Changes on the horizon at Seattle Bubble…

As 2009 winds down and the real estate market enters winter hibernation, now seems like a good time to talk about some of the changes on the horizon here at Seattle Bubble.

First up, a subject that we’ve discussed a few times here in the past: name change. “Seattle Bubble” is a name that made sense when I started the site in 2005 as a simple blog to explore the idea of a growing housing bubble. Now that the site has evolved into more of a general news and discussion site on the subject of local real estate and related economic issues, it’s time for a new name that better reflects our identity.

To that end, beginning in 2010 Seattle Bubble will become Sound Housing News. This name reflects both our regional focus on the Puget Sound, our topical focus on housing issues, and our analytical approach to the data (with “sound” as an adjective meaning “reliable, sensible, or based on reason”). It also matches Sound Housing Quarterly, the subscription product I launched last year as a sister project to Seattle Bubble.

Once the name change takes effect, we will be moving to a new domain at Don’t worry though, all your old bookmarks and links will still work and will be automatically forwarded to the new address. From a reader interface perspective, the change will be seamless.

Next, in the coming months there are a number of site function and form improvements that I’ll be making. Here’s a brief list of upcoming features in the pipeline:

  • More newspaper-ish format front page featuring a variety of content / sections.
  • Weekly podcast (ideally structured as a 1-hour live call-in program).
  • Better integration of the forum and the blog.
  • Better organization of archives, highlighting the most useful content like how-to’s and real estate resources.
  • Improved methods of highlighting related quality content on other sites.

So what is my list of improvements missing? What would you like to see that would make this site a better resource for you? Let’s hear your suggestions and your thoughts on the upcoming changes.

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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
    John DeRosa says:

    “Seattle Housing News” is the most boring name imaginable. I understand why you think the site needs a makeover, but I’m not sure that “Seattle Bubble” still doesn’t work as a name. It’s short, memorable, tied to a historic local period, and mildly cool.

  2. 2
    The Tim says:

    RE: John DeRosa @ 1 – Fortunately the new name will be “Sound Housing News,” not “Seattle Housing News.”

    Yes, the argument can be made that it is “boring,” but it is also more relevant to what the site has become, as well as being more marketable to both new readers and potential business partners. Let’s be honest, “Seattle Bubble” is catchy and memorable, but has plenty of connotations that don’t make good sense if you’re trying to provide a high quality resource that will be used and supported by as many people as possible.

    If my only criteria for a name was that it be catchy, cool, and memorable, I’d probably go with Exploding Awesome.

  3. 3
    John DeRosa says:

    RE: The Tim @ 2 – Whoops, my bad! My eyes saw “Seattle” instead of “Sound”. Weird when that happens.

    Still think it’s a boring name. As well as potentially confusing. Does the site have news about “sound housing,” as in good housing? Only stories about good houses will be found on Sound Housing News! A name that evokes the Pacific Northwest in an indirect way would be more memorable.

  4. 4

    […] Bubble announced about a half hour ago that it is changing it’s name to Sound Housing […]

  5. 5
    The Tim says:

    RE: Rain City Guide @ 4 – FWIW, we’ve been discussing the idea of a name change since at least May of last year. I think you may be reading into this a bit much.

  6. 6
    ARDELL says:

    Does that mean I’m not allowed to drag my pink pony out of the closet? How about my cheerleader outfit and pom- poms? No? Spoilsport :)

    Best of luck with the change, Tim. Lots of people are making changes to start of “the new decade”.

  7. 7
    patient says:

    I think it’s pre-mature. The bubble is still very much here and goes to the core of most discussions and is on the mind of many commenters and the housing bubble the reason they frequent the site. Not sure what the impact will be if any but my first thought is that it’s a risky thing to meddle with. You have what i understand one of the largets audiences of the local housing blogs and you know what they say: “Don’t mess with success”. It remains to see how much of that success if any that is now tied to the name.

  8. 8
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    “More newspaper-ish format front page featuring a variety of content / sections.”

    Every website that I’ve frequented that’s switched to a “newspaper” model has become much too cluttered and much harder to use than the original version, sometimes to the point that I just stop visiting. Just look at RCG (sorry, Ardell) — I can’t find anything over there any more because it’s way too cluttered and too much like a newspaper. Who says newspaper format is the way to go anyway? Newspapers are dying, and for good reason. Let their format die as well, I say. Anyway, I’ll reserve judgment until I see the new layout, but I’m not looking forward to it.

  9. 9
    The Tim says:

    RE: Lake Hills Renter @ 8 – I’m not a fan of the RCG layout either. One of the things that I think is important is to keep the entirety of the most recent content right on the front page so readers aren’t forced to click click click everywhere just to read the latest posts. I’m planning to float the new design by everybody a few times before it is finalized, so there will be a time for some feedback before it goes live.

