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
    meshugy says:

    Zip Realty is showing strong #s for Oct: Seattle, WA Market Update for October 2006

    Asking and Selling Prices are up 3% MOM. Also, sellers seem to be getting 100% 0f what they’re asking. Price per sq.ft is up $1 and days on the market is down 6%.

    Still looking like a very strong sellers market.

  2. 2
    PugetHouse says:

    I also saw some price gain in Ballard, and DOM are not much higher than last year.

    Still, there’s noticeable softening this Fall in prices, which have not been made up in the latest pending sales. Strangely, the median home seems to be shrinking as well.

  3. 3
    S Crow says:


    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m falling short of finding the glory in your suggestions.

    There have been consistent reduced list prices numbering/fluctuating around 200-400 per day for several months now. There have been many homes taken off the market or expired listings. This scenario was not even on the radar at the beginning of 06. Many agents that discuss housing on this blog can concur via pulling information from the NWMLS.

    I have had personal conversations with a couple agents and clients we serve who are taking listings off the market only to try again late Winter or early Spring. How may scores of others are thinking the same thing? Probably a whole bunch, including those who are currently not on the market but planning a move 1st qtr. ’07’. Those homes and others coming on the market does what?

    Our office has closed numerous transactions over the last quarter to date where buyers were receiving rate buy-downs or closing cost concessions. Tongue-in-cheek, I don’t even feel like we are an escrow firm anymore. I would characterize our company as of late being a credit card and automotive loan bill paying agency. How many times will I have to go to Costco Online and order another round of 2500 checks? Certainly not eveyone is in this boat, but enough are that it is noticeable on our end.

    We had a title rep come into our office a week ago and ask: how’s biz? Title rep says biz is really slowing. Is it seasonal? Is is a bit slower than seasonal?

    Builders in conjunction with preferred lenders are offering very enticing interest rate programs which cost the builders A LOT of money to produce.

    I have no doubt that many homes are selling quickly in very pinpoint neighborhoods, say like in your neck of the woods west of 32nd NW overlooking Shilshole up to Sunset Hill park near 80th.

    Quite frankly, to an extent I’ve really lost my enthusiasm of entering discussion regarding the probability of bubbles or market shifting, soft landing, hard landing, crash, market slowing,price going up, down, sideways etc…

    In summary, after experiencing this market first hand over the last three years, it does not suprise me nor should it for anyone else in the business to see a significant market shift and for the housing slow down to influence other sectors in our economy: lumber mills, big box store reduced earnings (including all supply chain merchants whose merchandise is on isles), mortgage, escrow, title layoffs and other support servivces that piggyback the health of housing–all related construction jobs and so on.

    I’m more excited to help people navigate the buying or refinancing process (mostly from a finance & closing perspective) from a neutral perspective where I can make a difference in helping people SAVE MONEY. If any of the readers are currently thinking of refinancing or purchasing in the near future, please let me know and I’ll e-mail tips on how to reduce your closing costs to a reasonable amount. Or if you wish, I’ll post some general tips on how to keep more money in your pocket. I think that is where I can best serve everyone from my experience.

  4. 4
    meshugy says:

    Hi S Crow,

    You’ve been feeding us these market anecdotes for months…all supposedly signals of a slowing market. Yet sales went up MOM in Oct and the Median price for King County is at it’s all time peak. Your anecdotes are interesting, but I think it’s fair to say that at this point they’re not telling us that much about the market as a whole.

  5. 5
    meshugy says:

    CNN shows Seattle well within the top 10 fastest appreciating cities:

    NAR 3rd quarter 2006 home prices

    Seattle/Tacoma SFH 14.6% appreciation for 3rdQ 2006

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:


    New to the Seattle Bubble and love your message.

    We are very similar; I am an EE who has decided not to buy a house until I was debt free, with a 20% downpayment, a fixed rate mortgage not more than 25% of my take home pay, and an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months expenses. Definetly not how the average person is looking to buy a home these days.

    The housing market appears to have turned into a pyramid scheme with mortgage brokers willing to give people loans that require more than 75% of their take home pay (when rates adjust) and realtors telling everyone to get in while you still can.

