Poll: Vote for your favorite new name for Seattle Bubble

A decent number of commenters on Thursday’s post were critical of the chosen new name for Seattle Bubble, lambasting it as “boring,” “bland,” and “insipid.” So, here’s your one last chance to suggest something better. I’ve come up with five additional alternatives, and if you don’t like those, drop your best suggestion in the comments.

Please vote in this poll using the sidebar.

Vote for your favorite new name for Seattle Bubble

  • Sound Housing News (56%, 57 Votes)
  • Professor Seattle (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Seattle RE Analyst (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Seattle Analyzer (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Seattle Simplified (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Prudent Seattle (5%, 5 Votes)
  • other (specify here!) (28%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 101

This poll will be active and displayed on the sidebar through 12.26.2009.

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

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
    The Tim says:

    Or I could throw meaning out the window and go with something off the wall like Duwamps. Okay so even that has a little bit of meaning, it’s just a bit obscure.

  2. 2
    shawn says:

    RE: The Tim @ 1 – I like your name as it describes what this site is really about. I also feel that your plan is good to keep the old name and slowly migrate to the new name, or something like that.

  3. 3
    Ray Pepper says:

    Those all stink. Are you kidding?

    here you go…AGAIN from a prior post:

    If you MUST change name I suggest:

    Seattle Bubble for the Educated Buyer of Real Estate
    Seattle Bubble 2010 and Beyond
    Seattle Bubble “The Truth in Real Estate”
    Seattle Bubble and the PNW
    Seattle Bubble “Your Only True Friend in Real Estate”
    Seattle Bubble “Northwest Opinions on Real Estate”
    Seattle Bubble “For the PNW Real Estate Buyer”
    Seattle Bubble “Stop, Look, Listen”

    Should I go on?

  4. 4
    Tman says:

    Yo Tim,

    Don’t change the name.

    I know, I know, the bubble is over. But who cares? It’s still a great name.

    Sure, “The Bubble” is over. But “bubble” doesn’t just refer to asset prices or over-leveraged banks. Bubble refers to all manner of dumb things that people believe when the don’t have data to back up their decisions.

    You provide the data, man. Or rather, you provide the data analysis, sparse prose, and sweet graphs that keeps us coming back. You burst the bubble!

    Keep the name “Seattle Bubble” and carry on, oh Wise One.


  5. 5
    Huck says:

    Seattle Bauble?

  6. 6
    Courtney says:

    Maybe something with TheTim in it. (I think people remember “Mish”, not Global Economic Analysis or whatever actually it’s called)

  7. 7

    My vote was for Prudent Seattle, but not enthusiastically. Maybe add Real Estate to it, because you’re not likely to start recommending bargain restaurants.
    I could see changing the name from Seattle Bubble, only because it doesn’t accurately convey what’s currently going on: The bubble has already burst, and air is still escaping….I also get the feeling that The Tim wants to project an image of seriousness ( good luck with that, especially with all us clowns who participate)…
    Also, this is just an advisory vote, right? Just like the Seattle election where the voters suggested not doing the Alaskan Way viaduct tunnel?
    I kinda like Duwumps too.
    Sound Housing News is pretty dry, and broadens the focus a little too much…
    The only other one that spoke to me was ” Seattle RE Analyzer” because real estate analysis is one of the main points of this site…I also like Courtney’s suggestion of throwing in The Tim as part of the name. When people think of Seattle Bubble, it is often associated with The Tim, so going in a whole different direction will lose some panache. So fine, if it means more potential revenue, lose The Bubble, and go with ” The Tim’s Prudent Seattle RE ”
    or ” The Tim’s Seattle Real Estate Analyzer”.

  8. 8
    blueskitten says:

    Sorry Tim – these are all pretty lame. Seattle RE Analyst is the best (or at least, most accurate) if you’re set on going for a ‘businessy’ name, but they all lack that joie de vivre that make a name worth remembering.

  9. 9
    Torrey Hoffman says:

    Tim, I’ve been reading for almost two years, only posted twice, and I have to tell you that the zingy name was a big part of the reason I started. Of course I didn’t stay for the name, but it’s why I got here, and I’m sure a lot of your readers would agree.

    Truth is, with the new name, and most of the new names you’re suggesting, I would probably not have even looked. I didn’t vote for any of them. They are either not specific to your topic or sound like boring, corporate, middle-of-the-road, advertising-owned shills. The internet is full of crap like that.

    Honestly I think the best idea is keep your current name, and don’t worry that it’s not totally on target any more. It is your BRAND. Don’t leave it behind!

    If you must change, I think it would be really good idea to keep some part of your brand name ( “Bubble” or possibly “The Tim”) in the name.

    Note that a LOT of really successful names and brands out there have nothing to do with what the company is about. You can’t tell what any of these companies do from their name: Google, Amazon, Coke, Nike, Ford, Hansens, Fischer-Price. And even publications often have names which only provide a hint about what they’re about, or, they’ve outgrown their original name.

    “The Economist”, for instance, is not really about any economist, or even the economy.
    “Time” is not about time.
    “Wall Street Journal” covers a lot more than just Wall Street.

    So “Seattle Bubble” is not a bad name, even if the bubble has long burst, and even if you keep this going for years and follow the economy through the next rise and fall.

    Here are random brainstorming suggestions, yours to use or ignore or laugh at. “Puget Sound Bubble”
    “Bubbles and Bursts”. “Puget Sound Pops”. “The Tim’s Take”.

    Best wishes, and since I’m posting, thanks for all the analysis over the last two years.
    We are happily renting and saving, and things probably would have been different without your analysis!

  10. 10
    Buy My House, Idiot Renters! says:

    Seattle Real Estate Professionals…

  11. 11
    Sniglet says:

    Changing the name of SeattleBubble would be a BIG mistake! There is already a great deal of brand recognition around this name, and it is conveys a lot about the content and people who participate in the community.

    The history of companies which change their names isn’t a happy one for the most part, and such things should be resisted.

  12. 12
    Dave0 says:

    My vote was for other: Keep it named Seattle Bubble. You have a good brand name that took years to build, don’t throw it out. We may not still be in a bubble, but keeping the Seattle Bubble name will be a reminder of what can happen when financial prudence is thrown out the window, as well as a lasting legacy that you called it before anyone else around here.

  13. 13

    By Buy My House, Idiot Renters! @ 8:

    Seattle Real Estate Professionals…

    I was going to suggest waiting for Trulia or Zillow to go under, and buy the name out of bankruptcy, but that one would probably be cheap once Hearst pulls the plug on the P-I.

    I have a suggestion: Seattle’s Different!

    I like it because it has some bubble tradition, but would also imply that you’re getting some different analysis here.

  14. 14
    cutienoua says:


  15. 15
    Herman says:

    Seattle Bubble is dated, or will be soon. It also implies a biased opinion.

    The new name should speak to the impartiality of the information. And the quality of the analysis. The subject is RE in Puget Sound. Sound RE News was the right message, and I didn’t think it was so bland. The comments here are bland and staid, so it fits. And when I look up data, I want it bland, not sensational.

    If not, then I think Ray is on the right track.

  16. 16

    I wonder if the focus should be on Seattle or the Puget Sound area? Practically speaking, most of the discussion here pertains to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. not every county in the Puget Sound region.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Adam says:

    Please add “Seattle Bubble” to the vote list.

