Seattle City Council preparing to regulate Vacation Rentals

It’s no big surprise that the Seattle City Council has been preparing to set regulations on vacation rentals, such as homes you find on AirBnb or Home Away/VRBO.  Typically, vacation rentals allow home owners to rent out all or a portion of a home for short periods of time. Vacation rentals have become very popular with guests in search of a different experience than what you find staying in a hotel.  Inside Airbnb states there are approximate 3,818 homes are being used as a vacation rental in Seattle that are rented, on average 110 nights out of the year. According to Inside Airbnb, 35.8% of the “hosts” or owners have more than one active vacation rental.  People who I know who operate vacation rentals do so to help cover their housing expenses or because they plan to eventually retire in the vacation/second home.

Daniel Beekman of The Seattle Times wrote an article yesterday, “Seattle may slap new rules on Airbnb to ease the rental crunch“.  The article fails to mention that Tim Burgess, who is the council member leading the charge on this issue, received a large contribution from hotel lobbyist.

The council is proposing to limit the number of days that can be rented as a vacation rental to 90 in a 12 month period. Burgess assumes that the other 9 months out of the year, these properties will be available to rent for periods of 30 days or more. This theory is flawed.

Often times with vacation rentals, an entire month is not “booked”. You might have someone staying one week and someone else staying a weekend in a month – not allowing a month to be available for a full 30 day rental period.

In addition, Mr. Burgess assumes that when a home is not booked for a vacation rental, that it will become available for longer term (30 days or more) rentals. Vacation rentals are furnished properties and, if rented for long term, will most likely not help those who are looking for “affordable housing”.

I do agree that vacation rentals should be regulated. Especially with some of the extreme examples that the Burgess used, citing:

“We have whole floors of apartment buildings that have been taken off the housing market,” he said. “We have entire buildings that essentially have become hotels.”

The “hosts” or owners who are gobbling up condos and essentially creating a hotel are a real minority and, in my opinion, should be treated more as a hotel and subject to zoning. However, folks who own just one property should be allowed to do so as a vacation rental without the 90 day limit restriction.

Should the regulations go through, limiting home owners from being able to use their properties as a vacation rental beyond 90 days, we won’t see these homes becoming long term rentals or helping the housing market. Many vacation rental home owners really enjoy the hosting aspect and meeting guest on vacation or business travel. What I think we will see is frustrated host eventually just sell their vacation homes during this hot market and again, that Seattle home will not be added to the long term rental stock.

Some neighborhoods, like West Seattle, lack hotels (we have one small motel) and actually need short term rentals to serve the neighborhood. Especially considering the alternative of just trying to get out of West Seattle and into a downtown Seattle hotel when West Seattle is where you want to stay.

From the Seattle Times article:

“The 90-day cutoff would affect just 20 percent of listings for entire houses or apartments in Seattle, according to a recent Airbnb report, Burgess says. The December report said almost 80 percent of entire-home listings here are rented for 90 nights or fewer per year…

“We don’t know how many of those are primary residences,” Burgess said. “But imagine if we put 300 homes back on the long-term rental-housing market. That would be worth a lot. To build 300 new units would cost more than $70 million.”

Burgess is looking at only allowing those who live on the property as their primary residence to be able to rent the homes longer than 90 days. His figures of having this impact only 20 percent of the listings is probably inaccurate.

I sincerely hope the City Council will take some time to do more research before impacting 3800 properties.  And a majority of those homes will not go back on the market as long-term rentals.

If you own a vacation rental in Seattle, I recommend that you reach out to your council member to share your story.

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Seller Will Review Offers on Monday…

cc4d542f-3346-4b02-930c-2b5b443d80edA seller setting a time in the future when they will review all offers at the same time has become common enough to warrant a blog post explaining the general pros and cons and procedure for this type of listing instruction. I just did a spot check of new listings in Kirkland 98033 and a full 2/3rds have this instruction, including both single family homes and condos. If you look only at the single family homes, the percentage is even higher. There is very little written on this topic that can be googled, so I will try to explain the ins and outs of this process best I can. Everyone does it a little differently, so this is by no means a full explanation or an absolute description that pertains to all listings with this instruction. But it should serve well as a guide to those who have not run into this yet, such as first time buyers just starting to look at homes to purchase.

