

  154. 154

    RE: wreckingbull @ 150 – Yes, that’s the hate part of the love hate relationship, but without that you’d need some sort of on-site storage, and that means even more expense and perhaps even periodic expense replacing storage devices.

  155. 155

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 153:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 151

    I find that most people disconnect and do not run them after they buy the house. So now what?

    Yep. They’re either confused by the controls or annoyed by the noise, or they just don’t have a clue what the thing is or does.

  156. 156

    RE: Deerhawke @ 151
    More From Less

    How about do the same ting for a fraction of the cost?

    More cost does not always make it better….just install “cheap” carbon filtered vents throughout the house for air. My estimate is “do it yourself” for like $20 a vent….or $400-500 general contractor cost for whole house.

    I hate Consumer Reports for the same reason….they always rate overpriced automobiles better quality than much cheaper options [i.e., Chrysler/Dodge models with no safety defects, etc]….they want us all in similar over priced and similar MPG pea sized tin cans…

  157. 157

    By softwarengineer @ 156:

    I hate Consumer Reports for the same reason….they always rate overpriced automobiles better quality than much cheaper options…

    Are you sure you’re not thinking of J.D. Powers? People tend to think more of products which they pay more money for. I’m not sure that CR suffers from that problem. If you look at their repair ratings there have been a lot of Mercedes and other expensive cars on their list of poor performers.

    As to their not recommending Dodge/Chrysler products, I would suspect that’s due to their repair ratings, although I haven’t checked out that brand for a long time.

  158. 158
    Gooddeal says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 146:

    But if you’re looking to an agent to be an expert on construction methods you’re looking to the wrong person. Unless maybe they’re also a contractor, at best they’ll have taken a course on new construction methods taught by someone who doesn’t know what they’re teaching.

    I got a chuckle out of that. :) So true.

  159. 159
  160. 160
    Gooddeal says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 147:

    By Macro Investor @ 143:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 137 – From what I’ve read solar panels on a cloudy day produce nothing from fall thru spring. And next to nothing in the summer. You need bright direct sunlight.

    The improvements in solar are from a cost per unit perspective. The actual solar gathering doesn’t change much.

    Even if the panels were free, the installation and electronics would make it a losing investment in the cloudy NW.

    The main issue with solar electrical production in the PNW is our electricity is relatively cheap. I only pay about $100 a month on average for gas and electricity. At $1,200 a year (which ignores the gas portion) it would take a long time to pay back any investment in solar.

    Also, I think PSE may have a love-hate relationship with net-metering, and without that solar would make very little sense for the average person because it would be producing most of its power when they would be using very little.

    I have read that the best solar panels can produce electricity even on overcast days but I think even then, with the low cost of electricity here as you pointed out, it would still take forever to recoup the initial investment, especially with the PSE metering issue. I’m contemplating wiring my roof so that I can install solar panels in the future, perhaps 20 years from now, when they’re highly effective and dirt cheap. At least it can power my coffee maker and fridge during a power outage. :D

  161. 161
    jon says:

    I think it would be understandable if a new visitor to this bubble site was confused by all the very helpful discussion about remodeling and flipping.

  162. 162
    Gooddeal says:

    By Deerhawke @ 151:

    On the topic of whether you want a house to be tightly sealed or to breathe more freely, the simple answer is …. yes.

    Yes. You want a completely sealed structure with really great insulation (preferably 2 inches of blown in rigid foam and the balance blown-in-batt system). You really want to have less than 2 air changes per hour in a blower door test. Better yet if you can really watch out for small building sins and down toward 1 ACH.

    And Yes , you need to fully ventilate the structure. To do this, passive ventilation won’t cut it. You need a really good heat recovery ventilator (HRV) that is actively ventilating the structure 24 hours per day. You take stale air out of the bathrooms and laundry and bring fresh air into the bedrooms and living areas. The incoming air is filtered and the energy is exchanged between outgoing and incoming air. If you can afford it go for a Zehnder system and if not then go for one of the good Canadian Brands like Venmar. These systems are small, whisper quiet, energy efficient and relatively inexpensive to build into new construction.

    In places like Canada where it is really cold, this is the code. All new construction is this way and it works out really well.

    This is also the way I build my houses here in Seattle and it is a huge step up from the dead air structures of the past. Dramatically healthier for the house and its inhabitants.</blockquote

    If that's how you build houses I would love to know the name of your company so I can recommend you. I'm always on the lookout for contractors that are knowledgeable in proper building practices. On my house, I'm aiming for 0.7 ACH. Realistically, if I can get it below 1 I'll be pleased.

  163. 163

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 131
    Great Insights Ardella

    Its very similar to arguing for central air conditioning, when we probably only need this $10-20K option for like 2-3 weeks a year….a 100 year investment payback? [LOL]

    Or buying a time share you may only use 1-2 weeks/yr [if that much]….a 100 year investment payback too versus cheap discounted motels on like Trivalto????

    LOL

  164. 164
    Gooddeal says:

    By jon @ 161:

    I think it would be understandable if a new visitor to this bubble site was confused by all the very helpful discussion about remodeling and flipping.

    Yeah, I admit it’s pretty off-topic. At least it’s housing related though, unlike a lot of posts from the past. :) For those *really* interested in building science I would recommend checking out greenbuildingtalk and watching Matt Risinger’s BUILD channel on YouTube.

  165. 165

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 157
    Wrong Kary

    Not only does my 2014 Dodge Charger get 35-39 MPG on long hwy trips [its also a rocket]…it a JD Powers quality winner, but it can leave a dealer today new for low 20s after HUGE domestic discounts [$8-15K, beat that Japan and S Korean engineers]….its rated 5 stars too on most sites, EXCEPT CONSUMER REPORTS.

    The Wrangler was criticized by CR for a rigid off road ride….what a joke, its an off road designed vehicle…it better ride rough.

  166. 166
    Gooddeal says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 155:

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 153:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 151

    I find that most people disconnect and do not run them after they buy the house. So now what?

    Yep. They’re either confused by the controls or annoyed by the noise, or they just don’t have a clue what the thing is or does.

    The models used for airtight homes are high quality and are whisper quiet. Also, they should not be setup so that a homeowner can conveniently disabled them, like say, connecting them to a switch as they are vital.

