NWMLS: Median Price Surges As Pending Sales Slip

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

NWMLS brokers report 50 percent spike in new listings

“Although we’re seeing better news for buyers related to increases in new listings during the past three months, we’re continuing to sell inventory at a faster rate,” stated Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “This lack of supply continues to put an upward pressure on home prices. We’re in for yet another frenzied spring,” he believes.

“It’s a straight up crazy, frenzy market in King and Snohomish counties,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott. About 75 percent of homes are selling within the first 30 days, according to his analysis.

I love how in last month’s post I jokingly used “crazy hot” to refer Lennox’s obvious excitement over frothing prices, and this month he actually says it.

What I don’t love is the absurd market we now find ourselves in. I suppose if I wanted to sell my house and leave the Seattle area, it would be awesome, but for most people in the area it stinks.

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):

March 2017 Number MOM YOY Buyers Sellers
Active Listings 1,703 +18.8% -21.0%
Closed Sales 2,079 +53.9% +8.8%
SAAS (?) 1.27 +12.3% -11.4%
Pending Sales 2,723 +30.7% -5.4%
Months of Supply 0.82 -22.8% -27.5%
Median Price* $599,950 +7.1% +12.9%

For the second month in a row, the only “good news” for buyers in this month’s numbers is the year-over-year decline in pending sales. Interestingly, although pending sales have been down year-over-year for two months in a row now, closed sales continued to increase year-over-year.

Here’s your closed sales yearly comparison chart:

King County SFH Closed Sales

Closed sales shot up 54 percent from February to March. Last year over the same period closed sales rose 44 percent, so while this was a strong increase it was slightly less of a seasonal bump than last year. Despite that, year-over-year closed sales increased from up two percent in February to up nine percent in March.

King County SFH Pending Sales

Pending sales rose 31 percent from February to March, but were down five percent year-over-year.

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

King County SFH Inventory

Listings rose 19 percent from February to March, which is a larger increase than the 12 percent gain we saw last year. Still though, year-over-year listings were down 21 percent.

Here’s the chart of new listings:

King County SFH New Listings

We’re not setting new record lows anymore, so that’s good. Still though, the number of new listings fell slightly short of last year’s level.

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

No big change here, it is still a very strong sellers’ market out there.

Here’s the median home price YOY change graph:

King County SFH YOY Price Change

Back up into double digits. We’ll take a look later this month at how sales were distributed throughout the county, which is often a large driver of big month-to-month changes in the median price.

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

Well, I said we were likely to hit new highs soon, and now we have. Looks like we’ll have to adjust the scale on that chart very soon.

March 2017: $599,950
July 2007: $481,000 (previous cycle high)

Here’s the article from the Seattle Times: Seattle’s median home price hits record: $700,000, double 5 years ago


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.

80 comments:

  1. 1
    steven says:

    according to the map, it looks like downtown/belltown home prices haven’t appreciated at all. will there be a reason for that? or is it just a low sampling error?

  2. 2
    Peter says:

    It’s basically a bloodbath out there even further North like Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood east of I5. I got beat out on new construction in Lynnwood with $15k escalation and no contingencies because I needed to sell my downtown Seattle condo to fund the 30% down payment even though completion/close is all the way until August and condos sell in a week in my building.

    My brother in-law resold a teardown level property in North Everett from the original owner to a developer for about $70k in profit using his sell your house for cash website. They also flipped a $300k rambler in Mountlake Terrace for $540k after about $80k in rehab and staging fees over 6 months.

    Molten Hot.

  3. 3

    By Peter @ 2:

    It’s basically a bloodbath out there even further North like Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood east of I5. I got beat out on new construction in Lynnwood with $15k escalation and no contingencies because I needed to sell my downtown Seattle condo to fund the 30% down payment even though completion/close is all the way until August and condos sell in a week in my building..

    Some institutional sellers won’t even consider contingent transaction. To carry over an idea from a the other thread, I wonder if they would accept no contingency but instead Form 22EF that says you need to sell that other property to have sufficient funds to close? That makes the transaction not contingent on the sale. I’ve done that where my client’s property was pending to make the offer more attractive to an ordinary seller. Probably harder to convince a seller though when the other property is not even on the market and might not be for a couple of months.

    What you’re going through though is quite a bit different than maybe 4+ years ago where not only did a builder accept my clients’ contingent offer (of pending sale), but where their out of state sale was delayed a week and the builder allowed my clients to move in prior to closing!

  4. 4
    kenmorem says:

    By Peter @ 2:

    They also flipped a $300k rambler in Mountlake Terrace for $540k after about $80k in rehab and staging fees over 6 months.

    $300k doesn’t exist anymore…

  5. 5

    By kenmorem @ 4:

    By Peter @ 2:

    They also flipped a $300k rambler in Mountlake Terrace for $540k after about $80k in rehab and staging fees over 6 months.

    $300k doesn’t exist anymore…

    Not currently active, but there are three pending at $300,000 or under, and three sold within the past 90 days (one of which was bank owned).

    MLT has a bunch of those cinder-block houses that typically have a lower than normal ceiling. Those tend to go for less money than other properties in the area. But if that property went for $540,000 it almost certainly was not that type of construction.

    Market data from NWMLS sources, but not compiled by or guaranteed by the NWMLS.

  6. 6
    Baffled in Bellevue says:

    Geekwire follows Seattle tech news – and housing issues are important for techies moving into the area. I found this quote shocking if true – anyone else think this is good advice to buyers?

    “We are seeing more multiple offers than ever on new listings, and all cash offers are dominating the winning bids,” John Deely, Northwest MLS chairman and principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain, said in a press release. “Last year they were advising a buyer to bid 10 percent above the list price, this year they’re advising 20 percent over in certain Seattle neighborhoods.”

    http://www.geekwire.com/2017/seattles-hot-housing-market-doesnt-show-signs-cooling-homes-reaching-median-sale-price-700000/

  7. 7

    RE: Baffled in Bellevue @ 6 – It’s horrible advice. I commented on that in the prior thread, post 153.

  8. 8
    Andy says:

    Is it possible the slip in pending sales is due to sales closing faster that they did a year ago? I assume sales are closing more quickly now with waived contigencies and cash offers.

  9. 9
    Hugh Sisley says:

    I’m a longtime lurker here on the bubble. Bought a home in Ravenna last year and have been monitoring the site regularly ever since.

    For my own curiosity I follow the Seattle closings north of the ship canal and some of the closings I’ve seen lately are jaw dropping. Here are two that just closed in Phinney for $200k over asking :

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/6716-2nd-Ave-NW-98117/home/498483

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/355-N-76th-St-98103/home/300097

    This one in in Wallingford went for $400k over :
    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/1911-N-42nd-St-98103/home/118270

    This frenetic pace felt crazy last year, but now it seems people are starting to get very desperate.