    As to Herman’s comment (#15), it’s a blog. You have a point of view and an approach. That’s what attracted most of your readers. I don’t want unbiased opinion (whatever that is), I want a perspective that counters the nonsense that the realtors put out and the newspaper blithely repeats.

  19. 19
    David Losh says:

    I have a domain name at http://www.BuyingSeattle.com that is a little under developed. It’s about Seattle, small businesses in Seattle, and focuses on what’s good about the Real Estate business. I’m in the process of featuring different company profiles.

    If you kept Seattle Bubble you could cross link to my site for one set of advertisers, and continue to cater to your core readers.

    My end is the sets of services that my company offers.

  20. 20
    fatcat1111 says:

    “Truth is, with the new name, and most of the new names you’re suggesting, I would probably not have even looked. I didn’t vote for any of them. They are either not specific to your topic or sound like boring, corporate, middle-of-the-road, advertising-owned shills.” This.

    “Seattle Housing News” sounds a bit much too close to Seattle Condo Review and its ilk. Better would be something that expresses the character and personality behind the data and analysis.

  21. 21
    kurt says:

    I like Seattle Bubble.
    Maybe change it as soon as the world learns to not depend on the manufacture of economic bubbles and begins to regulate the economy rather than being regulated by those that demand huge returns on their investments. As it stands right now we all are livin’ in a bubble. It’s not radical to see things this way.

  22. 22
    Jonness says:

    By Tman @ 4:

    Yo Tim,

    Don’t change the name.

    I know, I know, the bubble is over. But who cares? It’s still a great name.

    Sure, “The Bubble” is over.

    I have to disagree. The bubble is not over. House prices fell again in November. WA state is $2.6 billion further in debt in the current biennium than originally forecast. Median household income is falling like a rock. The Fed claims it’s going to stop the MBS purchase program by April 1st. The bubble is alive and well.

    Even if house prices go sideways or appreciate at a lesser rate than in the past (6.5% annually), we are still seeing the effects of the bubble being worked off.

    According to OFM, King County median household income has fell below 2004 levels. How are how prices going to be sustained at the current 2005 levels if incomes are at levels not seen since 2003.

    There is a suggestion in another thread that the most useful way to value houses compared to what people earn is to compare the median incomes of those who recently purchase homes to the median price of recently purchased homes. Originally, I agreed with this, but I’ve thought about it some more.


    Unemployment in a mythical town called “Settle” is 3.6% in 2003. It holds fairly steady until 2007 when a massive housing bubble takes place, and a huge recession ensues. Job losses continue to escalate, and by 2009, unemployment reaches 9%. But this recession isn’t your average recession, long-term unemployment (claims longer than 6 months) hits lengths not seen since the Great Depression.

    Joe and Jane Bloe have a combined household income of $100K and decide to buy a house. They get a great deal on an REO at $385K. Great!

    Jack and Jill Candlestick want to buy a house too. Jack makes $100K per year, and Jill makes $50K per year for a combined household income of $150K. They begin shopping for a house and agree on a perfect gem costing $550K. Since they make well over 2x the King County median income, they can afford to buy a house in this price range.

    Suddenly, Jack gets laid off from his job selling paper counter tops. He is stunned by the news. Two months earlier, his boss had told him things were fine. His job seemed secure during the recession. None-the-less, he files an Unemployment check and begins claiming his $624/wk. Jack and Jill now have a household income of $82,500 and can no longer afford to buy the house they want.

    Jill is becoming concerned she might be laid off from her job as a secretary, so they agree to save as much money as possible until the recession ends.

    So let’s determine housing affordability based on price to income ratio. We take the median sales price of homes and divide it by the median income of all people who chose to buy homes that year. Now we know how much people can afford to pay. Wrong! We only know how much people with jobs can afford to pay.

    If we don’t count median household income of all residents in the county, we are introducing flaws into our accounting. What happens when unemployment goes from 4% to 9%? Well, 5% of the population take a hit to their income. Another X% suffer from pay cuts, being put on part-time work, or having to take jobs flipping hamburgers that pay a fraction of their previous salary.

    IOW, the King County median household income falls back to levels not seen since 2003. Meanwhile, Joe and Jane Bloe are fully employed and are making the same amount they would have made had there never been a recession. By basing affordability only on Joe and Jane’s situation and not including Jack and Jill into the analysis, we are not analyzing the entire picture.

    Historically, house price appreciation has lagged the unemployment rebound. A considerable percentage of homeowners are under distress and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

    Median household incomes in WA:


    I don’t disagree that the website name should be changed prior to the bubble ending, but I strongly disagree that the bubble is over. OTOH, posters here are making a great point. SeattleBubble is a name picked with genius and visionary ability through a mix of intellect, creativity, luck, and pure magic. You can’t just replace this name with any old name that comes down the pike just because it seems to fit the new times. My recommendation is not to give “last chance” figure out a better name by X date, or the name is changed to such-and-such ultimatums. I believe Tim should wait to change the name until he figures out a suitable replacement. Sometimes creativity takes time. I think when the right name hits, people will recognize it’s the right name at the right time.

    I don’t think this is the right name at the right time. I understand that Tim probably wants to change the name, because SeattleBubble has a bearish ring to it, and he wants to be seen as unbiased and objective. I don’t blame him for wanting a name that more fits his “sound” analysis of the Puget Sound housing market. I would say because of the dual meaning play on words, “Sound Housing News” is the best of the alternatives offered. But is it the best possible name for this website? The majority of posters don’t appear to think so. Can we take a month and let this get tossed around a little/

  23. 23

    By The Tim @ 17:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16 – KiPieSnoBub?

    Maybe that backwards, like what Ocwen supposedly did.

  24. 24

    RE: Jonness @ 21 – Even if you assume the economy fully recovers tomorrow, I think you’ll see the effects in the condo market for at least a couple of years.

  25. 25
    Tim says:

    How about just “Bubble”? It’s catchy, less specific, and by dropping the Seattle, it expands the possibilities for expanded national topics.

  26. 26
    Jonness says:

    Zillow, Redfin, SeattleBubble, Yahoo, Google,Trulia


    Sticks out like a sore thumb doesn’t it? I think it would have been a great name back in 1950 though. :)

    How about a marriage? SoundHousingAnalysis, SoundOfSeattle or something like that if we must go mainstream?

  27. 27
    S. Marty Pantz says:

    I was gonna suggest something along the lines of Pink Pony something, but not after seeing this: http://www.showbars.com/club_ppatl.html

    I vote for retaining the current name.

  28. 28
    Jonness says:


    Although I like that, do you know what it’s missing? A bubble is a thing. When hearing this word, it brings an immediate image to mind, which lends to curiosity , imagination, and wonder. Add to that the deeper meaning of the word at the point in time it was presented. None of the names presented so far have this quality or anything close to it.



    I believe a lot of people, such as Tman, who recommend sticking with bubble name are making strong arguments. The name is the history and honor of this website. It says, hey, I (meaning Tim) stuck my neck out on the line, held firm to my beliefs, skills as an analyst, and predictions. I went up against the mainstream consensus, and i won! I beat the system.