  10. 10
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    “One of the things that I think is important is to keep the entirety of the most recent content right on the front page so readers aren’t forced to click click click everywhere just to read the latest posts.”

    That is exactly my problem with most “newspaper” format sites. That, and trying to fit WAY too much onto the main page — which just makes it clutter.

  11. 11
    T says:

    I know you said bookmarks and links will redirect, but what about RSS feeds? Will I have to remember to resubscribe in January?

  12. 12
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    I have to say, I’m a little skeptical of the name change as well. It does indeed sound rather bland. Imagine if Craigslist had changed its name to something more accurate but less distinct like Local Classifieds Online. Would it have continued to take off Maybe, but its distinct name makes for easy reference and buzz IMO. Brand names are important for online identity these days, and you currently have a good one. I’d hate to see you lose that.

  13. 13
    The Tim says:

    RE: Lake Hills Renter @ 10 – Yup, exactly. I talked with Dustin about all the clicking when they switched over to this design and his response was basically that it’s a fully intended feature of the design, because more clicking = a lower bounce rate and a lower bounce rate is good no matter how you get it, even if it means erecting artificial click walls on front of every single post.

    The clutter thing is the reason it is taking me so long to figure out the new design. Trying to get a good balance between featuring a variety of content and keeping a clean, uncluttered look is a trick.

    RE: T @ 11 – RSS feed service should continue without disruption as well.

  14. 14
    ARDELL says:

    I totally agree with you about RCG, Lake Hills Renter. I practically had my own private funeral service when that happened. I actually cried real tears and was even depressed for a week or so. I have limited my writings there greatly most times since. But…that’s kinda cutting off my nose to spite my face. I think I even wrote a post about how much I hate it…I know I’ve said so in the comments many times.

    The comment format change also made me sick. Unfortunately I don’t own the site and it was the FIRST time the site owner ignored the screams of the 3 ladies who write there most often. It was a sad day, indeed.

    FWIW the newspaper format apparently helps with something called “the bounce rate” and Google ranking, but clearly once you pander to google ranking or dilute your message so it appeals to a broader audience…well it’s like the sell out of awesome musicians who cross over to “popular” music. A sad day.

  15. 15
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    Overt concern with bounce rate implies to me that page views for advertisers are more important than serving content to readers, e.g. revenue trumps service. Maybe I’m an ideologue (and I’m certainly not a businessman)but those priorities are backwards IMO.

  16. 16
    Jason says:

    It would be great if you changed the name… and then removed all the negative nelly’s this site has with their comments. I don’t think that will change, so putting a new skin on the frog won’t change the nature of the frog.

  17. 17
    2kt says:

    The current name fits. There’s no regional focus here now and the current crew of commenters will likely drive away anyone from out of town.

  18. 18
    ARDELL says:

    I’m pretty sure we reject all requests to advertise on Rain City Guide, and have for years. So not sure why Dustin cared about bounce rate.

  19. 19
    AMS says:

    I assume you’ll keep the current URL even if you redirect to a new one?

  20. 20
    The Tim says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 18As recently as February this year, Rain City Guide was running ads, but that seemed to disappear when the partnership with M Realty was announced along with the current design.

    RE: AMS @ 19 – That’s correct.

  21. 21
    ARDELL says:


    I think Dustin tried it for a heartbeat in time…and he may again some day. Trying to monetize efforts is tough for blog owners whose source of income is not related to the blog topic.

    Do you have a new and different “goal audience”, Tim?

    Lake Hills Renter,

    I agree as to Craigslist. Funny thing is when i say to someone I was just talking to Craig of Craigslist, they look surprised that there is a Craig :)

  22. 22
    Dawn Glover says:

    I am a regular reader of this site, I felt it important to post the following comment on the Rainy City Guide