  10. 10
    Hugh Dominic says:

    This is bananas. Are we in a bubble zone yet? Maybe not. Amazon employees get 30-60% of their pay in stock. And AMZN stock is WAY up. Every dollar the stock rises brings another $50M into the area – which then gets plowed right into the existing housing base. Meanwhile the Seattle leaders solution is to tear down homes and replace them with apodments, exacerbating the shortage.

    If you want to know when values will break you should ask Mr. Bezos.

  11. 11

    RE: Baffled in Bellevue @ 6

    It was somewhat true early in the year, but should not continue through the season. In January the comps used to price are often from last summer, the market having been more stagnant in many cases from August to January. That causes a build up of months of appreciation to be reflected in the first sales of the year via high bid up percentages. But moving forward once there are a few 2017 sales that bid up substantially, the subsequent sales are based on more recent 2017 comps causing the % bid up to decrease significantly as a result.

    Checking my thinking on that.

    98004 almost none of the most recent 35 solds bid up at all, and those that did were not a substantial %. The large majority are at asking or a little more or less with none being excessive.

    98005 the same except for the two in Woodridge which were the two long closings I have mentioned before. All of the early sales in Woodridge “up the hill” went for 30% over asking indicating the 2017 % change. But the recent two were just longer closings that used the solds that closed fast like mine as their comps, even though listed before mine. There are enough current comps in that neighborhood this year for subsequent listings to start at higher prices and have lower % bid outs. Though a different neighborhood with no closed sales yet this year will operate quite differently until the price setters close.

    Bellevue breaks down by zip code, usually in this order. 98004,98005,98008,98007,98006 with 08 and 06 being less cohesive even within themselves. Think of 08 Lake Sammamish view in Bennett vs no view in Ardmore. Same zip and close proximity, but they don’t value off one another.

    I’m on vacation so won’t drill deeper, but you can see that it wouldn’t be possible for something that is/was correct and true to remain so throughout the year. All bidding up 30% in Woodridge is/was true for Jan early Feb. But if there is one sale a month there for the remaining 9 months or so, they can’t continue to go up 30% or even 20% for each sale. The key will be if the agents price off last year’s comps or this year’s comps and that will be different for “up the hill” vs down.

    You can’t just automatically add any %. You have to find the basis for the asking price first. Some sellers will add the 30% in that same neighborhood and some will not, and what you offer will have to vary accordingly.

    When each subsequent sale consistently bids up by 10% or more and there are 4 sales every single month, that is what caused the previous bubble. Not something bidding up by 10%, but every single subsequent sale continuing to bid up, even if asking is, based on the higher current comps. It’s supposed to level out after the first 2017 comps are “in”. So advice like always bid 10% or 20% more, and people following that advice for the entire year, is what causes a market correction afterward.

    Though in the last go round it was more the sellers adding 5% to every subsequent sale and then 6 or more doing the same in rapid succession vs buyers causing the bubble via bid up as they do today.

  12. 12
    Blurtman says:

    Shout out to PC SJW’s like Kary. Even the media in China believes they can identify an ethnic Chinese passenger on an airplane who they never met from a Chinese American citizen.

    Man filmed being dragged off United flight causes outrage in China
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/11/asia/united-passenger-dragged-off-china-reaction/

  13. 13

    By Hugh Dominic @ 10:

    Amazon employees get 30-60% of their pay in stock. And AMZN stock is WAY up. Every dollar the stock rises brings another $50M into the area – which then gets plowed right into the existing housing base.

    Really? I thought that the widespread use of stock options was a thing of the past. I don’t remember what the tax ramifications are of exercising such options, but I do remember some people got in trouble prior to the dot-com bust where they triggered the tax consequence and then the stock dropped.

    Meanwhile the Seattle leaders solution is to tear down homes and replace them with apodments, exacerbating the shortage.

    I wonder at what point the risk of that happening will cause a reduction in values for Seattle properties. To have your nice tree lined neighborhood suddenly have multi-family properties added to the mix would not be pleasant.

  14. 14

    RE: Blurtman @ 12 – Not sure what the reference is to me. I’m the one who doesn’t make assumptions about citizenship based on surname, color of skin or language spoken. But that’s not due to some desire to be PC, but instead to avoid making false conclusions about what is happening.

  15. 15
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14 – Very PC, Kary. But it is quite possible to accurately know when a home is sold to someone from China if you live in the neighborhood. BTW, are you sending a protest letter to the Chinese news media?

  16. 16

    RE: Baffled in Bellevue @ 6 – BTW, just to point out the absurdity of having a buyer bidding strategy based on the market, back in 2012 was one of the few (if not only) times I used an escalation clause on a buyer’s offer. The house was well under priced, and almost certain to generate multiple offers. Our offer price was above list and the escalation clause could have taken us to about 12.5% above list. The escalation clause was in fact triggered by other offers, but we didn’t end up going to the full price. Multiple offers and escalation clauses were hardly common for the market back then.

    The point is the listing price determines your strategy only after you’ve determined a reasonable value for the property. To assume that you’d need to come in at 20% above list is sort of like assuming that the low appraisal provisions are only important on high end homes or where there’s a bidding war. Each situation needs to be assessed based on what you see the likely value of the house is, not based on the scenario.

  17. 17

    By Blurtman @ 15:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14 – Very PC, Kary. But it is quite possible to accurately know when a home is sold to someone from China if you live in the neighborhood. BTW, are you sending a protest letter to the Chinese news media?

    From China is different than not being a US Citizen. There is this process called naturalization. You might want to learn about such things.

    https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization

    And while you’re at it you might want to research this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence

    BTW, on Facebook I saw someone claim he was picked because he was Asian and a doctor! I wonder what kind of world you’d have to live in to make that assumption. Is there a lot of discrimination against doctors going on?

  18. 18
    Baffled in Bellevue says:

    Thanks Ardell @11.

    Was looking to trade up in 98004 but we hear so many stories of bidding wars, waived contingencies and foreign cash buyers, we’re on the fence. To see the chairman of the NWMLS make statements like that quoted in GeekWire contributes to the panic feel, and he’s the principal managing broker at CBB!

    On the other hand, its hard to dismiss what he’s saying entirely when we see almost all new construction SFH in 98004 starting well-north of $2.2M and only a half-dozen (!!) existing homes under $2M.

    FWIW, our understanding is that Woodridge will no longer feed into Bellevue High, and that should see some impact on pricing there and corresponding increase in 98004.

  19. 19

    RE: Blurtman @ 15 – BTW, ironic that your comments here come on the 49th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act.

    https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/aboutfheo/history

  20. 20
    ess says:

    By Hugh Sisley @ 9:

    I’m a longtime lurker here on the bubble. Bought a home in Ravenna last year and have been monitoring the site regularly ever since.

