Prices Flopping all Across the Eastside

Prices may be holding up somewhat in the neighborhoods close to downtown Seattle, but the Eastside apparently is not so lucky. With nearly eight “months of supply” the downward pressure is mounting on home prices east of the lake.

I’d like to highlight an excellent thread over in the forums, where prolific Seattle Bubble poster “EastSider” has been diligently digging through the listings to dig up dozens and dozens of flops on the Eastside.

Here are a couple of gems from the thread:

Bothell16624 38th Ave SE:
Sold June 2006 for $521,990
Currently Asking $449,950
On the market 100+ days

Kenmore19914 83rd Pl NE:
Sold December 2005 for $460,639
Currently Asking $410,000
On the market 350+ days(!!!)

Snoqualmie8075 Silva Ave SE:
Sold May 2006 for $369,500
Currently Asking $299,950
On the market 200 days

Bellevue16617 SE 31st St:
Sold October 2005 for $510,000
Currently Asking $519,900 (originally listed in March at $575,000)
On the market 150+ days

Bellevue1015 110th Ave SE:
Sold December 2006 for $740,000
Currently Asking $629,950
On the market 19 days

What kind of flops have you been seeing out there? Are there any neighborhoods where a return to 2005 prices is enough to convince you to jump in? Be sure to check out the original forum thread for many more examples from all over the Eastside.

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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
    Alan says:

    I’ll jump into the market when I see something I can afford that I would be happy living in for ten years or more.

  2. 2
    TheHulk says:

    I second that.

  3. 3
    Jackson Wallace says:

    I’ll jump in when prices revert to 2002 levels, and when the high level of option ARMs and Alt-As reset in this area. Then we’ll know how resilient we are. If Mission Beach in San Diego gets cheaper than close-in Seattle, then something is wrong.

  4. 4
    redneck_nerd says:

    All of these listings are still overpriced and going to fall more, as are the values of most of the housing in the Eastside area if not most of the Puget Sound area. Not everyone works in tech in the Eastside, and as the economy slows tech spending will too impacting more people in the area. Big techs like Microsoft are not immune from layoffs (although most people probably just job hop internally) and people leave the area for other jobs no matter the business.

    These listings and others doing the same are nothing special. There are some others doing the same until they are so stale they get pulled and relisted to reset the clock (as mentioned in other topics the NWMLS doesn’t actively police this). Then there are the ones that follow the foreclosure path.

    People are not pricing these to sell in this market, and are basing expectations on recent history not today’s market. Agents should probably be more aggressive in setting realistic customer expectations of today’s value for their property to sell sooner rather then later to get the sale done before the market drops further like has been happening with the stale listings.

  5. 5
    Chris says:

    I’m down with Alan as well.

    Tim, you missed the best part of the Kenmore house: starting price of $535K!!!

  6. 6
    vboring says:

    i’ll buy a place once i’m sure i’ll live in the area for at least 5 years and can justify throwing money away on maintenance, financing, taxes and w, s, g costs that i don’t have to worry about as a renter.

  7. 7
    Silver9 says:

    We have been shopping for a house in the Eastside for about a year now. So far we have put in two offers for homes around $400k (one in Lake Hills (Feb), the other in Newcastle (June)) – neither of which were accepted. :)

    Although I am dying to own a home again, my belief that market prices were unsustainable (not to mention outrageous) has kept us renting and trying to be patient.

    Through my own research and the flops thread above, I am puzzled by people that are now selling a home that was last sold in 2006 or 2007. Is there any consensus here on why a person would be reselling a home after only a few months?

    A home is such a massive purchase, Im puzzled by the reasons someone would be trying to sell so soon after a purchase, especially when they are asking the same or less than they paid. If the new listing price is $100k below the last purchase, can one make any assumptions on who is paying that loss? Does it imply a short-sale or a homeowner with a lot of equity?

  8. 8
    Smacking My Head In Disbelief says:

    Still wondering what the mindset of the average person in Seattle is regarding real estate? The blog capitolhillseattle has a post on the neighborhood data now being provided by Redfin.

    From the analysis of the list price vs. sold price trend lines:
    “Basically, the graphs show two indicators of price — what people have been paying recently and what they’re going to be asked to pay going forward. In the red home chart, you can see that the list line has crossed the sold line earlier this year than it did last year indicating that the average home for sale is more expensive than it was last summer. Now all you daytraders can reapply your technical analysis abilities to the real estate market.” if you want to check it out.