First it should be noted that the SELLER, and not the Agent, must direct this instruction. Usually as a result of a conversation with the seller regarding whether or not they “have to” respond to the first offer quickly. In fact while I noted 2/3rds of the listings have the direct wording “…will look at-review offers on…” At least half of those who didn’t show that restriction, throw in vague language insinuating that the seller will not be responding quickly because they are out of town for a few days. A roundabout way of saying “…will look at offers on…” loosely.

Let’s lay out the mechanics of how this works before discussing the pros and cons from both the Seller and Buyer side of things. To that end I will describe how I do it.

Usually I list a property on Wednesday night after midnight, which is actually Thursday morning. I do this because the public sites don’t always pull the photos in the same data pull as the listing information, causing the listing to appear in mobile instant alerts with no photos. By listing a property in the middle of the night, the photos have time to catch up with the listing by the time people wake up and view the new listing on their phones or laptops. So I do this whether there is a “…will look at offers on…” instruction or not. Most often the “…will look at offers…” day and time will be Monday in the evening with a deadline for receipt of offers in the afternoon. This gives the agent for the seller time to print out and review the offers, call agents if needed for explanations or changes, and often summarize the offers in advance of meeting with the seller to review them.

It really is as simple as that without going into the particulars of how, when and why to apply this instruction or not. So we’ll move quickly into what this means for Buyer and Sellers with some of the pros and cons.

BUYERS:

When you first see a listing come on market that you want to see, you usually contact your agent. These days the first thing the agent looks for is this instruction, because it almost never shows in the public remarks and only in the Agent Only remarks. I don’t have a good “why” for that except that the public remarks has a limit as to number of characters, and most if not all of that is used to advertise the property with no room left to go into other topics. The agent only remarks area is even more limited, but there is usually room to very briefly describe this agent instruction.

The main reason the Agent for the Buyer first looks for this instruction noting how FIRM…or not…the instruction is, is to determine how quickly the agent needs to meet the buyer at the property.

If you see a property come on market on Wednesday or Thursday and they are not looking at offers until Monday, you still want to see it as early as possible to have time to consider the property before writing an offer. But if this instruction appears, you might not have to jump up from work with no notice or leave the children standing in front of school waiting for you to pick them up or interfere with the baby’s normal nap time. ALSO not all agents can jump up “right now” to run over to the property the minute it hits the market.

So the primary benefit to buyers and their buyer’s agent is it gives them a bit of time to schedule a convenient and mutually agreeable showing time.

That does not mean you wait until a Sunday Open House if the property comes on Market on Thursday and they are looking at offers on Monday. In fact most of the time I do not do an Open House during that 4 to 5 day period which encourages the buyer and their agent to view the property privately, which is usually better for the buyer. The more time you have after seeing the property to investigate further, collect your thoughts, make a good and firm decision before writing an offer…the better. The time frame is short enough from list to review date. Use that time wisely.

The second and possibly only other benefit to the buyer is it gives them some time to fully consider both the property and their offer before needing to submit that offer.

Some people are very quick decision makers and others are not. From what I have seen, buyers who have competed in multiple offers without success respond much more quickly than those for whom this is their first offer. This is not a “how to win in multiple offers” post, and in fact my next post may be “how to LOSE in multiple offers”.

This is just a basic outline of a common practice that most all buyers need to be aware of if they are looking for homes in some of the most popular neighborhoods in the Seattle Area.

Cons to the buyer of course are that they have to wait until Monday for an answer from the Seller and they are more likely to have to deal with multiple offers than if they could write an offer within an hour of the home coming on market and put a response time of same day. However this “con” from the buyer side will be addressed more as a “pro” from the seller side.

SELLERS:

Whether it is a strong or a weak market, over the 25 years I have been helping sellers sell their homes and buyers buy them, most every seller likes the property to get past the weekend before responding to offers. Given the best buyers often work for a living, unless they are cash buyers, the seller would like the people who are working for a living to have a chance to see their home before the seller responds to offers. They like their home to be listed before the weekend and they like to look at offers after the weekend. This is nothing new. In fact I just saw a house that used a wishy-washy “…will look at offers on…” stated as “Seller would like to wait until after the Open House on Sunday to respond to any offers.” I’m not a big fan of wishy washy as it leads to confusion. Some buyers will read that as a hard and fast indicator that they have plenty of time, only to be very upset to find that the house was sold earlier and the Open House was cancelled.

