What do you want from Seattle Bubble?

Since making the big announcement on Wednesday, I’ve received a lot of feedback about Seattle Bubble and some of the improvements people would like to see now that I’m dedicating more time to it. Some of the comments have been constructive, while others have been… less helpful, but I honestly appreciate them all.

Here are some direct quotes from recent comments or emails:

  • “…add more buyer support with consumer input.”
  • “…take this blog in a new, constructive direction.”
  • “…collect and publish some very useful statistics in King County that no one currently is putting together.”
  • “…the mocking tone of most of the conversations here…how are you going to address that for new customers?”
  • “Your site is rapidly becoming useless. Now that the repeatedly prognosticated fall has happened you have nothing to say of any value.”

Some of these are helpful, and in addition to this week’s poll, are helping me get a better idea of the direction people would like to see Seattle Bubble move. In order to solicit more feedback (hopefully of the constructive variety), I’m opening this post up for you to air your thoughts. If you just need to vent, that’s fine, but what I’m really interested in are your thoughts on how this site can become a better resource to anyone that is interested in real estate in the greater Seattle area.

If all you have is love and compliments, save those for another post, or feel free to express your gratitude in the form of a (non-tax-deductible) donation. Let’s keep the comments to this post on the topic of how Seattle Bubble can improve. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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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.

67 comments:

  1. 1
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    Not so much a comment as a concern — now that this is effectively becomging a for profit site, I fear this place will take on a new (and lesser) focus, i.e how can money be made off this rather than providing a valuable service. I’ve seen it before in other ventures. As soon as money gets involved, that becomes the objective rather than the original intent of the site. It’s already started happening with talk of “customers” instead of visitors (not necessarily by Tim himself). I have little to no interest in a site that sees me as a potential revenue stream rather than an active contributor. I really hope this site doesn’t change because now that money is in play.

  2. 2
    Cougar says:

    I would like to see a weekly thread with a name like BubleBurst that is open forum. From that you will get plenty ideas to draw from this crowd!

  3. 3
    Ray Pepper says:

    Again I would like to see if a bubblehead were to be buying today who would they use? Themselves? 500 Realty? Red Fin? Another Agent? And why? Who would they use? Specific names please. Who would earn your business and is worthy enough to give up all YOUR commission money?

    If selling who would you dump your 4- 5% with? I will not even mention 6%. Thats long gone! And if you are paying it you are not a true bubble head. More like a bobble head.

    I just want to know WHO deserves your money and why?

    http://www.500Realty.net

  4. 4
    Angie says:

    What’s made SB appealing for me to read is that it’s a bunch of people trying to figure out a perplexing situation. Lots of information gets brought to the table and the discussions are good.

    In that spirit, I bring you a tidbit from IRS Publication 527, which addresses residential rental income and losses. (I know it’s offtopic, and my apologies, but I am not inclined to wade into the forums, so I’m going to stick it here at the top entry on the blog.)

    Occasionally people will pipe up about how their landlord is losing money hand over fist because there’s a big difference between the LL’s mortgage payment and the rent that’s charged. Doesn’t seem to make sense, but this bit from the Losses From Rental Real Estate Activities section is probably part of the picture:

    If you or your spouse actively participated [i.e., managed: chose tenants, set lease terms, arranged for repairs] in a passive rental real estate activity, you can deduct up to $25,000 of loss from the activity from your nonpassive[i.e., earned] income. This special allowance is an exception to the general rule disallowing losses in excess of income from passive activities. Similarly, you can offset credits from the activity against the tax on up to $25,000 of nonpassive income after taking into account any losses allowed under this exception.

    If you are married, filing a separate return, and lived apart from your spouse for the entire tax year, your special allowance cannot be more than $12,500. If you lived with your spouse at any time during the year and are filing a separate return, you cannot use the special allowance to reduce your nonpassive income or tax on nonpassive income.

    The maximum amount of the special allowance is reduced if your modified adjusted gross income is more than $100,000 ($50,000 if married filing separately).

    Basically, writing off the loss diminishes its bite. In an environment when your rental is appreciating at an astronomical pace, as in the last few years, this may make some sense, if the LL can swing the negative cash flow month by month. If/when that appreciation stops–well, better keep your eye on the rental listings, you may be moving soon.

    On a personal note, my legions of fans will be happy to know that our funky little rental came out totally in the black in 2007, so the aforementioned info does not apply to my situation. However, after spending an otherwise promising Saturday afternoon wallowing in tax prep, I couldn’t help but share the joy and wonder of the tax code far and wide. Hope y’all had a prosperous 2007 and that 2008 treats you kindly, too.

  5. 5
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    “Let’s keep the comments to this post on the topic of how Seattle Bubble can improve.”

  6. 6
    Geode says:

    I know this is the Seattle bubble. But you might consider compiling statistics for the neighboring counties. I expect this would be new forums to set up, but its an additional path running parallel to the one you are already on. I have yet to find a good unbiased site for Pierce county.