    (I’m not affiliated with capitolhillseattle.)

  9. 9
    deejayoh says:

    A quick analysis shows that 33 of the 683 SFH listings in Bellevue meet the criteria just based on asking price alone.

  10. 10
    Civil Servant says:

    Silver — the people who bought in 2006 and 2007 and are selling now assumed that prices would continue to go up at recent (very high, historically atypical) rates and that by reselling in 2008 they would be able to make a tidy profit. Reselling at a loss after only a few months would indicate either financial necessity or the belief that things are likely to get worse so why not cut your losses and get out fast.

  11. 11
    David McManus says:

    Maybe 2006 or 2007 WASN’T “a great time to buy”?

  12. 12
    Cheapseats says:

    I think it is tough to generalize individual reasons for selling. Some of the properties listed are subject to lender approval, coupled with moves, jobs etc…

    I have at least convinced my wife to at least look at east side houses. There are few areas there though that have the neighborhood character that we both like.

  13. 13
    Martin says:

    Everything is just fine. Look at this listing. it sold last month and now they are selling it for more than they paid. Ah the good old days! :)

  14. 14

    I know what you mean. A lot of homes on the eastside have things that people want, but the neighborhoods are a little soulless. Downtown Issaquah at least has history, as do downtown Renton and parts of Kirkland. Other places may have existed in years past, but everything indicating that seems to have been erased.

  15. 15
    Charles Dean says:

    I agree. People have alot of different reasons for selling. There are some that are selling because of resetting ARM’s, but most people buy a house when they move somewhere, then sell it when they need to move again.

    It’s not uncommon for people to buy a house together now before they are married. It’s also not uncommon for married people to try and buy a house to save the marriage, much in the same way they would try to have a kid to save it, or get married to save a failing relationship.

    Right now I have a listing that is someone who bought 3 years ago and they’re now getting divorced. If they could’ve ridden this out, then they would’ve been fine. But they’re splitting up and neither of them can afford the whole house payment on their own. So they’re going to have to probably sell for $100k less than what it appraised for in February in order to get out from under it.

    So there are alot of reasons why people might need to sell now only two years later. Life happens sometimes when you’re making plans.

  16. 16
    Civil Servant says:

    Sorry all — didn’t mean to be glib, I answered far more top level than I should have, somehow read the question as asking about sellers who *chose* to sell at a loss, not the entire set. Very true that many factors mentioned here can come into play. Another is a bad health diagnosis, which esp. for the uninsured can completely destroy one’s and one’s family’s financial standing. Even a family with great insurance may not be able to maintain monthly debt obligations if one earner must leave a job/the workforce for any length of time.

  17. 17
    deejayoh says:

    Couple of those I listed above appear to be short plats – but most are genuine flops. A couple are in Medina and Clyde Hill, which are sposta be “immune”

    But this one is my favorite. Purchased in May ’06 for $1.16mm. Now on the market for 31 days @ $850k. That’s a $310k loss for those doing the math. Agent’s description includes:

    Close to dynamic downtown Bellevue. Previously listed at $1,449,000. Call for appt to view

    As if the previous listing price was some magic elixir.

  18. 18
    Mike2 says:

    A friend of mine just mentioned that her parents have cut the asking price on their Kirkland home from $800’s to the $600’s.

    During the last down cycle the Eastside sunk considerably more than Seattle. Are we in for a repeat?

  19. 19
    Richie says:

    I have seen the listing prices in east side, west side, north side and south side are crumbling. Whatever the reasons, properties around the green lake area are still commanding huge premiums. Any thoughts?

  20. 20
    david losh says:

    These seem like very high prices for the Eastside. When did the Eastside get to be comparable to in city Seattle house pricing?

  21. 21
    david losh says:

    Comment #18 came up while I submitted my question.
    That one I can answer.
    Green Lake is like being a part of a club. If you are young with a heavey work schedule you come home, run the lake, and have a beer at Tangle Town (it used to be the Honey Bear Bakery).
    When people ask you where you live you have the Green Lake come back. You are a hip happening person.
    That is priceless and people pay for it.

  22. 22
    CCG says:

    “Leasing agents are having to contend more with the “shadow market,” an industry term that refers to the glut of unsold homes, condos and townhomes that have become rental property.”