It is very important for the Agent for the Seller to have a very LONG and detailed “What IF?” conversation with the seller, to pin this down very clearly as to the sellers’ wishes. If the seller is a couple, you need to have this conversation with BOTH sellers.

This is not to say that the Agent should guide the seller to a “…will look at offers…” instruction. But it is important for the agent to know the sellers intentions by asking questions such as:

“If you receive an offer on the first day the property is on market and the buyer wants a same day response, are you prepared to accommodate that offer as written?”

The answers to that question are many and varied and almost no one answers a clear YES. That surprises some buyers and even some agents that the seller wouldn’t be very happy to have a good offer on the first day and take it on the first day. But in my experience the answer is usually another question as in “Do I HAVE to?” Once the seller has indicated a reluctance to accept an offer, the Agent for the Seller needs to go through a whole series of what ifs to come to a full understanding of the Seller’s intentions as to how they plan to react to offers.

Historically the “reasonable” time frame for responding to offers has been 2 days, not counting the day the offer is submitted.

In the above noted scenario of listing by very early Thursday morning, the anticipated response date and time would be Saturday by 9 p.m. here in the Seattle Area where a day ends at 9 p.m., unless stated otherwise. HOWEVER the buyer is the one who types in the response date and time in the offer and what was previously reasonable and customary is not what all or even most buyers will do in a hot market.

Since control of that response date in the offer is on the buyer side…it is important for the seller to give an instruction if they do not intend to comply with whatever a buyer may write. It is not good for anyone to start off on the wrong foot by the seller being angry at the time given or the buyer being angry that the seller chose not to respond by the time given.

Most sellers whether they have an Open House or not would prefer the home be shown all weekend when most people are available to see it, than respond on Saturday night. So Sunday night would often be the earliest date the seller expects to respond and Monday night is not a stretch and gives those buyers who weren’t available until Sunday, or even very early Monday if they were out of town for the weekend, a chance to see the property.

You might ask why not longer, and the answer to that is buyers are often frustrated with waiting 4 days and so extending that to a week or 10 days is really pushing it and usually causes more harm than good. That is a conversation the Agent for the Seller and the Seller discuss in the “what ifs” discussion. Every Seller will have a different opinion and there are no hard and fast rules and every Agent for the Seller will have a different counsel on that subject. For the most part, since I can’t speak for every Agent in the Country, I am basing most of this on how I do it and on conversations I have had with actual sellers. But the options can be many and varied.

The obvious Elephant in the Room from the buyer side is “Aren’t you just trying to start a bidding war?” Or from the seller side “Do I HAVE TO take a full price offer?”

This is where the issue gets very controversial and it is not uncommon to get some very angry calls within the first hour the home is on market.

1) NO the purpose is NOT to instigate a bidding war. The purpose is to give the seller a reasonable time to market his/her property before having to accept an offer. By any definition and anyone’s perspective, 72 hours seems reasonable. So Thursday to list, Friday-Saturday and Sunday to view and prepare offers, and Monday to submit and respond, seems more than reasonable. Except to the person who wants to be “The Early Bird Who Catches the Worm”, and I don’t blame them. But that, in many if not most cases, does not give the Seller ample time to market his/her home.

For some sellers “ample time” could be much longer or possibly shorter. But the bottom line is the seller gets to decide what is and is not “ample time”.

2) Pretty much yes…you do “have to” as to the seller’s question of whether or not they have to accept a full price offer. At least this is the conversation BEFORE the home is listed for sale. Mainly because the Agent for the Seller needs to confirm that the seller is willing to take the price at which they list the home.

It’s OK to hope for multiple offers and a price higher than the list price. BUT it is NOT ok to list the home for less than you are willing to take.

To some extent the rules and practices of this particular topic have changed somewhat since Craig wrote a post with his concerns Titled “Offers to be Considered on a Future Date” Is this Really Fair to Buyers?” in that sellers have to attach the instruction before the home is listed and must note whether or not they intend to reserve the right to NOT wait until that date to respond. Still, reading his post via that link in conjunction with this one is advised.

