Wanted: Construction Job in Seattle

Either this report is a fabrication, or the guys in question haven’t been clued in to how special Seattle is…

Construction workers from across the country came to the Cedar Rim Apartments in Newcastle for a major remodeling project.They worked for weeks but were only partially paid. Now, some are stranded and taxpayers are footing some of the bill.

Donald Gill and Marc Cox are now stranded thousands of miles from home with no money, no jobs, and no way back.

The men are two of 14 construction workers who answered a Craigslist ad offering good pay and plenty of work to come refurbish apartments.

Somehow the deal went bad and the workers were left to fend for themselves.

Gill says he worked for three weeks but was only paid for one.

Now, a month without money, he and Cox have resorted to food stamps, paid for by Washington taxpayers, to survive.

Somebody should tell those guys that thanks to Seattle’s perma-hot real estate market, there are plenty of construction jobs out there building new homes in a futile attempt to meet our area’s insatiable home-buying demand.

(Eric Wilkinson, King 5 News, 05.13.2007)

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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
    Tony1790 says:

    I just heard a news report that said that Pierce county (I think it was pierce, quick news report) was raising it’s building and remodeling fees to offset the money not received due to reduced new construction and their impact fees.

    Two things,

    First they have already spent and budgeted for, forecasted money.

    Secondly, get ready for more taxes, as evidenced by their raising fees (taxes) to make up their short fall, heaven forbid that the govt spends less money. Once an out of control govt grows, there is no shrinking it, get ready for more county, state and federal taxes as the housing collapse gains momentum.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Deejayoh says:

    #1 with a bullet!!!

    As noted above, Seattle rules the roost on inventory growth this week, checking in at a whopping FOUR PERCENT week over week growth. We decimated the field this week.

    Nice work.

  4. 4
    Finance says:

    2006 was a record year for sales and had extremely low inventory…thus any revison to the avg inventory is going to show large % YOY increases.

    Over the past 3 years or 5 years the inventory numbers are still below the historical norm (just look at Tims cool charts on the main thread). Currently we are at ~3.0 months of inventory in Seattle, which is still quite a tight market. Has the market slowed, of course it has, just hasnt had the bottom fall out of it…yet, if it does.

    As for looking at week over week data or MOM…well you criticize Meshugy for that type of analysis, lol.

  5. 5
    Mike says:

    This is preposterous. Down in SLU this weekend, only 2 of the huge pits had work crews on them and only 1 appeared to be fully staffed. I can only assume this is due to a lack of construction workers. Though I doubt a guy qualified to gut an apartment would know what to do on a highrise tower construction site.

  6. 6
    Deejayoh says:


    My post referred to comparative inventory growthy across markets. 4% is the highest growth in the country, and would equate to some kind of astronomical number for the year. Did you miss that? As for YoY stats, you might want to scroll up. I didn’t mention a thing about that.

    As to Shuggy – uh, sorry man, don’t think that was me. Bald-faced assertions that have no basis in fact – yeah I’m critical of those. Compared to those his MoM comparisons are a regular treasure trove.

  7. 7
    Deejayoh says:

    Oh, and by the way – based on Tim’s “cool charts” spreadsheet, you got this wrong too

    2006 was a record year for sales

    KC Pending Sales
    2003 30,825
    2004 33,268
    2005 34,118
    2006 29,988

    You might want to check your facts before you pipe in with your opinion.

  8. 8
    waitingforseattletocool says:

    Here is the inventory data for end of May from 1993 to 2007 for King and Snohomish county. Data for May 2007 is through May 14th only. Inventory for May 2007 is only exceeded by May 2003. Although absorption of inventory is relatively high, indicating price stability, inventory is well above 10 year moving average.

    1993 16044
    1994 13382
    1995 15365
    1996 15118
    1997 11670
    1998 10285
    1999 10619
    2000 12968
    2001 15251
    2002 15573
    2003 17404
    2004 13933
    2005 9982
    2006 10954
    2007 16245

  9. 9
    Wanderer says:

    Concerning housing related jobs in Seattle:
    My HR director is trying to fill a vacancy that I have… a position that is part engineering and part business in the marine industry. It is a pretty unique job and not easy to fill so they squint pretty optimistically at any resume that comes in. I happened to be in the office when she was printing out a new resume, and the most recent experience listed was “Mortgage broker 2004-present.” It made me chuckle, and she said that quite a few of those had come in and that she hasn’t bothered to send any my way.

    I don’t root for anyone to be out of a job, but I can foresee some tough times for past members of the REIC. There are going to be a lot of them and I don’t think their “experience” is going to translate to jobs that pay as much as the REIC has recently grown accustomed. I hope that their home buying decisions were better reasoned than their customers’.

  10. 10
    blueskitten says:

    Wanderer –

    Would you be interested in giving me a bit more detail about your job opening? I have a business background, technical aptitude (though admittedly only informal experience there), and past work in the recreational marine industry. (Possibly that qualifies me a bit more than an ex mortgage-broker.)