    I have been reading the Seattle Bubble for 2 years and feel that it is one of the best places to get real statistics and information in regards to the Housing Market here in the Sound. I think that the Seattle Bubble is changing it’s name as it continues to evolve as a source of information for buyers and sellers and renters and investers and agents. The name change does reflect the changes in the market and also the readers, just like Zillow has added Rentals to it’s site. I disagree with you Ardell if you are suggesting that the name change means that the Bubble in the Seattle Market is over. I believe that it is painfully clear that this downturn in real estate across the country and yes, even here in Seattle is far from over. I moved here 2 years ago and rented a house, I was a home owner for 16 years prior. I continue to choose to rent because I don’t see stability in the housing market and I believe prices will continue to decline. I see bank owned and empty homes popping up all around me. I negotiated a significant rent reduction this year and believe that this spring/summer I will have many more options. I started reading the Seattle Bubble to become a better informed investor. When I do have confidence to invest in real estate again, I would choose to work with an agent that has been realistic about the market over the past 2 years and the future. I am sure that you also believe that you are helping people to make a good decisions, just like the agent 2 years ago who tried to sell me a house similar to the one that I rent for $2300 month for $750 000. I know that many choose to buy rather than rent because there is a stigma in renting, and there weren’t many nicer homes for families to rent but that too is changing rapidly. I am not being negative, but only realistic and making responsible choices for my family. I also think that many more people will do the same in future…I hope.

  23. 23

    RE: Dawn Glover @ 22 – Great post, Dawn. I completely agree with you that the name change from Seattle Bubble in no way suggests that things are suddenly hunky dory, but rather reflects the broadening of the subject matter and the more in depth analysis of things. Maybe things are less bad than they were 2-3 years ago, but I don’t think we’re close to being out of the woods. Maybe we can see the clearing in the forest from the swamp we’re standing in, but the alligators are all around us, angry, hungry, and snapping.

  24. 24
    Dave0 says:

    I get the feeling that the new layout will look very similar

  25. 25
    Dave0 says:

    Oh wow, looks like has been dead since April. That’s a surprise to me. I guess me not visiting there since April didn’t help…

  26. 26
    AMS says:

    RE: Dawn Glover @ 22 – In my opinion the name change does not stop any bubble activity. There are people who measure the sentiment of the consumers in the market. The basic claim is that talking about bad news only leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. I do not subscribe to this sort of thinking.

    That said, the greater fool game can go on for extended periods of time. In addition it can start back up at any price level, even if there is little fundamental support. Thus prices might be high, on a fundamental basis, but are going even higher tomorrow, again on a fundamental basis.

    At the same time, as prices nationwide have gone down quite substantially and as the government continues to pump money into the housing market, it gets increasingly difficult to guess the future of the market. Certainly it can go down another 50%.

    Then there are all the other issues that have been covered that don’t begin to suggest the future of prices. Much of the discussion of “rent versus buy” can be discussed without regard to the future of prices. I know more than one person who enjoys the benefits of renting–maintenance, ease of moving, and so on. I know plenty of people who own and enjoy some of the benefits of ownership without respect to the financial considerations, such as remodeling. Clearly there are people where renting is the best option.

    I’m also going to suggest that just as I don’t credit this blog for price declines, I am not suggest that any price increase is the result of a name change.

    I’d also like to suggest that while prices might continue to go down, or remain stagnant, for many years, it seems that the idea that a bubble was present is well established. Back in 2005, near the peak in some areas, so many could not believe that prices could decline, much less some of the declines that have taken place in some of the harder hit places.

    Then there is the issue of finance versus politics. The Tim clearly has a desire to put forward some political commentary. He went back and counted the number of politically related entries. He suggested that the politically related content was 7%. If you go back and read some of the early entries in this blog, once again written in a time when the majority was talking continued support for high housing price appreciation, The Tim was sorting out the data. On the one hand there was a clear message that housing prices could only go up, and were likely to go up at a high pace, yet on the other hand The Tim was looking at data that suggested that there were some structural problems in the housing market. There was a certain tension between those who were willing to pay just about any price versus the ability of the market to appreciate at high rates forever. I think The Tim would be quick to admit that he was not a finance professional and had very little formal training in finance and real estate. I’ve also seen his data presentations drastically improve. I’m not about to suggest that any of his early work was of poor quality, but rather his work has improved.

    I note further that this is not the first change that The Tim’s blog has undergone. He switched platforms, for example. He also developed the “open discussion” threads to solve certain other problems that the blog experienced.

    This change appears to be another growth stage rather than some grand market prediction.

  27. 27

    RE: Lake Hills Renter @ 8 – I would agree that the newspaper format isn’t a good format, at least if that means it will be like RCG.

    Not all change is good change. I’m trying to think where it was, but just recently I went to a site where they totally ruined their site (but it wasn’t newspaper format that ruined it).

  28. 28

    Unless I missed it, I think all of you missed the biggest problem with this name change. It will attract more agents! ;-)

  29. 29
    David Losh says:

    RE: The Tim @ 2

    He’s right about the name.

    You’re not a news source or political commentator, you’re a club house of true believers. You’ve been myth busting in an industry that needed it.

    You have a domain name of the Naked Loon. This is your style, own it. You may get to be main stream, but the fringe pays better.