  7. 7
    Lanny Poffo says:

    One thing I would like “back” is the related blogs column. This feature has been removed with the re-design, and I liked being able to browse directly to other Seattle RE blogs directly from this site….

  8. 8
    david losh says:

    Welcome!
    It’s hard to know what to do. You own this blog and spend the time. You should be compensated. The problem as I see it is that you started here as a man apart. You saw a wrong and went to right it. Then you had the flying monkeys attacking the Seattle Real Estate Professionals until they, and the Rain City Guide folks came over here. Now it’s all kind of mixed together, everybody trying to get a piece of the action, whatever action you’ve got.
    So what have you got? For me you pointed out something that I kind of knew but could never articulate. There are no Real Estate agents anymore. Real Estate sales is making aluminium siding reps look like legitimate business professionals.
    Aside from that you don’t have much more to offer. The charts and graphs don’t mean anything in the world of Real Estate. There are too many fingers in the pie. The government, the banks, the investors, and the corporate principles can change the market place on a dime. You’re seeing it now.
    You are just another cog in a wheel of propaganda. You’ve become what you were ranting about. The cheer leaders on one side and the nay sayers on the other.
    So what are you going to bring to the table? Why would I trust you? I could trust you before as a man apart, on his own dime, righting a wrong; but today? That’s the question. What would I be paying you for? What’s your demographic going to be once your being paid?
    I’m just saying…

  9. 9
    david losh says:

    The gravatar thing isn’t working again, Let’s see if this gets it.

  10. 10
    whats my name says:

    I think the Seattle Bubble could incorporate a sort of financial information “Craigslist”. For example, I can’t find my copy of “How to Survive The Coming Crash” (copyright 1982), but I’ll be someone here has got a copy.

  11. 11
    patient says:

    With Seattle Bubble you stumbled onto a demand that wasn’t properly satisfied anywhere else. The demand of buyers to know if they were potentially buying into a price bubble. The astronomic prices and difficulties to purchase a home for a middle class buyer with conservative means lead people to wonder but all they saw was propaganda in the opposite direction. In comes Seattle Bubble as the only source that provides information that is directed at buyers that is not tainted of seller bias. I think it’s hard to satisfy both the buyer and seller side so my advice would be to stick to the buyers. Don’t worry you will get the seller side as well since they are nervous about what you are saying…Personally I would not trust that anything real estate agents or their websites are saying (Ira excluded) is not tainted by their own interrest to sell. The problem is that if you don’t know everything yourself as a buyer an agent does have the information you need but you will most likely not get objective answers. There by a potential demand should exist for more buyer info. So, what else do you need to know as buyer?

    – What areas fit my requirements?
    – What areas or overvalued vs. undervalued?
    – What builders are good values? What are the common issues to look for?( For example is a Buchan or Chaffey worth the premium of a Centex )?
    – Are there any good incentives or price reductions out there?
    – Is anyone having any luck with lowballing builders?
    etc, etc

    Keep it a mix of hard data and reader input as the current Seattle Bubble operates. Let readers participate with ratings and comments.

    And finally, sometimes you don’t know what you want until you see it. You have a loyal and active crowd to test on.

  12. 12
    jon says:

    Tim, since you want more people to visit this site, you have to make it a place where they know that there will be information on your site before it appears in other places. Maybe you could do interviews with people like real estate figures such as Yun instead of just responding to articles from them. Other than that you could develop analyses that go beyond what shows up in the paper. The historical charts are nice, but people are also looking for more localized information about price, sales, foreclosure, etc. trends, down to the zip code level.

    I don’t know how long you expect to stay with the concept of this site, but the downward trend isn’t going to last forever. The value of this site goes beyond the direction of the trend. It is a nice place to exchange information about what is going on in the market.

  13. 13
    Tom says:

    I’m not sure if it’s something your blog can help with, but I would really like to see real buyer’s agents around here. My wife and I have been renting since moving to Seattle 3 years ago, but we owned a house back in Boston before coming out here. And we found it through a buyer’s agent who lived up to the name. He told us all about what was wrong with houses, what the price should be, helped show us comparables, and helped us do a reasonable deal.

    When we were looking out here, though, he tried to help us find a buyer’s agent out here. There seemed to be practically none. The lady he found for us was certainly nice, but did not seem to have nearly the same level of skepticism about the seller’s side of things as our Boston buyer’s agent did.

    So if there’s a way you could help readers find true buyer’s agents when they do decide to buy, and/or help grow the community of true buyer’s agents, it would certainly be a big help. If negotiations over a selling price were done in a more adversarial manner instead of having cheerleaders egg on the buyer, house prices might not go insanely high so easily.

  14. 14
    vomitingdog says:

    I like socketsite.com looking at the central SF market one property at a time with tipsters writing in about any reductions on the market. Maybe the same is missing in Seattle. It’s sure missing in Vancouver.