I wish I had 10 or more links to others expounding on this topic, but the only other has been here on Rain City Guide that I can find. If you see any others on “…will look at offers on…” vs simply multiple offer situations which I will cover in my next post, please do put those links in the comments. Thank you.

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2012 More Homes SOLD = Fewer “for sale”

Lots of talk about Low Inventory since Jan 1 2012. Most suggesting that there are fewer sellers who want to sell, or are able to sell. I’ve yet to see anyone point to the obvious conclusion…that fewer are “For Sale” because more “Have Sold”.

Looking at the 1st 6 weeks of 2012…yes inventory is much lower than 2009, but then 79% more homes have sold in the first 6 weeks of 2012 than in the same period of 2009. Result? Fewer are For Sale becasue 79% more have Sold.

graph (25)

Given the Tax Credit boosted the number of sales from 1,114 in 2009 to 1,669 for the same period in 2010 , to be riding 19% higher than 2010 without a Tax Credit is pretty significant.

graph (26)

When you strike a number for Standing Inventory at the end of a month and say it is “low”…remember to add back all the properties that have sold during the month.

Often fewer are For Sale…because someone else bought them.

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King County – All Residential Property – Stats not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

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The Seattle Condo Market: Are Sellers in La-La Land?

Having looked at several downtown condo listings lately (we have a client shopping for one right now), it seems to me that there is a real disconnect between comp values and listing prices. Based on my purely anecdotal investigation, condos are selling for less than $500/sf; many if not most condos on the market are listed at more than $500/sf. My client was interested in one listed well north of $600/sf, with two recent sales in the same small building (about 20 units), one just above $300/sf and one in the $430’s.

The listing agent and I exchanged emails. I expressed my concerns about the property appraising at a price that would be acceptable to the seller given the list price (and the agent’s admonition that the sellers are “motivated but not desperate”). In response I got this:

I have never in my long real estate career, had a problem with an appraisal–even in today’s market. One yesterday came in at 10% over list. I promise to justify the pricing if we can come to mutual acceptance with the appraiser. I have a way of doing it that seems to work well.

My client just forward me a link to this blog piece about this very topic, which includes this passage:

For just about every condo appraisal, the most suitable comparables are sales from the same building. That can lead to some appraised values that may disappoint some sellers/owners. The biggest item condo owners need to understand is that the appraised value of their unit will be determined by the most recent similar sales available to the appraiser.

So I’m curious to hear the experiences or insight of others: Does there seem to be a disconnect between list prices and “market value”? Or, more directly, has anyone had a problem with a downtown condo appraising for a sale price?

Please note: I am NOT calling ANYONE out…

Seattle – What’s Happening “today”?

newsseattleTwitter is fast becoming the best source of “What’s Happening?” in any given area, on any given day. If you are one of those people who thinks it is “silly” to record “What are you doing?”, think about it from the perspective that you might be doing what someone else would consider doing, if they knew it was happening.

You become the “news” source for local events, when you report your whereabouts at a local event. You become the restaurant critic when you tweet from a local restaurant about the food and service.

Like it or not, the collective “we” values real information from people on the street, having the experience and noting that experience in “real time”.

So what IS happening in Seattle? Twitter has a “search box” into which I will now put the word “Seattle” and this is what we learn:

@MyWashingtonSt tells us “The Bite of Seattle” Open til 9pm tonight!! Premier Food Fest FREE ADMISSION www.biteofseattle.com

Now that we know that there is an event today called The Bite of Seattle and that it is open until 9 p.m., we might want to know if it is “worth” going to? What do people who are actually there have to say about their experience?

To dig deeper into real time info on the event, change the words on the search box to the event title. In this case I change “Seattle” to “Bite of Seattle” and find:

@Mr10K: We will be reporting to you live from the bite of seattle today people. The Neema taste tests will show no mercy on any booths today!

Maybe you and Mr10K don’t have the same tastes in food, but at least you know you can get a “merciless” review of the booth offerings by him throughout the day, so you can try to hit the “best” booths when you head out to “Bite of Seattle” later today before 9 p.m.