    That’s history. That’s the history of this website and is somewhat akin to a badge of honor, merit, and courage t that says, when the rest of the analysts get lost in the noise, come on over for a clear objective analysis of what’s occurring.

    What is a google? Why would one of the most successful businesses in the world call itself google? Well, not only is it hip, it has deeper meaning that is relevant to a couple of mathematicians developing math-based search engine algorithms and dreaming of taking on Yahoo some day. It is a play on the word googol, which is a cardinal number represented as 1 followed by 100 zeros (ten raised to the power of a hundred) .

    IMO, there should be more to a successful name than a written description of a business’s services.

    The band SoundGarden came up with an excellent name. It has dual meaning of sound in location and profession, and it also says, we are growing an experimental garden of sounds. Come take a listen.

    That’s a good example of a descriptive name of services and a deeper meaning.

  29. 29
    vomitingdog says:

    My suggestions:

    Seattle Realty Antidote
    Seattle Real Estate Antidote
    Seattle Real Estate Reality Check
    Seattle Property Wheel (of Fortune?)
    Seattle Real Estate Rethink
    Northwest Realty Rethink

  30. 30
    Jbeans says:

    I voted “other.” Either keep Seattle Bubble or come up with something snappier than the suggested names. Do NOT have the word “news” in the name. Bo-ring.

    Here are some off the top of my head:

    Reality Estate
    Housing with The Tim
    Seattle Housing Burst
    Sound Busted

  31. 31
    Redneck Nerd says:

    Keep the old name and url, at least as a redirector and subtext if you feel you must change it to progress from where it is at now. My vote is to keep the name and improve the content vs. just doing a branding and layout change. None of the new names are strongly memorable, and all seem generic and less memorable. Seattle Bubble has a history and known branding, and the history is important to keep in mind.

    To me, Tim from Seattle Bubble getting quoted for something related to the Puget Sound area housing market carries more weight then Tim from Sound Housing News. Tim from Sound Housing News could be anyone of the many of RE shills out their saying “it’s always a good time to buy”. While Seattle Bubble has some negative connotation associated with it to some people, to others it’s a reminder that you had the guts to start your own blog and call BS on the market and people’s thinking at the right time. This saved money for many people smart enough to listen to you and do other research to convince themselves you were right and the vast majority of the industry “professionals” were wrong, mainstream media sources were shills for the industry, and that there is no “buy now or be priced out forever”.

    People will come and go as their RE needs change. The name change may be good in the long run and the wordplay of Sound could be a basis to expand on, but maybe not since this probably isn’t going to explode as a major national blog if it hasn’t already. Besides Puget Sound is now the Salish Sea. Let’s see how well that name changes does…

  32. 32
    fabuladocet says:

    While I think it’s most likely a wise move to change the name, Tim, you’ve set the bar pretty high with Seattle Bubble. It’s short, snappy, descriptive and memorable. None of the have all of these qualities, and specifically none is short. My suggestion is to keep “Seattle” and use the double entendre of RE to form a new (short!) word.

    For instance,

    Seattle RE View
    keeps Seattle, uses RE, forms a new double entendre, and is catchy and memorable.

    other possibilities in this vein are:
    Seattle RE Wind
    Seattle RE Heat
    Seattle RE Check
    Seattle RE Cap
    Seattle RE Con
    Seattle RE Hash
    and my personal favorite,
    Seattle RE TARD*

    Spend a few minutes thinking about this and I’m sure you’ll come up with 5 more. It’s a good formula for short, snappy, descriptive and most importantly memorable names.

    It’s also scalable, since you can change out Seattle for any place name, like Portland, San Francisco, etc. That way you can take over the world someday with your iconoclastic wit and analysis. :)

    My $.02

    *Which stands for Real Estate Talk, Analysis, Review and Data, of course, before the indigenous politically correct hoi polloi get too excited.

  33. 33
    Scotsman says:

    Keep Seattle Bubble. “Bubble” and “real estate’ will be linked in people’s minds for a full generation or more, about as long as it will take to recover from this life lesson. If you must, ad a subtitle such as: Home of Seattle Housing News… and irreverent commentary on economic and housing related issues.

  34. 34
    matsayswhat says:

    I like Seattle Bubble, but if you’re absolutely set on changing it, which it seems that you are, you need to make sure the new name is snappy and memorable. “Sound Housing News” sounds boring and forgettable. If I’m out at a bar with some buddies and we get to talking about the local housing economy, they’re not going to remember “Sound Housing News”, but they will remember “Seattle Bubble”.

    So that’s why I voted “Professor Seattle” and I’ll probably be the only person that does.

  35. 35
    fabuladocet says:

    A few more…

    Seattle RE Ally
    Seattle RE A List (triple entendre)
    Seattle RE Bound
    Seattle RE Buff
    Seattle RE Buker
    Seattle RE But
    Seattle RE Coup
    Seattle RE Covered
    Seattle RE Curve
    Seattle RE Doubt
    Seattle RE Focus
    Seattle RE Format
    Seattle RE Group
    Seattle RE Key
    Seattle RE Mark
    Seattle RE Mix ***
    Seattle RE Place
    Seattle RE Press
    Seattle RE Start
    Seattle RE Wrap

  36. 36
    Cheap South says:

    Seattle Housing Information Times –

    Real Estate News Today –

    But do not use the acronyms for these suggestions.

  37. 37
    skibum1175 says:

    Add my vote for “Seattle Bubble”. After all there are more than a few websites whose names don’t quite match the essence of its offerings, yet people still link the name with the product.

    If you really want/need to change the name, maybe variations that are really close?

    NeoBubble Seattle
    Sound Bubble
    Sound Sparkle
    The site formerly known as Seattle Bubble

  38. 38
    Jonness says:

    RE: fabuladocet @ 32 – Hmmm…That’s an interesting idea. How about Sound RE Analysis? The site provides a sound re-analysis of Puget Sound RE. Meaning, there is the mainstream consensus analysis, and a sound re-analysis that provides the real state of the local real estate market.

    I’m really hooked on the imagery of the word bubble though. It’s like garden in SoundGarden. As soon as you hear it, you start seeing interesting images in your mind and begin wondering how to interpret the deeper meaning. It’s artsy and a little bit larger than real life.

  39. 39
    TheHulk says:

    How about “Tim’s Sound Analysis” or simply “SoundAnalysis”. It borrows a little from “CalculatedRisk”, but I think it conveys what you want to say.

  40. 40
    OldGuy says:

    “Remember the Bubble!” Let it be the battle cry for sound reasoning on real estate. (Buying, renting, mortgages, Helocs, etc)

  41. 41
    fabuladocet says:

    Maybe :
    Sound RESound
    Sound REThinker
    Sound REDoubt
    Sound Ground Hound
    Sound REAppraiser

  42. 42
    Haybaler says:

    I tend to agree with many others here and I think Ray at #3 has it about right. Try this…..
    “Seattle and Sound news.”

    I think the current name has earned a semblance of credibility. Build on that.
    The following is bigger than Seattle proper and the topics apply to a greater market area.

  43. 43
    David Losh says:

    I wanted to remind you that you need a Bubble Head bobble head for sale before you change the name. You could have a pink pony bobble head, but I think you, with the goatee, and holding the REALTR will work for food sign would be best.