    The thing with pyramid schemes are that you allways need the next guy to buy in on the bottom level. There appears to be a great number of people who are buying in at the bottom, but at what price? As the national housing bubble is bursting, that must be weighing on some peoples minds. That they have given up their retirement savings, drastically increased their consumer debt, and put their families at risk; all for an asset that might actually decline in value?

    I will buy a house when I am ready. Not out of fear or greed. I am not willing to put my family at risk on the hope that everything goes according to plan.

    Keep up the good word.

  7. 7
    Grivetti says:

    Yet sales went up MOM in Oct and the Median price for King County is at it’s all time peak.

    Geezus Chrysler Shugy’? Did you even look at what pugethouse posted? Stats for the ‘bellweather’ Ballard, last bastion of the boom according to your zillow sacred cow… take a look!!!

    Closed July ’06 466K (median)

    Closed Nov.01-19 ’06 457K (median)

    Closed July ’06’ $264/sqft (median)

    Closed July ’06 $243/sqft (median)

    The best you could say about that is that’s its arriving at a ‘soft landing’, with a little stagnation. MOM means dook…

    I refer you to the Mammet classic Glengarry Glen Ross tirade by Alec Baldwin…

    (A)lways (B)e (C)losing…

    Don’t matter what zillow says dude, if you can’t close at that price, your numbers are meaningless and that’s ALL you’ve been feeding us for months so to your…

    You’ve been feeding us these market anecdotes for months

    touche’ dude…

  8. 8
    meshugy says:

    Ballard, last bastion of the boom according to your zillow sacred cow… take a look!!!

    OK…here’s some YOY #s for you….

    Ballard was actually the fastest appreciating area in Oct.

    Ballard (Area 705)

    Oct 2006 Res/Condo Median: $436,475
    Oct 2005 Res/Condo Median: $379,800

    A 15% increase…the biggest in Seattle!!!

    See: Breakouts – KING COUNTY SECTORS – Northwest Multiple Listing Service OCT 2006

  9. 9
    synthetik says:

    >A 15% increase…the biggest in Seattle!!!

    Isn’t Ballard and the general area N. of Seattle known as the “investor area”? That seems to be a common term among real estate agents I’ve spoken to in the past 8 months.

    I don’t think I’d want to be living in an “investor area” during the largest housing bubblocity since the Great Depression.

    Gee, how are other “investor areas” doing around the US about now?

  10. 10
    Grivetti says:

    OK…here’s some YOY #s for you….

    Nah man, I ain’t buyin’ it. You’ve sold em on the Shug’ school of RE speculation. What really matters is what’s happening “now” (paraphrasing you), so let’s just stick with the MOM , mmmmkay?

  11. 11
    meshugy says:

    so let’s just stick with the MOM , mmmmkay?

    Ballard MOM Area 705:

    Sept 2006 Median Res/Condo: $419,875
    Oct 2006 Median Res/Condo: $436,475

    A nice 17K increase in one month…did you save that much renting last month?

  12. 12
    Grivetti says:

    Isn’t Ballard and the general area N. of Seattle known as the “investor area”?

    Yep, Ballard’s getting humped for all its worth…

    Haven’t a clue if this condo bldg. is ‘sold out’ yet, me’s guessing no.

    Although you’d think by referencing ‘granola’ in the actually online speel, you’d get Volvo’s lining up around the block to throw down on Hjarta

  13. 13
    Peter Taylor says:

    Meshugy said:

    A nice 17K increase in one month…did you save that much renting last month?

    Michael – I didn’t realize you were finally selling your house to cash out all the equity. Congratulations? Where are you moving to?

  14. 14
    Grivetti says:

    I’ll see your MOM with…

    July ’06 466K
    August ’06 450K

    …and call you!!! Oh no! What’s goin’ on? That’s a -16K decrease MOM!

    …dogs and cat’s sleeping together I tell ya’

  15. 15
    msrelo says:

    I love how they tout the geographical benefits to living in Ballard. Anybody who says that line of BS obviously has not lived there.

    Try commuting from Ballard to the Eastside for that tech job you need to barely afford purchasing there… Especially considering the loss of the HOV lane on West 520 for several years during construction of a new bridge.

