Anecdote Extravaganza

It’s been a while since the last anecdote post, so I thought now would be a good time for an update.

First up, let’s go way back to early June. Remember the million-dollar new construction in Redmond? It was originally listed in mid-May for $1,625,000, and the last time we checked in it had taken $130,000 in price reductions, dropping the price to $1,495,000. It has now been languishing on the market for 159 days, and taken two more price drops—$70,000 on 09/05 and $150,000 on 10/14—for a new grand total of $350,000 (21%) off the original asking price. Do you smell that? I think that’s the smell of desperation.

It’s been two or three months since my former coworker and her husband moved to California, and their rural King County house still has not sold. However, the good news is that they did finally lower their asking price (though not by much), from $490,000 down to $480,000. I’m still predicting that they won’t sell for much more than $430,000.

Remember my coworker that listed his rural Snohomish County home for $350,000, then dropped down to $305,000 and announced that as the “*FINAL PRICE REDUCTION*”? Well apparently he wasn’t kidding, because after receiving no bites for weeks at that price, the house was taken off the market, and hasn’t reappeared in the months since. I know that he has moved to Moses Lake, so I can only assume that he is now paying two mortgages and hoping that next spring will save him.

I got an email from a friend (that I don’t see often enough) a few weeks ago, enthusiastically telling me that he and his wife had just bought a condo… in Kent. From what I can tell, they paid just over $200,000. I didn’t even know they were looking. I still haven’t responded to him, because I just don’t know what to say… all I can think of is “that’s exciting.”

Lastly, lest I be accused of cherry-picking only the most dismal-sounding stories, I offer the following tale from the Fremont / Greenlake area. I mentioned this friend’s story in passing, but (by request) I was saving the full story until after the closing date. After doing some relatively inexpensive (under $5,000) sprucing up to improve “curb appeal,” the house was listed in the $450-$475k range. They collected offers for a week, receiving a total of 11 offers (five of them over $500k!), and eventually closed for over $510,000.

It should be noted that before listing, when my friend asked his agent “what is available in this neighborhood for under $500k” the answer was “nothing.” It is also worth pointing out that Zillow’s estimate of his home’s value came in at around $535k. While I don’t think the close-in neighborhoods are likely to slow as much as those further out, I think his “price low and see where the bidding process takes you” strategy was a good one (it’s what I recommended he do when he told me he was selling his home). As far as I can tell, that seems to be the best way of determining a home’s true “market value.”

So what have you been seeing “on the streets” lately?

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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. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    Peckhammer says:

    Someone I know has been *trying* to sell their Queen Anne condo for the past 62 days.

    Beds: 2
    Baths: 1
    Size: 828 sq. ft
    $/Sq Ft: $440
    Year Built: 1991
    Style: Condo (1 Level)
    Views: City, Lake, Mountain, Territorial, See Remarks
    Status: Active on market
    On Market: 62 days

    What the details don’t reveal is that part of the building is in a slow state of collapse, that all the penetrations on 3 elevations of the building are improperly papered/flashed , and all the windows on those same elevations need to be replaced.

    Of course, if you haven’t even gotten a single offer, and she hasn’t, these factors haven’t even come into play yet. The seller blames the lagging sales on the fact that the lobby needs a second coat of paint.

    One last detail: The last unit sold of similar square footage was priced at $320K and sold for $315K — and it had one more bathroom and a second parking stall.

  2. 2
    Peckhammer says:

    Oh… and the asking Price: $364,500

  3. 3
    meshugy says:

    Here’s a list of recent sales in the Loyal heights area of Ballard. Over half were sold over asking…suggesting that it is still a very compettive market. Most homes in this area still sell within 1-2 weeks.

    Asking price first…sold price second.

    6738 26th Ave NW 549,950 580,000
    8349 19th Ave NW 450,000 475,000
    7350 Jones Ave NW 579,500 585,000
    7309 21st Ave NW 559,000 535,000
    6716 Jones Ave NW 499,000 485,000
    8330 27th Ave NW 399,950 410,000
    6733 Jones Ave NW 399,000 420,000
    8042 17th Ave NW 399,950 380,000

  4. 4
    synthetik says:

    If you play around with, you’ll notice that homes close to the city, priced under or near median seem to be on the market <25 days, while homes in the 5-800K range seem to be on the market 45-175+ days, most noteably out in the suburbs.

    Check out Woodinville for example… use the mapping part of ziprealty (start near 19203 148th Ave NE, $719K on market 151 days). Also, check out Sammamish (23729 SE 4th PL $659K 75days), Bothell (20227 83RD PL NE $789K 192days), etc.

    Some Ballard cherry picks:

    9056 3RD AVE NW $450K 177days
    7720 15 NW $799K 153days
    2844 NW 90PL $799K 124days
    2112 NW 98TH $890K 75days
    9242 Palantine Ave N $599 80days
    1549 NW 58TH ST $564K 64days
    130 NW 56TH ST $700K 77days
    7048 19TH AVE NW $799 83days
    631 50TH ST NW $679K 95days
    507 N 39TH ST $559K 143days

    how about Queen Anne?

    706 W Halladay St $798K 83 days
    2028 14th AVE W $599K 140days
    1415 6TH AVE W $899K 140days
    716B NOB HILL AVE N $559K 59days
    810 TAYLOR AVE N $699k 80days
    500 ALOHA ST #404 $719k 108days
    1525 1ST AVE N $599K 66days
    2308 NOB HILL AVE N $699K 122days

    So, price your house right and it still sells (for now)

  5. 5
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    I’ve related my anecdotal experiences on the eastside before, but I’ll do it again since it’s on topic.