  15. 15
    sunsplint says:

    Hi Tim,

    The bubble might need to be revamped to become the “bottom”.
    Finding the bottom in the real estate market and its subsequent rebound (true rebound, not false) will be a difficult piece of economic forecasting. Its probably a little outside the scope of your background and education (no offense intended).

    You did indeed provide a forum as it has been mentioned previously for people wandering around and listening to the stories about pretty pink ponies. We really all bonded here because we were all sick of being lied to and manipulated by the powers that be and the unscrupulous REbots.

    Now we are satiated on the fact that we were right to be skeptical about housing prices going up for double digits forever. I remember a friend pooh poohing my alarm over thier purchase or a house that was “worth” much less then what they paid for it. I actually heard how he was going to double his money in a couple of years..

    Im glad the bubble is deflating and things are adjusting back to thier normal levels. Its unfortunate that deflation will be bumpy and somewhat unpredictable. Finding the bottom will be a simple calculation of the old wage to rent ratio, which I still believe is the best indicator that houseing prices are in line with ordinary market pricing.

    I still believe that the tax changes from a few years back that allow houses to be bought and sold over a two year period without a capital gains tax penalty has contributed in ways that hasn’t truly been understood or defined in the current bubble. I don’t know how this will play out in the current cycle or if there will be a fast up tick in prices during the next boom. Its never been an option before in prior years data, so it may be something for the economists to consider.

    As for the blog, its needs a new focus. The lies sustaining the bubble have finally been defeated, and truth has been served by your hard work and commitment.

    I thank you for your time and wait patiently for your next endeavor!

  16. 16

    What would i like to see?
    For one, contests. First one to guess the date when the inventory hits 10,000. Prize to be Seattle Bubble t-shirt, which Ray Pepper will pay for.
    And discussions of particular neighborhoods, which ones are especially overpriced, which ones are nice but often overlooked…
    And, I’m fascinated by the relationship between SoCal prices and Seattle prices: exploring whether that 18 month lag time ( or whatever it is) continues to hold up.

  17. 17
    Pierce Anon says:

    The strength of the site is to collect and boil information down to something that the readers can grasp. I especially like your monthly graphs.

    I would think that more ongoing statistical collection of associated economic impact from the bubble would be interesting, ie, charts of :the unemployment rate in WA, cumulative count of employers announcing layoffs in the Puget Sound area, foreclosures, monthly car sales.

    As another posted it would also be interesting to develop and publish statistics/predictions showing when the bottom has been reached–realizing that this can only be known in a general sense. For those of us who have been holding off on buying, knowing where the bottom is would be very valuable.

  18. 18

    …and when he bottom has been reached, and prices start to rise, perhaps then it would be wise to rename the blog, maybe to the “Now is a great time to buy!” blog.

  19. 19
    Tacoma says:

    Seattle Bubble should follow the lead of the Irvine Housing Blog and profile individual local properties that illustrate the beginning of the collapse.

    Pierce County has some interesting properties. And they’re easy to research at the county website. Searching recorded documents for trustee sales and then related mortgage documents and sales history, turns up interesting stuff.

    Last week I happened to walk by 3637 Ainsworth Ave in Tacoma. It’s a boarded-up, run down place. Out of curiosity, I searched the public documents, and it appears the place was a rental property that was refinanced about a year ago with a 40 year mortgage at 10% interest from a subprime lender. Now it’s in foreclosure. I Googled the lender and they had declared bankrupty in August.

    It’s interesting to see specific examples of irrational exuberance, or perhaps just greed and stupidity.

  20. 20
    Sniglet says:

    The constantly updating stats on inventory are nice, but it would be really nice to have them shown in a chart form, that can be clicked on to easily get a view of the trend data going back for decades. Adding even more regularly updated stats (and charts) for other kinds of market heatlh stats (e.g. percentage of local mortgage applications that are approved, or are option arm, etc.) would be great.

  21. 21

    the Tim,

    I fully respect your move to go self employed. I really think you’re onto something here. There is an unsatiated need for ‘real / non-influenced’ information in this market and people are looking for a place where this can be found. (you can’t even search ‘housing bubble’ on google without the results being influenced by page rank or alike… which can be purchased… therefore the results are somewhat biased by the big spenders). That said, a solid collection of anecdotal data points sure would help real people find real information while they try to piece together this seemingly random puzzle of economic data.

    People who are reading this are not your average pineapple sellers. They are reading about realestate (and the economy) and trying to figure out what the ^^%) is going on. You’ve collected a motley crew of readers who as a group, may be able to piece together what to do here.

    I don’t think the Seattebubble’s answer should be, “don’t buy anything until 2010”. With all due respect, this post would be last time I’d look at this page if that were the case. I think there are builders out there that on the verge of bankruptcy that ‘must sell’, there are a properties out there that got lumped in with the rest that are now getting ‘too cheap’ and there are buyers out there who are very well qualified to capitalize on a market that is beaten down.