    The format is a good change, you have a lot of posts, and if you should chose to have guest posts the scrolling for content would get real old.

    If you stick with Seattle Bubble you should promote that. You were on the front lines, you said it first. Keep the momentum because there will be more bubbles, like energy, health care, commodities. It’s a cycle.

  30. 30
    Frank Schwieterman says:

    I like the current name “Seattle Bubble” myself. Even if it becomes irrelevant, I think its a piece of history that the site should hold on to.

    I only access the articles through RSS, so I think the homepage changes won’t effect me. Do you have any data on how many people visit your articles via RSS feeds compared to the homepage? The home page might be more about attracting new readers, while existing readers use RSS feeds. who knows

  31. 31
    fabuladocet says:

    Good idea, Tim, at least with the name change. Seattle Bubble, as a name, doesn’t really have the iconoclastic, prescient snap it carried a few years back. If it’s ever cool to call something a bubble, it’s when a sector is inflating and most folks are oblivious to that fact. Not to mention that at some point the market will cease to be a bubble, at which point the name will have become an albatross around your neck.

    That’s not to say that “Sound Housing News” is remotely as catchy or memorable as the name “Seattle Bubble”. But you must know this already, right? I mean, I had to scroll up twice just to see what the new name was because I couldn’t remember precisely. John DeRossa makes a similar, if inadvertent, point in his initial post.

  32. 32
    Willy Nilly says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 28

    More agents Kary, and I’m changing my photo to a piranha! I better check the date on my agent repellent and make sure it hasn’t expired, and pick up a few more cases. You can deduct it as an expense you know.

  33. 33

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 28 – Not more agents! Hasn’t the quota been met? Maybe The Tim should charge a posting fee for agents, grandfathering in those agents who have been posting for at least two years. :)

  34. 34

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 33 – It it’s per post, I’d go broke and Tim would be rich!

  35. 35
    Tim says:

    Best wishes on the changes The Tim. Excited to see how it turns out. It was good meeting with you again earlier this year over some of this brainstorming. Like I’ve said, the bubble argument is long dead, time to move on and build from here—it is long overdue.

    Have a great Holiday season too!

  36. 36
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    I really hope the naked loon layout is not what is intended for this site. No offense, The Tim, but that site screams clutter and is pretty much the epitome of what I hate about newspaper format sites. =P

  37. 37
    scott says:

    Tim, you’ve probably already prepared for the new domain change but if you haven’t make sure you permanently “301” redirect each of your old files to their corresponding new locations. If you don’t the search engines won’t index all the new urls properly and you’ll lose all those great keyword rankings.

    You’d be surprised how many people forget the necessary steps or are just unaware and lose all their rankings overnight after a major change!

  38. 38
    buystocks says:

    Name change is a horrid idea. Your throwing away a valuable branded name. Marketing/business 101 (I never took any marketing classes or anything, just seems very silly).

  39. 39
    Ray Pepper says:

    Make all the changes you want but just keep the name. I have met so many “Bubble Heads” that have great pride in being a Bubble Head. From the numerous Home Shows we did and having people introduce themselves as a Bubble Heads to me, and leaving notes and emails signed “A lurking Bubblehead” its just a shame.

    As another poster said the ramifications of the Bubble will continue on for a decade and the name Should Stick.

    Don’t do it Tim!

    Don’t kill the Bubble Head!

  40. 40
    David Losh says:

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 38

    You’re right, I forgot about the Bubble Heads.

    Tim, there are Bubble Heads out there who identify themselves as Bubble Heads, and Bubble Head Lurkers. It may sound kind of sad, but it’s true.

  41. 41
    b says:

    Tim – Sounds like you are turning it into Rain City Guide. You won’t have realtors as main posters (I hope), but they have already taken over the comments section anyway. I think a misguided “magazine format” will just seal the deal…

  42. 42
    Jonness says:

    Hi Tim:

    I sent you my revised article. You can take out the top secret joke if you want. I got a kick out of it, but it doesn’t fit your newspaper format, and not all will feel the humor. Otherwise, do what you with with it.

    Thanks :)

  43. 43
    S. Marty Pantz says:

    I suggest an improved search engine. (I was trying earlier today to learn what “GEM” meant in this site.)

  44. 44
    shawn says:

    RE: The Tim @ 9 – Our rule is that “nothing” can take more than three clicks. I also suggest reading up a bit on rebranding. Consider a gradual process, something where the new name is associated with the old name. The web site still has Seattle Bubble on the front page and gradually it gets smaller. Just my two cents worth.

