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.


  1. 1
    Christina says:

    Either the slide is beginning, or my zip code, otherwise known as the zip code double digit appreciation forgot, is showing gains as first-time home buyers are priced out of other neighbourhoods.

    Some price reductions might come because flippers don’t understand the neighbourhoods they buy into.

    Two houses that seemed to me outrageously priced for the neighbourhood (above $500K) that languished for seven months and thirteen months respectively, have been sold. The seven-months-on-market house was reduced by 9%; no word yet on what the languishing one eventually sold for. The KC Website would have that info in about a month.

    An interesting note: the ‘Sold By’ plaques for both don’t list a name, only a phone number. I thought Realtors liked to market themselves?

    Also, I read that the Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wants to fine property owners for having junk-strewn yards and invasive weeds and neglecting to maintain their properties, because they bring down property values in their locality.

  2. 2
    synthetik says:

    Why I like renting:

    1. Safer: Most of the apartments I’ve rented have been multi-floor with either a security people on premises or keycode entry required. I’ve been the victim of HOME invasion twice, both times as a home owner. (ground floor w/lots of windows & doors).

    2. No Annoying Salespeople: No door to door salespeople when you live in an apartment. That’s nice!

    3. Renting is currently less than 1/2 the price of being a homedebtor: We’re nearly financially free, are adding large chunks to the nest egg.

    4. Fully Mobile: Need to move? NO problem! Currently 3 of 10 relocations don’t go through due to housing issues. Not if you’re a renter!

    Other nice things: No home or yard maintenance, no surprise costs, lower utility bills, no homeowners insurance required, no property taxes, less stress/anxiety and the best thing of all:

    Not buying during the peak, saving hundreds of thousands, not facing bankruptcy or financial ruin.

  3. 3
    matthew says:

    Realtors, lenders in U.S. may rethink ads during downturn-

    “NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) – The subprime mortgage crisis and faltering new homes sales are raising concerns about the risk of major spending cuts by a real estate industry that puts more than $10 billion annually into advertising and marketing.

    Newspaper publishers could be most at jeopardy, analysts warn, given they attracted over one-third of the money spent last year on advertising by the real estate industry.”


    1/3 of their advertising revenue from RE. No shocker that the Times and PI have a pro real estate slant.

  4. 4
    synthetik says:

    >1/3rd of their ad revenue from Real Estate

    Hah, what a maroon. Shocker. I e-mailed Elizabeth Rhodes back in April 2006 about her cheerleading ways, explaining that I understood she had to pom pom for the RE crowd due to their massive Real Estate advertising budget.

    Her response: No way, a downturn would be GOOD for us because RE advertisers would have to advertise MORE.

    How dumb does she think we are?

  5. 5
    The Tim says:

    Not that I think the press doesn’t have a blatant pro-RE slant, but I should point out that “one-third of the money spent last year on advertising by the real estate industry” means that the RE industry spent one-third of their advertising dollars on newspapers.

    It says nothing about what percentage of newspapers’ revenue comes from RE. It could well be much larger than one-third.

  6. 6
    matthew says:

    Good catch Tim, I read that wrong initially.

  7. 7
    EconE says:

    From todays L.A. times…you guys might like this one…regarding homedebtor bailouts.


  8. 8
    EconE says:

    oh….and talking about RE revenue for the papers…you should see the print editions of the Sat & Sun L.A. times.

  9. 9
    Nathan says:

    I counted 7 new For Sale signs this week for condos on my commute from Capitol Hill to Fremont. I’ll be watching to see if any Sold signs appear soon.

  10. 10
    EconE says:

    “sold” signs are now being used as a marketing trick.

  11. 11
    rentalbliss says:

    Tim is there a reason there is no comment link on the office space thread?

  12. 12
    stephen says:

    I put about a dozen homes in my favorites to watch on Redfin when I called off the RE search about a month ago. As of this morning only two had gone ‘subject to inspection’. From early Jan through the first of March most of my similar saves were dropping at about 3 or 4 times that rate. Doesn’t really mean much but gives me pause about re-starting the search, it’s seems to me the waiting game has started. As inventory goes up we’ll see who blinks first, buyers or sellers.

  13. 13
    Deejayoh says:

    EconE said…
    “sold” signs are now being used as a marketing trick.

    econe, that sounds paranoid!

    I live right up at the top of capitol hill. Next to one of those beautiful old tudor style Anhalt condo/coops. When one of those units comes on the market, they usually sell in hours to days. Two units went for sale in that building last week. It will be interesting to see how fast they go.

  14. 14
    Becky says:

    Where did the Wednesday open thread go?

  15. 15
    Deejayoh says:

    rentalbliss said…
    Tim is there a reason there is no comment link on the office space thread?

    Troll repellent…

  16. 16
    Deejayoh says:

    “NAR Chief Economist David Lereah predicted that tighter underwriting practices may cause total home sales to fall by about 100,000 to 250,000 nationally, or no more than 3 percent a year over the next two years.”

    “Lereah warned against overreaction to the situation. ‘Tougher lending standards imposed by the marketplace and the regulators are necessary, but we need to be mindful of overcorrection. Responsible lending practices are what the doctor ordered, not practices that cause a credit crunch,’ Lereah said.”

    Lets see, subprime is 20% of loans by value – and since they tend to be smaller loans probably more by volume. And no one is writing them. Yeah, I guess a THREE PERCENT reduction in volume sounds appropriate.