  44. 44
    S. Marty Pantz says:

    After some thought, I suggest the bit longer-named “Seattle Housing Bubble.” Jonness and Redneck Nerd name some good points above: including the maverick heritage of this Web site and the “branding” of hearing The Tim being quoted by others as being from Seattle Bubble rather than from “Sound Housing News.” As others have said: boring!!!! Adding the word “housing” would give the newbies a bit more description of what this site is about.

    Plus, there must be some metaphor of this site to the locally-famous, now-extinct Bubbleator, but I can’t think of what that would be, at the moment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubbleator

    See also: http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/66575_fairwhere16.shtml

  45. 45

    RE: David Losh @ 43
    I’d have to get a commission for that.

  46. 46
    Scotsman says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 45

    Ouch- and that’s gonna hurt since as I recall you aren’t associated with any of the discount agencies. We’ll be paying Ira FULL PRICE!!

  47. 47
    S. Marty Pantz says:

    RE: fabuladocet @ 32
    Or Seattle RE-Bubble (having URLS like “Seattle rebubble” forwarded to the new name). This name would forewarn of any new bubble brewing, as well as acknowledging the maverick heritage of the original name.

    Again, I like what Redneck Nerd wrote above: “While Seattle Bubble has some negative connotation associated with it to some people, to others it’s a reminder that you had the guts to start your own blog and call BS on the market and people’s thinking at the right time. This saved money for many people smart enough to listen to you and do other research to convince themselves you were right and the vast majority of the industry “professionals” were wrong, mainstream media sources were shills for the industry, and that there is no “buy now or be priced out forever.” Well said!

  48. 48

    RE: Scotsman @ 46
    Nah. I’ve got the flexibility to share my commission, and good socialist that I am, I always do.

  49. 49
    Sorin says:

    Stick to Seattle Bubble. As others have said, you have great brand recognition already, and the brand makes you stand apart from the typical real estate website. If I were to do a search on Google (as I have) for Seattle Real Estate, all of the other names you suggest as possibilities could just as easily be linking to a real estate agent’s site. Seattle Bubble, by the nature of the name, says that this site is not just a RE lead generator.

    This may just be me, but seeing a name like Sound Housing News mentioned in an article doesn’t jump out as something I should take a look at. Seattle Bubble stands out and suggests a contrasting opinion from what the sales agent is telling you. Even though your goal has always been balanced data driven analysis, you still need a hook to get people in the door. It’s the same reason that a blog like Calculated Risk stands out in my mind.

    Of course, I don’t know all the data you are looking at when you consider the name change. I do see how you want to move to something more mainstream. I would just caution to make sure you don’t get lost in the mainstream RE press. Not saying it can’t be done, but I think it will be difficult to build up the same brand recognition and interest with a more conventional name.

    Either way, best of luck.

  50. 50

    I wouldn’t change a thing!

  51. 51
    shawn says:

    wow, I am like the only one who said it seems a good name and idea. I think if you do it slowy things will be fine. One way to rebrand slowly is to have both names, the original name large and prominent. And the other new one sort of a subtitle. Then slowly you start enlarging the other one while shrinking the original.

    But I can tell you that the last company I worked for had spent the whole eight years I was there trying to rebrand, and to this day, now ten years running, they cannot shed the original name because the replacement name is still not as well recognized nor as well respected.

  52. 52
    Pierce Anon says:

    The Tim, since I was a critic I guess I better step up.

    “Sound Housing Analysis”
    with sub-title: “Seattle Bubble and Beyond”

  53. 53
    Peter Parker says:

    RE: Pierce Anon @ 52 – Puget Sound,,, “Beyond The Bubble”

  54. 54
    Everett_Tom says:

    I voted other,


  55. 55
    asdf says:

    Okay.. All the current options are lame..
    How about something that indicates that it’s not just about Seattle? That way references to non-Seattle cities make more sense (farther east like Snohomish) and occasional references to Oregon/SanJuans also fit.

    SeattleByNumbers/NorthwestByNumbers (indicates the data driven approach)
    ObjectiveSeattle ( a little reference to technology (if you get this then you are probably awesome))

  56. 56
    buystocks says:

    As I’ve said before, name change seems like a very risky move. Do you have any examples of other sites in an analogous situation that have done this successfully?

  57. 57
    calebb says:

    I remember when housingpanic.blogspot.com “closed” and the author re-opened basically the same blog as sootandashes.blogspot.com. He lost 95%+ of his reader base.

    How about some clever programming. You always address yourself as %sitename% in your articles. If the user goes to seattlebubble.com, they see Seattle Bubble. If they go to soundhousingnews.com they see Sound Housing News. You can even have alternate graphics, colors, etc but identical content. The comments might get confusing, but you could keep separate comments on seattlebubble vs sound housing news. Heck, those cretins that still think there is a bubble probably have nothing in common with those seeking “sound housing news” ;)

  58. 58
    voight-kampff says:

    My vote is an emphatic “seattle bubble”
    I still dont understand why it has to change, it sounds just serious enough to go look at, thats what got me here 3 years ago.
    If I had seen any of those other names( sound housing…etc), I would have continued on my merry way. It works…well!

  59. 59
    Bubba Ho-Tep says:

    I think you should call it “New Seattle Bubble”. Then in an act of desperation change it again to “Seattle Bubble Classic” after taking note that a good portion of your readers had a bond with the old name and stopped following this blog after the name change.

  60. 60
    David Losh says:

    OK, I haven’t been doing this very long, but….

    What we did was launch http://www.BuyingSeattle.com http://www.PeruHope.com and www,SeattleHouseCleaners.com all at the same time and directed the sub domains that were appropriate to each. I’ll be redirecting http://www.DavidLosh.com to another site at the end of this month.

    I also have the http://www.FixerFixer.com site that I need to set up again, because it’s all foehad up with a weird hosting company.

    They all have links to each other and do whatever they do in organic search. My http://www.SeattleHouseCleaning.com is my pride and joy. It gets all organic search and is on page one.

    The point is that calebb is right. You should run tandem sites and inter link. You can double post the same articles to each or do two sets a day.

  61. 61
    redmondjp says:

    Put me down for ‘other’ – keep the same name!

    I agree with other posters regarding the marketing and branding. Seattle Bubble is nationally-known and recognized, and even if the bubble is over (not saying it is or isn’t), the name is snappy, catchy and will keep drawing people to the site.

    I have refrigerator magnets for both Homegrocer.com and Webvan.com, to remind me of what a collossal business mistake Webvan made after purchasing Homegrocer by dropping Homegrocer’s entire branding scheme which was the result of millions of dollars and several years’ investment. Those ‘peach guys’ were in my neighborhood daily and even children knew who they were and what products they delivered–now that’s successful marketing!

    You don’t want to end up being the Homegrocer of the RE blog world . . .

    My $.02

  62. 62
    EconE says:


    People in the industry shouldn’t even get to vote…but perhaps, had your hundreds of readers (I’m talking consumers, not industry spin artists), who’s financial futures you ABSOLUTELY SAVED…let alone the $100,000+ that you saved most of them…perhaps had they not been such chintzy bastards and thrown a little coin your way, rather than $5-$50 chump “donations”, you wouldn’t have pressure to sell out to the REIC for advertising dollars.