  45. 45
    Dawn Glover says:

    I don’t think that I will post a comment on Rainy City site again, my intelligence and stability were being questioned. I could use a little support. Basically Ardell suggests that renting is bad for my kids

  46. 46
    Pierce Anon says:

    Sorry The Tim, but the proposed new name just doesn’t cut it. There’s no edge, any more corporate and you’re going to be losing readers.

    Here’s a suggestion, why not run a competition to suggest the best new name. It would seem to me that the new name needs to somehow incorporate part of the current name.

  47. 47
    cutienoua says:

    I think everybody will just call the site SHN,thus will not be too numb as intended.

  48. 48

    By buystocks @ 38:

    Name change is a horrid idea. Your throwing away a valuable branded name. Marketing/business 101 (I never took any marketing classes or anything, just seems very silly).

    I thought the same thing when Datsun (sp?) became Nissan, and Exxon started using the same name nationwide, etc. But they probably had bigger advertising budgets than Tim! ;-)

    The worst name decision was when Webvan bought and threw away the name.

  49. 49
    Tyler says:

    Good move Tim, although have you thought about a more transitional name like Housing Froth?

    Though there is a small die-hard community here, I doubt that the hardcore bubbleheads will give you a comfortable living after the change in housing prices stops being a hot topic around the water cooler.

    The great thing about the ‘net is that it is just as easy for someone in Philly to pull up your site, and I think that once people get used to the data presented in a neutral and logical format, people will come back for more.

  50. 50

    RE: Dawn Glover @ 45 – I found that thread and if you think that was Ardell being insulting, you don’t know Ardell! ;-)

    What I love about Ardell is her revisionist history on when she called the down in the market. It was much later than what she leads on, which makes the rest of her predictions worth about what other predictions are worth–nothing.

  51. 51
    Jonness says:

    By Dawn Glover @ 45:

    I don’t think that I will post a comment on Rainy City site again, my intelligence and stability were being questioned. I could use a little support. Basically Ardell suggests that renting is bad for my kids

    You’ve been right, and they’ve been wrong. That speaks volumes that all the name calling and insults to your character in the world cannot undo.

    Sheep gather in flocks and follow each other to the slaughterhouse. It’s better to be laughed at by sheep for not walking in their direction than to allow them to lure you into being slaughtered at their side.

    Pat yourself on the back and move forward with more of your own independent analysis while drawing from as many unique sources of information as possible.

  52. 52
    buystocks says:

    By Tyler @ 49:

    Good move Tim, although have you thought about a more transitional name like Housing Froth?

    How about ‘Seattle Double Bubble Trouble Rubble’? I bet that domain name is open.

  53. 53
    meadows says:

    One of my favorite sites is because of the large and intelligent group of loyal posters. I’ve noticed the same here. A clean, easy to post, quote, reply, etc. makes for a better conversation. How about something like Sound Economic News? Since housing is a huge chunk of the economy, then it wouldn’t be thought of as purely a “housing” site.

    I’ve directed many people to this site, some of whom say that they aren’t interested in “housing issues” and I tell ’em, “It’s the economy!” I get more economic insight from “housing bubble” sites than housing insight from “economic” sites.

    I enjoy this place and the info/conversation that is so fact-based and histrionics free.

  54. 54
    David Losh says:

    RE: meadows @ 53

    I have thought about the national aspects of the internet for getting advertising dollars, or sponsors. It makes more sense to me to dominate a local market place than broaden the appeal. Bloodhound blog is a good example. They are an Arizona site with a national network. It never seems to go anywhere. The conversation continues to be local because Greg Swann dominates the site.

    Calculated Risk is a national site that I know people here refer to. The problem is that, in my opinion, the site is out of control. It makes some points, but the message is messy. I have noticed it does seem to get advertising, lots of it, which makes me suspicious of the site in general. It seems like a sideshow with big banners all around it, in no particular order.

    So in my opinion it would be better to sell advertising locally rather than wait for advertisers to “find” you on the net nationally.

  55. 55

    I’ve thought about this further, and I wonder how much of the name change is related to this comment in the main piece: “Now that the site has evolved into more of a general news and discussion site on the subject of local real estate and related economic issues . . ..” I know Tim has taken some flack on posts that are more economic.

    How about rather than changing the name, which has a history, just add a second forum where the posts would be on economic issues broader than housing?

  56. 56
    willcasp says:

    I think that you have established a “brand” with Seattle bubble. I would not take changing the name lightly.

  57. 57
    patient says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 55 – I think the main reason is that The Tim wants to attract more advertisors and he is afraid that the bubble name is being seen as rebellious and negative to many potential sponsors. Am I right? One idea could be to start a sister site with the proposed name and keep the bubble as is, then post all pure housing data on the new site and link them to the bubble site. This way the new site can be free from names,comments or stigma that sponsors do not want to be associated with but it will still get all the traffic from the SeattleBubble crowd. SeattleBubble can be the interactive blog community and keep it’s edge without risking to offend the money and the new site can be the “professional”, non offending news outlet.