    America always finds a way to make a comeback. If you believe we are going to see the Great Depression II, then yes, don’t buy a house now, otherwise, we’re likely going to be looking back at the next couple of months as a missed opportunity to buy at a discount. I guess the low risk option would be to rent, but then again, who here thinks that the government is going to let the homeowners hang out to dry on this one? … there are a lot of tailwinds and support nets before the great deppression II hits… any of which could prevent it from happening. Go ahead and bet again America… good luck with that.

    Lots of folks here feel pretty good about themselves everytime they find an article that confirms ‘they were right… there IS a housing bubble’. woopty doo… old news people.

    I agree with Patient:

    “- What areas fit my requirements?
    – What areas or overvalued vs. undervalued?
    – What builders are good values? What are the common issues to look for?( For example is a Buchan or Chaffey worth the premium of a Centex )?
    – Are there any good incentives or price reductions out there?
    – Is anyone having any luck with lowballing builders?
    etc, etc

    Keep it a mix of hard data and reader input as the current Seattle Bubble operates. Let readers participate with ratings and comments.

    To me, this blog brings the opportunity to collect ‘real people’s experiences’ not just a bunch of horny renters that didn’t get laid in the last housing bubble.

  22. 22
    AmazedRenter says:

    1) In addition to inventory tracker, add ‘median asking price.’ This will tell us what subset of the market is selling. With the median around $430k, and every house around me asking $500k for a shack, I’m led to conclude that only the condos and shacks are selling. Of course, I’d know for sure once we added median price to the tracker :).

    2) I’d love to see features on Seattle houses, just like on bubbletracking.blogspot.com; this will make the slump real, and provide hands-on evidence of the indulgences of the past as well as current realities.

    Thanks for all the hard work, and good luck in the world of self-employment.

  23. 23
    softwarengineer says:

    KEEP IT SIMPLER

    A lot of your articles are way too long, sometimes creating confusion in how to respond to the convoluted nature of some them [unless they’re just too long, with the same idea repeating itself unnecessarily, but could have been shortened anyway]. Remember the basic graphic artist’s rule for website management: “if we don’t need to read it, cut it out”.

    I caught some distrust from some of the bloggers on your “advertised and paid website nature”; although I have noticed you encourage both sides of a debate, yet you still make it clear, you still fight for the little guy, in my opinion.

    A lot of your blog centers on the fall of real estate in Seattle and keep that up as it worsens. Add some solutions though in the mean time, like buying foreclosures cheap or better ways to save money renting or buying cheap. Here’s an example: I’ve noticed a lot of restaurants thinning out lately with the housing recession, yet sites like fishbowl at Mitzels, Black Angus, Country Buffet, Dukes Chowder House, Red Robin, RAM, etc, etc all offer buy one dinner get one free on the web…a great way to save on entertainment costs, yet help keep the struggling service economy going too. Perhaps an article or two on the merits of shopping for food at places like WINCO and COSTCO? The best place to get a cheap laptop? Etc, etc, etc….

  24. 24
    SeattleMoose says:

    There are a LOT of people (developers, RE agents, etc.) who would love to see this site go away. Since Seattle is just nosing over into the fall your site will continue to be a great asset and source of information for anyone who wants the raw truth about what is going in Seattle RE. I see your site as a counterweight to all the happy talk from the RE industry, who should never be quoted for anything due to the obvious conflict of interest. But since they pay for their ad space……

    Your blog has saved a lot of people from making the biggest financial mistake of their lives.

    You are truly an unsung hero.

    Bottom line…. stay the course.

  25. 25
    SeattleMoose says:

    As far as how to improve the only thing I recommend is more real data in the discussions (sort of like the Comp Killer thread). As things start heading down it would be nice to keep track of not MOM or YOY data, but data that reflects fall from peak prices. The MOM and YOY data may give one a sense of direction but one has to keep the peak firmly in view in order to determine just how far one still has to climb down the mountain. My biggest fear is that you get “bought out” by those very agencies that would benefit the most from the truth being submerged once again.

    The conundrum is that the bad guys have the money and the good guys…don’t. And how long can you devote all the time and resources to keeping this site going essentially “for free”? I hope that some well off benefactor recognizes the merit of what you are doing and provides you with a steady income/contract independent of any money from the very industries that would turn your stie into a big RE/Mortgage advertisement and hence, muzzle “opposition”.

    Aren’t there any MS millionaires out there who want to do some public good?

    If protecting people from the biggest financial disaster of their lives is not a worthy cause…. then I don’t know what is.

  26. 26
    david losh says:

    Again, I’m not disappointed by the web site; you had a couple of comments about buyer agents. Even at the height of the mania there were some incredibly under priced properties on the market. In the Real Estate world there is a guy named Mike Ferry who encourages agents to under value properties to get quick sales. Some times it works, some times it doesn’t. He in turn encourages price reductions rather than marketing. The strategy was to get those multiple offer situations.
    I actually heard and saw Real Estate Professionals encouraging buyers to get involved with multiple offers; now there’s foder for a lawsuit. There again those situations were created by under valueing a property, deliberately. These agents would rather put buyers at risk of over paying rather than go out and make offers.
    So maybe more buyer resources are an answer.