  63. 63
    minitheden says:

    I strongly vote to keep Seattle Bubble. Anything else is the beginning of the end. Change the by-line if you must.

  64. 64
    piker78 says:

    How about:


  65. 65
    shawn says:

    I think people are having a hard time letting go. Most are in the initial stage of shock. This is understanable and good info to get before any changes are made. Folks will move to the acceptance stage, but in that stage they might stay and accept the new name or bail and reject it.

    I was wondering how many sites there are out there dedicated to the 2000 dot.com bust? And with “dot com bust” in their name?

    Maybe not today, but there will come a time when the name Seattle Bubble will truely be dated. The questions are “is it bad to have a dated term for a name of a blog, and if yes, then to what degreee, and what are the possible repercussions?

  66. 66
    Anon. says:

    NO CHANGE! Seattle bubble has a well recognized name

  67. 67
    loadimmed says:

    I also vote to keep “Seattle Bubble”. The fact that the bubble is currently in burst mode doesn’t negate its existence and profound effect on the Seattle housing market.

    Plus, it’ll be kind of cool in a few years in a nostalgic sort of way (provided, of course, that the bubble has actually deflated by then). Don’t make the same mistake that Pearl Jam made when they changed their name from THE greatest band name ever, “Mookie Blaylock”.

    And if you must change it, I suggest “Mookie Blaylock Bubble”.

  68. 68
    The Tim says:

    Thanks for all the feedback everybody. Maybe I’ll delay the new name for a while, and in the short term work on some sort of new logo that emphasizes the alternate meaning of “Seattle Bubble,” as a sort of protective bubble around Seattle (like a snowglobe). Would be good to integrate a snappy new logo into the new site design.

  69. 69
    AMS says:

    RE: The Tim @ 68 – “Bubble,” by itself, does not indicate the direction. Maybe there will be another bubble–rising prices. Many of the people who lost so much in the “dot com” bust wanted another bubble, and they have been granted with one in the housing market.

  70. 70
    Russ says:

    How about just: Sound Housing? Drop the “news” portion.

    It’s all encompassing. News, analysis, commentary, conversation, etc.

  71. 71
    AMS says:

    RE: The Tim @ 68 – One more thing: You might need to consider the future readership. If you are going to target a new group of readers, then maybe the new name will help you head in that direction.

  72. 72
    Acerun says:

    I was going to suggest SeattleRentersWhineAlot.com but I think that is taken.
    Go with Seattle Housing News.

  73. 73
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    Hmm. I haven’t liked any of the names proposed by anyone at this point, and think it’s a pretty big mistake moving away from “Seattle Bubble”. But I have to say, “Sound Housing” isn’t bad. It’s short and snappy like Seattle Bubble, but doesn’t sound overly generic like most of the others. Plus it has the nice double meaning of Puget Sound housing and “stable housing”. If a new name MUST be chosen, then Sound Housing is my pick so far.

  74. 74
    The Tim says:

    RE: Lake Hills Renter @ 73 – Yeah I like it too, but the problem is some domain name squatter is on SoundHousing.com, so that one’s a no-go. I hate domain name squatters.

  75. 75
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    SoundHousing.net is available. So is sound-housing.com.

  76. 76

    How about a name that continues to have “Seattle Bubble” in it, but which expands on the original name to indicate you recognize that the landscape of real estate has changed since the blog’s inception?

    “Seattle Bubble / Pop!”

    Personally, I don’t know that you’d even need to register a new domain. You could stick with seattlebubble.com, but update your logo / masthead to add that little “twist” to the blog name.

  77. 77
    patient says:

    How about: “MoneyTalks”. Think about that one :-) Seriously though, keep the name SeattleBubble.

  78. 78
    Darren says:

    After the first thread I though “who cares, it’s the content we all come back for and it’ll transfer fine whatever Tim chooses”

    But now I’m starting to change my mind after seeing comments. Having a niche and a point-of-view (including a name that reflects both that and the content/audience) is pretty important. If you want to be taken more seriously or portray that air, I can see why a name change might be important, but again – your content and stats/readership will take care of that. Look at some top blogs on technorati – if Boingboing.net calls people take them seriously…pretty sure not because of the name.

    What is really the driver of wanting to make this change? Is there a future expansion or partnership that “SeattleBubble” really won’t work for? I think the current audience is very open to allowing you to stretch your brand in ways you’ve mentioned & have done already.

    I think running a poll is fine, but I’d keep a choice of “Seattle Bubble” and “Whatever you want, I’ll keep reading” as choices.

    This is an interesting chart I think you should take a look at to weigh the pros and cons of re-branding, redesigning, and in general going against what many people seem to want:

    One other thing to consider with growth – SeattleBubble lets you stretch horizontally in Seattle (employment, government, etc) extremely easy and doesn’t limit you to a real estate vertical from a naming standpoint.

    either way, I’d vote for “whatever you want” as long as your signal-to-noise stays anywhere near as incredibly high as it is right now.

  79. 79
    dydx says:

    RE: The Tim @ 1

    “Please move to the rear of the sphere.”



  80. 80
    dydx says:

    Hi, Tim –

    I vote for keeping the current name.


  81. 81
    EconE says:


    Fuck. That should be obvious. Kary is still here.

    When a$$hole Realturds still hold listings at 2007 prices THE BUBBLE IS NOT OVER.

    Until EVERY Realtor comes clean, the bubble’s not over.


    How many publicly vocal realtors that lost their house through GREED are still saying BUY BUY BUY.

    Bullsh#t the bubble’s over.

  82. 82

    Tim Call It Anything You Want

    Just don’t change the venue and the approach.

    I’m sure most of your mainstream bloggers will be here with their wonderful opinions, no matter what you call this website.

  83. 83
    Scotsman says:

    RE: EconE @ 81


  84. 84
    old timer says:

    #82 +1
    It’s yours – you call it what you want.
    Thanks for all the freebies you’ve given out so far.
    Thanks for your hard work.
    I am grateful for your efforts.

  85. 85
    Jared says:

    Tim’s Cascade Tips

    But seriously, you have not addressed “bland” or “boring” with any of the candidates.

  86. 86
    patient says:

    RE: EconE @ 81 – Very true. If anyone do not think that banks, the government, msm, the NAR and real estate agents in general are trying to sustain and prop up a housing price bubble raise your hands. SeattleBubble is as valid as ever. Perhaps even more valid now than when ist started since the complexity of the bubble fundamentals have increased by the governments ever increasing contributions. The sources of housing bubble bs and the value of calling it out is far from over.

  87. 87
    Nell Plotts says:

    Seattle RE Analysis

  88. 88
    shawn says:

    RE: EconE @ 81 – I don’t think the bubble is over, but pretty close. I expect no enlightenment after the end from the NAR, just some yammering on about how the economy killed the housing market or some other subterfuge. However, I do see many regular folks waking up and expect many more to awaken. As a result, I expect Realtors to take a hit on what credibility they have left.

  89. 89
    EconE says:

    RE: shawn @ 88

    Sure…regular folks are “waking” up. I know some of them. They have pulled their dream priced condos off the market, only to be replaced with a fresh batch of 2007 flippers still looking for a profit.

