Weekly Open Thread (2013-10-28)

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Here is your open thread for the week of October 28th, 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.

Note: I’ve upped the comment limit in open threads to 25 comments.

Be sure to also check out the forums, and get your word in the user-driven discussions there!

NOTICE: If you have comments to make about politics or economics that do not somehow directly relate to Seattle-area real estate, they may be posted in the current Politics & Economics Open Thread.  If you post such comments here, they will be moved there.

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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
    ChrisM says:

    Article on renter experiences in the investor-owned SFR rental market.

    “Initially, the former employee said, the company took care to make sure renovations were up to snuff. But before long, the task of overseeing dozens of independent contractors tending to thousands of homes spread out over huge geographical areas became simply too much, even though the company was hiring staff as quickly as it could.”


  2. 2
    Blake says:

    Signs of the times…
    Nearly 50% Of All Home Sales Now Cash, As Institutional Investor Activity Hits New High

    Families Blocked by Investors From Buying U.S. Homes
    -snip- “Both investors and traditional buyers are trying to snap up cheap homes before prices go higher, but the investors have the advantage of paying cash and not having to go through a convoluted mortgage process,” said Michael Hanson, a former Federal Reserve economist now working for Bank of America Corp. in New York. “People are being bid out of some markets because of investor demand.”

    The homeownership rate declined to 65 percent in the first half of this year from a peak of 69.2 percent in June 2004. The level is expected to stabilize at about 63 percent, adding more than 2 million households to the rental population, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Haendel St. Juste.

    Families are still able to live in single-family homes with a yard for their kids to play in, said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president. However, they’re sending their money to investor-landlords, rather than paying off a mortgage.

    “The pendulum is swinging too far from the direction we saw during the run-up to the mortgage crisis,” Blomquist said in an interview. “Then, we tried to make everyone an owner. Now, we have people who have the income to pay a mortgage and have the desire to own a home who are stuck being renters.”

    Blackstone has led hedge funds, private-equity firms and real estate investment trusts raising about $20 billion to purchase as many as 200,000 homes to rent after home prices plunged 35 percent from the 2006 peak.

  3. 3

    $400K Buys You This 55″ Wide Sliver Home in Montlake

    I’m not kidding either.


  4. 4

    RE: Blake @ 2

    Cash Has Been King for Years Lately In Real Estate

    I went to Mor Furniture to get leather living room furniture [yes, I finally replaced my cloth couch] last friday and they offerred me 0% unti 2017….I told them no, put it all my my credit card. At least when I pay 100% of its credit card balance off I get 1% tax free cash back, beats the 0% or so taxed income it got unspent in the bank….LOL

  5. 5
    Haybaler says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 4
    Next big consumer item you buy try to bargain for a 3% price discount for payment in full with cash. We all know the merchant is paying that fee to the bank for the use of your credit card…and you are going to pay that card off in full with cash anyway. Merchant loses nothing, you save more and the bank makes nothing.

  6. 6
    Astro Kermit says:

    I was hoping you guys can help me out. A friend was looking for a home in the West Seattle area.

    4552 SW Othello St
    Seattle, WA 98136


    He asked me to do some comps for him and some analysis.

    There was a 44.1% price drop from Dec 12, 2003 ($445,000) to Nov 02, 2004 ($265,000).
    The home is currently on the market for over $608,000.

    I toured the place and contacted one of the agents working for the listing agent for the Form 17 but he didn’t have any (strange) but gave me a verbal summary. When I pressed him for details, he said it used to be a “drug home”. I asked if it was used as a meth lab or a marijuana growth operation, but he didn’t know. Besides the Form 17 (which was not disclosed since the home was renovated), is there a way to find out more to what happened to this home 2004?

  7. 7
    jacob says:

    Other than an FHA appraisal are sellers supposed to disclose low appraisals if a deal falls apart? Hypothetically a property is listed at 100k appraisal comes in at 150k, deal falls through, is relisted @ 200k. Would the seller have to disclose the recent appraisal? Just curious, especially since pending / relisting seems a bit common lately.

  8. 8
    ChrisM says:

    RE: Astro Kermit @ 6 – In another state I used to go to the police dept and ask for a list of activity for a given property. That may give you your answer.

  9. 9

    RE: Haybaler @ 5

    I Got More Than That

    I got a 3 piece leather set; the couch has two recliners, the love seat has two recliners and I got a separate recliner too….$1500….sounds FAR better than Biglots’ cheap prices, much better quality too.

    The salesman bought the same home bar set I did….the same leather set too….we both decided [laughing our heads off as single male homeowners] that china cabinets are a women thing men really hate [but don’t admit it]….I’m adding a Galaga, Pacman, Ms Pacman cocktail table to my bar. The bar stools are the “cats’ meow”….

  10. 10
    Blurtman says:

    “Her adult daughters who live with her aren’t in a position to work — one is a new mom, and another is due to give birth soon.

    Both daughters were impregnated by a forest spirit as they slumbered under a banyan tree.”

    If you cannot afford to feed your children, or will not bring them into a stable family unit, please use birth control, and don’t expect others to take care of them.


  11. 11

    RE: Astro Kermit @ 6
    Toxic Substances Can Penetrate Sheet Rock and the Baseboard if it Was a Meth Lab

    They can condemn these houses too. It was probably a grow house. Pot is far more plentiful as a side occupation too, especially with medical and recreational legalization.

