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
    me says:

    So true. I am for very personal reasons very motivated and looking right now, but the only way the houses I’ve looked at last month could make 10% below market is if they were completely dismantled, the soil moved to a larger lot in a nicer neighborhood and a completely new solid house build there instead. We’re seeing the complete corpses at starry-eye markup on the market. It’ll take a few months for real despair to set in, and maybe then there’ll be deals. So far, I am reluctantly accomodating myself with the idea of a rental.

  2. 2
    Lurker says:

    Heh, that was my thought after several years of looking at homes – at least in our price range. Also, it’s winter so you are sorting through all of the leftover crap.

    Prices may be more favorable in a few months however one of the big problems facing this market is that many people can’t sell any lower w/out it becoming a short sale. Foreclosures are now expected to be higher in 2011 than 2010. I have a hunch that this is going to be a long and very slow death that won’t be turning around anytime soon.

  3. 3
    WestSeattleRenter says:

    I’ve been checking houses for sale in our neighborhood (West Seattle) for a couple years now, while we’ve been renting. We’re expecting to have to move within 1-1.5 years (due to the rental situation we’re in), so my search has been becoming more “real” lately since I’d like to at least consider buying something, if the timing/price is right. I have pretty low standards for the kind of place I want, and I’m not all that picky about style, age, etc. Location, price, and just a couple fundamentals (a yard, 2+ baths) are the big concerns. Even with all that, the number of places I would consider buying recently has dropped off dramatically. It’s gone from about 12-15 houses in the greater W. Seattle area to about 3-4, at best. Everything isn’t just borderline … it’s downright *bad*, or way out of my price range. The expensive ones aren’t selling though, they’re just sitting there, and dropped of the market after a while, based on my anecdotal searches. We’re very committed to staying in the area, and I really hope the number of houses for sale picks up this year, and into summer, otherwise we’ll have very few options. It’s slim pickin’s out there.

  4. 4
    Jonness says:

    “Seattle is the fourth-worst U.S. market to invest in this year, Seattle-based real estate website Zillow.com reported Tuesday.”


  5. 5
    softwarengineer says:

    The Equity Money’s Dried Up

    And that means home owners have to, God forbid, use their own savings [what savings?] to fix up their property(s). This means the homes will deteriorate and will get worse with time.

    Same thing with cars, as this Great Recession allegedly bottomed out [LOL], I’ve noticed more and more cars with body work and broken windshields driving around…I imagine a lot of folks not only have cut out their cable and gym memberships, but their auto insurance full coverage too. I noticed similar accelerated deterioration of property during the 70s Recession too.

    Tim, we’re simply out of home equity ATM machine loot to fix up the units for sale, IMO.

  6. 6
    ARDELL says:

    Be careful out there. Had a past client call me about a house he was planning to rent (already gave notice on his current apartment rental). He was planning to rent for a year and retain a first right option to buy (which is why he called me.)

    I looked it up and the Trustee Sale date (foreclosure) is in March. His current landlord already found a new tenant, with his help, as he really thought he was moving to this “rental” house. Luckily the landlord had not signed the new lease yet, and it is possible he can rescind the notice to end his current lease. Otherwise he is going to have to move out and not to the place he thought he was going to be moving to.

    Make sure the property you are renting is not upside down.

  7. 7
    Snigliastic says:

    just starting to look myself, up in Snohomish County. It’s amazing what 500k doesn’t buy you.

  8. 8
    EconE says:

    Too much deferred maintenance on homes out there currently.

    Note to homeowners: Spend more time working on your home, less time collecting refrigerator magnets.

  9. 9
    Rental4Us says:

    Buying? Try looking at the Rentals right now. Either they are one year leases, fantasy rent pricing, houses that have been on the Rental market for a long time or outright dogs in need of a flea bath.

  10. 10
    robotslave says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t this kind of inventory exactly what we should expect to see in a declining market? Like, very basic Supply/Demand stuff?

    I think maybe we ought to keep our “Market Analyst” and “Potential Buyer” hats on different hooks, and remember not to put one on when we’re already wearing the other.

  11. 11
    WestSideBilly says:

    RE: WestSeattleRenter @ 3 – Pretty much the same boat, and pretty much observed the same thing. Lots of garbage and lots of $1M+ dream properties. Not much quality in the $300-600k range.

    RE: Rental4Us @ 9 – Would you want a shorter or longer lease? Either way, I’ve noticed the same thing, including a fair number of rental homes that are also on the market… with the rental asking price enough to cover PITI on a 0% down loan and leave money to spare.

  12. 12
    Dirty Renter says:

    By Snigliastic @ 7:

    just starting to look myself, up in Snohomish County.

    Knock me over with a feather.

  13. 13
    Snigliastic says:

    RE: Dirty Renter @ 12
    Don’t get it.

  14. 14

    By robotslave @ 10:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t this kind of inventory exactly what we should expect to see in a declining market? Like, very basic Supply/Demand stuff?.

    Yes it is, but in this particular case it’s probably more extreme due to the difficulties selling a short sale. When you’re underwater without other funds, you can only sell through a short sale, and many potential sellers understand that reduces your chances to a point where they’re no longer interested (or they think that they shouldn’t go the short sale route for other reasons).

  15. 15
    ARDELL says:

    RE: robotslave @ 10

    This kind of inventory is exactly what to expect every January for as long as I’ve been an agent, which is over 20 years. You have last year’s leftovers and most agents and buyers are watching for “the next new thing out the gate”. They have already seen and rejected (or bought) 2010 inventory.

    In other words you are looking at the merchandise sitting on the table on the last day of the 3 day sale. Picked over inventory. That is true of every Jan 3 and new options come out weekly and increasingly from then through May 15 or so. Then we start heading down the other side of the Inventory hill again toward year end.

    Some exceptions, but that’s the general annual cycle of real estate inventory.

  16. 16
    HappyRenter says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 6
    Where can you look those things up?

    Thanks for this essential piece of information!

  17. 17
    Jugajoosh says:

    Yes. Like a $669k home in Bryant that has broken windows. What’s up with that?

  18. 18
    Jugajoosh says:

    Gravatar test.

  19. 19
    ARDELL says:

    RE: HappyRenter @ 16

    It’s pretty much common sense, but you can probably read Seattle Bubble comments from every January saying inventory is crap! Then someone can put those on a graph. for you.

    Does everything have to be on a graph to appear true these days? I can make a graph. What color do you like?

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