  58. 58
    patient says:

    RE: patient @ 57 – And bar comments from the new site to be sure to keep it “clean”

  59. 59
    wreckingbull says:

    Whatever you do, please keep a little attitude in the blog. As someone who does not short circuit when I hear a dissenting view, I appreciate a little scuffle now and then. Most of the other blogs are about as fun as chewing on Styrofoam.

  60. 60

    I Like “Real Real Estate News”

    But your name pick is fine too :-)

  61. 61
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: patient @ 57

    I hope not!

    Sound Housing News sounds as boring as Red Fin. (another name I just don’t get)

    I simply cannot agree in changing Seattle Bubble name. After seeing you on the news so many times and hearing Seattle Bubble this and that………….I hope your not going after more advertising dollars from agents, Title, Escow, Mtg reps that have told you about the tone here….If an advertiser won’t place ads here because of the tone do you really think they will get any business from this group?

    I still think M Realty did damage to RCG. Seems I see alot less activity there.

    Don’t do it!

  62. 62
    patient says:

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 61 – I agree Ray that’s why I suggested that the Bubble is kept as is, just that pure housing data is linked from the new “PG” site.

  63. 63
    AMS says:

    On most of the comments about branding and marketing–I’d like to know where some of the ideas come from.


  64. 64

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 61 – I wonder if it’s named after Redfin Perch, which is a preditory nuisance fish–but one that tastes good?

  65. 65
  66. 66
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: patient @ 57

    patient may have a good point Tim. As long as Bubble readers are forced to the new site to keep up counts for advertisers while being able to comment on a Bubble thread, it might be a good idea to keep Seattle Bubble as a sister site at least for a period of time. But having two sites assumes there isn’t too much additional cost to run it that way and that people can easily deal with the post being on a separate site from the Bubble comment thread.

    The name change has some risk, but I think that if you have long term aspirations in on line journalism, the SHN name makes some sense. People are right that it sounds a little bland and doesn’t emphasis the reliance on data that many of us appreciate. I can’t think of anything great that conveys the data driven concept but if you can come up with somehting that does that, I think it would be good. “Sound Housing Calculus” is about the best I can come up with and that sounds a little pretentious. Maybe “Sound Housing Metrics” but that doesn’t quite do it for me either. How about “The Sound Housing Index” with a subtitle that says “Data Driven News on Real Estate and Economics.”

  67. 67
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 60

    I like SWE’s “Real Real Estate News.” Maybe with the subtitle “Data Driven News on Real Estate and Economic Issues.”

  68. 68
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: buystocks @ 65

    Holy Macrel buy Stocks.

    We just had a meeting a few nights ago about our new website. I better step it up a bit. 236.00!! Barely enough for me to take 5 of you to dinner at Outback!

  69. 69
    AMS says:

    RE: buystocks @ 65 – $4,400 per year in ad revenue is worth $8,000? Now that’s my kind of opportunity!

  70. 70
    Aaron Smothers says:

    Over the last few years, “Seattle Bubble” was an appropriate name not just because there has been a bubble in Seattle, but also because the site contained information, analyses and points of view that were neither available nor welcome at the myriad mainstream sites. Going forward, I am sure that the site will retain its character. However, I am concerned that if an insipid name is chosen, new folks (looking for alternate analyses not available elsewhere), may club it along with other propagandist sites and miss it. The chosen site name must reflect the uniqueness and balanced nature of content available at the site. Even if the bubble continues to deflate in the coming months or years, and even if the house prices begin to appreciate for certain, the current site name will not be entirely inappropriate, since it will indicate receptivity to (and availability of) contrarian analyses and points of view as well.


  71. 71
    AMS says:

    RE: Ray Pepper @ 68 – Do they have shelters for domain names? It sounds like you need one! Less than fifty cents per day isn’t enough to get buy in a third world country!

  72. 72
    The Tim says:

    Sheesh, I should have left the name change thing out of the post and stuck to the new features. I’m much more interested in hearing feedback on some of the new feature ideas, but I guess the name thing is what people want to talk about. I wanted to clarify a few things to address some of the concerns that I see here.

    First, I am not planning to completely drop the Seattle Bubble name. As I have stated earlier, the domain name will still work. Also, I’m planning on “branding” the site as “Sound Housing News (a.k.a. Seattle Bubble)” or something similar for some transitionary period.