    It’s gonna take a while for all those bullshit Countrywide condo loans to work their way through the system.

    Not sure what market/housing type you’re following. I follow higher end condos myself…and they’ve got a long ways to go.

  90. 90
    AMS says:

    RE: EconE @ 89 – “and they’ve got a long ways to go.”

    …and it’s probably going to take a long time to go a long way…

  91. 91
    Jonness says:

    By EconE @ 81:

    When a$$hole Realturds still hold listings at 2007 prices THE BUBBLE IS NOT OVER.

    King County median household incomes in current dollars (i.e. non-inflation adjusted):

    2004: $64,445
    2005: $64,095
    2006: $66,936
    2007: $65,981
    2008: $64,714
    2009: $62,810


    Good times ahead for all.

  92. 92
    EconE says:

    RE: AMS @ 90

    Yup…that’s what I was getting at in my second paragraph.

    This chart from the comment section of Mish agrees with both of us!


    I’ve got all the time in the world…well…until I die.

    In fact…I could be dead within days.

    I’d better call a realtor post haste!

    Could you imagine dying a renter?

    God hates renters.

  93. 93
    AMS says:

    RE: EconE @ 92 – Thank you for the great post.

    “Could you imagine dying a renter?

    God hates renters.”

    That’s too good!

    As far as your chart goes, I am not sure that interest rates will remain low long enough. Right now people are not complaining for two reasons:

    1. This is the lull in the storm, fewer people are directly impacted one way or the other.
    2. Interest rates are so artificially low that it might be favorable to the impacted borrowers.

    I don’t expect these conditions to remain. I expect rates to creep back up about the time much of the debt gets recast based on resets to higher rates.

    –>God loves high interest paying owners who get bigger tax deductions!<–

  94. 94
    Jonness says:

    Yakima WA:

    1998 Q3 Yakima WA Median House Price: $104,643
    1998 Yakima County Median Household Income: $34,636
    House price / Median Household Income: 3.0

    2009 Q3 Yakima WA Median House Price: $157,000
    2009 Yakima County Median Household Income: $34,156
    House price / Median Household Income: 4.6

  95. 95
    EconE says:

    RE: Jonness @ 91

    Thanks for the link!

    It’s interesting how incomes seemed to start growing at a more rapid pace from ’96 (I’m assuming tech money) onwards. After the tech-bubble burst debt increased incomes. One (wo)mans debt was another (wo)mans income.

    Now that the House ATM is “out of order”…what’s that gonna do for incomes?

  96. 96
    Jonness says:

    Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Area

    1998 Q3 Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Area Median House Price: $186,816
    1998 King County Median Household Income: $48,320
    House price / Median Household Income: 3.87

    2009 Q3 Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Area Median House Price: $346,500
    2009 King County Median Household Income: $62,810
    House price / Median Household Income: 5.52

  97. 97
    voight-kampff says:

    Seeing as how the majority of adds on your site are RE related, maybe you feel the current name may some how scare away potential advertisers. Although I feel you are well deserving of their advertising dollars, if agents, etc are scared by what the current name may convey to their potential clients than:

    Good luck the tim

  98. 98
    scott says:

    I’d rename it from “Seattlebubble” to something more imminent like… “SeattleShortSales”, lol

  99. 99
    EconE says:

    RE: AMS @ 93

    Maybe we’re on to something here.

    Perhaps the NARs new slogan should be…

    “Owners go to Heaven, Renters go to HeII…you wanna gamble with God?”

  100. 100
    EconE says:

    This post (#100) has been reserved for AMS.

  101. 101

    “Owners go to Heaven, Renters go to HeII…you wanna gamble with God?”

    God rewards those who buy expensive houses and incur 30 year mortgages. But maybe not in this lifetime.

  102. 102
    The Tim says:

    By AMS @ 93:

    –>God loves high interest paying owners who get bigger tax deductions!<–

    By EconE @ 99:

    “Owners go to Heaven, Renters go to HeII…you wanna gamble with God?”

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 101:

    God rewards those who buy expensive houses and incur 30 year mortgages. But maybe not in this lifetime.

    As far as potential NAR slogans go, personally I prefer perfectfire’s signature in the forums:

    “Remember, if you rent it’s not a home, it’s a hovel.”

  103. 103

    RE: Jonness @ 91 – But that still leaves the issue of whether median income is at all meaningful. In addition, you need to know the reason why the median income is dropping. I would guess that in 2004-2007 it was dropping largely because new people were moving into the area, taking starter jobs paying less than the median, which would have a net effect of driving up prices because of increased demand.

    The more recent drops in median income would, on the other hand, more likely be problematic, and probably even understate the problem, because of the nature of medians. 100 people becoming unemployed would hardly move the median at all, even if all 100 had been over the median before.

  104. 104
    Bill Grivens says:

    I would keep the name to Seattle Bubble. Why change it, who cares if you don’t feel we are in an economic bubble, it is a reminder of the past.

  105. 105
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 101

    So does that mean that NAR is a religious organization? Are Realtors going to be claim a property tax exemption and 501(c)(3) status? Are Realtors members of a clergy? I guess that would explain a lot. Dogma is dogma whether it comes from the Church of NAR or from Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swigart. But IMO the Church or NAR is a little more like the Church or Satan than the Church of the Benevolent Almighty.

    Maybe the new site name should be “The Real Estate Exorcist” and the marketing slogan could be “We’ll kick the NAR out of you!”

    This message brought to you by NAA . . . (The National Association of Agnostics) – We just don’t know for sure what to think.;-)

  106. 106
    Jonness says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 103:

    RE: Jonness @ 91 – But that still leaves the issue of whether median income is at all meaningful.

    Let’s state the question. Is median household income in a community at all meaningful to median house price?

    Let’s think of median household incomes as the income the majority of people earn in a community in a given year. Let’s think of Median house price as the price the majority of people pay for a home in a community in a given year

    Let’s use the typical homeownership rate of 67% in order to establish about 2/3rds of people purchase as opposed to renting.

    Now let’s solve:

    Let’s say the median household income falls from $65K/yr to $10K/yr. Median house prices will not go up or sideways, they will go down. In fact, they will go down relative to the drop in median household incomes. As far as the reason median income dropped, it doesn’t matter.

    Results in vacation and tourist communities will see less influence if the majority of residents are slaves to rich outside owners.

    Let’s review the question: Is median household income in a community at all meaningful to median house price?

    Let’s answer: Yes


  107. 107
    AMS says:

    RE: Jonness @ 106 – There could be a shift in the distribution of homeowners. If only those above median income earners own homes, and if there is a big gap between the median income of the total population and the home owner income, then it wouldn’t quite have the impact you suggest.

    That said, if the median income fell to $10k/year, we might want to look at the Gini coefficient.

    One more comment: It’s really home buyer ability (income) that’s most important in determining the value. As always, the buyer must be willing too.

    By the way, I generally agree with your approach, but it there is some weakness.

  108. 108

    RE: One Eyed Man @ 105
    I did see a bumpersticker a while back that read:
    ” Thank God I’m an Athiest.”

  109. 109
    AMS says:

    RE: EconE @ 100 – Thank you.

  110. 110
    AMS says:

    RE: The Tim @ 102 – This is one of the best discussions in quite some time.