    For my own curiosity I follow the Seattle closings north of the ship canal and some of the closings I’ve seen lately are jaw dropping. Here are two that just closed in Phinney for $200k over asking :

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/6716-2nd-Ave-NW-98117/home/498483

    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/355-N-76th-St-98103/home/300097

    This one in in Wallingford went for $400k over :
    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/1911-N-42nd-St-98103/home/118270

    This frenetic pace felt crazy last year, but now it seems people are starting to get very desperate.

    Thanks for posting these recent sales. I for one reviewed them, and they do make for very interesting reading. Ravenna – great area – close to everything but far enough away from the U District. My first investment was a half interest in a duplex in the U District, north of the U but south of Ravenna. When we sold – didn’t buy out my partners because it was too close to the U and I didn’t want to live in the middle of a bunch of college students. . If it was a five or six blocks north……….

    Question about the postings. I notice that the time between the listing, pending and final sales are very compressed. I have also seen others that the entire process is completed in four to six weeks. Does that usually indicate a cash sale, or are those buyers who are pre approved for mortgages also able to move that quickly?

  21. 21
    Baffled in Bellevue says:

    Thanks Kary @16 –

    I hear you, but here’s our dilemma: at the end of the day, pricing is determined by a ready and willing buyer not rational agents like yourself trying to price to market. If the market is moving faster than your comps data reflect, potential buyers like ourselves have to factor in the possibility of competitive bidding. I can’t help but believe CBB knows the scale of the demand better than us. They are talking to buyers and have relocation contracts with area corporations to bring even more into the market.

    Overlaying this are the stories of friends being outbid as the 33rd bidder $101K over list, and then the CBB statement starts to look almost rational.

  22. 22
    Benvolio says:

    Sometimes a buyer doesn’t mind overpaying what a house mind be worth on paper, they are just sick of the merri-go-round of waiting for listings, viewing houses, doing pre-inspections, then losing out in a multiple offer situation. And as prices keep escalating you’re getting priced out of neighborhoods one by one right before your eyes.

    There is human element to this market that takes its toll on you as a buyer. When this process consumes your life for a long time, at a certain point you just want it to end. You just want to get a house so you can move on with your life… even if it means knowingly overpaying by some outwardly absurd amount.

  23. 23
    WS says:

    By Hugh Dominic @ 10:

    This is bananas. Are we in a bubble zone yet? Maybe not. Amazon employees get 30-60% of their pay in stock. And AMZN stock is WAY up. Every dollar the stock rises brings another $50M into the area – which then gets plowed right into the existing housing base. Meanwhile the Seattle leaders solution is to tear down homes and replace them with apodments, exacerbating the shortage.

    If you want to know when values will break you should ask Mr. Bezos.

    No doubt a big driver in certain neighborhoods but I am not convinced Amazon or the Seattle economy is the main or only driver of prices. Look at Spokane, Minneapolis or 50 other cities that are going through the same thing to some degree (despite unemployment double Seattle’s in some cases), all time high prices and super low inventory. Nationally prices are up 45%. Investors buying things up with cheap money and the loosening of credit (600 credit score and 3.5% down will get you in the game now) has to be a big part of it.

  24. 24

    RE: Baffled in Bellevue @ 21 – I understand your dilemma. And I’m not saying that doing what you contemplate would be easy. I’m merely saying that going in with a plan to bid 20% over list on any house you like is not really a good plan. You need to assess every property. Maybe there will be that very special house that you want to go 20% over list because you really want to own that house and you don’t expect to see anything like that any time soon. That’s fine. But you’re not going to want to plan on going in offering 20% more on every house you like. Again the list price is just some number picked by the seller and/or their listing agent. It is not FMV or even some standard percentage of FMV.

    Maybe this will help you. At firms they will suggest all sorts of programs to their agents. Go attend this seminar which will take three days and cost $XXX, go doorbell neighborhoods, call expired listings, etc. Some agents will actually do well doing those things, but most will probably just be wasting their time. But the firm doesn’t care. As long as making that suggestion results in even one more sale, they win.

    You could go to an agent who tells you to bid 20% more than list, to rely on a seller’s inspection done which is clearly inadequate, and to not have a financing or any other contingency at all. From the agent’s point of view as long as that gets them to mutual acceptance and an eventual commission, they win. And that’s why some agents give that advice. It’s easy and costs them nothing (until they get sued).

    For move up buyers the period of time to easily buy and sell was relatively short. It started almost exactly five years ago and judging by the inventory chart above only lasted about a year. Prior to that it was difficult for move up buyers to sell. After that it became difficult to buy. And for buyers who need to sell first before they buy the chance of not being able to get into a replacement property was significant. I’ve seen buyers go pending on their house before getting an offer accepted on a replacement property, but clearly having to do that is not a good situation to be in with our current market.

    But all this is rather academic in any event. Most the recent listings that are active this week won’t be active at the end of next week. So that means most the listings someone can consider don’t even exist yet (new construction possibly excepted). You can’t really plan on how much you’re going to offer on something that doesn’t exist.

  25. 25
    Allyson says:

    RE: Benvolio @ 22

    I have to agree at least on the human-aspect. I have friends who started looking for a house last year with a $650K budget.. they wanted a crafstman style hours in Wallingford. They quickly got out-priced there. They moved to craftsmans elsewhere, no luck, the cute houses are being snapped up right and left. They ended up feeling like their compromises were happening slower than the market was pushing them out of Seattle. They just closed on a semi-fixer-upper (not a craftsman! needs new sewer line and a rewire and new windows.. the list goes on) in Ravenna for $760K, I think they overbid by a lot just to end the search and to guarantee a home in Seattle.

  26. 26
    Brian says:

    By Benvolio @ 22:

    There is human element to this market that takes its toll on you as a buyer. When this process consumes your life for a long time, at a certain point you just want it to end. You just want to get a house so you can move on with your life… even if it means knowingly overpaying by some outwardly absurd amount.

    Definitely agree. Insightful comment.

    I’m a buyer that’s been looking for a long time and have so far mostly resisted that urge to “just buy something.” But at times it’s been tempting. I have to keep telling myself that I want to buy home I like or nothing at all. Can’t say this mentality doesn’t wear on me though.

  27. 27

    By Benvolio @ 22:

    Sometimes a buyer doesn’t mind overpaying what a house mind be worth on paper, they are just sick of the merri-go-round of waiting for listings, viewing houses, doing pre-inspections, then losing out in a multiple offer situation. And as prices keep escalating you’re getting priced out of neighborhoods one by one right before your eyes.

    There is human element to this market that takes its toll on you as a buyer. When this process consumes your life for a long time, at a certain point you just want it to end. You just want to get a house so you can move on with your life… even if it means knowingly overpaying by some outwardly absurd amount.

    That is an excellent description of what can occur. A buyer who is at that point is a seller’s dream, and a competing buyer’s worst nightmare.

  28. 28
    jon says:

    It’s the flip side of sellers catching a falling knife in a down market. At some point you have to predict where the market is going to wind up and bid at that. Of course people who don’t have a lot of cash cannot buy in that situation.