    “Renters can thank the struggling real-estate market and its deflated housing prices, increased foreclosure rates and depressed rents on single-family homes, condominiums and apartments. Add to that the condominium-conversion flop, which has led to condos reverting to rental apartments.

    With a glut of cheap rental homes on the market, apartments are facing more competition than ever and many are sitting with empty units as vacancy rates soar.”

    But that’ll never happen here, just as every other phase of the bubble and bust never happened here.

  23. 23
    Mike2 says:

    I have seen the listing prices in east side, west side, north side and south side are crumbling. Whatever the reasons, properties around the green lake area are still commanding huge premiums. Any thoughts?

    There aren’t as many junkies hanging out in the park during this cycle?

  24. 24
    Civil Servant says:

    I don’t see any junkies when I run around the lake. But there is a particular stand of bushes where the falling-down-drunk homeless weirdly seem to like to pee, so from time to time I do see some – ahem – junk. David L. @ 20 is embarrassingly dead on. I have had to justify why I *don’t* drink in Tangletown. For those slightly older and more oriented to yoga than running, I think that Phinney Ridge is the prestige address (though several houses at various price points there have gone through major asking-price cuts in the last few months).

  25. 25
    deejayoh says:

    Renton(ish) flops below. Average loss per listing is $49k, average holding time is 1.8 years. One thing I notice on the east side is that the listings are cross-posted everywhere.

  26. 26
    lunatic fringe says:

    Wow, this is deja vu.

    Former Puget Sounder here, just checking in with the homies. We went through all the same discussions down here (Orange County) over a year ago. If you’re looking to buy now, you need your head examined (Silver9!!!!)

    Our median is currently 30% off the peak with no end in sight and a buttload of option ARM foreclosures still to come. You guys are no different. Just wait until you start seeing examples of homes with selling prices cut in half from the peak. Your little $50k decreases are nothing, yet.

    So please don’t try to catch a falling knife. It’s not like housing is going to hit bottom and take off again. You won’t miss it. There is no reason to buy until it’s very apparent the bottom is in. Rent a nice place and save some cash. Wait for it.

  27. 27
    masaba says:

    Actually, from what I have seen at Green Lake, you either run around it or push your double wide/double decker baby stroller with Pug attachment.

  28. 28
    Keith says:

    >> When did the Eastside get to be comparable to in city Seattle house pricing?

    Uh, when the professional jobs went to the Eastside. This is really the same model throughout the entire country – populations of the inner city falling, while populations of their corresponding metropolitan areas (i.e. suburbs) rising. Of course, work is only part of it – these same people also have kids to school: would they rather have their kids in the Seattle School District? Clearly the answer is no.

  29. 29


    I see that Mayor Nickels is making Seattle residents have their homes audited for waste by green inspectors; i.e., lights, furnace, laundry systems, etc….

    I suggest if the good mayor was really concerned about energy waste, he’d have all the 1920 museum homes in Seattle with 2×4 insulated frames replaced with 2×6 insulation to save mass energy.

    Let’s bring in the bull dozers and replace 100% of ’em, i.e., Green Lake museum homes, with energy efficient ones, that is if we’re really serious about this new Seattle area energy reduction mandate. They leak energy like crazy.

  30. 30
    JP says:

    Of course, work is only part of it – these same people also have kids to school: would they rather have their kids in the Seattle School District? Clearly the answer is no.

    I’ve seen this sentiment (suburban schools better than Seattle schools) expressed several times in the comments here and I am genuinely curious about it.

    I’m naive about this and don’t have kids in school, but it seems to me that the better schools will be where parents care about their kids’ education and have the motivation and resources to support it.

    I live in Seattle, and the people I know with kids are middle class economically, with college degrees. I know its a stereotype, but I assume they care about their kids’ education and have resources (time, money, etc.) to contribute. I imagine the same is true in the suburbs. So why are Seattle schools considered so inferior?

  31. 31
    Scotsman says:

    “why are Seattle schools considered so inferior?”

    Student test scores give a pretty good idea of the school system’s effectiveness. Seattle school’s students score lower than many in the surrounding districts. Dollars spent per student, average age of the facilities, etc. are also used to evaluate a school system, but in the end it comes down to the test scores of the graduating students. How good is the end product? There’s not much room for spin on what the student’s learn, even though there’s plenty to discuss about how they got to the end result.