  27. 27

    Oh I don’t think you’d have to get rid of the name “bubble.” Our bubble has a long way to go on the way down and then when we’re at the bottom, we can watch for signs of values bubbling up again. Real estate/mortgage lending are cyclical.

    The word bubble could mean lots of things. The domain name is relevant.

    Go ahead with the ads; they don’t bother me.

    As for content, I would like to see more reporting from the trenches: What is really going on out there in the real estate offices, the builder plats, the mortgage companies…I try to add to this on the forum when relevant, S-Crow helps. I’d love to see more anonymous (or not) reporting from those that can tell us what the heck is going on at a hyperlocal level.

    I also like it when you summarize and link to stories from other MSM reporters in newspapers that I don’t always read, and I love the stats.

  28. 28
    Kodiakbear says:

    Hi Tim — I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months because we’re planning on moving to Seattle this summer. I agree with Ira Sacharoff’s comment (#16) and would like to see discussions of neighborhoods, which ones are overpriced and which ones are undervalued or overlooked. Also agree with patient (#11) and would like to know more about builders — good ones and bad ones (if it’s possible to print that information without a lawsuit coming your way). And lastly, I think SeatleMoose has summed it up for me in his comment #24 — you’re an unsung hero. I think there’s still a great need for the information you have been providing, especially for newbies like myself. Please keep it up — thanks, and good luck on your new endeavors.

  29. 29
    Runs With Scissors says:

    On a serious note, I think is really is important to have a counterpoint to every RE site. With the RE industry driven by commission and transaction volume, there obviously is bias in those forums or company sites that promote selling and buying, and that the assumption of a mortgage as an investment pays higher dividend than any other investment. I think Seattle Bubble has provided some pretty irrefutable data that contradicts much industry potificating and outright deception. Despite what some folks have called “negative” reporting, I think it has done a good job showing balance to an overall emotional decision-making process, and a different perspective not offered elsewhere. The fact that the Real Estate classified section is larger than the National, International, and Local news sections COMBINED in the Seattle Times merits counterpoint and analysis.

    I also have to praise you for having a pretty specific field of analysis as well. I find it pretty interesting when looking at the overall Seattle Rain Real Estate blog main page, and find subjects such as who has the best pizza delivery, the weather, or professional sports team rants….and that relates how exactly?

    On the humor side of things I would love to see some crazy listings specifically pointed or called out in a “What Were They Thinking?” side bar or landing page. I still get a kick out of the Pacific Northwest Living insert in the Seattle Times with the RE listings and the home review they often have; its a completely different world from where I live. I do enjoy the “great investment potential”, “ground-level opportunity”, and “great starter home” ads; I really think calling such properties out would really help send a message to the agent and owner that they need a reality check ;-)

  30. 30
    joker says:

    the periphery of a bubble rests on the fundamental ground. this site should guide people from the height of the bubble and attempt to estimate the eventual appropriate valuation of homes, possibly comparing similar homes in different areas. It’s remarkable to me that the same 4b2b 2000sf house could cost $800k in seattle, $400k in everett, and $150k in detroit.
    It is also a chore for many people to continally track house listings in an area as they undergo asking price reductions over time. maybe you could database this into your website.

  31. 31
    Cougar says:

    With all these great ideas please keep in mind the following –

    Is Your Blog Exposing You to Legal Liability?

    CYA!

    Words of wisdom – leave your Blackberry home when going to dinner with your wife and NEVER take your laptop to bed! ;)

  32. 32
    EconE says:

    Censorship of Ray Pepper

  33. 33
    MisterBubble says:

    Tim, as someone who has been reading this blog for years, my advice is that you need to do your best to ignore the input of people like angie, johhnybigspenda and david losh. These people would love it if you turned the site into Rain City Guide 2.0 — “constructive commentary” on real estate that has no teeth, and does nothing to counter the local, “professional” echo chamber.

    We don’t need another Rain City Guide. We don’t need “constructive” commentary. We don’t need nicey-nice, plays-well-with-others, milquetoast pseudo-analysis of the local market.

    I started reading your site because it was honest, and it had an edge. If the professionals take over, I won’t have much incentive to keep reading.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    I agree with some of the comments you listed in the post. I think critiques of the press coverage are uninteresting at this point. Its not news to anyone here that the coverage is biased, or that the NAR cannot be trusted. A roundup of biased coverage coupled with sarcastic commentary just does not do much for me.

    What I do think would be useful is analysis of actual properties (similar to the irvinehousingblog.com). Here are a few reasons:

    A. It is the right time to begin tracking specific properties in Seattle. We are starting to see rollbacks, and properties staying on the market for a long time. Rental listings vs. sale listings are very interesting.