  12. 12

    RE: Blurtman @ 10

    Another Reason American Kids Aren’t Learning Math and Science

    Much of this domestic poor mentality overpopulation ends up cramming families in apartments….imagine the hopelessness those kids are being raised in.

  13. 13
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 12 – I was raised in a relatively poor background. Dad did not attend high school, had to work to support his family. Grandmother used to look for food with her mom on garbage dumps during the depression. I am a millionaire. The nanny state creates dependency and destroys self reliance.

  14. 14
    ARDELL says:

    RE: jacob @ 7

    The appraisal is the property of the buyer’s lender. The seller does not usually see it. So the answer to your question is probably no.

    That said, agents do have to answer questions honestly. If you ask the direct question “did you reduce the price because it didn’t appraise during the last escrow?” then they would answer yes or I can’t say or “so they said” :).

    Details of the buyer’s side may be confidential. Even if the buyer cancelled based on the appraisal, that does not necessarily mean the seller knows what it appraised for, unless the buyer tried to negotiate vs merely cancel once the appraisal came in short. There are times when we only know “yes it did appraise” or “no it did not appraise”. Rarely is the seller told what it appraised for and the buyer is not obligated to tell the seller if it appraised for more than the sale price, as example, and rarely if ever would do that.

    But that does not mean the person answering yes or no ever saw the actual appraisal since you would be asking the Listing Agent vs the Buyer’s Agent. The buyer pays for it like the home inspection. Lenders usually give a copy of the appraisal to the buyer these days, but the seller often doesn’t hear about the appraisal at all unless there is a problem, which is not often, and almost never sees it.

  15. 15
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Astro Kermit @ 6

    What you are saying is not correct. Have your friend’s agent get the Form 17. It is available to agents without needing to ask for it. I have read it. I cannot say more as we are not allowed to talk about other agent’s listings. But do know that what you are saying is not correct.

  16. 16
    whatsmyname says:

    By Blurtman @ 13:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 12 – I was raised in a relatively poor background. Dad did not attend high school, had to work to support his family. Grandmother used to look for food with her mom on garbage dumps during the depression. I am a millionaire. The nanny state creates dependency and destroys self reliance.

    So Granny grew up before the nanny state, and ate in garbage dumps. You grew up in the nanny state, and are a millionaire. Are you saying being a millionaire is a state of dependency? Is failure to forage for food in the dump a reflection of destroyed self reliance?

  17. 17
    Blurtman says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 16 – Granny came to this country as a toddler, an immigrant to this land where the streets were paved with gold. Granny did not have children she could not care for, nor have children out of wedlock. Ditto her daughters. It’s about personal responsibility. Take care of your own shyte. Don’t expect others to. Be responsible.

  18. 18
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 17 – While I agree with your call to personal responsibility, the chronology you present in post 13 in no way supports the bumper sticker at the end of it

  19. 19
    Blurtman says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 18 – I believe it does indeed. The lessons learned from my grandparents through their words and examples was to work hard. You don’t work, you don’t eat. Also, as immigrants and first generation Americans – get an education. And work hard. Don’t expect handouts. Save your money.

    If, on the other hand, the lesson was to live irresponsibly, and not worry about work because someone else will pay, the story of my life might have been much different.

  20. 20

    By ARDELL @ 15:

    RE: Astro Kermit @ 6

    What you are saying is not correct. Have your friend’s agent get the Form 17. It is available to agents without needing to ask for it. I have read it. I cannot say more as we are not allowed to talk about other agent’s listings. But do know that what you are saying is not correct.

    What she said. Just because an agent says a Form 17 doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that the Form 17 doesn’t exist. I’m not commenting on this listing, but some agents are liars, and some agents are lazy. Some agents are both.
    As far as drug houses go, and I’m not commenting on this listing, there were many, many more pot grow operations than there were meth labs, especially within the city. And just because an agent says that a house was a drug house doesn’t mean the house was a drug house. Some agents are liars, and some agents are confused/ addle brained. Some agents are both.

  21. 21
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 19 – Didn’t you earlier say that your dad (as a first generation American) didn’t get an education? Had to work? But you are a millionaire. Why didn’t he work hard like you?

  22. 22
    Blurtman says:

    RE: whatsmyname @ 21 – He did indeed work hard. sometimes he even worked two jobs. Bought and paid for a home, always paid cash for new cars, put two kids through college, as well as private high schools and grammar schools. Had the number of kids he could afford. Didn’t expect nor get a handout from others. Because of his example, which I could never equal, I also worked hard and did not expect handouts. Had he instilled the idea that others would pay for my folly, things might have turned out differently.

  23. 23
    whatsmyname says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 22 – I hate to razz you too badly, because I agree that the family in your article is making atrocious and stupid decisions. But –

    It sounds like you, yourself, got some pretty good handouts: Good home, good transportation, private schools, and college. A huge foundation, free to you, and a lot more than was given to the people in your article. Where would you be without those things? No need to break an arm patting yourself on the back for your virtuous self reliance. At the very least, you stand on the shoulders of someone else’s work.

    Also, you’ve lived your whole life within the borders of the same “nanny state”, yet you see no created dependance in yourself; no destroyed self reliance. By your own account, it did not do these things to you. Your own life (as you represent it) denies your argument.

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