  32. 32
    Ben says:


    I posit that the reason Eastside schools have a better reputation is that there is a way higher concentration of money on the Eastside, and this directly leads to more funding for the schools. Not to put a fine point on it, but I also see way fewer poor people on the Eastside. Rich people don’t like their kids going to school with poor people.

  33. 33
    k2000k says:

    Underfunded mainly, Seattle has had to shut down alot of their schools, while some public schools on the Eastside have gotten accolades like Bellevue or Newport High

  34. 34
    Civil Servant says:

    Eastside schools more than Seattle schools tend to encourage and partly fund its teachers going for the National Board certification. It’s arguable whether Board-certified teachers really are more qualified than those who are not — it’s a series of tests; you can game them — but when School A has twice or three times as many certified teachers as School B, that lends cachet. Most districts will pay certified teachers more than non-certified teachers, so there is also competition among teachers to obtain positions in districts that will help them fund the certification process — presumably those districts get a better field of candidates to choose from.

  35. 35
    David McManus says:


    Throwing money at education doesn’t do anything. If that was the case, Seattle would have the most superior schools in the nation. Can you name the last time in Seattle that a tax for schools was voted down? Perhaps those on the Eastside cut out a lot of the bureaucracy and focus on the kids more than Seattle?


  36. 36
    jon says:

    KIds’ performance on average is determined by the parents’ expectations. Parents on the Eastside see a high value in education, and are less likely on average to settle for low performance from their kids. People who have experienced less economic prosperity don’t have the time to spend on making sure the kids are doing a good job, and sometimes may even see less concrete value in education itself. The resulting weak scores then scare people away from those school districts, for fear that there is something wrong with the schools themselves. But there are plenty of instances where schools in low income areas have excelled, with the right combination of people. But if one district is consistently getting higher scores, of course people will prefer that one because it is the most likely place where you will find the best teachers and as well as parents helping out in school.

  37. 37
    k2000k says:

    Here’s one for newcastle that is going to be hurting. It has been on the market for around 90 days at a price of 839,000.

    The sad thing is that a couple blocks south of the listing I saw a home, that wasn’t for sale, larger by 1,600 sq ft being estimated around 640,00. If 640,000 is the real value of properties in that area given the market then it will have to fall nearly 200,000. Decrease an additional 100,000 if, the house I am using as a value metric, you increase the value of the house 3% annually from the 1992 purchase price. A lot of people in the Eastside are going to be hurting.

  38. 38
    patient says:

    jom, I ralely agree with your posts but I think you got it right in your school comment @36. I suspect that there are many of us here on the Bubble who have advanced higher educations and have done well for ourselves or are on the way that have not attended the “best” school districts in this or other countries. It’s not a requirement for success but well educated parents in general are ( me included ) not willing to compromise or take risks on their kids futures if we don’t have to. This of course also includes securing financing for college etc so I also don’t think parents in general are prepared to commit financial suicide by stretching to buy in an area with the “best” schools.

  39. 39
    david losh says:

    The schools and the neighbohood cu de sac are very real factors in terms of value. Suburban living near jobs in Bellevue Center is a good argument.

  40. 40
    JP says:

    Thanks for all the comments.

    I checked the WASL scores site for Seattle vs. Bellevue school districts. On average, Bellevue is clearly superior. The elementary school in my Seattle neighbor compared favorably to a random sampling of Bellevue elementary schools, but the HS (Ballard) does not.

    This doc says that for Washington State, on average, 75% of school funding comes from the state budget and 15% comes from local property taxes. Presumably, each district gets a similar amount of money per pupil from the state, but the local money per pupil could vary a lot from district to district.

  41. 41
    patient says:

    David Load, true at #39 but everything has a roof in terms of affordability for the target group and it seems like we are far above that roof on the Eastside. No surprise since more or less everything everywhere around Seattle is overpriced in relation to current purchasing power of their respective target groups and the state of the economy.

  42. 42
    JP says:

    Shame on me, I messed up the link to the WASL site:

  43. 43
    Ray Pepper says:

    ****Greetings from Nevada**..Its the last day of my tour of destruction as I like to call it. I can some up the trip with the last division I visited. About 40 new homes sitting vacant. Builder is in Bankruptcy. Pricing on homes is 199k. According to tax records everyone paid 273-325k. They are beginning to sell.