    That leads to the question of when we are in a bubble, such that people are buying simply because the price is going up quickly. It’s difficult to determine what the equilibrium price should be. You have to look at the salary and other types of income in the region, and the incentives for retirees to leave, and whether companies will be continue to be attracted to the area. What I have not yet noticed is a lot of tech companies leaving the corridor between SLU and Bellevue/Redmond. There is some in Kent and Kirkland. I haven’t heard about much else, but I haven’t really looked.

  29. 29

    RE: Hugh Dominic @ 10
    Timing Off?

    Retirement Stock Options don’t cash in until you’re retired….how is that plowed right into the Seattle economy now? The tooth fairy?

  30. 30

    RE: softwarengineer @ 29
    My advice

    Get your “locked box” cash out ASAP.

    Otherwise its a risky stock promise [decades from now?].

  31. 31
    S Sounder says:

    RE: jon @ 28 – I agree Jon. All of those things you mentioned will affect demand. Supply is big factor too. New construction, zoning, transportation infrastructure. Lots of variables.

    My guess is that supply starts to catch up to demand in the next 2-3 years and prices level out. Or the economy takes a dip and we see a small or medium sized correction in prices. Not a big dive like we saw in 2007-2009.

  32. 32
    Hugh Dominic says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 13 – Yes that is correct, stock is a major factor at Amazon. Note that Amazon pays in stock (RSU) not options, so the swings are not as wild. But even so, given a stock price appreciation of 400% over 5 years, an Amazon employee will have earned 1.5x as much as a typical high tech worker with the same experience (which is a lot already). And that’s across an employee base of thousands, not just a few startup kids.

    Note that this also would apply on the way down. In the event of decline or stagnation, an employee might earn 0.8x of their benchmark to high tech. The difference between 1.5x and 0.8x is tremendous in terms of confidence and actual buying power.

    Since that hasn’t happened it’s not clear what would follow – it could trigger voluntary employee resignations (which is the brilliance of it – no need for layoffs). And even if not, local real estate is liable to be affected as confidence and buying power are reduced.

    In other words, Seattle real estate may be more sensitive to AMZN than you might think.

  33. 33

    RE: Hugh Dominic @ 32 – There was a time where Amazon stock was rather low–over 10 years ago. I’m not sure what the compensation package was back then, or how it affected the company’s ability to retain employees.

  34. 34

    RE: Hugh Dominic @ 32

    The RSU offering is not the same for all experience level hires. For mortgage purposes, a new hire cannot use the stock portion as qualified income when buying a house. For entry level the vesting is usually a “back load” system with only 5% the first year, 15% the second year and 40% in both years three and four. The RSU is usually valued at time of vesting.

  35. 35

    RE: Baffled in Bellevue @ 18

    If you are looking at a listing as soon as it hits the market that is likely to be sold by the offer review date or before (in the first 1 to 7 days) then most people are only looking at houses where they can afford a $100,000 bid up. Sometimes the bid up is more, but the average buyer with a max of $850,000 is only looking at houses priced up to $750,000. If they spend less than $850,000…great. But looking at houses with asking prices at your max, and at the same time only looking at brand new listings, is not usually a good idea.

    I don’t know the price range you are in, but allowing for a 10% bid up just so you don’t fall in love with something you can’t afford is usually a good idea.

    “Elementary School No 18” to be built on Wilburton Hill creates other issues, it being the first new Elementary School in 40 years in Bellevue. The transition plan suggests that staying in the current area where you live, but changing your address, will adversely impact the child’s transition benefits. So if you moved down the street, you likely would not be grandfathered as you would be if you didn’t move at all.

    Buying houses is always difficult when change is in the wind as to schools…which is often. It’s one of the reasons most brokerages don’t put the schools on their websites and why which specific schools in the district is not a mandatory MLS data field.

  36. 36
    Hugh Dominic says:

    RE: ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 34 – in the front-load years the new hire has a higher fixed comp that is usable for loan qual. The fixed turns over to stock as you say, so it nets out.

    But we’re talking about a typical person earning $120k as a base and then add another $120k via appreciation in stock as of year 3. And that’s just one person – my AMZN clients often have a high-tech wife/husband/partner. Now you have a net base of ~$250k which will qualify for $1M loan, plus a down payment accumulating another $200k per year (before taxes) via stock. And that’s not senior executives – that’s mid-range, just a few years of experience. That’s thousands of people and families.

  37. 37
    ESS says:

    By S Sounder @ 31:

    RE: jon @ 28 – I agree Jon. All of those things you mentioned will affect demand. Supply is big factor too. New construction, zoning, transportation infrastructure. Lots of variables.

    My guess is that supply starts to catch up to demand in the next 2-3 years and prices level out. Or the economy takes a dip and we see a small or medium sized correction in prices. Not a big dive like we saw in 2007-2009.

    Supply of apartments (and perhaps condos if they start building again) may catch up, but single family houses in Seattle? Not many empty lots to build single family houses in Seattle and adjacent cities. From what I can tell, until one travels a fair distance away from the Seattle area, most new single family house construction is on lots where an older house was torn down. Unless two houses can be placed where there was one the number will remain the same, although the replacement houses will cost more than the teardowns. Unless many families can accept living in Seattle and nearby areas in apartments and condos, there will still be a chronic shortage of single family houses in Seattle, especially in the “trendier” neighborhoods, especially as more people with money pour into the area.

  38. 38
    Ross says:

    By Hugh Dominic @ 36:

    RE: ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 34 – in the front-load years the new hire has a higher fixed comp that is usable for loan qual. The fixed turns over to stock as you say, so it nets out.

    But we’re talking about a typical person earning $120k as a base and then add another $120k via appreciation in stock as of year 3. And that’s just one person – my AMZN clients often have a high-tech wife/husband/partner. Now you have a net base of ~$250k which will qualify for $1M loan, plus a down payment accumulating another $200k per year (before taxes) via stock. And that’s not senior executives – that’s mid-range, just a few years of experience. That’s thousands of people and families.

    Those valuations are right when the RSUs are awarded, but recently they’ve been doubling or 4x by the time they vest. When I started at AMZN, the stock was $168. Five years later it’s $900, 5.3x growth. So a $150,000 signing RSU award could be worth $600,000 if they keep all of the stock the full 4 years. There are definitely some enriched Amazon employees in the area. I haven’t sold a share since I started.

  39. 39
    Deerhawke says:

    By Hugh Sisley @ 9:

    This one in in Wallingford went for $400k over :
    https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/1911-N-42nd-St-98103/home/118270

    Wow. Nice house, but $695 per square foot? Really?

  40. 40
    Hugh Dominic says:

    RE: WS @ 23 – that is a good point. Maybe we are back in the bubble zone after all. Seattle is a special pink unicorn, fortunately.