    B. It provides new information that is not available elsewhere. That is, no one is featuring/tracking specific properties and how they sell (or don’t) over time. In some sense, this ‘gut level’ feel for recent deals is what you hope to get from a realtor, but in a declining market realtors are going to soft sell the numbers. The work that the irvinebubbleblog cite does to dig up the sales and financing history (I don’t even know how they get that data) is a real value add. You won’t see it in the newspaper, and I wouldn’t know how to find it myself.

    C. It is specific to Seattle. Coverage of national news, trends, etc is already done by other blogs.

    D. It is useful and constructive. People who watch a stream of properties go buy get a sense of the direction of the market, what is out there, and how demand for it is changing. If someone eventually goes to buy, they will be more informed for having watched properties sell over time.

    E. It is more analytical. The more you focus on factual specifics (this is how much a house is listed for, its cost per square foot, this is what comparable rentals are, this is what it sold for in 2004, this is the income/downpayment requirement at the listed price) the more informative and less snarky the blog, and its comments, are likely to be. More informative and less snarky would be useful.

  35. 35
    Ben says:

    I love this website because it discusses the real estate market in a local context. This is what keeps me coming back.

    I think that providing tools and information for people who decide that they want to buy would be helpful. Knowing that prices are bubbly, and using data from this site, somebody who is convinced that they want to buy a place would be armed with the data to do so, as well as making contacts in the industry. Reading this blog for a year, I now know of people in the industry who I feel like I could go to for a purchase.

    The name of the blog is great because it keeps people who are curious about the bubble in this area coming to the blog. The discussion once they get here does not have to be a renter fueled homehowner hatefest though – I see enough of that on Ben Jones’s blog, and it gets old after a while. The data analysis and local context of this blog keep me coming back.

  36. 36
    Orion says:

    I agree with others that’s it’s constructive and fascinating to analyze specific homes/properties that are on the market, you’ve done that a bit in the past. How about a post occasionally like the Housing Bubble Blog’s “Local Market Observations” where the readers can give stories about houses in their neighborhoods, or people they know who are affected by the bubble. I guess more stories from the trenches is where I’m going. Refuting the local cheerleader spin is necessary, and keep that up, but more news from your readers and analysis of actual properties would be a welcome addition. Be careful though, some blogger in Florida (I think) is being sued by a developer there for negative comments about the development. Who knows if the suit has merit, but that’s something to keep in mind.

  37. 37
    one.person says:

    I would like to see more of the same, but expanded to include the surrounding counties, particularly Snohomish and Pierce. Data analysis is always good, and data that have a spatial component is better represented spatially through maps. I wouldnt change things around too much, I like the site, just give me more of the same….thanks!

  38. 38
    singliac says:

    I just moved here 8 months ago. When I was looking for a place to move with my family I stumbled upon this site. Thank you Tim! The best part of the site is that it caught me up quickly about the neighborhoods and the puget sound in general. This has been a great educational tool for me as a recent college grad. If I would have bought when I moved here, I’d already be out of some serious cash. That being said, here are my suggestions:

    – consider a few topics that could be revisited weekly; this type of structure would get me more excited to check the blog (hooray, it’s Mortgage Monday!). The site should still be spontaneous, but these would be fun. I love the weekly press wrapup.

    – How about a “Dear Tim” column? You could have a separate email address for people to ask questions. I’ve had a few questions, but felt a little intimidated.

    – How about some sort of rent vs buy calculator that takes into account varying appreciation rates. I haven’t ever been satisfied with existing calculators because they make you choose an interest rate for 30 years. What if it’s expected to go down for a few years and then back up to a normal rate?

    Keep it up Tim.

  39. 39
    david losh says:

    Thank you Mister Bubble,
    No one has ever suggested that I play well with others before. I’m kind of misty about the compliment. I don’t play nice; never have. I’m in the Real Estate business kid.
    All the cheer leader stuff is something new. This blog brought that out. Agents are trying to be all things to all people rather than take a stand on where the market is heading. The business has deluded itself into a mind set of get along, go along.
    Business is war, it’s not for the faint of heart. You either win or lose. The go alongs lost. You don’t want to listen to me, fine, but this is my world. I’ve been on the internet since 1995. My President told me this is a free country and the information super highway was my right.
    The fact that today Real Estate Pofessionals are trying to make the Real Estate Business an Amozon, Expedia, E-Trade experience is reprehensible. I’m just here to figure out if that’s where this blog is headed.

  40. 40
    Pistol Pete says:

    How about adding an inventory tracker for Thurston County?

    We wannabe just like the big boys in Sno, King and Pierce.

  41. 41
    Ray Pepper says:

    Just a comment to # 32………………

    Censorship of Ray Pepper. Our message will be heard and it will only get louder my friend. You will be happy to know our advertisers have elected to restart our commercials on CNBC centering around mad Money with Jim Kramer and the Closing Bell of Wall Street each day.