    Furthermore, the purpose of the name change is not to change the character of the site. The content will remain largely the same, with some of the improvements mentioned in the post (podcast, external features, etc.) I have no interest in “sanitizing” the site, because I think the character is what makes Seattle Bubble what it is (not the name). I will be honest though and tell you that I have personally spoken with business contacts that love the content and community of the site but are reluctant to partner with me due solely to “bubble” name, so yes that is a factor.

    As for the “magazine” format, I definitely will not be duplicating the format I created for The Naked Loon (which yes, has been in hibernation since April, sadly—I hope to bring it back soon), and as I said earlier, I won’t be going to anything like what they’re using over at Rain City Guide. My idea is to switch to some sort of format where the latest post is fully displayed on the front page (possibly the latest 2 or 3 posts), along with summaries of the next X posts, and some space for features in other sections like an opinion section and a podcast section.

    Finally, while this is something that I have been mulling over for well over a year, I’m still open to suggestions for better names if you’ve got them. As I explained in the post, I tried to come up with a name that embodied the regional focus, the subject matter, and the analytical approach. I think the ideal name would only be two words and would be catchy, but so far I have yet to come up with something that can match all those criteria perfectly. If you’ve got a better idea, let’s hear it.

  73. 73
    deejayoh says:

    Naked Real Estate.

    fits with your other property, implies you furnish the unvarnished truth, and as a bonus you’ll pick up google porn-seekers.


  74. 74
    msfter says:

    Why not call it “seabub”?
    A name that is evocative yet not fully tied to the bubble mentality. Most people here seem to agree that
    Seattle is just abot 10% overpriced now, so the severity of the bubble is much lower.

  75. 75

    By The Tim @ 72:

    My idea is to switch to some sort of format where the latest post is fully displayed on the front page (possibly the latest 2 or 3 posts), along with summaries of the next X posts,. . ..

    Yes! Twice as many recent posts! ;-)

    Seriously, the more the better. RSS is nice, but it would be nice to not have to resort to that as much.

  76. 76
    EastBellevueEtherBinge says:

    Sorry, but “Sound Housing News” is to “Seattle Bubble” as ‘Windows Live Search” is to “Bing” or as “Windows Mobile Device” is to “iPhone”. I advise a more thorough vetting of the branding. A naming contest/poll would be a good idea.

  77. 77
    EastBellevueEtherBinge says:

    By cutienoua @ 47:

    I think everybody will just call the site SHN,thus will not be too numb as intended.

    Wow, that’ll be as good as MSN! yuck

  78. 78
    EastBellevueEtherBinge says:

    By Aaron Smothers @ 70:

    … I am concerned that if an insipid name is chosen, new folks (looking for alternate analyses not available elsewhere), may club it along with other propagandist sites and miss it. The chosen site name must reflect the uniqueness and balanced nature of content available at the site…

    The best brand names don’t make sense: Apple, Google, Drudge…hmm, “The Tim Report”???

  79. 79
    Ray Pepper says:

    “I will be honest though and tell you that I have personally spoken with business contacts that love the content and community of the site but are reluctant to partner with me due solely to “bubble” name, so yes that is a factor.”

    Hmmm. What business contacts would NOT like the term Seattle Bubble. Well, lets see……………..Pretty much EVERYONE in the industry of real estate that don’t want consumers to KNOW THE TRUTH about the dangers of BUYING INTO DEPRECIATING ASSETS!

    If you MUST change name I suggest:

    Seattle Bubble for the Educated Buyer of Real Estate
    Seattle Bubble 2010
    Seattle Bubble ” The Truth in Real Estate”
    Seattle Bubble and the PNW
    Seattle Bubble “Your Only True Friend in Real Estate”

    The last one is what we have on the back of our T Shirts (except with 500 Realty) but we didn’t Trademark it so go for it!

    Don’t do it Tim!

  80. 80
    biliruben says:

    I like Naked Real Estate. Or maybe Naked Houses in the Sound. Or maybe Sounds like a Naked RE Bear.

    Something other than snoozeville. or whatever you plan on downgrading to.

  81. 81
    wreckingbull says:

    [removed by request of comment author]

  82. 82
    Jillayne says:

    The Tim,

    You work hard to bring us relevant stats day after day and provide a melting pot for the commenters.

    Call the site whatever you’d like. If you continue to give readers what we crave, we will continue to read.

    I don’t care about the ads; get as many as you can! You deserve the revenue.

    My dissapointment with RCG was when the M Realty deal was cut behind the scenes to send leads generated from writer content, to M Realty agents.

    To me, paid advertising is very different v. using an author’s written content, without their prior permission, to earn fee income from consumer leads.