  41. 41
    Aaron Freshwater says:

    Looking at SFH in King is not particularly informative. It would be similarly silly to look at SFH in Manhattan: there is none. There are tens of thousands of multi-family units coming online in King and that is 90% of the market. Why focus exclusively on 10% of the market when trying to understand housing costs?

  42. 42
    piggyshooz says:

    RE: Deerhawke @ 38

    yeah, I would question the intelligence of that buyer given the house, lot layout, and lot siteing. For 1.6m you can get a nice house in Madison park or another high end neighborhood that has better transportation access and less crime.

  43. 43
    The Tim says:

    By Aaron Freshwater @ 41:

    Looking at SFH in King is not particularly informative. It would be similarly silly to look at SFH in Manhattan: there is none. There are tens of thousands of multi-family units coming online in King and that is 90% of the market. Why focus exclusively on 10% of the market when trying to understand housing costs?

    That’s not even close to accurate for home sales. Maybe for downtown Seattle, but definitely not for King County as a whole.

    Here are some SFH and condo stats for the county, straight from the NWMLS data release:

    stat SFH condo
    new listings 2,862 857
    total inventory 1,703 399
    pending sales 2,723 809
    closed sales 2,079 621

    Across the board, SFH activity is about 3.3 times as much as condo activity in King County.

    Even if you pull back and just look at total housing units, owned or rented in the entire county, single-family detached housing makes up 55% of the housing in King County. This is from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

    measure value
    Total housing units 871,836
    1-unit, detached 478,478
    1-unit, attached 38,058
    2 units 17,379
    3 or 4 units 37,494
    5 to 9 units 54,436
    10 to 19 units 65,474
    20 or more units 161,574
    Mobile home 17,966
    Boat, RV, van, etc. 977
  44. 44

    RE: The Tim @ 43 – I would also add that when looking at the cost of something, you should look at what you’re interested in. So if you’re interested in sports cars don’t look at the cost of mini-vans. Most people are interested in SFR, but if condos are your thing then by all means look at condo stats. The NWMLS publishes both.

  45. 45
    Anonymous Coward says:

    RE: The Tim @ 43 – And how many of those condos are less than 3 bedrooms? Because while Manhattan might have a lot of 3+ bedroom multifamily units, those seem to be rather scarce here in Seattle.

  46. 46

    RE: Anonymous Coward @ 45 – Currently about 20% of the active condo listings in King County are 3 bedroom or more. And just over 17% of the units sold in the past 180 days were 3 bedroom or more.

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

  47. 47
    S Sounder says:

    RE: ESS @ 37 – Very true ESS. Condos and density are the most realistic source of more supply. But everyone in Seattle hates development and developers. You read the Seattle Times comments section and everyone rails against development and high housing costs in the same breath. The two are inversely related! At some point these people need to stop complaining or move to the Midwest. I’m originally from the rust belt (yes one of those people), and I consider Seattle’s thriving economy to be a good problem to have. People want to live here. They need places to live. If more housing doesn’t get built prices will keep going up. And don’t even get me started on perverse incentives of rent control…

  48. 48

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 33
    Kary in Comparison to Auburn Boeing Fabrication

    Jobs outsourced to Japan, etc…Amazon has been tagged a sweat shop employer with low warehouse type pay. I think they get benefits at Amazon. But even new hire jobs at Boeing [since we lost Auburn Fabrication to bad trade deals] were recently like $12/hr or $15/hr with a 1 yr certification apprenticeship training [unpaid I believe].

    Plenty of new hire pay for rent sharing a Seattle 1 BDRM apartment with a bunk buddy…..LOL…

  49. 49

    By S Sounder @ 47:

    RE: ESS @ 37 – Very true ESS. Condos and density are the most realistic source of more supply. But everyone in Seattle hates development and developers.

    There are at least two separate situations. Those in currently SFR neighborhoods are going to be naturally opposed to upzoning to allow multi-family. It will change the feel of the neighborhood, particularly if a three or four story apartment house gets built right next door to you.

    On the other hand, the type of development near the south end of Lake Union, in what was largely commercial/industrial, that isn’t quite the same. There though I could see people still hating it because the city no longer requires a reasonable amount of parking as part of the approval process.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    I'm just here so I won't get Fined says:

    RE: Peter @ 50
    How do you know it’s pending for $540k? Don’t you have to wait until the sale closes to know what the final sale price is or did you speak with the seller?

  52. 52
    Peter says:

    RE: I’m just here so I won’t get Fined @ 51 – My sister is the seller/flipper and told me.

  53. 53

    RE: Peter @ 50 – The earlier sale was apparently not a listed sale, so you don’t know it went for what it could have. The property could have been picked up at a bargain price.

  54. 54
    ESS says:

    By S Sounder @ 47:

    RE: ESS @ 37 – Very true ESS. Condos and density are the most realistic source of more supply. But everyone in Seattle hates development and developers. You read the Seattle Times comments section and everyone rails against development and high housing costs in the same breath. The two are inversely related! At some point these people need to stop complaining or move to the Midwest. I’m originally from the rust belt (yes one of those people), and I consider Seattle’s thriving economy to be a good problem to have. People want to live here. They need places to live. If more housing doesn’t get built prices will keep going up. And don’t even get me started on perverse incentives of rent control…

    Sounder – correct on numerous points

    As you say, some people dislike developers – but unless the individual is residing in a house that was built by the prior owners of the property that then resided in that property, then the place they reside in was built by a developer. They just don’t acknowledge that fairly simple fact.

    And the reason they hate development is that those individuals don’t want change. Often the greatest proponents of no growth in this area have migrated to the area from less desirable areas, and they want it to remain the same. They have theirs, and they don’t want it to be screwed up by a bunch of other people that came from areas where they came from. Only problem is that the US population is growing, and other people want to leave their less desirable areas and live in more desirable ones just as the longer term no growth residents did when they picked up and moved here years ago.

    Having lived through the great Boeing bust of the 70s, I know what it is like to be in an environment where there a great deal of unemployment and economic stagnation. Yes, rents were suppressed, but that doesn’t help the under or unemployed. The only benefit I received from that economic fiasco was the ability to purchase my first interest in real estate, as the banks were interested in getting business from just about anyone. Our little partnership would have never qualified to buy in a hyper market as present day Puget Sound.

    On the other hand, I understand why some individuals are against development. They have spent a great deal of money for a single family house in the perfect neighborhood of other single family houses. It is their primary investment – they don’t want it destroyed by aggressive “inappropriate” growth. Only problem is that between all these folks piling into the area, and an aggressive Urban Growth Management Act that tries to limit “urban sprawl”, something has to give. And at present, what is giving are the single family neighborhoods adjacent to future light rail stations. There is not only the need to comply with the Urban Growth Management Act, but the need to create density so that the light rail system will have enough riders so it isn’t a total financial fiasco. Those areas are the perfect storm for enthusiastic density. Yes, those single family home owners, especially near future light rail stations may not wish to have 4 -6 story apartments next to them, but for better or worse, there are greater forces involved than they can control. It is just too bad they bought where they did – to a certain extent – that is life.