  167. 167

    RE: softwarengineer @ 165
    Dodge Essentially Invented Today’s CRV or Pea Sized SUVs Too

    It was called the Dodge Calliber….it sold MSRP [without deep domestic discounts] for about $14K….CR called it junk….LOL….Patriot, same scenario, $11K brand new [with discounts] with stick shift…I had a loaner Patriot when they installed my leather seats….35 MPG on hwy with the 4 speed automatic…simple design, but ruggedly built none the less..foreign engineered cars cost more but they’re better???? LOL

    How much will that foreign engineered CRV or Small SUV cost you? Like $30K with dinky MSRP price discounts…but is rated better by CR….LOL

  168. 168
    Gooddeal says:

    By softwarengineer @ 156:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 151
    More From Less

    How about do the same ting for a fraction of the cost?

    More cost does not always make it better….just install “cheap” carbon filtered vents throughout the house for air. My estimate is “do it yourself” for like $20 a vent….or $400-500 general contractor cost for whole house.

    You’re pretty darn creative. You must have been life-hacking before the term was coined. However, in this case, what you propose wouldn’t work. An HRV brings in fresh air from the outside while using the heat recovered from the outgoing air to warm up the incoming air. Your traditional air handler or furnace simply recirculate the air inside the house so adding carbon filters to all the vent registers would not be a substitute for an HRV’s function. Also, the cost of individual carbon filters would be more than a single central air filter, not the mention the pain of replacing every filter in every vent. The life-cycle cost would be so much higher. I totally agree with you, being more expensive doesn’t make something better. However, skimping out by using an inferior or wrong product is typically more expensive in the long run than using a more expensive, well designed, quality product. :)

  169. 169
  170. 170
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 166

    People who buy houses make some pretty absurd and common-sense-defying mistakes.

    (“What do you mean I can’t warm up my car in the garage? Who told you that? My father told me you should always warm up a car for at least 5 minutes before driving. Why don’t you just replace the carbon monoxide detectors since they are clearly defective? Is it because you are too cheap?”)

    But I have not had anyone turn off their HRV system. In fact if they did that, their bathrooms would not vent and the whole house would get pretty stinky. The bigger problem I have is getting them to clean out their filters every 2 months. I can’t say I blame them– I hate cleaning out filters too.

    I don’t just build and sell a house. I put together a full maintenance manual which I send to them before closing. Then I do a 1-2 hour walkthrough which, in part, tests whether or not they have read it. After I sell the house, I go back and check in with the buyers every few months to make sure all is going well and that they understand how all the systems work.

  171. 171
    Marc says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 62 Most of the agents who find dirt off-market have spent time putting together a sophisticated personal network for finding off-market deals or have built a sophisticated database and outcall operation.

    I don’t doubt this at all and I’d go further in saying what I always tell prospective clients who call me seeking advice on an offer they received from such a broker or builder: you are now dealing with a “buyer” that is as sharp as they come; whether you hire me or not, you need somebody to advise you because these guys will not miss a beat.

    I usually go on to tell them that, almost by definition, if they take this deal they will be selling their property for less than what it is or easily could be worth with a modest amount of effort. This is especially true right now when properties are getting bid up by irrational, absurd amounts.

    Based on deals I’ve seen over the past several months I have been wondering how dirt brokers and builders are dealing with this because I would hope that most property owners are aware that property values are on fire. I’ve seen many builders stubbornly clinging to dirt valuations that are unrealistically low or finished product estimates that are too low and seem to deny what is happening in the market right now. I can appreciate their need to hedge against the winds changing but come on.

  172. 172

    By softwarengineer @ 163:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 131
    Great Insights Ardella

    Its very similar to arguing for central air conditioning, when we probably only need this $10-20K option for like 2-3 weeks a year….a 100 year investment payback? [LOL]

    I’m not sure how you calculate the payback on something that is only for comfort and consumes more electricity than if it wasn’t there. I think you’re dealing with infinity due to the latter.

    If you make that central AC a heat pump you can get both efficiency and comfort, and/or other savings (e.g. not buying a high efficiency furnace).

  173. 173

    By Deerhawke @ 170:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 166

    People who buy houses make some pretty absurd and common-sense-defying mistakes.

    Many buyers of houses are not terribly familiar with much house material technology because they work in other areas and have never really thought about such things. It doesn’t mean they are uneducated or unintelligent, only that they’ve never had much need to get into such things. And they may make incorrect assumptions (e.g. vinyl siding is superior to cedar siding because it’s a newer technology). But it is yet another area of buying a house that involves “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

  174. 174
    uwp says:

    I want to buy a Deerhawke house.

  175. 175

    By softwarengineer @ 165:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 157
    Wrong Kary

    Not only does my 2014 Dodge Charger get 35-39 MPG on long hwy trips [its also a rocket]…it a JD Powers quality winner, . . .
    The Wrangler was criticized by CR for a rigid off road ride….what a joke, its an off road designed vehicle…it better ride rough.

    Exactly my point! CR’s reliability rating for that car is very poor (a 20 out of 100). And that’s why they don’t recommend that car. That rating is based on actual problems that their readers report in their annual survey. JD Power ratings, depending on the survey, are based on how well someone likes their car after they’ve owned it a couple of weeks.

    FWIW, in their list of quality manufacturers, Dodge is 5th from the bottom, and Jeep–one of their brands–is 2nd from the bottom. Mercedes is 12th from the bottom, while Chrysler because it rated higher in owner satisfaction for some reason (probably slightly higher prices) comes in at 13th from the bottom.

    I would agree with you about not using what CR writes about cars. Their opinions are not that useful, but their owner surveys are.

  176. 176
    Macro Investor says:

    By Deerhawke @ 151:

    In places like Canada where it is really cold, this is the code. All new construction is this way and it works out really well..

    RE: Deerhawke @ 151

    If I lived in a cold climate like interior Canada, I’d definitely want a fully sealed house. But we are talking about western WA. It only gets below freezing a couple of weeks a year. Here in mid March, it’s already warm enough that a decently insulated home with good windows needs little to no heating.

    I keep my house at 62 degrees and generally don’t heat April thru October. That is a beautiful spring day and I am comfortable in a light sweat shirt.

    I fully admit you’ve probably forgotten more than I know on this subject. But I’m leery of needing fans running all the time to keep from having a stale, or even musty/moldy/damp house. I can understand why people are turning them off and regretting the purchase. I’d need studies to be convinced. Energy savings vs payback with realistic local climate assumptions.

    Thanks for the information you provide. This is far more interesting and informative than the baseless opinions of sales people.

