Some Local Home Listing Anecdotes

It’s been a while since I posted any anecdotal observations, so I think it’s time for a few.

Horray for condos!First up, the 8-unit condo/townhome complex in my neighborhood, which we have visited a few times before. Here’s the summary of the action in this complex of eight essentially identical units since 2005:

  • September 2005: Unit #5 listed for $274,950 (link)
  • October 2005: Unit #5 sold for $280,950 (link)
    18% more than the previous sale just 14 months prior
    +15.5% average YOY
  • October 2005: Unit #6 listed for $300,000 (link)
  • December 2005: Unit #6 sold for $300,000 (link)
    28% more than previous sale 4 years prior
    +5.8% average YOY
  • March 2006: Unit #3 sold for $293,000 (link)
    40% more than previous sale 4 years prior
    +8.26% average YOY
  • January 2007: Unit #6 listed for $350,000 (link)
    taken off the market without selling
  • April 2008: Unit #5 listed for $360,000 (link)

This latest listing has an asking price 20% higher than any unit in this complex has ever sold for, and 28% higher than this specific unit sold for just over two years ago. We’re talking Kenmore here, which is not exactly “close in,” but not really the boonies either, so this should make an interesting test of how soft the condo market is outside the downtown cores of Bellevue and Seattle.

Personally, I doubt they’ll get more than $320,000, if even that. They may well just pull it off the market when they can’t get their fanciful price. According to Estately, there are 47 condos on the market in the 98028 zip code right now (after eliminating duplicates). This townhome is priced higher than 78% of the competition, and for just $30,000 more, you could get a pretty nice view. Good luck friend, you’re going to need it.

The second anecdotal update is much shorter. Just a quick note to point out that the sellers of my favorite million-dollar home over on Avondale have dropped the price twice now since listing in December at $1,650,000: once to $1,590,000 in March, and again to $1,550,000 a few weeks ago.

They paid $1,275,000 in February last year, and if they don’t get more than $1,385,000, they won’t even make enough to cover agent commissions and excise tax. I have a feeling this will be sitting on the market even longer than the nine months it languished last time.

Update: May 13: Another 60k price drop on the Avondale Albatross, down to $1,490,000. That’s $160,000 in total price drops spread across 150+ days on the market. Coming up quick on that six-month mark…

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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
    david losh says:

    OK the first part of what I wrote was the back ground of Ticky Tacky Town Houses. I went to the planning meetings for about twenty years.

    Second set of paragraphs were how Town Houses were supposed to be a buffer between large towers of condo/apartment buildings with retail on the main level.

    So I edited to this set of points, but this comment really had good information when I started.

    Yes the prices will come down on town houses. The fire chief in the day said a fire in these, and this is where it all went sideways, in these clusters of town houses is indefensible. The police said they could not adequately patrol these neighborhoods if the city allowed these high concentrations of town houses. It’s a rat’s maze of driveways.
    The idea in the beginning is that these would be Condo Associations for some in house controls, but that got shot down pretty quick.
    OK dangerous circumstances, packed in housing, cheap construction; cause if you think it’s easy to be a Real Estate agent, what classes do you have to take to be a builder/developer? All of this adds up to shoddy construction on tiny pieces of dirt with no over sight, no board to decide to paint, or maintain. Now how much would you pay?

  2. 2
    Civil Servant says:

    On the subject of anecdotes and townhouses: Last night we checked on some houses we’re watching on Redfin — just as spectators, we obviously don’t anticipate buying anytime soon — and one has had 4 price changes totalling 18% since November 2007, is now at $350K. Early 1900’s construction, 2200 square feet on a 5000 square foot lot. It’s a nice house with some lovely details that we much prefer to granite and brass. Even last summer that price would have been unthinkable, though the owners are somewhat ahead of the game w/r/t aggressive pricing and I suspect it will sell soon. The line on townhouses is that most people don’t want to buy them, but that they can’t afford SFHs so they take what they can get. But when other SFH owners wise up and realize how low they have to go to move a property, wow, what’s going to happen to the townhouse market then? I suspect it will be a horror show by late this year, possibly even summer.

  3. 3
    alex says:

    What sucks is that there are no sales for a whole 2 years. True that 8 units is too small a sample, but near where I live, there’s many larger neighborhoods that have no sales in the past 6 months, sometimes more.

    It just sucks to buy (or sell) in this environment, because both parties will have a bad taste in their mouths, thinking they didn’t make as good a deal as it could have been.

  4. 4
    AMS says:

    That condo with the view is “pending,” so unless the current sale does not consummate, you could not buy that one. Other than the pending sale, I agree with your basic premise.

  5. 5
    The Tim says:

    Ok, yesterday when I wrote this, it was active on the market, and had been on the market for 240+ days, with 4-5 price drops. It was originally listed in the mid-to upper $400k range, and had most recently seen a price drop to the current price at the end of March.

    I guess that last drop finally snagged a buyer. If it sold at or near the list price of $390,000, that really sucks for the person trying to sell unit #B2 upstairs. They’re asking $35k more, have slightly less square feet and one less bedroom, plus they lack the large garden patio of the downstairs unit.

    The view 1 story up can’t be that much ($35k) better than at the ground floor (which is pretty stunning, even from the street).

  6. 6
    Buceri says:

    “It just sucks to buy (or sell) in this environment, because both parties will have a bad taste in their mouths, thinking they didn’t make as good a deal as it could have been.”