    Will be interesting to see how many current home owners will walk in the years to come. Its very easy to see here the ones that have. The lawns are burnt to a crisp………..

    Theres your Northern California/ Reno-Carson update!

  44. 44
    Ray Pepper says:

    I can some up the trip? Good God…..SUM…………………must be the heat on my bald head!

  45. 45
    Markor says:

    After once living on Queen Anne and wanting to stay there forever, I moved to the Eastside to shorten my commute. Now that I have kids, no way would I live in Seattle. It’s not just the schools, although that would be enough. It’s just easier to be with kids on the Eastside. It’s a combination of more breathing room, easier parking, safer, cleaner. I take them to Seattle a lot, so I think I can make a good comparison. It’s the old “nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there” thing. I’m living less than 20 minutes from Capitol Hill outside of rush hours, so it’s no big deal to be stuck on the Eastside anyway.

  46. 46
    kent says:

    Arguments / debates on the best place to live are never ending, interesting, fun and, most of all futile.

    I am happy for those of you that have found where you want to live. Please don’t try to pick the best place for others to live, they can probably figure that out on their own.

    if we all wanted to live in the same place, man, would it ever be expensive. Fortunately – “different strokes for different folks”.

  47. 47
    Bes2wait says:

    About the Kenmore house, the owners sold a Cali bubble house @the peak to buy that house. I guess they just want to go back. Also now that house is listed for 410,000 so question is what will happen to the plat across the street called Wynfield meadows same model list for starting at 479000 will the new house appraise?

  48. 48

    You should do your research–I picked one of your “flops” at random, and yes indeed, it’s listed for less than they bought it for–Because it’s a SHORT SALE. I don’t think this should be lumped in with your doomsday proclamations.

  49. 49
    economist says:

    That is priceless and people pay for it.

    Yeah OK, but how much are people willing to pay to rent there? That’s the real issue everywhere – are prices justified by rents? If prices are not justified by rents (> 150 monthly rent) they have to come down.

    As to schools, I grew up in a small town where everyone went to the same school, and it was obvious to me that how well kids do in school depended on them (and indirectly on the parents), not on the school. The reason kids at the “better” schools in metros do better is because the kids are better.

    Now there are people out there who don’t want their kids to go to school with the “wrong” people and are willing to pay for it, but attending school with a whole cross-section of kids didn’t hurt me or anyone else I know. Obviously nobody wants their kid to go to a “war zone” school, but beyond that it’s just snobbery as far as I’m concerned.

  50. 50
    Ubersalad, Ph.D says:

    Schools matter only if you’re aiming for Ivy League…

    ~UW, anything around here is pretty decent.

  51. 51
    Garth says:

    I think Tim has done a great job with the free data that is available, but primarily he has access to summary data and he charts it historically to show trends. The bulk of the data used is from NWMLS or Standard and Poors press releases. Both are ways of promoting their paid services and are intentionally incomplete.

    I have done a couple of database projects with some of the paid demographic, financial and real estate data that is available, and I like Jon thought it would be fun to try and build a similar database from the free sources available. With the paid data I could output cool answers relatively easily like what percentage of homes are being sold before they are built, but with the free data, I can’t even get close to that number.

  52. 52
    Cheapseats says:

    Short-sales actually dovetail nicely with doomsday predictions???

  53. 53
    Silver9 says:

    Being married to a teacher who is the daughter of a teacher and being a parent, I will add that school quality is a complex thing. Its not as simple as a test score and there are now many philosophies about education and parenting.

    Without getting into that debate I do feel that school test scores are something to consider. I actually built a tool for doing that at WASLreport. It has some bugs but you can browse some of the WASL results on a map and look at neighborhoods.

    This city (and others) has a real tension between quasi-urban (we dont really have urban here) and sub-urban living. I frequently hear people consider the eastside when they have kids because of the schools.

    For me, lot size was a big issue. The Seattle lotsize norm seems to be about 4,000sqft and the east side is double. Small lots can work but IMHO you need to build for them and that means row-houses with parking. San Francisco has that; Seattle does not and I dont see that ever changing.

    Its cool to live in a prestige neighborhood but if you dont have the bucks, you have to look for alternatives. Parenting in particular changes a lot priorities.

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