  177. 177

    This is really more Facebook material than SB, but it is somewhat related to the topic at hand in the most remote way. Love the half-bath.

    http://twentytwowords.com/architects-who-failed-at-the-one-job-they-had/?utm_source=facebook-desktop&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=22w-desktop-architect_fails

  178. 178
    Deerhawke says:

    By Marc @ 171:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 62

    I usually go on to tell them that, almost by definition, if they take this deal they will be selling their property for less than what it is or easily could be worth with a modest amount of effort. This is especially true right now when properties are getting bid up by irrational, absurd amounts.
    .

    Actually most of the houses that I tear down are begging to be torn down. It is a community service to tear them down. Some were bad the day they were built and some just badly treated since then. They are often listing in weird directions, wet, smelly, dark, full of a hoarder’s possessions, or a combination of the above. A modest amount of effort will not really help.

    And most of the time the seller does better, not worse, by selling to me via a dirt broker. Right now, the seller is in the driver’s seat and thanks to Zillow, Redfin and the neighborhood chat network, they have a pretty good idea of what their property is worth. They are not interested in putting a penny into the property and have no interest in putting in any effort, much less a modest amount. They drive a hard bargain and they do not have to pay any commissions to anybody.

  179. 179
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 176

    In new construction, putting in a really great insulation package, low-e + argon windows, a well-sealed envelope and an HRV system probably costs about $10,000-12,500 above and beyond a standard code-built house. But most builders don’t build this way because most consumers are not well educated enough to perceive the difference and so therefore don’t want to pay the differential.

    I put it like this. Do you want to cut your future energy bills in half? Do you want your house to feel cozy in the winter and fresh in the summer? Do you want to avoid mold? Do you want your house to be really quiet and not hear a lot of noise from outside? Do you want to have to clean your house less because it is less dusty? Do you want to breathe fresh air and are therefore both healthier and happier because you are less subject to depression?

    Smarter consumers get it.

    The other ones say they would rather have a SubZero fridge instead.

  180. 180
    redmondjp says:

    By Deerhawke @ 151:

    You take stale air out of the bathrooms and laundry and bring fresh air into the bedrooms and living areas.

    This raises an issue I was just discussing recently with some prospective homeowners. Regarding the laundry room, the building code either does or used to require a vent fan in the laundry room. But there is a much more powerful vent fan already in that same room that is used much more often – it’s called the dryer!

    So my questions are 1) why is the vent fan required in the laundry room, and 2) what allowances are made in a modern house for make-up air supply when the dryer is in use? My thoughts on most older homes is that with the dryer running, outside air will be leaking IN through the laundry room vent fan, as that tiny plastic flap in the exhaust is certainly not airtight.

  181. 181

    By redmondjp @ 180:

    By Deerhawke @ 151:

    You take stale air out of the bathrooms and laundry and bring fresh air into the bedrooms and living areas.

    This raises an issue I was just discussing recently with some prospective homeowners. Regarding the laundry room, the building code either does or used to require a vent fan in the laundry room. But there is a much more powerful vent fan already in that same room that is used much more often – it’s called the dryer!

    Good question, but I would also add people wash less with hot water now than in the past. And I would guess that even if they do use hot water, there’s less humidity produced if they have a front loading washer (but that is just a guess).

  182. 182
    Kmac says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 179

    I think it is less about being “educated” but more about not caring.
    Especially when you do the math.

    If your gas heating bill is $150/mo x 12 month (which is a way high estimate) = $1800/yr

    cut that bill in half (the 50% savings mentioned) and you have saved $900 /yr by going your route.

    That $12,000 system takes 13.3 years to break even
    Not a very good return in my book.
    I would consider it if it was a 4 year return to break even.

    If you spend less than $1800 yearly on gas the savings are even less and ROI is even farther out..

    LED lights are a great example on cost versus (real) savings- but hey, it’s the cool thing to have- right?

    I was required to get one of those “eco friendly” 94% tank less water heaters and I am using way more gas than ever before for hot water.
    I actually like it, but it is not very economical compared to a tank type water heater. And it was three times the cost of a standard water heater…..

    I think there is a lot of “feel good” thoughts behind *some* (not all) of these eco friendly building practices.
    They have their place, but ya gotta do the math……..

  183. 183

    By redmondjp @ 28:

    (and what is it with most homeowners these days that think that a new home needs no exterior maintenance?)..

    I was going down MLK today, and there are some fairly new townhouses or something–I didn’t get a good look at what the buildings are because I was focused on what I saw. Two of the gutters were growing things, it looked like flower boxes. One of them the growth was coming out of about 3′ of the gutters, and the growth stuck up at least 8 inches. What do these people need as a clue that their gutters are dirty?

  184. 184
    Marc says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 178 – I don’t doubt that the best use for certain houses is to be torn down and replaced with something new. What I feel very strongly about is that giving it to a dirt broker dramatically limits the number of potential buyers who ever become aware that it was available for purchase and that leads to a sub-optimal sales price for the seller far more often than not.

    I have seen many examples of this and in the large majority of cases, I believe they would have gotten a better result had they listed it for sale as broadly as they could. You’re correct that Zillow and Craigslist get good exposure but they can also get it in the MLS for as little as a few hundred bucks and are not required to offer a big commission. I’ve seen as little as $250 for the buyer’s agent which is effectively zero. Putting it there at least puts it in front of everybody at once and puts them on level footing rather than limiting it to just certain builders a dirt broker chooses to show it to.

    I’ve heard builders say they won’t bother to look at a property if it’s listed but that is pure self-delusion. They may not like it and they might even skip such a property on occasion, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the better strategy for the seller. Moreover, I bet if they were truly honest with themselves they would concede they didn’t skip any particular property merely because it was listed but for any number of other reasons, e.g., had a project in hand and their eye on one or more others that seemed plausible so it was easy to pass on a deal that wasn’t a sure thing or outright steal.

    I can’t imagine a rational builder would skip a listed property for that reason alone if they didn’t have a project in hand keeping them busy or one teed up.

  185. 185
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: Kmac @ 182

    I think you could do this same kind of breakeven analysis and decide that it is just fine to live in a house with single pane windows and no insulation. Buy a down vest and you’ll be fine. And dirty, drafty noisy houses, after all, build character.

    All snark aside, for most people, the way the green building math really works looks at cash flow and opportunity costs. Generally people save about twice on their utilities what the additional building cost adds to their mortgage. So they start calculating their payback in the first month. And then the benefits of a quieter, cleaner, healthier home are free.

    Green building practices make sense because it saves you green.