    I can only imagine the traffic nightmare that’s on it’s way.

  16. 16
    wreckingbull says:

    I can’t think of a worse place to live in Ballard, perhaps all of NW Seattle, than the corner of Market and 15th.

    You have the following ‘amenities’:

    1. Fire station (nothing like that 3am siren)

    2. Denny’s (See also: Drunks at 3am)

    3. 7-11 (See also: Drunks a 3am)

    4. From personal experience, I can tell you that this is not a low-crime area either. There is a resident hooker that does tricks behind the ‘sev. I am not making this up and really wish I did not see what I saw several weeks ago.

    You would have to be a fool to buy there. I was blown away at how much they want for the units.

  17. 17
    meshugy says:

    I love how they tout the geographical benefits to living in Ballard.

    It’s way fast to downtown and also heading North. Most of my neighbors work at Boeing or downtown…many at Real Networks in Belltown which is about 8 min. from Ballard.

    Heading East can be slow…but there is also way less traffic over here. Very quiet…I lived in Laurelhurst for years and it was much louder and busier.

  18. 18
    msrelo says:

    It might be fast at 10pm or other times outside of the standard rush hours. There is almost gridlock up and down 15th to Elliot. I do not for one second believe you can drive from Ballard to anywhere in 8 minutes.

    I have lived in Ballard for 5 years and it is definitely not getting any better.

    It also seems like number of transients has been growing at an exponential rate. And who could forget about the car colonies in Ballard where you have tons of people who live in their cars. Its funny to drive down some of the streets and see the light from a small television set eminating for a 1970’s sedan.

  19. 19
    MisterBubble says:

    You’ve been feeding us these market anecdotes for months…all supposedly signals of a slowing market. Yet sales went up MOM in Oct and the Median price for King County is at it’s all time peak.

    Har. Yeah…and shooting your mouth off about “MOM” sales somehow isn’t anecdotal, in the face of record YOY increases in King Country inventory, coupled with YOY slowing sales?

    But hey, whatever, shug. You keep on keepin’ the faith. Because you know what’s funny? Nearly every post that you make can be put in a new light simply by placing the words “…for now.” at the end of your sentences:

    Ballard prices are up MOM!

    Seems like it…for now.

    King County median prices are at an all-time high!

    Again, yes….for now.

    Seattle is in [rag-of-the-day]’s list of the N fastest-appreciating cities?

    Sure it is…for now.

    You don’t add a single bit of reason or logic to this forum…just puffery and anecdote. So perhaps you’ll want to lay off your criticisms of others for using “market anecdotes,” mmkay?

    Go take care of your kid.

  20. 20
    synthetik says:

    Ballard does boast Archie McPhee’s as well as one of my favorite art stores “OK OK” on Ballard Ave.

    I have a standing appointment every other week in Ballard at 1pm. Getting there from Downtown isn’t too big a deal (unless the bridge is up), but the drive back around 3pm can be quite a PITA. I fear what it’s like at 5:30pm.

    Why are there no trees in Ballard comparatively?

    I think if I had to live over there Phinney Ridge with a view would be optimal. Ballard, not so much.

  21. 21
    msrelo says:

    Phinney Ridge, What a difference a few blocks makes… But that is reflected in the prices.

  22. 22
    Anonymous says:

    I notice the use of median figures to support one case or the other. I think I could be that guy (~median income owner of a ~median value home in a ~median king county neighborhood). The power I have. :)

    How about no bursting bubble nor continued appreciation? Neither a seller’s nor buyer’s market? A flat market for a few years until incomes and rents catch up (in the regression to the mean sense)?

    There are signs of this. No real data to support, but pulling homes off the market until the spring indicates to me that people have a choice, the option to stay put.

    And so do I. So that’s what I am doing…for now. And I’m the median guy. Muhahahahaha!

  23. 23
    The Tim says:


    The scenario you are suggesting was explored in the post Seattle Soft Landing: Do The Math.

    Short version: It’s possible, but it would likely take a minimum of 15 years, under the most rosy set of income assumptions.

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