    You can email me at blueskitten at comcast dot net.

  11. 11
    Mike says:

    blueskitten, I was tempted to say the same thing since I’ve got an engineering degree and a good deal of business and sales experience.

    However, I’m not looking to change industries at this time.

  12. 12
    Wanderer says:

    I just forwarded the Monster posting… let me know if you have any questions.

    For the record, I don’t discriminate based on race, religion, creed, lack of creed, or hockey affiliation (except Red Wings fans get a +). Former Mortgage Brokers have just as good a chance as anyone else who has gotten rich by participating in the dimantling of our economy and raping of the American dream. You have to respect the accomplishments!

    Oh wait… I gues you don’t.

  13. 13
    Finance says:

    dj – I actually did look at the charts before but accidently hit the 6 instead of the 5…they’re so darn close together, oops.

    You are right that we had the highest percentage gain…however on an actual # basis we are not.

    Overall the current inventory is slightly above the 10 year avg. They probably take the # of houses for sale at the end of Dec and we are currently in the “busy season”, thus most likely will have more houses for sale right now than later in the year. Just look at the dip in inventory earlier in this year.

    My old roomate works for the WSDOT and said that this year is the highest dollar amount (an % increase) in spending on road work in the states history…thus an increase in state construction jobs. This might help the state absorb some of the residental jobs…however commercial construction is extremely strong in the Seattle area right now as well (I think 11 cranes in Seattle & 12 in Bellevue).

  14. 14
    Deejayoh says:

    They probably take the # of houses for sale at the end of Dec and we are currently in the “busy season”, thus most likely will have more houses for sale right now than later in the year. Just look at the dip in inventory earlier in this year.

    Dude – do you even pay attention?
    – Listings are generally pulled off in Dec relisted in January. Check the history. So it is not a “dip”, it is a steady trend interrupted by an MLS bookkeeping anomoly. Check your facts… Again
    – We are not “slightly above” the 10 yr avg. Housingtracker is Seattle MSA, consistent with what waitingforseattletocool posted. Inventory for this market has only been this high ONCE in the last 14 years. And we are nearly 20% above the average. Are they teaching you math at SU?

    I agreed with you on the WSJ ridiculousness, but you are way off base on this one, grasshopper – no matter what WSDOT spends.

  15. 15
    NoFate says:

    Did anyone else see “Pressure on Home Prices ?” at The Big Picture?


    Absolutely brutal …banks are auctioning properties and they are selling at waaaay below purchase price.

  16. 16
    Mike says:


    Absolutely brutal …banks are auctioning properties and they are selling at waaaay below purchase price.

    Locally, a few lucky investors have been able to buy homes at 80% of previous sale price, regardless of the strong market.

    Whatever is happening in other markets, houses here aren’t selling below or anywhere close to 2005 levels.

    My personal opinion is that when Seattle REO properties start going to auction in mass, price decreases will mirror those in other costal markets.

    We’re not there yet.

  17. 17
    Finance says:

    Deejayoh – I do agree with you that inventory is high, yet the time of the year when they pull the yearly inventory number is important, or is it a simple avg of each month?

    BTW: A lot of the times I just play devils advocate to mix up the conversation and get people thinking…Personally I believe the market will have modest appreciation this year (~5%), yet dont believe the entire market would go much more negative than 5% or 10% max in the next few years at worst. Seattle’s ups and downs have always been more modest than the rest of the country historically.

  18. 18
    Deejayoh says:

    …Personally I believe the market will have modest appreciation this year (~5%), yet dont believe the entire market would go much more negative than 5% or 10% max in the next few years

    On that we probably agree. My quick “seattle follows other markets” analysis predicted 4-5% appreciation this year, with MoM going negative by Nov/Dec timeframe.

    5-10% would be a big correction. I don’t hallucinate about big price slides. But I don’t think you can ignore what is going on with inventory either. The trend is inexorable

  19. 19
    Mike says:

    I doubt we’re going to see median prices decrease more than 5% in 2007. Individual sale prices on the other hand may fall 5%+ by September.

    Last year was frenzied, and many people probably overpaid- though only a small % of current resales are below last years levels. Other bubble markets show that people were overpaying as much as 2 years before the peak.

    SF’s east bay resales are hanging below 2005 levels. Is Seattle more special than East Bay? (They have a real city there, that should count for something)

  20. 20
    Joel says:

    Ugh, if you count Oakland and Vallejo as real cities I guess. Really, those two cities probably the only ones in the East Bay being hit real hard right now. My sister lives near Vallejo and is as big of a bubble watcher as I am, but the last time I talked to her she was starting to doubt prices would go down any significant amount in her city. She’s tired of waiting and now that a job opening has appeared in San Antonio, they’re seriously considering moving, even though they really like where they live.

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