    And I am not just speaking coldly or theoretically. We actually moved from our house of many years to a nearby smaller rental that we owned because our house was in the shadow of one of those future light rail stations and all that new development. I didn’t want to live in an area with multiple apartment buildings and increased traffic. The old house presently is a fine rental, and the new smaller house is further away from the high development area, and surrounded by much larger, more expensive houses that should protect us from multi family development for years.

    I tell you one thing – any new real state purchases by us will be conducted with a much closer scrutiny with the adjacent neighborhood and what possible development could happen. No longer one can look on the street and around the corner, consult with the city’s comprehensive plan, and sleep soundly at night. One really needs to buy defensively.

    As to rent control – liberal and conservative economists actually agree on the destructive nature of rent control. Rent control helps a few well connected people that manage to finagle and keep a unit for almost forever, while limiting new lower cost housing from being built and causing artificial shortages, shadow inventories and corrupt practices such as illegal subletting. A cursory glance at the cities that have institute rent control reveal some very expensive housing for the overwhelming number of residents there, as well as deteriorated housing stock that is often abandoned because there isn’t the financial incentives to keep it up.

    So welcome to this area – hope you can stand the rain – but as we know – the summers here are like being in heaven.

  55. 55
    Minnie says:

    RE: Peter @ 52

    Peter, your sister did a lovely job on the remodel….good for her, $540K is outstanding for a 1700 sf in Mount Lake Terrace from what I understand. Was it a gut job? Once it closes you can let us know :-)

    I believe there is a strong contingent these days that will pay a real premium for newly renovated. No matter where the home is, no matter how far from business hubs, newly renovated homes are like gold these days.

    I can’t blame them, renno’s can be difficult especially if you have kids, pets, etc. And with the long hours people are working these days there’s really not much time for them anyway.

  56. 56
    Hugh Dominic says:

    RE: ESS @ 54 – your comment is well written.

    One problem however is that light rail will be obsolete within the next 30 years, as will the concept of ToD. Advances in driverless micro transit will make it irrational for a person to go to a fixed-line transit stop. All this effort to stuff people next to train stops in order to pump up ridership numbers will only briefly slow the erosion of ridership to levels that make further extensions in feasible, and later even operating costs.

    The complaints that I hear from SFR hoods is that the only thing that they are seeing is density, without any investment in mitigations like new open space or quality design standards. Instead of putting money and effort into that, city leaders inflict brute force density and anyone that disagrees is a nimby and a racist.

  57. 57
    ESS says:

    By Hugh Dominic @ 55:

    RE: ESS @ 54 – your comment is well written.

    One problem however is that light rail will be obsolete within the next 30 years, as will the concept of ToD. Advances in driverless micro transit will make it irrational for a person to go to a fixed-line transit stop. All this effort to stuff people next to train stops in order to pump up ridership numbers will only briefly slow the erosion of ridership to levels that make further extensions in feasible, and later even operating costs.

    The complaints that I hear from SFR hoods is that the only thing that they are seeing is density, without any investment in mitigations like new open space or quality design standards. Instead of putting money and effort into that, city leaders inflict brute force density and anyone that disagrees is a nimby and a racist.

    I don’t know if all light rail will be obsolete in 30 years everywhere, – but I know that THIS light rail project, as a solution to THIS area’s transportation problems won’t solve anything. The number of people that will relocate to the area that this light rail project will ultimately operate in will quickly overwhelm the capacity of any light rail system that will eventually be in place. Seems to be a great deal of money that has been and will be spent on moving a small percentage of individuals to a few chosen destinations. Many of those individuals will just replace their bus trips with light rail, and it doesn’t solve the problems for the overwhelmingly number of present and future commuters.

    But be as what you predict may be true as a result of future technology, we are stuck with this plan. One can only view the last fifty years of government programs and marvel at how many of them still have a robust life even though they have been proven to be ineffective and a waste of money. As you indicate – forces will be employed to ensure that these programs are justified, along with the well paying jobs that accompany them.

    And the problem with spending money on open space and other amenities adjacent to these high density areas is that the land becomes so expensive to provide open space. Plus it isn’t in anyone’s interest to maintain open space, especially when the density has been successfully rammed through, and desirable amenities as you have listed are ignored.

    At least I know of a few cities that have incorporated some really good design features for their neighborhoods when planning for density. Mill Creek comes to mind, I think they did a very nice job on their downtown/urban core area. Hopefully other cities will follow that example, and there won’t be just a series of unattractive high rises lining the streets.

    As to people being called all sorts of names when they voice disagreements – it is just a sign of the times. We have actually become a much less tolerant society on all levels over the past 25 years or so.

  58. 58

    By ESS @ 56:

    I don’t know if all light rail will be obsolete in 30 years everywhere, – but I know that THIS light rail project, as a solution to THIS area’s transportation problems won’t solve anything. The number of people that will relocate to the area that this light rail project will ultimately operate in will quickly overwhelm the capacity of any light rail system that will eventually be in place.

    I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion. I believe they currently run every six minutes during peak time, and every train is three cars long. They could double the capacity just by making every train six cars long, and I think that is feasible with the existing stations. I’m not sure how close together they can get the trains to run, but I would suspect they can’t do every minute. But it’s likely more frequent than every six minutes.

  59. 59
    Minnie says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 57 – Unfortunately, in the case of the downtown tunnel, they would need to create a separate tunnel because the existing tunnel is at capacity due to the stations not being large enough. But, a new downtown tunnel may be considered as part of the $35B. Really really bad planning unfortunately.

  60. 60
    wreckingbull says:

    By Peter @ 2:

    My brother in-law resold a teardown level property in North Everett from the original owner to a developer for about $70k in profit using his sell your house for cash website. They also flipped a $300k rambler in Mountlake Terrace for $540k after about $80k in rehab and staging fees over 6 months.

    Molten Hot.

    North Everett and the Everett downtown core are at the cusp of a very big rebirth.

    We watched the same thing happen to Ballard in the 90s and N Tacoma in the 00’s. I don’t live in Everett and have no financial interest there, but I find it interesting to watch neighborhoods go through this process. One would be wise to take note of the features these three areas share.

  61. 61
    ESS says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 57:

    By ESS @ 56:

    I don’t know if all light rail will be obsolete in 30 years everywhere, – but I know that THIS light rail project, as a solution to THIS area’s transportation problems won’t solve anything. The number of people that will relocate to the area that this light rail project will ultimately operate in will quickly overwhelm the capacity of any light rail system that will eventually be in place.

    I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion. I believe they currently run every six minutes during peak time, and every train is three cars long. They could double the capacity just by making every train six cars long, and I think that is feasible with the existing stations. I’m not sure how close together they can get the trains to run, but I would suspect they can’t do every minute. But it’s likely more frequent than every six minutes.