  186. 186
    jon says:

    The top of the market is going to have to come sooner or later, and when it comes it will probably be when Amazon stops hiring so fast. So when will that be? When there are no more retail jobs left in other parts of country?

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-is-going-to-kill-more-american-jobs-than-china-did-2017-01-19

  187. 187
    redmondjp says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 183:

    By redmondjp @ 28:

    (and what is it with most homeowners these days that think that a new home needs no exterior maintenance?)..

    I was going down MLK today, and there are some fairly new townhouses or something–I didn’t get a good look at what the buildings are because I was focused on what I saw. Two of the gutters were growing things, it looked like flower boxes. One of them the growth was coming out of about 3′ of the gutters, and the growth stuck up at least 8 inches. What do these people need as a clue that their gutters are dirty?

    I’ve seen the same on brand-new homes for sale. You’d think that the realtor would have gotten somebody to clear out the 6″ tall baby trees growing out of the gutter before it went on the market. And of course, no gutter screens either.

  188. 188

    RE: redmondjp @ 186 – I’m not a big fan of gutter screens–or at least I’ve yet to see a type I like. If there’s a heavy rain they keep the water from flowing into the gutters and instead it just will flow over. I had a quasi-new construction (tear-down to the foundation) listing where that and some really bad landscaping decisions resulted in a flooded basement, and the basement was rather nicely finished. The type that cover and curl over may not do that, but I’m very skeptical that they would work for fir or cedar. But if you know of a type that works okay I’d love to hear what it is.

  189. 189
    Deerhawke says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 187:

    RE: redmondjp @ 186 – I’m not a big fan of gutter screens–or at least I’ve yet to see a type I like. If there’s a heavy rain they keep the water from flowing into the gutters and instead it just will flow over. I had a quasi-new construction (tear-down to the foundation) listing where that and some really bad landscaping decisions resulted in a flooded basement, and the basement was rather nicely finished. The type that cover and curl over may not do that, but I’m very skeptical that they would work for fir or cedar. But if you know of a type that works okay I’d love to hear what it is.

    https://www.costco.com/EasyOn-Gutterguard-5%E2%80%9D-Version—100%E2%80%99.product.100019377.html

    https://www.easyongutterguard.com/

    Available at Costco. I have them on my house and my rentals and they work. Simple, well-designed, easy to install, mainly self-cleaning and cheaper than many of the alternatives. There are videos on youtube to help with installation.

  190. 190

    RE: QA Observer @ 110
    Have You Been To DC and the NE United States?

    They do have a BIG advantage over Seattle area homes….its called coded infrastructure for development. Ya gotta use big lots, lots of trees and YOUR OWN FREEWAY ACCESS ROADS. Ya can’t build cul-de-sac developments [like here] and pour all the new traffic on the older homes’ CLOGGED freeway accesses….its that simple. The neighborhoods there are bushy with trees and don’t appear crowded at all compared to Seattle because of greenery laws and larger lots. BTW, the home prices are about the same as ours. They can do this also because they don’t have the Cascades at their backs…just farm fields…compare us to Hawaii, its a better representation of our buildable land left.

    What I’m saying, if they’re horrifying now, we’re MUCH WORSE beyond hopeless decades ago…

  191. 191

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 187
    Yes Kary

    Screens on sewer drains mean one thing….CLOGS.

  192. 192

    Technology Review today had a new article which covered this new Google tool that tries to determine based on the shape of your roof and weather patterns whether your house is a good candidate for solar. It said mine wasn’t, and I also checked a neighbor’s who’s images looked slightly better and it said probably not for them too.

    https://www.google.com/get/sunroof#p=0

  193. 193

    RE: Kmac @ 182
    And If You Think Republic Garbage Hires $20/hr Garbage Workers or Even $10/hr Subcontractors

    To separate the recycling garbage they collect ALL MIXED TOGETHER. You’re living in a Fake News open border pretend Republic….brainless IOWs….

    Watch ’em, I did….they mixed the recycling in with the landfill garbage….does that mean Seattle can fine Republic for trying to stay in business for illegal activities? LOL

    The garbage workers I saw were laughing their heads off too…

  194. 194

    By Deerhawke @ 184:

    RE: Kmac @ 182

    I think you could do this same kind of breakeven analysis and decide that it is just fine to live in a house with single pane windows and no insulation..

    One thing to consider is that most of this is a lot cheaper as in initial install than an upgrade. Using your single pane windows, it probably doesn’t cost that much more to install double pane in new construction (actually single pane might be more since it’s now relatively rare). But if you’re talking about ripping out existing window frames and installing new the cost would be greater than the cost of the new install. I’ve often wondered how many years is the payoff on a window upgrade. Based on what I saw after 2008 a lot of owners who upgraded ended up being foreclosed.

  195. 195

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 190
    Jobs All Go to China

    With solar panels too….this green energy that was going to save us, turns out to be a knife in the back.

  196. 196

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 192
    Interesting Idea

    I’m sure there’s been no research on the “breathing” ability of a home and windows [they always want to sell us something, even if we don’t need it]….they’d be easier to clean than my double sealed glass and the sealed glass can leak….leaving ya with dirty windows ya can’t clean…

  197. 197
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 188 – You can certainly get more bang for the buck in areas of MD that are close to civilization and employment.

  198. 198
    Gooddeal says:

    By Kmac @ 182:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 179
    If you spend less than $1800 yearly on gas the savings are even less and ROI is even farther out..

    I’ve heard anecdotally that a large home, say 3500 sq/ft, designed to passivehaus standards could, in our temperate climate, require only $500/year in heating and cooling costs. In fact, the larger the home, the larger the percentage gain in savings. My home, a rambler built in the 1970’s cost me over $400 a month to heat in the last cold spell we had a few months ago. If I can whittle that down to $500 a year the savings will more than make up for the extra $75-$100 a month added to my mortgage payment for the upgrades.

  199. 199
    Kmac says:

    By Gooddeal @ 198:

    By Kmac @ 182:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 179
    If you spend less than $1800 yearly on gas the savings are even less and ROI is even farther out..

    I’ve heard anecdotally that a large home, say 3500 sq/ft, designed to passivehaus standards could, in our temperate climate, require only $500/year in heating and cooling costs. In fact, the larger the home, the larger the percentage gain in savings. My home, a rambler built in the 1970’s cost me over $400 a month to heat in the last cold spell we had a few months ago. If I can whittle that down to $500 a year the savings will more than make up for the extra $75-$100 a month added to my mortgage payment for the upgrades.