    It will appear everyday in Tacoma Zone and Seattle Zone of over 160,000 homes. Go ahead and Censor me, but never the ability for the consumer to hear there is an alternative to the Real Estate Agency Madness.

    See you at the Home Show!

    http://www.500Realty.net

  42. 42
    singliac says:

    David,

    Why is it reprehensible to make the real estate business into an Amazon or Expedia? I’m perfectly capable of shopping for books and flights without a store clerk or travel agent. Am I too stupid to shop for a house? What type of degree do you need to become an agent? Oh yeah, no degree.

    For somebody who has “been on the internet since 1995”, you should know that one of the greatest virtues of the web is the ability to put information in everyone’s hands. The MLS is now available to all of us. Why would I trust a business school dropout to help me with the biggest purchase of my life. If I need help, I’ll go to an agent like Ira, not some deluded protectionist.

    You are right that business is a war. You just happen to be losing.

  43. 43
    local Realitor says:

    singliac=know-it-all.

  44. 44

    Singliac,
    Education is not the issue. You may not like or trust David, and you may have great reasons, but the fact that he’s a business school dropout shouldn’t have any bearing. I know lots of real estate agents, and some of the most untrustworthy, sleazy, manipulative shysters agents happen to be the mot educated.

  45. 45

    …that’ll teach me to type without glasses…what i meant to say was that some of the most untrustworthy, sleazy, manipulative shyster agents also happen to be among the most educated.

  46. 46
    singliac says:

    I don’t know anything about David Losh’s educational background. I may have laid on the invective a bit too thick. I apologize if I’ve offended anyone.

    Let me clarify my point: In the past, the RE agents held all the cards. We also paid them a lot in commission.

    Now that we have access to data we don’t have to rely solely on the word of our agent (who may or may not be a scheister, and may or may not be well-educated). I don’t think this eliminates the need for RE agents. I hope that the result will be that agents will have more incentive to work in the best interest of their clients.

  47. 47
    Ben says:

    Ray Pepper,

    I don’t have a problem with your message normally. Leaving your company website link in your sig is OK. But your defensiveness is starting to look like noise.

    My advice is to look like the bigger man and just ignore people who dig at you, and to make sure that you don’t appear too gaudy when you spread your message. If you want to publicize your company, start your own blog. But please don’t use defense against trolls as an opportunity to advertise yourself here. I for one am starting to get sick of it.

  48. 48
    Herman says:

    Real Estate is a racket. The only analysis I’ve been able to get about the Seattle housing market has been from those who are in on it; those who would benefit from positive news. I like seattlebubble because it’s objective analysis.

    Or I should say, that’s what I want out of seattlebubble. I don’t want it to be a negative gloatfest either. I want true objectivity.

    My experiences with Realtors has been terrible. They just want the transaction to happen and aren’t interested in whether I’m getting the best deal or not. One time in Queen Anne I offered $850,000 on a house. The realtor at Windermere was pushing me to meet an $890,000 counteroffer, telling me it was a solid deal. I chose not to, because I had done thorough research and comps and thought I knew better.

    Four weeks later and the list price was reduced to $839,000. It’s still for sale today, 6 months later, at that price. That realtor would have cost me at least $50,000 in value.

    Anyway, that’s why I need good, objective information. Because I’m not going to get it from a realtor, and being poorly informed can be very costly.

  49. 49
    Locust says:

    Now that the market decline is becoming more of the conventional wisdom, one useful focus for Seattle Bubble would be as the place to go for unbiased analysis tracking the market. Sort of a skeptical counterpoint to Rain City Guide, which is the realtor point of view on the same subject.

    The hard choice is whether to change the editorial tone to seem less snarky and more objective. Snarky is much more fun. But it does tend to lower the credibility of the site to a broader audience, in my opinion. But lots of snarky commenters, no problem….

  50. 50
    laxtosnoco says:

    I like the idea of tracking properties as suggested by Chris (#34). To cut down the workload and ensure neighborhood diversity, you could have readers submit examples.

    Losh should have his own column (suggested title: RE Notes from the alien spaceship)

    Pepper’s self-promotion needs to end. Unless he wants to become a paid advertiser.

  51. 51
    biliruben says:

    Well if you aren’t going to take seriously my idea regarding celebrity death matches, I will just request more sex. Also violence. We definitely need more violence. I haven’t been watching TV lately and I miss my sex and violence.

  52. 52
    blueskitten says:

    What about some investigative reporting of your own? Statistics, charts, or number-crunching are great, but only so valuable as a stand-alone resource. If you wanted to get a real feel with what was motivating the current market, you could combine that with some real “feet to street” work, talking with the people who are ultimately deciding what sales occur at what price (the buyers and sellers), you might really have something unique going. Currently the only people who have access to both the decision-makers and the statistics are realtors — and usually all we get from them are the “pink pony” statements that you’re consistently rebutting against.

    I don’t know how this would make money, but maybe herein lies the problem of why the “real” media doesn’t do genuine investigative reporting anymore.