    What a tool

  17. 17
    EconE says:

    DJ…yeah…I know that anhalt building and have been wondering if the latest units are going to sell as quickly as they were last year.

    with regards to my paranoia…nope…people in the industry down here are telling me that…so…if they are doing it here in L.A. why should I assume that Seattle is any different.

    I already called out a builder that was releasing condos up there on the MLS after they sold with the STI label. He even admitted that it was a “marketing tactic” I railed on the dishonesty and now there are far more units on the MLS up there.

    They’re getting sneaky…they can run…but they can’t hide.

  18. 18
    Chris says:


    Gulf economies to ‘drop the dollar’,

    Gulf economies will move away from a dollar currency peg and shift foreign exchange reserves away from dollar to other currencies, including the Chinese yuan, the chief executive of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has said.

    Nasser al-Shaali noted that the UAE central bank had already started buying euros – part of its strategy to move about 10 per cent of its reserves into the single European currency before the end of the year.

    “We’ve seen, for example in the case of the UAE central bank, a movement into the euro,” al-Shaali told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

    “In the future, most likely, we predict some of the economies in the region will adopt the Chinese yuan currency as well,” he said, noting that he was not aware of that happening at the moment.

    He said the appetite of the region as a whole was to increasingly diversify exposure.

    For our more market-savvy commenters: What would change like this have on the US economy and the US dollar?

  19. 19
    Deejayoh says:

    For our more market-savvy commenters: What would change like this have on the US economy and the US dollar?

    Not sure if I am all that market-savvy, but it seems to me that one of the things that is propping up our economy – and keeping the dollar strong – has been the willingness of the rest of the world to buy and hold our currency. Normally a huge imbalance of trade drives currency deflation – but somehow the Japanese and Chinese central bank’s have kept their currencies relatively closely pegged to the dollar – so they can continue exporting to us. That also allows things like the yen-carry trade to flourish. I think they do it by buying our debt.

    So if someone starts selling huge volumes of dollars – don’t these banks either need to buy those dollars too or see their holdings deflate due to a weakening dollar? If the Saudis are selling, how much are Japan/China willing to buy? Kind of like a short-squeeze, isn’t it?

  20. 20
    Chris says:

    A great article on subprime lending across the US

    Really good maps. The conventional wisdom right now is that subprime woes are hitting the areas of the country (Midwest, South) that have the poorest performing economies, but not the prime bubble areas. Fig 2 in this article reflects that.

    But the rate of change map (fig 3) is most interesting. CA and Mass are experiencing the greatest increase in delinquent payments from 2005 to 2006. Bubbleicious!!!

  21. 21
    Matthew says:

    I know that Iran is encouraging China to buy oil in Euros.

  22. 22
    Eleua says:

    Not sure if I am all that market-savvy, but it seems to me that one of the things that is propping up our economy – and keeping the dollar strong – has been the willingness of the rest of the world to buy and hold our currency.

    IMHO, this is the X-factor in stocks. For the past 6 weeks, the stock market has followed the dollar (vs yen) around like a dog on a short leash.

    Once the carry trade unwinds, the game is likely over.

  23. 23
    Deejayoh says:

    I have seen estimates of the volume of the carry trade from $30-100B in volume.

    I think LTCM debacle was around $4B if I recall?

    Unwinding would be very ugly

  24. 24
    Chris says:

    As I understand it, China in particular, as well as Japan and S Korea more generally, have their currencies pegged to the US $ so that we can continue to buy their cheap goods. If mideast countries start to reduce their holdings of dollars, that’s going to drop the value of the US$. Put won’t that also hurt the value of east Asian currency, since they are pegged against the US$?

  25. 25
    Alan says:

    My understanding is that China’s currency should be valued higher against the dollar than it is right now. During the unwinding I expect to see good from China go up in USD price.

  26. 26
    Eleua says:

    However it works, the unwinding of the carry trade will make things in the USA very expensive.

    Nobody will be buying much of anything.

  27. 27
    The Bruce says:

    Bailouts just hurt the consumers who didn’t get themselves into financial trouble. I guess it would fit right into the New American Way – reward the careless, punish the responsible.

  28. 28
    Deejayoh says:

    Just read that article on gulf. Selling dollars and buying Yuan would be double ugly

  29. 29
    Deejayoh says:

    I can’t believe someone dumb enough to write this has a job

    In Business Las Vegas reports from Nevada. “February’s new-home closings fell to their lowest point this decade as prices tumbled 5 percent from January, but the Las Vegas housing industry had a bit of a silver lining as housing starts reached their highest level since August, according to SalesTraq.”

    Lets see, the bad news is, you aren’t selling any new houses. but the good news is, we’re starting to build more!

  30. 30
    Chris says:

    Lets see, the bad news is, you aren’t selling any new houses. but the good news is, we’re starting to build more!

    Clap harder, Damnit!!!

  31. 31
    darth_s says:

    This makes me really wonder about the IQ of the housing cheerleaders ?!?

  32. 32
    Deejayoh says:

    I think this quote summarizes the real estate bull mentality problem in a nutshell

    “If everything remains constant, the market will correct itself,” he said. “This was needed because too many people were flipping properties for huge profits while real estate appreciation usually is about 5 to 10 percent a year.

    um…. try 3-4% nominal, 0 to 1% real?

    however, from the same genius..
    High-end homes in towns such as Easton and Greenwich appear to be getting hurt more than the affordable housing stock found in Bridgeport, Nkwo said.

  33. 33
    SLTO Troll says:

    a bit of a reality check from detroit where the economy was pegged on automakers and nothing else… kinda scary if our economy is boeing and MSFT dependent…


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