    MAYBE on a new house it would be worth it and especially if you are the type that works off of monthly payments being affordable.
    Not entirely sure of these claims when factoring the actual TOTAL cost of upgrades, including finance and operating charges. And yet, we still have a 10yr(?) lifespan of mechanicals that will still need to be replaced eventually.
    Look guys, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but that I’m not thoroughly convinced it is a smart money move to buy into these things. Nothing to do with “being educated”.
    It takes a certain clientele to see value in these things, but without getting into politics, I will say that Seattle is a great place to be when you make a living selling such items.

    At $400/mo you must be electric heat.
    I would think that to retrofit your house to a $500/yr passive house would be a lot more than $100/month on a mortgage payment. New furnace, new ducts (new drywall?) air barrier (new siding?), new windows, venting system. Still not sure even all these actions would allow the $500/yr goal to be realized.

  200. 200

    This discussion is somewhat comical when you consider that you could probably find this $15 bathroom vent fan in a $500,000-$750,000 new construction home. ;-) Too many builders are interested in saving relatively small amounts of money.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/NuTone-50-CFM-Wall-Ceiling-Mount-Exhaust-Bath-Fan-696N/100081599

  201. 201

    By Gooddeal @ 198:

    I’ve heard anecdotally that a large home, say 3500 sq/ft, designed to passivehaus standards could, in our temperate climate, require only $500/year in heating and cooling costs.

    I’m going to assume that doesn’t include the cost of heating hot water or cooking. My expense for that is about $22 a month, which would be $264 a year, over half of that $500. That’s with two people and a standard gas water heater–not a high efficiency model or tankless model.

  202. 202
    Kmac says:

    My new house,~1900sq ft which is at 4.15 ACH (which every inspector told me was a respectable number for conventional construction) and 82% furnace used $55 in gas in January when it was cold here. That is with the house being in mid to upper 60’s -24/7.

    IF I use the heater at the same level as above for 6 months out of the year, which I think is quite a reasonable assumption for this area, I only spend $330/yr on fuel for heat to be pretty comfortable all the time.

    $330 year is not that expensive and these proposed extra costs would take a LONG- LONG time to pay for themselves. Given the mechanical lifespan of some of these things they may not even begin to break even before needing to be replaced.

    Not to go off the rails here, but an example that comes to my mind is:
    I have been told so many times that I should get rid of my 23 year old excellently maintained Ford pickup BECAUSE it gets only 11mpg. [gasp]
    Their solution is to spend 30k + on a newer vehicle that gets only 50% better mileage and requires full coverage insurance etc.
    I can buy a lot of gas for 30k.

  203. 203
    Kmac says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 180

    Interesting.
    I never put any thought into where the replacement air for the dryer came from.

  204. 204

    RE: Kmac @ 203 – So everyone doesn’t time when they run the dryer based on the outside temperature at various times of day/week? ;-)

  205. 205
    Kmac says:

    Not sure if that was a dig on me , but funny nonetheless. :-)

  206. 206
    Deerhawke says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 198

    A few years ago I sold a new house in Greenlake built to what was then a Built-Green 5 standard. It was 3050 sf. It was bought by a couple who were both PhD physicists who worked for Boeing. I asked them if they would be interested in tracking their energy usage and they readily agreed. A year later I called them and they said that it was not a useful exercise because their heater only kicked on during the coldest nights of the year. Gas heating costs were a rounding error. Most of their heat came from lighting, cooking, heating water for showers– and passive solar. They had a lot of big windows on the south and west sides of the building to take advantage of the view of the lake, city and mountains. It provided them with much more passive solar than we modeled and that heat was then redistributed throughout the house by the HRV.

    The house had full LED lighting, Watersense faucets and dishwasher, Niagara UHE toilets, and a front loading washer. The couple was really pleased that their overall utility bills were less than half the small townhouse they had moved from.

    It is important to note that when you are trying to figure out the the breakeven on things that save you money, a penny saved is not a penny earned. Depending on your tax bracket, every penny saved may be 1.39 cents earned.

  207. 207
    Gooddeal says:

    By Kmac @ 202:

    My new house,~1900sq ft which is at 4.15 ACH (which every inspector told me was a respectable number for conventional construction) and 82% furnace used $55 in gas in January when it was cold here. That is with the house being in mid to upper 60’s -24/7.

    IF I use the heater at the same level as above for 6 months out of the year, which I think is quite a reasonable assumption for this area, I only spend $330/yr on fuel for heat to be pretty comfortable all the time.

    $330 year is not that expensive and these proposed extra costs would take a LONG- LONG time to pay for themselves. Given the mechanical lifespan of some of these things they may not even begin to break even before needing to be replaced.

    Not to go off the rails here, but an example that comes to my mind is:
    I have been told so many times that I should get rid of my 23 year old excellently maintained Ford pickup BECAUSE it gets only 11mpg. [gasp]
    Their solution is to spend 30k + on a newer vehicle that gets only 50% better mileage and requires full coverage insurance etc.
    I can buy a lot of gas for 30k.

    It really depends on everyone’s individual situation. I have my thermostat up high and I have AC so my electric bills are very high. I was being very conservative at $500/year which would likely include all energy usage, not just for heating and cooling. Passivehaus by definition seeks to make a house net neutral when it comes to heating and cooling costs which means if done perfectly you should spend zero or near zero for heating and cooling. Since dollar figures vary depending on situation it’s better to simply go by the percentage. You should expect to reduce your heating and cooling costs by 90% over a poorly insulated home. Also, there is the benefit of clean indoor air quality, a reduction in noise, and the increase in durability of the home due to better weather sealing and materials. It’s also tricky to use current energy rates as a reason for not improving your home. Electricity and gas is cheap now but it may not be in the future. I agree with you though, it’s not worth doing if the return on investment isn’t there. However, the experts agree that the benefits outweigh the minimal increase to one’s mortgage.

  208. 208

    RE: Gooddeal @ 198

    What size is the house you are planning to build going to be?

  209. 209
    GoHawks987 says:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 72
    I’d love to hear about these builders you have researched. If you are willing to share, what would be the best way to get that info?

  210. 210
    Gooddeal says:

    By ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 208:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 198

    What size is the house you are planning to build going to be?

    Under 4000 sq/ft.

