Forbes: Seattle a “Down Market” & also 8th Best

I’m a bit confused. Just two weeks ago, Matt Woolsey’s latest real estate list in Forbes placed Seattle as the 8th best real estate market in the country. Now this week, Forbes writer Joshua Lipton pens an article titled Selling Your Home In A Down Market, which highlights the difficulty many people are having in selling their homes. So where did Mr. Lipton find the example of this phenomenon that he chose to highlight in the article? Believe it or not… super-special Seattle!

When Doreen Cardin first put her house on the market, she was hopeful that the house would find a buyer right away. Cardin’s husband, a mechanic, was unable to work. The loss of an income had proven tough for the young couple, who live 20 miles north of Seattle. They needed the money.

So they first spent some cash fixing up their three-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot house, with a new coat of paint, carpeting in the family room and flooring in the bathroom. They hired a local real estate agent and put the house on the market for $300,000.

That was five months ago.

There have been a couple of offers since then, but those both fell through. The Cardins have now hired a new realtor, slashed the price down to $279,000 and even thrown in a $5,000 buyer’s bonus. Doreen Cardin blames the lack of real interest in her house now on the cold weather, which discourages people from visiting open houses, she says, and also a more general sense of financial unease in her community, as people face new challenges like higher gas prices.

The couple recently moved into her parents’ home. They’re starting to consider whether they should rent their house, at least for now.

Okay, so it wasn’t technically Seattle Proper, but 20 miles north puts them roughly in Lynnwood / Mill Creek area, which I’m certain is being included in Mr. Woolsey’s definition of Seattle for the “Best Housing Markets” piece.

So I guess the question is, if the Seattle market is so great, how can there possibly exist people like the Cardins, who put their home on the market in Spring (the best time of the year for home sales) at 80% of the median single-family price in Snohomish County, and still haven’t sold? Hmm…

I liked the comment from Grvetti the other day that calling Seattle one of the “best” housing markets is like calling “the last part of a ship to sink ‘temporarily the most driest.'”

(Joshua Lipton, Forbes, 11.29.2007)

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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
    Thom N says:

    It mentions that two offers have fallen through. Does it give the reason why? Was there maybe a problem with both inspections?

  2. 2
    Ian says:

    I don’t know what to make of all the predictions, but Moody’s Economy put out a new report that stated: “…Declines of between 5% and 15% are expected for the Northeast corridor as well as such markets as Denver, Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho. In the rest of the industrial Midwest and parts of the Mountain and Pacific Northwest, prices will fall more modestly. ” More modestly than what? 5%? That’s almost nothing, really.

    On the otherhand, I read a lot of comments here that compare the cost of renting to owning and it seems like there’s about a 50% difference there. So renting a home for $1000 would be $2000 to own. It seems reasonable that after the “deflated” rent prices climb and the “inflated” mortgages decline, a fair price to pay for this hypothetical property would be $1500, monthly. That’s a 25% drop then.

    FWIW, I bought in July, about a month or two before the poo hit the fan. I also don’t want a bunch of foreclosures all over the place, driving up crime and driving down property values.

  3. 3
    on topic says:

    loans falling through and potential buyers being unable to get loans has become commonplace.

    apparently, lenders have decided that the loan to value (LTV) ratio should be less than 1 in some cases.

    as it turns out, people will walk away from a loan if the LTV is too high and their asset is depreciating.

    anyone in the lending industry who is surprised by this information needs to find another career, perhaps test driving cars into brick walls.

  4. 4
    bud says:

    8th Best = 8th Least Worst

  5. 5
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    The 8th is just one octave. So what if we’re down an octave? We’re still the same Seattle right?

    You used to sing “Seattle Is Special” up here ^, now just sing it down here v.

  6. 6

    I’ve got the money to buy right now, and yeah, I can move to Federally Gay, Or Poorline, or Mill Crack, but the fact is, I dont want to live in those suburban dumps. There are places closer in to Seattle, but the nighborhoods I really want are 500-600k plus, so I cant afford them. I’m also tired of this town and its stupid weather, which really ultimately makes it laughably overpriced. if it weren’t for the successful companies here, this place would be as cheap as it once was.
    Anyway, the point is that people who bought in those areas are going to have to give away those houses, because they aren’t interesting to people who want to live a modern, urban lifestyle.

  7. 7
    Satisfied in Seattle says:

    Henny Penny may get us all, but things are pretty normal here in Seattle from what I can see and the biggest problem that is out there in the real estate market are unrealistic price tags on houses that just won’t sell. I look at houses regularly and I can assure you if the hosue in Lynwood was up to snuff it would have sold. It has problems and this is reflected in the market time. People want something for their money and hats off to the buyers for not accepting property below standard.

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