Friday Flashback: “No Slides, Good Condition to Build On”

Here’s an amusing pair of photos from the Seattle Municipal Archives, spotted by Vintage Seattle.

At left, a real estate for sale sign posted on Perkins Lane in Magnolia in 1938. At right, a home on the very same Perkins Lane in 1954.

1938: Perkins Lane is slide-proof! The ground here is healthy and analysts feel certain it will stay that way.
Landslide at 2445 Perkins Lane, 1954
1954: It looks like the foundation has kind of taken a deep breath and just corrected itself a little bit.

For more crystal clear reminders of why it’s never a good idea to trust a real estate salesperson’s predictions about the future (although the seller in this case may or may not have been a legally-defined “salesperson”), hit the full Friday Flashback archive.

(P.S. – I highly recommend taking some time to head over to Vintage Seattle and browse their archives. They’re always turning up fascinating stuff over there, like this fun series of photos of the Space Needle being built.)

[Note: Edited to make the intention of the paragraph after the photos more clear.]

The purpose of our Friday Flashback series is to remind people why it’s never a good idea to base your home purchase decisions on the word of someone with a vested financial interest in selling as many homes as possible for as much as possible, no matter what. If you’ve got a good example of local home salespeople or other industry shills on record making fools of themselves in the years before the bubble burst, shoot me an email.

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.


  1. 1

    Just how much is that view worth? A civil engineer said ” No slides?”
    What was the question? What kind of playground equipment should we install?
    Nice place to live if you don’t mind your house in the road:

  2. 2

    Perkins Lane is worth a bunch. I first came across it early in my attorney career. I was the attorney for bankruptcy estate that owned a life estate remainder. To retain the interest we had to pay the life tenant something like $1,000 a month for as long as she lived. As I recall, she was well into her 90s at the time. I don’t remember how much we ended up getting for the remainder interest, but I think it was well in excess of $200,000, and that was back in about 1985 or so. I never did go out to see the place. That was before the 1997 slides–I don’t recall slides being an issue with any of the prospective buyers.

  3. 3

    Tim- You like to call BS on the spin of the real estate industry, but today you’re doing some spin yourself. “For Sale By Owner” is what the sign says…. that doesn’t quite earn the caution of “never a good idea to trust a real estate salesperson”. One would think there would be some blame on the engineer in this story too.

  4. 4

    RE: Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA @ 3 – Good catch, but even if there had been an agent they should have been relying on the engineer, not their own opinion.

  5. 5
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA @ 3

    Good Call Geordie!

    I would also like to emphasize to not trust ANY person (without your own due diligence) who has a financial interest in you making a decision one way or another that could benefit them.

    The larger the “GOLDEN CARROT” the more you should question……………


  6. 6
    The Tim says:

    RE: Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA @ 3 – Given the available information, we don’t know whether the individual advertising the land in 1938 was an agent or not. I was very careful not to use the word “agent” for that very reason.

    However, we do know that they are a “real estate salesperson” by definition because they are in fact attempting to sell real estate.

  7. 7

    RE: The Tim @ 6 – Weak. Someone selling their own car is not known in common usage as a used car salesperson. They are simply the seller. Also, until July 1, real estate agents were real estate salepersons under the law.

    “(2) “Real estate salesperson” or “salesperson” means any natural person employed, either directly or indirectly, by a real estate broker, or any person who represents a real estate broker in the performance of any of the acts specified in subsection (1) of this section;”

    So both in common usage and legal usage, a real estate salesperson is an agent (now a broker under the new law).

  8. 8
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: The Tim @ 6

    I just deleted my comment as its the same as Kary’s above.

  9. 9
    The Tim says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 7 & One Eyed Man @ 8 – Doh. Forgive me for not knowing the RCWs like the back of my hand. I guess I should have used “a person selling real estate.” I still contend though that in common usage, “salesperson” is an appropriate title for someone who is selling something, whether professionally or not.

    I’ve updated the post anyway with an added remark for clarity.

  10. 10
    Dirty_Renter says:

    Lighten up, realtors…and enjoy Pansy:

  11. 11

    Really? That’s the change you’re going to make? Disappointing.

    I can find lots of previous posts here in which you use “real estate salesperson or salespeople” as a term for real estate agents or real estate professionals. Why not admit that’s what you meant when you first posted this?

    You painted real estate professionals with a broad brush (when there weren’t necessarily any involved to begin with) and then pretend that you didn’t.

    Isn’t the story here about a For Sale By Owner and claims by an engineer that are proven to be wrong? To me it seems like the obvious lessons are:
    – Buyer beware, hire your own inspectors and engineers
    – Hire a professional to represent your interests – a real estate broker and/ or an attorney

    Maybe Kary has a good link, but I seem to recall that in Washington state the majority of real estate related lawsuits involve For Sale By Owner sales. I’d be interested to see your reporting in that department.