  211. 211
    Jeff says:

    weekly Inventory numbers peak on friday afternoons – last week was 1577 – we are at 1515, so 50 more listings tomorrow

  212. 212

    More MLK building issues. What appears to be multi-family with a peaked composite roof has two large turbine style “spinning” vents at each end on the top of each section of roof. Again a fairly new building. I can’t imagine those were how the building was originally designed, so I can only assume that was some sort of make-shift attempt to increase attic ventilation.

    You can see some of them here–there seem to be a number of buildings affected.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@47.5355187,-122.2809005,3a,75y,180h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sB971NRkQAA6PoPQr3jqzag!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

  213. 213

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 211 – A bit more digging, the buildings are owned by the SHA and were built in 2005. The new vents were added by 2007.

    Amazing the stuff you can figure out with King County’s iMap system. They have aerial views from many different periods, depending on area.

  214. 214

    RE: Macro Investor @ 142

    We do have and provide that basic knowledge. We are just not allowed to tell you what homes are worth publicly. But privately to clients we, of course, are. Same with house problems. We generally know the value and problems of every new listing and share that with our clients. We just can’t post it publicly.

  215. 215

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 213 – It’s actually more that we’re not allowed to comment on listings, although I guess you might run into the technicality of needing to give a Law of Agency Pamphlet prior to giving a CMA–arguably the DOL might say that you’d need to link that.

    Same with house problems. But for discovering that those properties were owned by SHA I wouldn’t have commented on them in such a specific way.

    Just today I wrote a listing agent from a house my clients’ made an offer on over a year ago to let him know the main reason my clients backed out. That listing sold shortly thereafter to some buyers not represented by as diligent and informed of an agent as myself, but prior to that happening I didn’t want to burden his sellers with my knowledge and affect their ability to sell going forward.

  216. 216
    Gooddeal says:

    By GoHawks987 @ 209:

    RE: Gooddeal @ 72
    I’d love to hear about these builders you have researched. If you are willing to share, what would be the best way to get that info?

    Checkout post 113, I answered this question. :)

  217. 217
    Benvolio says:

    Agents on Redfin leave written comments on listings all the time. Are there different rules there?

  218. 218

    By Benvolio @ 216:

    Agents on Redfin leave written comments on listings all the time. Are there different rules there?

    Those comments are not public. You have to sign up for the Redfin site, wherein you agree to be a client of Redfin. Why Redfin would want to have an agency relationship so easily is something that has made me wonder. For example, if the buyer of that property my client backed out from had used a non-Redfin agent to buy, but had signed up for Redfin’s site, could that buyer sue both their agent and Redfin if neither agent mentioned the condition I informed my client about?

  219. 219

    RE: Benvolio @ 216

    I am a registered user of Redfin and I require that my clients do that as well for many reasons. I can see all the comments so it is a loose workaround of the rules. I have clients who comment here and/or read comments here, but I still have to tell them privately and not publicly on this site.

    If I email info to people I don’t think I have to prove whether or not they are a client. Mostly because Kary can’t see me and rat on me. LOL!

  220. 220
    Kmac says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 214:

    RE: …but prior to that happening I didn’t want to burden his sellers with my knowledge and affect their ability to sell going forward.

    Wouldn’t anything you said or presented be considered hearsay?

    Even if you have a private inspector spouting off, my opinion is they are not necessarily an “expert” on the subject they are talking about and certainly carry no authority on the matter.

  221. 221
    Kmac says:

    There is going to be downward pressure on rent soon, but costs are going through the roof…….

    Taxes Rise on Seattle’s Old-School Apartment Buildings

    A recent spate of new tax levies passed in Seattle, many of them intended to help the working class by subsidizing affordable housing, have created enormous property tax increases for some of Seattle’s oldest apartment buildings, many of which make up the city’s remaining stock of “naturally” affordable housing.

    At one 20-unit building owned by landlord Bob Weisenbach, the property tax bill increased by 27% over the course of one year, and by 36% over two years. This amounted to $15,000 in extra taxes paid, or $750 more per unit. Other older apartment buildings nearby saw tax hikes between 25% and 40% over the course of two years.

    Weisenbach said another irony is that both he, and probably most of his tenants, all voted for the various tax levies. Maybe nobody realized how hard it would come back on those least able to afford it — working-class tenants.

    “I’m going to write each of my tenants a letter, explaining the extreme size of this year’s tax bill,” Weisenbach said. “I’m worried it may drive some of them out of the building, which probably means out of the neighborhood, or out of the city.”

    http://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/property-management/rent-trends/taxes-rise-on-seattles-old-school-apartment-buildings_c

  222. 222
    jon says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 217:

    By Benvolio @ 216:

    Agents on Redfin leave written comments on listings all the time. Are there different rules there?

    Those comments are not public. You have to sign up for the Redfin site, wherein you agree to be a client of Redfin. Why Redfin would want to have an agency relationship so easily is something that has made me wonder. For example, if the buyer of that property my client backed out from had used a non-Redfin agent to buy, but had signed up for Redfin’s site, could that buyer sue both their agent and Redfin if neither agent mentioned the condition I informed my client about?

    They just treat the small probability that might affect a particular property as a cost of doing business in order to get a large pool of prospective buyers and sellers to work with.

  223. 223

    By Kmac @ 219:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 214:

    RE: …but prior to that happening I didn’t want to burden his sellers with my knowledge and affect their ability to sell going forward.

    Wouldn’t anything you said or presented be considered hearsay?

    Even if you have a private inspector spouting off, my opinion is they are not necessarily an “expert” on the subject they are talking about and certainly carry no authority on the matter.

    It’s not so much that what a seller learns that they have to accept, it’s that they have to deal with it in some way. Effectively they have to either correct the problem or disclose it. Disproving it is a bit difficult, because if they’re wrong (or incorrectly found wrong later) they will have been guilty of not disclosing something that they should have disclosed.

    My action of withholding the information was more of a courtesy than anything. Unless it’s a safety issue, or an item being asked for repair or credit, I don’t typically mention inspection issues. For example, I did mention once the lack of any smoke detectors, but that was also a house with a Zinsco breaker box and I don’t believe I mentioned the box.

    The same issue exists in the area of seller inspections. Annie Fitzsimmons addresses that issue a bit starting at the 4:30 mark, but the same disclosure issues would exist if a buyer gives a listing agent a complete copy of their inspection (or worse a listing agent asks for it).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX_iSjmEUrM

  224. 224

    By Ardell DellaLoggia @ 218:

    If I email info to people I don’t think I have to prove whether or not they are a client. Mostly because Kary can’t see me and rat on me. LOL!