    The number of new residents in this area will overwhelm the carrying capacity of light rail by the time the project is completed. As you recall – this project is not slated to be completed for another 25 years, and hundreds of thousands of newcomers will be calling Puget Sound home by then.

    It hasn’t been a true real net gain of new commuters that have abandoned their cars that are using light rail. A large percentage of light rail riders now and in the future are former bus commuters. Buses that once traveled to downtown in some Seattle neighborhoods have been eliminated and bus riders are now funneled to the new UW station. That has made for some complaints, as now a one bus ride to downtown is replaced by a bus ride to the light rail station and a ride on the light rail. And other routes, such as the bus to the airport was eliminated when light rail was introduced.

    And the percentage of former bus riders transformed into light rail riders will dramatically increase when the Lynnwood spur is completed. The light rail system to be constructed primarily along interstate 5 will replace a comprehensive express bus system that is already in place which already stops at most of the future light rail stations. It may be better for some of the bus passengers that transfer to light rail and don’t get stuck in traffic because there isn’t a dedicated bus lane, but transferring bus passengers to light rail is not a net gain of public transportation users, and won’t do anything to reduce congestion from growth.

    The full capacity that light rail has announced is based upon packing the riders in the cars akin to the proverbial sardines (although I personally have never traveled with sardines). Presently most commuters obtain a seat on the express buses heading south or north. Sound Transit’s optimistic figures for maximum passenger occupation is based upon most people standing in those cars. Many commuters are not going to stand for that long a commute and will abandon mass transit. And I am not sure how many cars light rail can accommodate per train. It is called “light rail” not because of its weight, but its limited capacity to carry passengers.

    While this may be a good system for a limited number of passengers that were smart or lucky enough to reside near a light rail station, it won’t have any positive effect on traffic, and appears to be a very expensive plan to move a relatively small number of current public transportation users to a limited number of destinations.

    But what I think doesn’t matter. The voters have voted and the money will be spent. And drivers will face even worse traffic jams in the coming years. And if real estate goes high enough, we can liquidate and get out of here and relocate to a place where traffic moves on the freeways faster than 10mph during rush hour, even if there isn’t a light rail system in place.

  62. 62

    RE: Ross @ 38

    Since the stock is valued for income tax purposes in the vested year, isn’t it hard for most people to pay the tax on the hugely expanded value without liquidating some stock to pay the taxes?

  63. 63

    By Minnie @ 59:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 57 – Unfortunately, in the case of the downtown tunnel, they would need to create a separate tunnel because the existing tunnel is at capacity due to the stations not being large enough. But, a new downtown tunnel may be considered as part of the $35B. Really really bad planning unfortunately.

    That’s one place I would think they won’t have a problem, because the stations are about 4x as long as a 3 car train, but I could see the use of buses in the north end of tunnel would complicate that.

  64. 64

    By ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 62:

    RE: Ross @ 38

    Since the stock is valued for income tax purposes in the vested year, isn’t it hard for most people to pay the tax on the hugely expanded value without liquidating some stock to pay the taxes?

    I really wish I could remember what they were doing just before the dot-com bust, but I don’t remember the specifics. I think it may have been as simple as executing options, not paying the tax at the time because they wanted to own more stock (which they thought would only go up), and then after the stock value dropped it didn’t cover the tax liability, leaving many of them insolvent. But I think there may have been more to it than that.

  65. 65
    Blurtman says:

    This hot property will be on the market shortly. Realtors, start your engines!

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/305-211th-Pl-SE,-Sammamish,-WA-98074_rb/

  66. 66
    kenmorem says:

    pretty sure buses won’t be in the tunnels anymore once light rail kicks them out.

    the irony of the light rail, IIRC, is that LIGHT was selected over HEAVY rail to utilize the existing tracks in the bus tunnels. now, they’ll be building a new tunnel for the w. seattle/ballard line and have/will basically constructed 100s of miles of line while reusing only a few short miles in the DT tunnels.

    and to think that the heads of ST traveled the world to tour other mass transit systems and came back with this crap.

    it dumbfounds me that heavy rail/high speed isn’t being used anywhere in the US. just as backwards as our medical system.

  67. 67
    jon says:

    By ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 62:

    RE: Ross @ 38

    Since the stock is valued for income tax purposes in the vested year, isn’t it hard for most people to pay the tax on the hugely expanded value without liquidating some stock to pay the taxes?

    They can pay cash or get net shares (ie. pay the tax in the form of getting fewer shares). There is another approach which probably no longer makes sense for AMZN but makes sense for startups, which is the 83(b) election. That allows you to pay a smaller amount upfront in hopes of a big savings later on. http://personal.fidelity.com/products/stockoptions/rstockawards.shtml

  68. 68
    Manamanah says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 64:

    By ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 62:

    RE: Ross @ 38

    Since the stock is valued for income tax purposes in the vested year, isn’t it hard for most people to pay the tax on the hugely expanded value without liquidating some stock to pay the taxes?

    I really wish I could remember what they were doing just before the dot-com bust, but I don’t remember the specifics. I think it may have been as simple as executing options, not paying the tax at the time because they wanted to own more stock (which they thought would only go up), and then after the stock value dropped it didn’t cover the tax liability, leaving many of them insolvent. But I think there may have been more to it than that.

    Public companies were backdating options, so that grantees could purchase them at lower than FMV, and sell them on the market for appreciation accumulated since the backdate. Companies used the backdate for purposes of reporting expense, rather than the current fair value on the true option grant date. Grantees who reported only the backdated strike price, not FMV on their taxable income were avoiding tax on the spread between strike price and FMV.

  69. 69
    Cap''n says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 65

    Finally taking your gains eh?

  70. 70

    RE: jon @ 67

    Thanks Jon. Very helpful. I found the net shares plan via Morgan Stanley which appears to be the access point for the stock. I usually don’t need to know these things as the stock portion of income is not involved in the home purchase. But one of my recent Amazon clients is also a family friend so I just needed a broad overview to assist them.

    Much appreciated.

  71. 71

    By kenmorem @ 66:

    the irony of the light rail, IIRC, is that LIGHT was selected over HEAVY rail to utilize the existing tracks in the bus tunnels. now, they’ll be building a new tunnel for the w. seattle/ballard line and have/will basically constructed 100s of miles of line while reusing only a few short miles in the DT tunnels.

    Nope, the original track laid in the tunnels was never used. It was replaced for light rail–they had to shut down the bus tunnel for a long time while doing that.

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20040213&slug=bustunnel13m

    But if you’re talking light rail vs. heavy rail, I don’t think you’d want to use heavy rail for runs with so many stops, and also the routes would be more restricted (or expensive).

  72. 72
    S Sounder says:

    RE: ESS @ 54 – I’ve been here for 9 years so I’m used to the rain :)

  73. 73
    Ross says:

    By ARDELL DellaLoggia @ 62:

    RE: Ross @ 38

    Since the stock is valued for income tax purposes in the vested year, isn’t it hard for most people to pay the tax on the hugely expanded value without liquidating some stock to pay the taxes?