    Buying get a bit easier in this market if you are informed. You know things are going down. As the news spreads that prices are going down and the media can not longer spin it, it becomes self feeding. The exact reverse of “buy now or you’ll be priced out forever” takes over. It becomes “wait, it will go lower”, so nobody buys and prices drop even lower.

    Lack of cheap money, etc, accelerates the decrease.

  7. 7
    deejayoh says:

    There’s no lack of cheap money. The fed has seen to that. It’s just a matter of finding someone who will lend it to you!

  8. 8


    Living in apartment type living next to someone with super good hearing is a total curse.

    Its like working next to them in a cubicle office, all they do is complain about innocuos noise levels and drive you nuts. As a manger, how do I tell that type of total nuisance to go to Hades?

  9. 9
    Cari says:

    We recently bought a house in Mountlake Terrace and paid $322,000 ($13,000 less than asking). The exact same size house two doors down just went on the market for $405,000. I don’t think they’ve seen our sale hit the books yet. They are going to be disappointed when reality sets in. Fortunately for them, they originally paid $63,000 in the early 80’s and from the photos, it doesn’t appear that any updating has been done inside, except apparently they added two bedrooms downstairs, which must be the size of closets – so they should make out nicely even if they drop their price by 50 or 60,000.

  10. 10
    Buceri says:

    New home sales plunge to lowest level in 16 1/2 years, with biggest price fall in 38 years

    Thursday April 24, 10:16 am ET
    By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes plunged in March to the lowest level in 16 1/2 years as housing slumped further at the start of the spring sales season. The median price of a new home in March compared to a year ago fell by the largest amount in nearly four decades.

    The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes dropped by 8.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000 units, the slowest sales pace since October 1991.

    The median price of a home sold in March dropped by 13.3 percent compared to March 2007, the biggest year-over-year price decline since a 14.6 percent plunge in July 1970.

    The dismal news on new home sales followed earlier reports showing that sales of existing homes fell by 2 percent in March. Housing, which boomed for five years, has been in a prolonged slump for the past two years with sales and home prices falling at especially sharp rates in formerly boom areas of the country.

    For March, sales were down in all regions of the country, dropping the most in the Northeast, a decline of 19.4 percent. Sales fell by 12.9 percent in the Midwest, 12.5 percent in the Midwest and 4.6 percent in the South.

    In other economic news, orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell for a third straight month in March, the longest string of declines since the 2001 recession, while applications for unemployment benefits fell by 33,000 to 342,000.

  11. 11
    Nathan says:

    My favorite nearby flipper community just acquired a new “SOLD” sign for MLS: 28061386. Last sale: Nov 18, 2005 $390,000. Today’s asking price: $449,910. I can’t wait for the sale to hit the books so I can see what it went for.

    Note: There were two seemingly identical units for sale here, so I might have the MLS for the one that didn’t sell.

    Also, I got a kick out of the description, especially this little bit: “Perfect location near Cal Anderson park (and future light rail station), vibrant Pike/Pine Corridor, and rejuvenated Broadway areas.”

    I’d like to find this rejuvenated part of Broadway, because all I see are nail salons, cheap clothing stores and addled street junkies. And that vibrant Pike/Pine Corridor? It’s being torn down to build condos.

  12. 12
    Jackson Wallace says:

    Anyone who pays 390k, or over 250k for a townhome is an idiot, unless its near the beach in a town with nice weather. You can get SFhouses for 350k is parts of the city. Not great parts, but better than glorified apts. There’s a lot of delusion still rife in Seattle, people thinking they can sell their jacked-up craftsmans for 800k, but the mirror is beginning to crack, and we’ll see some pure joy before too long. I’m a buyer and I want to see pain. That’s what buyers who have credit and a down feel lifek these days, sellers. We’re sick of your greed, and we want to benefit from your declines.

  13. 13
    Jackson Wallace says:

    No offense, but Mountlake Terrace was going on average for 200-250k in 2002.Of course, there are homes in Shoreline etc that are worth squat and nice homes worth the money. But the general average for homes in shoreline that is now 300k, was 200k five or six years ago. Plus the weather this area has seen this year is sublime, and folks, dont move to everett or lynnwood, unless you want to get the rainiest part of the convergence zone. Seattle is so overblown. People used to want to get out of here.

  14. 14
    Olaf says:

    This price history tells a lovely tale of unrequited greed.

    Listing Price History
    Date Price Jan 30, 2008 $799,950
    Feb 27, 2008 $789,950
    Mar 04, 2008 $749,950
    Mar 17, 2008 $729,900
    Mar 26, 2008 $725,000
    Apr 03, 2008 $689,000
    Apr 12, 2008 $669,000
    Apr 17, 2008 $629,000
    Apr 22, 2008 $599,000

    I guess the seller was hoping the potential buyers wouldn’t notice the freeway out front.

    Seriously, though: A $200K price drop in two months? That’s what I call panicky.

  15. 15
    JohnDoe says:

    More ARM resets are on the way.. We will see more of these price drops in next months and years.. I guess I need to wait a bit more to buy my first house..

  16. 16
    The Tim says:

    AMS @ #4:

    That condo with the view is “pending,” so unless the current sale does not consummate, you could not buy that one. Other than the pending sale, I agree with your basic premise.

    Whoops. Looks like the sale didn’t go through after all. The $390k condo with a view is back on the market.

  17. 17

    […] (Kenmore) seems to be heating up. In April I mentioned a nearby townhome in an 8-unit complex that went up for sale at $360,000, 20% higher than any unit in the complex has ever sold for in the past, and a mere $30k less than a […]

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