    Huh? The rule doesn’t apply to email in any way–client or not. It’s an “anti-blogging” rule, using the term blogging very loosely, although it may have some broader applications.

    And I don’t make it a practice to “rat” on people. Although I’m a stickler for following the rules I don’t make it a practice to turn other attorneys or agents in for their behavior. I would likely only act for the protection of a client or other third party, not for some concept of the greater good. As for my own practices, I am a stickler so that I can sleep at night.

  225. 225
    Kmac says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 222
    Interesting video.

    Well, let me ask you this then (yes- I know advice is worth what you pay for it):

    7 or 8 years ago I sold two houses, in which upon receiving the offers, and which both contained inspection contingencies, I countered with language insisting that any buyer inspections that they performed were solely for buyer’s own benefit and that NO information supplied by any inspector was to be submitted to either the seller (me) or his R/E agent in any fashion. Take it or leave it!

    I also added language suggesting that the inspector had better be insured and that if the inspection resulted in any property damage, that buyer and/or their inspector would be held liable for it.

    My thoughts were if I didn’t “know” about something, despite the inspector not being an “expert” and me needing to argue that point, there would be nothing to disclose.

    It sounds like the disclosure form in use 7 or 8 years ago may not be the same one in use today.

    I did have an attorney tell me that for an older property, “I don’t know” is a quite appropriate answer for most of the disclosure questions.
    The question regarding fill on site comes to mind…you have no idea what has been done to it before a residence was placed there.

  226. 226

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 223

    That’s a limited perspective. I’m not going to say an incorrect one as that would result in 100 tit for tat comments. LOL! Talking about other people’s listings (except to clients) has never been allowed even before there was such a thing as “blogging” or social media.

    Ours is the only field that limits being able to educate the public using specific examples and also the only field that does not allow for second opinion. It’s pretty lame really.

    If a doctor tells you you have cancer or any professional in any other field tells you something you aren’t certain about, you can go get a second opinion. But in real estate, if someone wants to 2nd guess their agent, the other agents are told they are not allowed to answer the question of a buyer or seller who is represented by another agent. No opportunity for 2nd opinion. That’s BS and I have done it for many years because it’s a stupid restriction.

  227. 227

    RE: Kmac @ 224 – I played with the idea of making the earnest money non-refundable if the inspection report was provided by the buyer without a request, but I never even tried that. I know other attorneys have tried to deal with that issue too.

    I don’t think the age of the property has a thing to do with your answers on a disclosure statement. If you know, but claim you don’t know, that’s a problem.

    That said, some of the questions are asked in a way that they probably should be answered “don’t know.” Your fill question is a good example of that. There’s a brand new project I’ve been watching get developed, and they re-sloped the property, so there’s a considerable amount of fill dirt, but you’d never know it now unless you’d watched the property get developed. There are other disclosure questions where the time frame goes back to the beginning of time, where probably no one alive knows the answer.

  228. 228

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 225 – Please cite a source for your belief. I can tell you it’s not a statute or WAC. There are some limitations in the NWMLS rules regarding disclosure of listing information, some of which is probably unenforceable if it were also public information (e.g. the square footage of a lot). Disclosing an owner phone number via an email or telephone call would be a clear violation. See Rule 183 dealing with “confidential information.”

    But I don’t think there’s anything that would prevent you from sending an email to anyone (unless maybe it was a huge email list) that said something like: “I think the listing at 123 Main Street would do better if they brought in a landscaper to clean it up a bit.” That might be in bad taste, depending on the facts, but I don’t see any violation in that sort of thing.

  229. 229
    redmondjp says:

    By Kmac @ 203:

    RE: redmondjp @ 180

    Interesting.
    I never put any thought into where the replacement air for the dryer came from.

    Online sources for the exhaust flow rate of a typical residential clothes dryer vary, with the range between 100 and 200 cfm. That’s a lot of makeup air in a tightly-sealed home. If that tight of home doesn’t have a sufficient makeup air source, dryer performance could suffer. This could also cause incoming air leakage through other places in the home, such as bathroom and kitchen vent fan exhausts, and natural gas appliance exhausts (which is not good of course).

  230. 230

    RE: Gooddeal @ 207
    Let Me Rent It and We’ll Compare Costs

    Leave the thermostat on 72 degrees 24/7s and I will prevent mildew and see correct utility costs….it doesn’t mean you are wrong….many elderly leave their heat off too or don’t eat. I’m sure if their bills were $22/mo this would not happen…

  231. 231
    Kit says:

    We’re in mid-March, and Tim’s graphs show a peak in March typically for new listings though inventory will be ramping up still. Any of you awesome commenters have data/opinions on how inventory is looking?

  232. 232

    RE: Kit @ 230 – Did the Estately numbers disappear? Just when we figured out what was “wrong” with them. If they do still exist you could probably add 80-120 to them and get a pretty good idea.

    Anyway, the number the last time I looked was up about 200 units., but note that the month end was really a dip.

    Number 200 from NWMLS sources, but not compiled by or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

  233. 233
    Kit says:

    RE: Kit @ 230
    Bad on me for not looking carefully at the graphs till after I posted: sometimes they show a peak in March, but lately it’s summer. My bad.

  234. 234
    Kit says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 231
    The problem is that I don’t really know what those numbers mean relative to the last few years and anything about the quality. I can only compare to the graphs and rely on what I personally notice which is that I don’t see much of a difference in Seattle.

  235. 235

    RE: Kit @ 233 – I wouldn’t get too caught up in small changes. I’ve said that we would need a relatively small change in the number of listings, but I was thinking more in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 (so 1,500 to 2,500 more) listings as being something that would take a lot of the pressure off for buyers. It would still be a seller’s market, but not as bad as today. And most people probably think we need a larger change than that. You’re not likely to see that kind of change in one month. Just looking at the inventory figures once a month is probably sufficient.

  236. 236
    Kmac says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 222::

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 214:
    It’s not so much that what a seller learns that they have to accept, it’s that they have to deal with it in some way. Effectively they have to either correct the problem or disclose it. Disproving it is a bit difficult, because if they’re wrong (or incorrectly found wrong later) they will have been guilty of not disclosing something that they should have disclosed.

    Hypothetical:
    Seller hires out a band aid fix so he then doesn’t need to disclose anything to any subsequent potential purchasers, but the minimal level repair then shortly fails with the new buyer.

