Monday Open Thread (2013-02-11)

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Here is your open thread for Monday February 11th, 2013. You may post random links and off-topic discussions here. Also, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like to see covered in an article, please make it known.

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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

    By ARDELL @ 13:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 11 – I was once very vocal on radio about an HOA of a Single Family Home complex (PUD) suing a handicapped person to force him to remove the ramp he made to get himself in his front door. The HOA decided the only portion of the CC&Rs that applied was the allowance for a “pet” door. They wanted to make him put in a wheel chair sized DOGGY DOOR!

    Yes it was a lawsuit. Yes I had an opinion. No I didn’t give a RA which court was ruling on the issue. You don’t have to know all about which court to have an opinion on the subject matter of a case.

    I would agree that to have an opinion you wouldn’t need to know about the court with subject matter jurisdiction. But to have an opinion worth spreading to others on national TV on what was probably a First Amendment issue (probably speech or religion–I don’t remember), you better damn well know about our country’s federal court system. That he didn’t know that almost certainly means he clearly had no legal training on which to base his opinion.

    In your situation with the HOA, I would say that’s also different for another reason. There you’re basically dealing with what is in essence contract interpretation. There is it possible to have an understanding of words without any legal training, and also more likely that you’d have legal training that didn’t in any way touch on the court system that decides the issue. But when it comes to Constitutional issues, before you get to the First Amendment you’re almost certainly taught about Marbury v. Madison, so you would learn about the judicial branch of government.

    But still, how could you get to whatever age he was back 5-10 years ago without having ever heard of a federal circuit court? That is shocking to me.

  2. 2

    By David Losh @ 14:

    9th Court? What the heck?

    Bill O’Reilly is an entertainer, he doesn’t need to know anything.

    Okay, I guess Dave has never heard of the Ninth Circuit either.

    Yes, O’Reilly is an entertainer, but he would be a better entertainer if he actually knew something.

  3. 3

    By ricklind @ 17:

    GoodWife and I live on Cap Hill/First Hill boundary and are thinking about buying something very local. Am I crazy for looking at local condos? Are there folks here who cover this market?

    No, you’re not crazy for looking for such a condo. I would caution you though that not all condos are created equal when it comes to the strength of their associations and the finances of those associations. And you might not be able to fully assess that until you’ve seen the association’s resale certificate.

    I was in a condo complex down in Tacoma looking at maybe three units, and one of the agents was nice enough to leave a recent resale certificate in the unit. It showed a horrible situation with very expensive maintenance needed to protect the building envelope. Apparently that seller had one sale flip due to the condition of the association, and didn’t want it to happen a second time.

    One thing that may help prior to making an offer is to try to determine how many of the units in a building are owned by those who purchased between about 2006 and 2010 (or so). If that percentage is significant you may be looking at a building that will be going through a lot of short sales and possibly even foreclosures going forward. But even doing that you may get an unpleasant surprise when you see a resale certificate.

    In the neighborhood you’re talking about, last year I helped a client buy a condo on Capitol Hill and I would say the inventory then was even worse than the inventory at the time for SFR in the more outlying areas. The better units in the better buildings went quickly. I would guess that is still the case, but I haven’t really followed that market since my sale closed.

  4. 4

    NBC news has a piece telling people how to watch the SOTUA.

    I’m glad technology has made our lives so much easier. ;-)

  5. 5

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1

    Excellent Legal Case Example Kary

    I’m sure there’s more to this case than HOA contract requiments though….special needs must be accomodated and HOAs don’t always want ’em and their Access buses in the neighborhood. The HOAs would never admit to this bias though.

  6. 6
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 1

    Yet another reason I will never, EVER buy in a socialized living situation (e.g. condo, PUD, place with an active HOA, etc).

    A pedantic interpretation of the sign rules (oh my goodness, that sign is 4 inches – 4 INCHES too big!) combined with an inability of either side to climb down get’s a pox on both houses from me.

    Feud over sign could force Fairfax’s Olde Belhaven to sell square

    Courtesy of

    In addition to checking out the finances of a condo, a prospective purchaser is, IMO, wise to see if the “culture” of the HOA fits them. In other words, if you’re a “by the book” person and the association is “close enough is good enough” or “comply with the spirit, if not the precise letter” or vice-versa, then it’s more likely that a conflict will arise.

  7. 7
    David Losh says:

    RE: No Name Guy @ 6

    I watched a guy destroy a condo association with constant nit picking to a point no one could engage him on any level. He became head of the board, changed the by laws ever so slightly, and continued a reign of iron fisted intolerance. As condo prices decreased he encouraged the Board to buy a unit for a guest rental. It all sounded good, but gave him more control of the voting.

    He was head of the association for twenty years. Others would step in, but the workings of the Board were too complex. For this guy it was a full time job, others didn’t have the same ability, or time, which was pointed out constantly. The building had great financials, was in great shape, but the owners were captives.

    You do need to attend board meetings, and see if the culture of the building will suit you.

  8. 8

    RE: No Name Guy @ 6

    Yes, But….