    I felt like I had been used. And not in a good way.

  83. 83
    David Losh says:

    RE: The Tim @ 72

    Partner with whom? Escrow, Title, and Mortgage, perhaps?

    No they don’t like Bubble, but there again, they won’t be partners for long.

    As we go forward you will be right and the Real Estate Industry will be wrong. I’m seeing it daily where these Real Estate sales people are clinging to old ideas.

    Change the format first and see how that takes. Your partnering will be in the future. You’ve done well with ray, and Brent Fosso. There are more resources out there for a declining market.

    If you wanted to do a Sound Housing News as the free introduction to the Sound Housing Quarterly that might be a direction for a partnership, but it should be a separate site.

  84. 84
    pounce says:

    Ugh, Sound Housing News? That is painfully boring/insipid. Not only that, but even if people figure out it’s the Puget Sound you are talking about, it’s not accurate, as only some houseboats reside in the sound.

    If you feel that you must change, at least make it Seattle Housing News (less bland and a bit more specific). Most people searching for info will google (or bing) Seattle, not Sound.

    By the way, I have lurked for something like three years and rarely have posted. Great work you’ve done, Tim. I’m still waiting to buy and think the bubble has a modest amount of deflation to go. 10% seems reasonable.

  85. 85
    voight-kampff says:

    loooong time reader, rare poster.
    I too feel the name change is a bad idea. Many try for years to create even a moderate buzz and/or a recognizable brand, and nearly all fail. You have achieved that, and are going to give it away. Nearly everyone I have spoken to regarding RE knows “seattle bubble” and uses the phrase “bubble head”.
    I am no business genius , but my gut says please dont do it.

  86. 86

    RE: voight-kampff @ 85 – Maybe the problem is the proposed name change makes too much sense–it’s too conventional. Perhaps a name that doesn’t make any sense would be more accepted, like Bing, Amazon, Zillow, Trulia, etc.

  87. 87
    ARDELL says:


    You really do have to keep it as Seattle Bubble. But I have really enjoyed the rush. Thanks!

  88. 88

    RE: The Tim @ 9 – RCG’s layout was from Dustin–I don’t think it had anything to do with Ardell..for the record, I don’t like it either.

  89. 89

    […] decent number of commenters on Thursday’s post were critical of the chosen new name for Seattle Bubble, lambasting it as “boring,” […]

  90. 90
    sead97 says:

    You know when a bubble is truly over when everyone is tired of talking about it. Once real estate returns to boring 1-2% real annual growth, how much traffic will there be on a site like this?

    If I were in your shoes, I’d be thinking about who will be reading this is a year, and why. People will care a lot less about statistics and analysis when they sort of look the same month after month after month.

    So a couple ideas, based on your heritage:

    1) Target the illogical current model (e.g. real estate agents)
    2) Work to identify areas of opportunity (like stock newsletters pick names, you could pick neighborhoods
    3) Work to shame people trying to engage in crazy bubble-era behavior

    Frankly, I think the name “Seattle Bubble” has equity. Changing it may lose you readers, and probably won’t gain you many. I’d keep the name, and make the tagline something like “Sane information for sound real estate owners”

  91. 91
    sead97 says:

    (missed by window to edit….)

    just to elaborate, I think many of the tech bubble investing websites are gone; I’d predict the same for many of the real estate ones. Redfin will likely get more quiet, though there will always be folks there asking for pedestrian advice on this that that.

    Seattle bubble helped people in the past “make” money by avoiding the bubble (at giving them data and conversation to have comfort in that choice). I think the challenge to keeping folks engaged will be showing them how to make money going forward when, in a year or so, Seattle prices stop falling (but also go up very slowely). That’s why I proposed ideas like picking neighborhoods (and supporting with data). Or maybe you want to help educate real estate investors, helping match up those with money with those who know how to improve properties. May be more and more interest for folks to diversify their investments without having to take full control of a rental property – mini local REITS or something.

  92. 92

    “So a couple ideas, based on your heritage:

    1) Target the illogical current model (e.g. real estate agents)”

    If Seattle Bubble was largely participated in by real estate agents, it would lose a lot of soul and become a lot less interesting. ” .It’s a good time to buy.” ” I disagree. It’s a great time to buy.” “No, you both have it wrong. It’s a fantastic time to buy.”

  93. 93
    sead97 says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 92

    Think you misinterpreted by comments. I wasn’t advocating becoming a site for real estate agents, but rather a forum to push for castration of the NAR. The current model is silly. Folks like Redfin are helping to undermine it. But we still have a long way to go to break a cartel that extracts an awful amount of value from the American public, creating relatively little of value in the process.

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