    When the stock vests, the employee can either put up cash to cover taxes or 25% of the stock is sold and withheld. That mostly covers the income part of the taxes. But some employees do get pretty large capital gains taxes when they finally sell (though they should be flush with cash at that point). RSUs don’t have the same corner cases with taxes as stock options.

  74. 74

    RE: kenmorem @ 66

    “it dumbfounds me that heavy rail/high speed isn’t being used anywhere in the US. ”

    That surprised me as I was pretty sure that I have used both light and heavy rail systems out of Philadelphia for years. I know Vuchic stepped in (University of Pennsylvania Professor nearby at the time) and made some tweaks to the light rail and heavy rail connections based off the Autobahn system in Germany. But that likely had more to do with traffic patterns than changes in the rail itself when the local transportation authority took over some of the heavy rail systems during the 1984 recession, primarily due to the bankruptcy of the former heavy rail operator.

    https://www.amazon.com/Transportation-Livable-Cities-Vukan-Vuchic/dp/0882851616

    I think there is a newer book by him in 2007, but not sure if the topic is Transportation for Livable Cities as in the 1999 book.

    To me “light rail”, and the best I have used was likely “The High Speed Line” from Jersey to Philly that ran across the Delaware River via the Ben Franklin bridge much like one would cross Lake Washington from The Eastside to Seattle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PATCO_Speedline which to me was far superior to “the El” system, which was also light rail that I used for many years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market%E2%80%93Frankford_Line

    What I would differentiate as “the heavy rail” system was the Trenton Line I used from NE Philly into Downtown. Philly to Trenton, then transfer from Trenton to NYC through Princeton, a Regional Rail System. http://www.septa.org/schedules/rail/w/TRE_1.html

    While both are local transportation systems operated by the same agency today, I’m pretty sure the Trenton line was an Amtrak heavy rail train system before 76 or 84. There was a train conductor and a ticket punch system unlike the light rail systems.

    Seemed to me the lighter rail “High Speed Line” out of Jersey was faster than the heavy rail “Trenton Regional” line. But I may not be using “Light Rail vs Heavy Rail” in the correct or same context as you are, since we didn’t use those terms to differentiate the various modes of transportation.

    Seattle is the first City I have lived in that talks about buses as if they are “acceptable” modes of transportation. It surprised me and seemed a bit archaic, but then the heavy rail system where I grew up started in 1850 or so. Bus travel was never considered even barely acceptable most of the time, unless you were taking the bus into Atlantic City where they handed you a roll of quarters when you entered the bus and the travel cost was free. You were “plus $10” when you stepped in back when most bus fares were $1 or less. That bus was “worth taking”. :)

  75. 75
    ess says:

    I reviewed some of the recently posted sold houses north of the Ship Canal in Seattle that had sold for up to 20% over the asking price. I then researched some other houses in that general area and also noticed that other houses recently sold for well above their asking price.

    Question – are these houses an anomaly, are they priced too low to begin with, or is the market in those neighborhoods that strong? Obviously there are folks with significant assets buying properties in the north part of Seattle, and willing to bid higher than the asking price. I was just impressed with how high the bids were that were ultimately accepted.

    Are there any other areas in Puget Sound that this pattern has been observed? What do folks think is going on? Is it just this area, or a sign of things to come in a wider area?

  76. 76

    RE: ess @ 73 – I was doing a search just yesterday in S. Snohomish, which excluded new construction. In that area for the type of house I was looking at the average sales price was 4% over list and only 3 of 19 sold for list or below. The highest was only 9.6% over list, so not as crazy as what you’re were seeing, but still significant.

    To answer your question, for quite some time I’ve been saying sometime less is more–that a lower list price can lead to a higher sales price. That though is a risky strategy because you could end up having to sell for the lower price if your list price doesn’t generate the excitement you envisioned. But right now the “less” probably doesn’t need to be as much less, so the risk is reduced. Also for the past couple of months I’ve been giving the example of the two similar listings where one started high and ended up low and the other started at near that low price and ended up near the high price the other started at, with the difference being about 10%.

    Also, see my response to Benvolio in post 27 above. Could be what you’re seeing is a number of properties being bought by the buyers Benvolio described. Those type of buyers are great if you’re a seller, but having one of those see and like your listing can be pretty hit or miss.

  77. 77
    Blurtman says:

    By Cap”n @ 69:

    RE: Blurtman @ 65

    Finally taking your gains eh?

    Not me but a home on my dog walking route. Kids have flown the nest so time to sell, apparently.

  78. 78

    RE: ess @ 73

    I think it will be the norm for the Cream of The Crop season homes. Generally about 25% or more of the homes listed between April 15th and May 30th or so. Many if not most of the ones bidding up since Jan 15th or so had serious negatives.

    It will be the norm for any house that has no negatives. The best homes in the best neighborhoods that tend to come on within 60 days of the end of the school year.

    I just saw one trying to jump the gun a bit requesting a long close plus the max lender allowed rent back of 60 days. Most will wait a bit longer from today.

  79. 79
    Hugh Sisley says:

    RE: ess @ 75 – I was the one that pointed those listings out. It is shocking to see how high these “modest” homes are closing in relation to the overall market. The price of historically more “affordable” neighborhoods of Seattle have have increased at a faster pace than the historically upper echelon neighborhoods. Looking at the price history of closed deals, the once a affordable, family friendly neighborhoods like (Phinney Ridge/Wallingford/Fremont/Ravenna/Green Lake) are commanding much larger prices than they ever have in relationship to their more expensive counterparts (Magnolia/Laurelhurst/Madison Park). I assume the same is happening South of the cut as well, but I haven’t followed those as closely. With the number of people coming into the city, the desperation to escape the rental market is very real. And people would spend everything they have and eat canned soup every night than sit in the nightmare of I-5 traffic everyday. Historically, when people wanted to buy a new house they would move north or south of the city and that just isn’t an option anymore unless you want to spend 3+ hrs in traffic everyday.

    On a side note, I think this problem could be partially alleviated if the Giants (Amazon, Starbucks, etc), start moving satellite locations in places like Everett or Tacoma. Building more apartments will help reduce rental prices, but ultimately the majority of people want to settle in homes.

  80. 80
    redmondjp says:

    By Hugh Sisley @ 79 On a side note, I think this problem could be partially alleviated if the Giants (Amazon, Starbucks, etc), start moving satellite locations in places like Everett or Tacoma. Building more apartments will help reduce rental prices, but ultimately the majority of people want to settle in homes.

    Microsoft was supposed to build a campus in the Issaquah Highlands (IIRC) back 15 years ago or so, but they axed that plan (not sure why). I think it is an excellent idea myself; bringing the jobs much closer to where the employees live.

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