  12. 12
    The Tim says:

    By Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA @ 11:

    I can find lots of previous posts here in which you use “real estate salesperson or salespeople” as a term for real estate agents or real estate professionals. Why not admit that’s what you meant when you first posted this?

    Um, because it’s not what I meant?

    The sentence after the photos was intended to point out the Friday Flashback archives, which are in fact full of quotes from real estate professionals. Since I wanted to use the word “more” at the beginning of the sentence, I avoided using the term “agent” or “professional” on purpose, and chose to go with “salesperson” since we don’t know whether or not the owner in this case was also an agent.

    Sorry if that’s disappointing to you, but that was my thought process.

  13. 13

    By Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA @ 11:Maybe Kary has a good link, but I seem to recall that in Washington state the majority of real estate related lawsuits involve For Sale By Owner sales. I’d be interested to see your reporting in that department.

    I have no idea whether that’s the case or not, but FSBOs don’t tend to know what they need to disclose. Even worse, some of then have a natural tendency to try to hide what they need to disclose.

    Agents on the other hand can tend to be hyper-sensitive about disclosure, because if there is a lawsuit everyone involved with the sale will tend to get named, and it’s unusual that the listing agent not be named (in part because of the partial statutory shield that sellers get when they use an agent). I even saw a lawsuit recently where the appraiser was a named party!

  14. 14
    ray pepper says:

    RE: Dirty_Renter @ 10

    Geordie and Kary look what this guy called you two and me!!!!!…Even worse he sent you both the dancing Pansy horse complete with the music………..

    Gotta love it!

  15. 15
    wreckingbull says:

    I think it is good advice. Don’t trust someone who stands to gain financially from the transaction. Hire your own professionals, and when I say professionals, I mean attorney, geotech, structural engineer, and inspector. If your ‘real estate salesperson’ (RCW 18.85.010) happens to be licensed in any of these fields, still don’t trust them. Find your own.

  16. 16
    RoflCatDown says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 15 – I believe that they are, by law, excluded from participating in the sale in that capacity due to an implied conflict of interest. Regardless of the agent’s actual intent.

  17. 17

    RE: RoflCatDown @ 16 – I’m not sure what you mean by that. Can you clarify?

  18. 18
    Cheap South says:

    The sign says “150 ft. frontage – will divide”. The second pic shows what they really meant.

  19. 19
    tomtom says:

    Geez. The used real estate salesmen are pretty testy these days.

  20. 20
    CCG says:

    At least it wasn’t guaranteed by a financial engineer. Then it would have crashed a lot sooner.

    “why it’s never a good idea to trust a real estate salesperson”

    Any salesperson, really. The only thing you can trust is your own due diligence.

  21. 21
    RoflCatDown says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 17 – That an agent cannot act as the inspector of record for a client because the is a perceived conflict of interest. It is in the agent’s interest that the sale go through, regardless of what issues a home inspection may reveal.

    Basically, because of your interests it would create an ethical wall.

  22. 22

    RE: RoflCatDown @ 21 – Re-reading, I guess it was Wreckingball’s post I mis-read, and thus yours didn’t make sense to me. (Edit: Reading both posts yet again, I really don’t understand why I didn’t understand.)

    I would agree that’s a conflict of interest. I’m not sure there’s a law against it, but I would agree the buyer at a minimum would be foolish to have their agent be their inspector.

    This topic came up on another site, and the conflict could actually apply in other situations than the inspector representing the buyer. What if the inspector was with the same firm as either the buyer’s or seller’s agents? What if the inspector represented another buyer who would like to buy the same type of property? If an inspector wants to become an agent, they probably should plan on no longer being an inspector.

  23. 23

    By Dirty_Renter @ 10:

    Lighten up, realtors…and enjoy Pansy:

    That was random. This, in contrast, is somewhat relevant, and somewhat funny, until it turns into an advertisement for two real estate agents.

  24. 24
    Snigliastic says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 2 – That’s cool that confidentiality no longer exists.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    One Eyed Man says:

    RE: Snigliastic @ 24 – Being as it was a bankruptcy estate, all of what is disclosed would probably be in the public records. Even if it weren’t already a public record you’d have to do a lot of searching just to find a pool of potential people that the client could have been. The likelihood that the disclosure would have been a breach of a duty of confidentiality is negligible at most.

  27. 27

    A predictor of the future (i.e. current) market perhaps?

    Thanks for the Vintage Seattle link Tim. I will avail of it.

  28. 28

    By Snigliastic @ 24:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 2 – That’s cool that confidentiality no longer exists.

    Nothing I said isn’t out at Sand Point (or where ever the Feds keep their old records), nor was any of it ever confidential. In fact, most of that information was mailed to thousands of people at the time. That actually helped us get more for the property, because most of the creditors in that case were real estate investor types.

  29. 29

    RE: ray pepper @ 25 – That is pretty good!

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