    There’s plenty of good reasons to live in a HOA with affordable dues, I’ll add….it keeps foreclosed squatters lowering home values in the neighborhood [for years in some cases] when not paying dues becomes a grounds for the HOA to take the home legally from the contract default buyer….

    Junk cars and backyard debris aren’t allowed.

    If the access roads are HOA owned, they can become no parking fire lanes….meaning no one can park and watch your house from the street…a great security feature. Also, the amount of vehicle motor oil spilled on the streets is almost none [no street parking allowed], meaning its not later tracked on your home’s carpets….

  9. 9

    RE: David Losh @ 7

    Join the Board If You Have Time

    Once you’re a board memebr they leave you alone.

    Another way to get ’em off your back for nit picking… off your mortgage principle. They love you then, you’re not a price degradation short sale or foreclosure risk. The bigger fish to fry in other words.

  10. 10

    You could tell the same stories about abusive governments, but would the conclusion be to avoid government? The members of the Seattle City Council would make really abusive members of an HOA board.

  11. 11
    No Name Guy says:

    Another gem on the NAR

    Follow the money…..

  12. 12
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 8
    SWE – that’s what the zoning board is for. No petty HOA dictator who wants to tell you your hose isn’t rolled up properly needed to take care of these kinds of things. I had a crack house down the street from me. Cops couldn’t nail ’em clean, so I suggested that they use the Health Department and Zoning / Housing Code folks to harass them out of the ‘hood. Lawn overgrown? Promotes rodents – housing / health code violation. Unserviceable vehicle in the yard? Not allowed in a residential zone (it’s not a junkyard). Etc.

    Kary – The conclusion is to avoid toxic governments and HOA associations. And that is why I’d also never live nor buy property in Seattle – just a bunch of busy bodies that want to micromanage every aspect of the serfs, uh, I mean subjects, oops, wrong again, I mean “Citizens” lives. The CULTURE of the government in Seattle and for that matter King County, is toxic. Does that mean its not right for everyone? Nope….just not me. And that’s what I stated in the first post – make sure the culture (of the HOA, city, county, state) agrees with YOU and what your values are. If not, look elsewhere before plunking down piles of money on an “asset” with high transaction costs and that is semi-illiquid.

  13. 13

    RE: No Name Guy @ 11 – I’m not a big fan of NAR (as opposed to WR), but I’d call that more unpolished poop. Not terribly insightful.

    Also, I’ve always complained about the inaccuracies of NAR’s predictions, but you could say the same thing about everyone else’s projections.

  14. 14

    RE: No Name Guy @ 12 – When I lived in Seattle they did next to nothing about my messy neighbor. That may have changed since then–I don’t have first hand experience.

    I would agree you should check out the HOA, but unfortunately unless you live on acreage they are necessary, IMHO.

  15. 15

    My earthquake site’s “significant” earthquake list has been filling up, mainly because of large quakes following the 8.0 in the Solomon Islands. But there’s one that made the list that is only 5.1, and it’s not one in the U.S.

  16. 16
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 14

    On the former crack house down the way from me several years ago, Snohomish County (I live in unincorp) was actually quite responsive.

    I called in the place on the drug line. Once the cops finally called back (a couple months later) what ever they did worked. The activity that had been raising suspicion certainly dried up nearly immediately (folks driving up, one person sitting in the car, idling, while another went inside for a few to 15 minutes). If they couldn’t bust ’em directly, I suggested the cops send a letter noting that suspicious activity has been reported and that they’d be watching. I also suggested as a legal :-) harassment strategy that they (the cops) sic the Code Enforcement folks on ’em for all the dead vehicles and over grown yard.

    Didn’t take long until the dump was cleaned up and the suspicious behavior had stopped.

  17. 17

    RE: No Name Guy @ 16 – Drugs are one area where some governments act.

    There’s the store in Skyway we’ve talked about in the past, where the King County Sheriff did more on the drug infested apartment located across the street in Seattle than the SPD.

  18. 18
    Blurtman says:

    The feeling is definitely there.

    It’s a new morning in America.

    The old cynicism is gone.

    We have faith in our leaders.

    We’re optimistic as to what becomes of it all.

    It really boils down to our ability to accept.

    We don’t need pessimism.

    There are no limits.

  19. 19

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 17:

    RE: No Name Guy @ 16 – Drugs are one area where some governments act.

    There’s the store in Skyway we’ve talked about in the past, where the King County Sheriff did more on the drug infested apartment located across the street in Seattle than the SPD.

    Right. On 51st Ave S, across the street from the Ghetto Mart.

  20. 20
    ricklind says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 3
    Thanks, Kary,

  21. 21

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 19 – That’s better now, isn’t it?

    Back when I lived in the area it never really bothered me, and I’d even stop by that store to pick up a six pack. But one of my cat sitters apparently got harassed just driving by the place, which seems sort of amazing given that it’s a 30 mph speed limit and no stop signs to slow you down. I had to tell her an alternative route to my house.

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