  53. 53
    biliruben says:

    How about “Laughable listing of the week”. Every Monday give some over-priced flip or remodel some free publicity, but at the same time open it to ridicule and derision.

    Of course you might want to consult a lawyer first. ;)

  54. 54
    Cougar says:

    Always something to learn about – Trump University Foreclosure Investing Seminar – Way’s to help foreclosure victims while earning an income. Hmmmm. Tim you will have plenty of areas to grab our attention. Now get to work!

  55. 55
    singliac says:

    I like the laughable listing idea. That would be fun. Here’s another fun idea:

    Post pictures of a run-down ugly house. Then we can try to come up with listing descriptions using our most creative realtoresque euphemisms.

  56. 56
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    If I were to recommend a single thing, it would be a new running item in a debate fashion between ‘experts’. Slate Magazine runs very similar features sometimes, and I find them to be interesting.

    Ideally, you and perhaps another bubble-head would take one side, and you would enlist a couple real estate cheerleaders on the other side. Every month or so, you could have a sequence of posts, which are essentially responses to each other. The posts should have a general topic like “Will there be a spring bounce, and what will it look like”. Both sides can then argue it out.

    A couple of keys though. First, predictions should generally be limited to the short-term verifiable kind. This way, in June you can point back to a sequence in March and declare a winner (if there is one). Second, it would be great if these posts were coalesced together somehow. Perhaps a new debate section, and each debate (even if it spans a couple weeks) will get a single link, but each debate post would get its own page. Third, you’d probably want to set up some debate ground rules. No name calling and such. Since you’ll be hand picking the experts, this should be easy to enforce (as opposed to hundreds of random people posting).

  57. 57
    rose-colored-coolaid says:

    Regarding #50 by laxtosnoco, I think he is right that you should charge the professionals for promotion. It wouldn’t have to be very complicated. How about anyone who wants a link in their name pays $5 a month to activate it. For another $5 a month, you get a url signature like what Peppers keeps doing.

    I don’t know what pricing you should pick, but it sure seems like these guys get a lot of free advertising and it’s not unreasonable for them to pay a small fee.

  58. 58
    Garth says:

    Make sure you talk to a good lawyer and get things set up properly to protect yourself and family. Look at the worst possible case to evaluate your risk.

    The ads now make it pretty clear it is a for profit venture (donations were the start, though it can be argued they are used only for costs) as a result your legal liability / risk of being sued has increased on a couple of fronts and you need a good frank lawyer to get going and make sure you are protected and ready.

    Posting individual listings with comentary is going to make it hard to work with the NWMLS or other realtors who are members of the NWMLS.

  59. 59
    SunTzu says:

    “EconE // Feb 10, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Censorship of Ray Pepper”

    I second that……..

  60. 60
    Dennis Calvert says:

    Went to his website. Seems to me the only people who would not want to hear about Pepper and his 500 Realty deal is Agents. Why would anyone use anyone other then Red Fin or Pepper. Give it up bozos. Your becoming dinosaurs. Speak Loudly Pepper.

    GIDDY UP!

  61. 61
    Denis says:

    Could you please link to earlier posts from later posts of the same topic? That would be quite helpful.
    for example: post about Neighborhood Inventory should link to last post about YoY inventory.

  62. 62
    NostraDamnUs says:

    To cease to exist.

  63. 63
    deejayoh says:

    Nostradamnus – you can just cease to visit. that would work just as well…

  64. 64
    Affluent Bitter Renter says:

    So, NostraDU, how many “investment” properties are you trying to sell?

  65. 65
    notabull says:

    “To cease to exist.”

    NostraDamnU, that’s easy, just don’t come here any more. Then suddenly, as if by magic, the website will no longer exist for you. Websites aren’t like TV commercials you know – you can just stop coming here. It’s quite simple.

    Good luck with your flip, BTW.

  66. 66
    Matthew says:

    Nostra,

    Your significant other probably says the same thing about you!

  67. 67
    Affluent Bitter Renter says:

    “NostraDamnU, that’s easy, just don’t come here any more.”

    That’s not the problem – the problem is that we are poisoning the minds of innocent potential commission-payers, who might not understand that It’s Always A Great Time To Buy!

    For a preview of what we will soon be seeing in Seattle as an antidote to Seattle Bubble, there is a great new Clark County webpage:

    http://www.buynowclarkcounty.com/

    From the site:

    It’s a Great Time to Buy
    Today, buyers have greater opportunities than they have had in years.
    Prices have leveled off, or even declined in some areas, making this the best time to buy.
    Houses are staying on the market longer, creating a wider variety of choice for home shoppers.
    Mortgage interest rates are still very affordable and remain near historic lows at around 5.8 percent.
    Many builders are offering discounted financing packages and value-added incentives to purchase a new home.
    A wide range of financing options is available for consumers in all price ranges.
    The economy is solid and job creation is strong, which bodes well for future house price appreciation.

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