    Is this issue then a “new” problem or a continuation of the old?
    Should the new owner just suck it up and fix the problem or spend 3 times the amount of repair going to trial….
    Since we no longer live in a buyer beware society, I think disclosure statements, especially well worded one, are more in the seller’s favor than the buyer’s. Funny how they are promoted as a buyer’s resource.

  237. 237

    RE: Kit @ 230

    Inventory is picking up in the last week but not evenly. In Seattle South of town has had more activity than north by about 2/3rds to 1/3rd and I haven’t seen anything particularly interesting come on. Though that could just be because I am only looking at limited types of inventory there. in specific areas.

    On the Eastside I have had significant inventory expansion in one area but nothing in two others. For the prime areas in the high price range I’m looking for I’m thinking we need to be 60 days or less from the end of the school year to see the best options. So far the houses coming on are substandard for one reason or another, but getting a bit better this week than any week for a very long time. Still not “good” though.

    April 15 puts a 60 day close (if requested by the seller) out to June 15, which is about right if people have children in school. This particularly of note for higher end in only the best of schools buyers on The Eastside. Seattle is rarely as school cycle driven.

    April 15 to May 15 should be the strongest inventory time.

  238. 238
    Marc says:

    RE: Kit @ 230
    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 231

    I like the Estately numbers even if they leave out townhouses and routinely make note of them whenever I pop on to SeatteBubble to gauge the trend.

    If you click on the hyperlinked number you’ll see a simple text list of the inventory levels retrieved at the top of every hour starting in July, 2007. Scroll all the way to the bottom to get to the most recent numbers. You can then easily scroll up and get a sense of the fluctuations over the course of a day, week, or month. You can then jump back to the same month in the year prior and scroll through for comparison.

    March 2017 started at 1,342 homes actively for sale which is barely above the all time low (of this data set) it jumped up rather quickly to around 1500 and has largely bounced between 1,450 and 1,540 until 10 am this morning when it finally crossed 1,550 and is sitting at 1,573 as I type this. Contrast that with March 2016 which started at 1,821 and fluctuated between 1,782 and 2,093.

    I would spitball the daily average for March of this year (through today) at a little over 1,500 and March of last year in the vicinity of 1,950. March might pick up over the next 13 days and see the average creep up but I doubt it will go beyond 1,600 (and probably not past 1,550).

    If my guesstimates are even close to correct, then current inventory is down 20% to 25% year over year making this easily the worst start to spring ever. This would also go a long way towards explaining the mind boggling bidding wars we’ve seen since mid to late January.

  239. 239

    By Kmac @ 235:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 222::

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 214:
    It’s not so much that what a seller learns that they have to accept, it’s that they have to deal with it in some way. Effectively they have to either correct the problem or disclose it. Disproving it is a bit difficult, because if they’re wrong (or incorrectly found wrong later) they will have been guilty of not disclosing something that they should have disclosed.

    Hypothetical:
    Seller hires out a band aid fix so he then doesn’t need to disclose anything to any subsequent potential purchasers, but the minimal level repair then shortly fails with the new buyer.

    Is this issue then a “new” problem or a continuation of the old?
    Should the new owner just suck it up and fix the problem or spend 3 times the amount of repair going to trial….
    Since we no longer live in a buyer beware society, I think disclosure statements, especially well worded one, are more in the seller’s favor than the buyer’s. Funny how they are promoted as a buyer’s resource.

    The law of liability for Form 17 disclosure issues is about as clear as mud. If the repair was strictly to cover up, then arguably there would be liability. But read the facts of Douglas v. Visser, where the repairs were arguably strictly to cover up and the buyer took the hit. That case is why I say a seller should think long and hard before ever accepting an offer without an inspection contingency, or even allowing pre-inspections.

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-court-of-appeals/1624461.html

    But seller repairs are often an issue. I’d rather see a house with a five year old roof than a 5 week old roof. And when dealing with inspection reports I’ll often tell clients there are repairs that they do not want to ask a seller to do. But on the topic of disclosure, a seller should always aim for complete disclosure.

  240. 240
    QA Guy says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 217
    Kary,
    Information you provided is not quite correct. Registration on Redfin website does not establish agent-client relationship. It’s the local MLS rules that require that agent comments cannot be open to general public.
    https://support.redfin.com/hc/en-us/articles/208164416-Agent-Tour-Insights-

  241. 241

    RE: QA Guy @ 239 – From their Terms of Use–“You are entering into a lawful consumer-broker relationship with Redfin as defined by applicable state law. ” Yes the next sentence is you can terminate it, but they are creating that relationship when you sign up.

    https://www.redfin.com/about/terms-of-use

  242. 242
    Kit says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 236
    RE: Marc @ 237
    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 234

    Thank you all for the replies. I enjoyed reading them.

  243. 243

    RE: QA Guy @ 239

    You are correct however it is how they got around the rule. It’s a bit flimsy…but it worked. Without that they would not be able to post agent remarks to registered users.

  244. 244
    Brian says:

    Inventory hit over 1600 today. Most since Jan 8th.

  245. 245

    RE: Brian @ 243

    I have a crazy amount of houses to show this weekend, relatively speaking. It feels like sellers are getting a little scared.

  246. 246

    RE: Blurtman @ 51

    This is the one in Sammamish I was talking about that closed today. My buyers got a lot more for their money in Sammamish and my sellers got a crazy price in Bellevue. So far I’m batting 1000 in 2017. :)

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Sammamish/21316-SE-35th-Way-98075/home/433989

    I really liked that extra bonus room and loft in the back. I think maybe in the plans that would have been a tandem garage. I like it much better as extra interior space.

  247. 247

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 200
    The same structure lumber and piping materials too..

  248. 248

    RE: softwarengineer @ 246 – Yes, I particularly like how they won’t have fascia board behind the gutters except at the corners, instead nailing the gutters directly into the rafters in the middle sections. They probably save 100-300 board feet on each house. I’m not so sure though that might not be the better practice even thought it also saves money. If the gutters back up for extended periods of time due to owner neglect there would be less wood to be damaged.

  249. 249
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Ardell DellaLoggia @ 245 – Well done, Ardell. At that price for sq. ft., I may be able to supersize it at Mickey D’s when we sell.

  250. 250

    RE: Blurtman @ 248

    We probably shouldn’t have won that multiple offer situation…but I had a few tricks up my sleeve. :) It was a perfect house for my clients because it’s one of the few great houses…that also has a great yard.

    We were very lucky to find it and to get it as well.

    Just an FYI for those interested in sold prices to asking prices to appraised prices…it appraised at $985,000.

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