  111. 111
    AMS says:

    RE: Jonness @ 106 – It might be interesting to look at the following data sets:

    1. Household income of owner-occupied.
    2. Household income of the general population.
    3. Asking prices of housing prices.

    What’s generally happening, nationwide, is that the lower end of asking prices is falling faster than the top end. In the San Jose example I posted in the open thread, the 25th percentile went down by about 50% (=~1/2). The median was down about 33% (=~1/3). The 75th percentile was down about 25% (=~1/4). These number are rounded a bit, but they are reasonably close.

    Wonder what’s happening to incomes. Certainly incomes of the general population are not down by these same levels, but are incomes on the lower end going down faster, alternatively up slower, than the upper end?

  112. 112
    Scotsman says:

    Silly people. Realtors are Gods. Just ask them.

  113. 113
    AMS says:

    RE: Scotsman @ 112 – And God likes fast sales with big commissions.

  114. 114

    RE: Scotsman @ 112
    You’re not familiar with Realtorctes, the Greek god of slime?

  115. 115
    EconE says:

    So I guess it’s settled huh?

    Seattlebubble.com vs. GodHatesRenters.com

    Let’s put those two up for a vote!

  116. 116
    EconE says:

    Besides…God wants 10% where Realtors only want 6%.

  117. 117

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 108 – Has that been done yet? If not, you might want to run with that (but does anybody *buy* bumperstickers?)

  118. 118
    EconE says:

    By Rhonda Porter @ 117:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 108 – (but does anybody *buy* bumperstickers?)

    I’ll bet the “Visualize Ballard” ones don’t come cheap. You probably have to spend 400k on a dilapidated 2BR bungalow to earn the right to put one on your Volvo or Saab.


  119. 119
    Jonathan Berry says:

    Seattle Bubble is a good brand. I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you. However, if you want to change, do you really want to sound as dull as the alternatives provided? I’ll apologize in advance for reading only a few of the 118 previous responses. Here are a few variations on the sensible side:
    Seattle Down to Earth
    Seattle Homes Down to Earth
    Puget Homes Down to Earth

    or if you want to go in an other direction:
    Homes – Space Needle in My Assets

  120. 120
    Scott Weitz says:

    Considering Seattle is still in a bubble, this name change may be premature.

    If you must, how about ‘Seattle Real Estate Roundtable’

  121. 121
    Aaron Smothers says:

    “Seattle Realistic”


  122. 122
    EastBellevueEtherBinge says:

    I’VE GOT IT!

    Seattle Babble


    Seattle Real Estate Babble


    …some variation on the above…

    It’s the perfect transition from “Seattle Bubble”…it shifts the focus from the boom/bust more towards the truer nature of the blog – conversation about Seattle area real estate…without totally sacrificing the rythm of the brand.

  123. 123
    Jonness says:

    By AMS @ 107:

    RE: Jonness @ 106 – There could be a shift in the distribution of homeowners. If only those above median income earners own homes, and if there is a big gap between the median income of the total population and the home owner income, then it wouldn’t quite have the impact you suggest.

    That said, if the median income fell to $10k/year, we might want to look at the Gini coefficient.

    One more comment: It’s really home buyer ability (income) that’s most important in determining the value. As always, the buyer must be willing too.

    By the way, I generally agree with your approach, but it there is some weakness.

    I see what you are getting at from a theoretical perspective, but I don’t believe it is a real world scenario. The homeownership percentage is 67%. Since median implies 1/2 above, it’s impossible for only those above the median to own homes.

    I think the median is a useful measure, because it tracks the money in a community and generally increases at about the same percentage of incomes above and below it. IOW, if the median is $60K, and most homeowners earn $100K, as median goes up, so do homeowner incomes. If there is a shift in the distribution of rich people in the community, the median dynamically adjusts to incorporate a portion of those incomes. In this way, it is an excellent relative indicator of the amount of overall money in the system.

    In this way, median income is a relative measure of the amount of money in a system available to chase assets. If that money supply increases, so do the asset prices. If it goes down, so do the asset prices. Median household income is a fair gauge of a community’s wallet.

    That said, there are two main ways to fill that community wallet. One is an overall gain in earnings. The other is a gain in credit money. A useful measure of increased credit money in the system is comparing median household incomes to median house prices. If wages track sideways, and house prices shoot up, most likely you are witnessing an unsustainable credit bubble that will eventually burst.

    Other factors matter, but IMO, none as much as the above. I agree it would probably be best to exclude all non-homeowners in the ratio, but that is not practical. What we have is median household income, and I believe it is a very useful measure because it is a good relative gauge of real money in the system. Once that measure is quantified, people can look to other measures such as the creation of an unusual amount of credit money in order to explain a further fluctuation in asset prices.

    I think you are saying there is a way to be more precise in theory that is not practical due to lack of data availability. I totally agree with that. I’m just explaining why I believe median household income is a very useful tool for our purposes.

  124. 124
    AMS says:

    RE: Jonness @ 123 – “I see what you are getting at from a theoretical perspective.” It pretty much begins and ends right there. It was to counter your theoretical example of the median income going to 10k. There is little doubt in my mind that if the median income went to 10k that Seattle would resemble a ghost town. Also I pointed out to Kary the other day I spoke with a 90 year old lady. Her income is low, but she is a homeowner.

    That said, the home ownership rate is something I had no considered. As the home ownership rate approaches 100%, the median income of homeowners better approximates the general population. If the home ownership rate were 100%, then both populations are the same. At 67%, only 1/3 of the population does not own. While this could be measured, if we had the data, given what we know about the general distribution of wealth, I doubt it makes much difference.

    How much error is in your analysis? It’s going to be my guess that the median income of the general population and that of home owners is close enough that the error is low.

    I generally agree with this approach, and I only point these weaknesses out so they can be anticipated and averted as best possible.

  125. 125

    RE: AMS @ 124 – And as long as we’re throwing out discussions from the other day, you can have increases in population, which most likely would decrease the median income (either unemployed or starting positions), but also increase the demand for housing, raising prices at least until new units are built. So you can’t even use median income as a predictor of future prices, at least over the short term.

  126. 126
    AMS says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 125 – I don’t think you have your difference equations right here.

    If total income changes at the same rate as the population, one might expect that median income remains the same. Generally a higher number of individuals suggests higher total wages, and thus a constant median household income. Increases in productivity or inflation increases household income.

    “…but also increase the demand for housing, raising prices at least until new units are built. ”

    If you keep total income the same, as you suggest, where does the new money come from to support an ever increasing housing prices?

  127. 127

    As to the first part, I’m assuming the new people will lower the median income because they will either not have a job, or be in a starter position that doesn’t pay median wages at first. Total income for the community should rise, however, but likely lag the increase in population as a percentage.

    As to the second part, I’m not saying the total income will stay the same, only that the median will drop. Unless the new people are living in their cars, they will increase the demand for some type of housing. Even if it’s a rental, that will raise the price of rentals, which might cause some existing renters to move to owning, but it is entirely possible it would just affect the price of rentals and not the price of owning a house.

    I would agree that overall, over the very long term, the median income and median price would be somewhat correlated. I’m just saying you can have changes in one that cause changes in the other in the opposite direction.