    My drive to work is about 3 miles through residential eastern Bellevue/Redmond. Over the last few months, there have been at least a handful of signs up at any given time, peaking at around eight or nine a few weeks ago. This is many more than I ever noticed before. A few have sold, usually in the block with condos, but most have sat on the market for weeks if not months.

    I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that several of the signs came down without a “sold” placcard, which I assume means they were pulled off the market without selling. Some of these houses are already empty, which makes me wonder if they are now paying two mortgages. This has reduced the number for sale by about a quarter, but there are still a handful up. I’m also starting to notice “for rent” signs on some of these houses.

    Unfortuantely, I don’t have prices on many of these houses because I’m not planning to buy in the area. I do know that one that sold in Redmond was up for $535k, which floored me — it was not a half million dollar house. I have no idea what the actual sale price was.

    The house two doors down from where I live was up for $460k for several months, which is at least $40k higher than anything on the street has listed before, including last year, and well above Zillow for comparable houses on the street. According to the neighbors, they never got even a nibble. A few weeks ago the “for sale” sign was replaced with “for rent”, and they want around $1800/mo for it, which is rediculous. It’s still sitting vacant.

    So the trend for this microcosm of the eastside is that inventory spiked with a small number selling, but now some are getting pulled for good or changed to looking for renters. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the inventory numbers actually drop for the month, but I’m still seeing a lot for sale and more for rent.

  6. 6
    Kaleetan says:

    I know this guy who bought a forclosure house for 195K with just 3% down and a FNMA fixed. Then this guy refinanced and locked into an interest rate at 5.625% during the lowest point in history. Now that house value has skyrocketed to 350K and the mortgage payment is only $1100. Meanwhile rents are rising and you could not rent a house on the eastside for less than $1500, so this has been a very good deal. This guys income has also steadily increased he has slowly been able to remodel. The extra bath cost him only 5K but added at least that to the house. The kids love the backyard and the schools are really great.

    What a FB huh?

  7. 7
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    Kudos to him for doing it right and getting into a house he can afford.

  8. 8
    synthetik says:

    >I know this guy who bought a forclosure house for 195K with just 3% down and a FNMA fixed

    Sounds like a good deal for the land, what’s the address?

  9. 9
    seattle_slow says:

    “What a FB huh?”

    Good for him. For every one of those, there’s 5 more who have bitten off more than they can chew.

    Simply put, they will be become screwed.

  10. 10
    octopuswithafez says:

    Notice this today on the King County Recorder site:

    NOTICE: Deeds of trust filed in King County are no longer available online due to an ordinance passed by the King County council aimed at safeguarding personal information contained in online documents.
    Deeds are still available in person at the King County Recorders Office in downtown Seattle.

  11. 11
    Geon says:

    My wife and I decided to take a quick Sunday drive and check out a few houses we’ve been keeping an eye on in the southend. Two were recently competed and happen to be holding open houses.

    They were very nice houses, with all the bells & whistles (ac, recirc hot water, crown molding, granite, heated tile, prof. appliances, etc), but a so-so location–Des Moines, about a half a mile west of Pac Hwy. Yes, over the flight path of Seatac, hard not to be in Des Moines.

    One had a great view of the sound on the 3rd level, but you had to look over your neighbor’s house about 30 yds away. The other house, had no view and was located just below the view house in a draw.

    Prices: $1.19 mil, 4600 sqft, & $829, 3900 sqft. Needless to say, these are stupid price even in this market. I look for them to come down–but probably not a whole lot before the greater fool picks them up. I’ve noticed this builder’s other projects are priced very high too. Too spendy for us.

    As I was leaving, I saw in the foyer, the reatlor had photcopied an article: The KCJ, Oct. 7 edition, “Housing Bubble not bursting yet.” We chatted a bit about the subject, and he went on about some stat of how many people we’ll be moving here by 2030. LOL.

    Meanwhile, my landlord/developer said, he was in no hurry to develop the land we were on and was fully aware of where the market was heading. So, we’re good renting from him for at least 6-9 months. I noticed he dropped the price of a couple of his houses for the 2nd time that day.

  12. 12
    Richard says:

    The fix and flip at 8003 5th ave ne just sold after being on the market since May.

    Original asking price: $749,900
    Sale price: $660,000

    Sold back in December 2005 for $330K.

    It was a fairly extensive “down to the studs” remodel.

  13. 13
    Joe Consumer says:


    These guys were clearly testing the market. Priced right back in May, it would have gone in less than a week.

    They did a beautiful job on the remodel, just were greedy. Probably still made money, though.

  14. 14
    Richard says:

    Joe Consumer said…

    These guys were clearly testing the market.

    Yup. It is a nice house, the location wasn’t great though.

    There is/was another full remodel up on 92nd that last sold in 2002 for $220K and went on the market this summer for $850K!!! (despite being less than 500 feet from I5) Now THAT is testing the market.

  15. 15
    Peter Taylor says:

    know this guy who bought a forclosure house for 195K with just 3% down and a FNMA fixed.

    Is this guy’s name Carlton Sheets? I kid.

    Exception proves the rule.

  16. 16

    […] Avondale Rd NE, Woodinville May 2006: $1,625,000 (Asking) August 2006: $1,495,000 (Asking) October 2006: $1,275,000 (Asking) November 2006: $1,275,000 (Asking – New Brokerage) January 2007: […]

  17. 17

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