    An interesting experiment would be to see what the price of something like oranges is at Safeway in various parts of the country, and compare that to their median income. I know Safeway used to adjust prices even on the very local level, such that prices might be different in Seattle than in Bellevue. I’m not sure if they still do that or not, but I’m pretty sure prices are not the same nationally.

  128. 128
    Jonness says:

    By AMS @ 124:

    I generally agree with this approach, and I only point these weaknesses out so they can be anticipated and averted as best possible.

    Originally, the question I addressed was:

    “Is median household income in a community at all meaningful to median house price?”

    I felt it necessary, as a first step, to prove there is a connection between the two, if for no other reason than to get past claims that researching this area is a waste of time.

    As for margin of error, you make a great point, and I would like to understand more about how to calculate it (even if it’s a rough approximation). You are stronger in statistics than I am and have a much better understanding of how to do that than I do.

    I agree with you that the margin of error is low.

    The charts I made the other day pointed out something I found astonishing. San Fransciso hit 12.5% price:income at the peak of the bubble. What’s interesting is when the bubble popped, and all the alt-a/option-arm credit money bled out of the system, the ratio fell back to the extreme lows of 1997.

    I guess that demonstrates price:income is only one factor in an overall bigger system. IMO, the two heavy hitters are the amount of income money and credit money in the system. Non-resident buyers are a factor, but they are subject to what rents will return on their investment. This keeps house prices tied to local incomes.

    If a person could marry income and credit money into a single indicator, I think it would be very telling. I believe the data for credit expansion/contraction exists.

  129. 129
    AMS says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 127 – This is deflationary: “As to the first part, I’m assuming the new people will lower the median income because they will either not have a job, or be in a starter position that doesn’t pay median wages at first. Total income for the community should rise, however, but likely lag the increase in population as a percentage.”

    I guess we really need to discuss the distribution of the population by age. If the distribution were constant, in other words if birth-death rates held constant in time, then I’d expect the so-called domino effect in terms of incomes. New entrants start low, and everyone moves up, just as is the case with those who model existing home sales in this manner.

  130. 130

    I don’t agree that would be deflationary. You still have more dollars chasing the same number of units, so it would be inflationary even with declining median income. Total income would be up, but median income down.

  131. 131
    AMS says:

    RE: Jonness @ 128 – What I am guessing, without data, is that the median income of homeowners is approximately that of the general population. Kary keeps suggesting that the distribution of homeowners doesn’t generally include the lower end. This would shift the median income up for homeowners, but the question is by how much. When you have a 67% home ownership rate, and given the distribution of incomes, I don’t suspect there is much difference. In fact, the difference could approximate zero contrasted to the larger picture.

    If there is some difference that’s significant, then I suspect that it may be represented linearly, at least when we are ‘close’ to the median. “Close” needs to be defined here. I’d like to know how much the median price to median incomes ratios differ:

    Median home price:general population median income
    Median home price:home owner median income

    Even if there is a difference, if the difference remains constant, by some metric, such as percentage, then we can establish trends. This is the same as having a speedometer that reads 10% low. Sure there is some error, but it’s know, and it’s a constant in terms of percentage.

    There are some areas, such as Honolulu, that might have a bunch of owners that have very little earned income. I suspect that Key West is another area where median income might not be the best metric. I am also sure that there are areas in the LA area that attract high income earners, but the median metric over a larger area will eliminate this problem.

    I’ll think this over some more…

  132. 132
    AMS says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 130 – “Total income would be up, but median income down.”

    This is almost like the median price of homes falling but the total value of all sales increasing. Is this inflationary or deflationary?

  133. 133
    Jonness says:

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 127:

    As to the first part, I’m assuming the new people will lower the median income because they will either not have a job, or be in a starter position that doesn’t pay median wages at first. Total income for the community should rise, however, but likely lag the increase in population as a percentage.

    But there are always new people entering the system. Is the percentage of new people currently entering the system substantially greater than during the comparison period? To even get started on this discussion, I believe we need to take a look at those numbers.

    As far as the predictive ability of median house price to median household income, I believe the recent chart I made of San Francisco shows the measure is quite useful. It doesn’t mean house prices will always track incomes. It means, once you explain one indicator, you can account for others and get a meaningful understanding of what factors are affecting house prices. Look at the peak of SF and tell me that was a great time to buy.

  134. 134

    RE: AMS @ 132 – I don’t see that they are at all similar. In the income situation you still have more people looking for housing, and that will drive prices up. If you had people moving out of an area, that would drive housing prices down, regardless of what happened to median income as a result (absent maybe a disaster that wiped out a lot of the housing).

    In the price of housing situation, you’re only looking at a sample of transactions for a given period to get the total value of all sales. The more analogous comparison would be median price to total value of all housing. There you could easily have median values fall and the total value go up, if say for example builders were building a bunch of starter houses (or condos if you were including condos).

  135. 135

    RE: Jonness @ 133 – There won’t always be people entering the system, at least on the local level. New Orleans is a good example of that. But they also had destruction of property at the same time, so the net loss of people might not have had the impact on rental prices that it otherwise would have.

  136. 136
    Jonness says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 135 – You appear to be saying that since an outlier situation can occur that is typically a minor factor in the majority of communities, the main factors of gauging house price affordability are rendered useless in all communities.

    Or are you just saying it is an additional factor that must also be accounted for?

    IMO, this is a very important distinction.

  137. 137

    I’m saying those are additional factors that might make the main factor unreliable, especially if you’re comparing two different cities, or looking at one city over a short time frame.

  138. 138
    AMS says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 134 – First to the “science” of statistics: We must assume that the “science” of statistics is correct, otherwise we have a different topic to cover first. For this forum, it seems we need to assume that the scientific statistical analysis is correct, within the established bounds.

    Next we should discuss the whole idea of the marginal pricing to be used to determine entire market value. This is the so-called market capitalization. Once again, this is an established metric. It is also well-known that there are some weaknesses in using marginal pricing to value an entire market, especially in narrowly traded markets.

    Beyond that, if median income is going down, where is the money going to come from to push housing prices higher? The only place it can come from is a re-allocation of personal spending. Thus some other expense must be reduced, and this gets right back to my suggestion that health care can be paid for with lower housing prices.

    If total housing, quantity, stays the same, and total income stays the same, we know average income will remain the same. If the population increases, possibly household size will increase?

  139. 139
    AMS says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 134 – Also how about this-

    On average is it reasonable to suggest that an area with a median home price to income ratio of 1.0 is more affordable than an area with a ratio of 10 which is more affordable than an area with a ratio of 100?

  140. 140
    AMS says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 135 – Clearly a natural disaster reduces total home values. When a higher percentage of people leave an area total income will go down. On a basic supply and demand basis the property values will also go down, as supply greatly exceeds demand (I assume here that the number of homes destroyed is less than the number of households that left the area).

    That said, for every person who left NOLA, another community gained a new member.

  141. 141
    Jonness says:

    RE: AMS @ 138 – That’s along the lines of something I was contemplating. – In the given scenario more people move in and earn cheaper wages while housing demand increases because the people need a place to live. Doesn’t that create jobs because people need to build new houses in order to satisfy demand? And since, as we established, we have this massive new cheap labor pool available to build those homes, the increase in demand is at least somewhat offset by the far lower cost to build?

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