“Using Twitter” is not simply about telling people what you are doing at any given moment. It’s a huge and growing way for people to get the news THEY want at any given moment in time, and pretty much just about any where.

Using Twitter is not all about “I have an appointment at 2 to show a house in Bellevue” from @ARDELLd 🙂 It’s a way for people to use search terms to help them get a glimpse at what other people are doing, that they themselves might like to join.

Twitter has become my news source. Twitter reported that Michael Jackson passed, before CNN could “confirm” that. Twitter told me that Walter Cronkite passed away. Twitter told me that I could catch a radio show with Jeff Turner @respres, 5 minutes before it aired so I could turn on the audio while continuing to work.

Twitter can make you more productive and keep you on top of everything that is happening. You can control how much or how little “noise” you want, by limiting the people and news sources that you choose to follow, or by using a “sort” application like TweetDeck (just one of many).

The search box opens a door to over 2,700,000 people talking about…and you choose which topics are of interest to you, when you pick a search term.

If you have never, ever been to Twitter and have decided you are not going to…it may be time for you to think about why…and what that says about you vs. Twitter.

The Buyers are out, and trying to buy, but…

Buyers are out, and trying to buy, but they don’t seem to be quite as successful as some of the more breathless news reports would lead you to believe.  I have always liked the Pending Sales statistics from NWMLS because they represent the most recent monthly snapshot of new contracts on listed properties – i.e. a Buyer and a Seller have made a deal.  But recently a lot of those ‘deals’ have not closed, the Seller has not gotten his or her money, and the Buyer has not gotten possession of the property. It appears that a lot of these current transactions, which are indicating a high level of Buyer’s intent to purchase, are falling out or being delayed for long periods.

Here is a chart built from NWMLS published statistics of Pending vs Sold data – the chart is built by taking a two-month moving average of Pending (previous month) vs Sold (current month) data. Note that this post expands on an earlier post by Ardell in her Sunday Night Stats.

Let’s call this chart the Fall-Out Ratio – we may want to keep an eye on it.

(Required disclaimer: Statistics not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service)reilingteamcom-fall-out-ratio-0906

Historically the fall-out rate has been well under 10%, but then in early 2008 the fall-out rate started climbing like a rocket. Recall that we had the mortgage market meltdown in late 2007, and lenders started dramatically tightening their lending practices. Then we had the larger financial and business crash in late 2008, and more people started losing their jobs – and the other 90% got nervous. It was also in late 2008 that we started seeing a lot more short sales in our Seattle/Bellevue area. Recall that in a short sale, the insolvent seller is trying to avoid foreclosure by selling the property and getting the lender to accept less than is owed on it. That lender approval process is often slow and uncertain, and it certainly is contributing to this rise in the Fall-Out Ratio. Short sales may be 20% or more of our current sales activity, and those delays may also be a major contributor to why the average Days-on-Market measure isn’t dropping in concert with Months Supply. Other contributors to the fall-out rate would include failure to reach agreement on inspection, and failure of financing. I’m sure we’ll get a lot more insight on causes from the comments by our great RCG contributors.

Seattle International Film Festival!

This past Christmas, I bought my nephew Josh a 20-pack gift certificate to the Seattle International Film Festival and we’ve been surfing the SIFF movie sorter finding all kinds of films that are on both of our “must see” lists.  Last night we saw a Midnight Adrenaline showing of “I Sell the Dead.” Yes, more zombie movies are on my list to see with Josh including “Zombies of Mass Destruction” (filmed in Port Gamble, WA) and Dead Snow. 

This afternoon, I took a four-pack of teenagers to see “Spring Breakdown” and star Rachel Dratch (from Saturday Night Live) was there for a meet and greet. It was hilarious!  Josh had a chance to meet Rachel and get her autograph and I must say he practically levitated for the rest of the day.   After Spring Breakdown, we raced to the Uptown on Queen Anne to get in line for “Paper Heart” starring Charlyne Li and Michael Cera.  It’s a documentary/comedy/romance about Charlyne’s real life quest to find out why she doesn’t believe in love. The film was wonderful and everyone with my group gave it a 5 on the 1-5 rating scale for the audience choice award.  Tomorrow both my nephews and I will be heading down to the U District again to see Kevin Spacey in “Shrink.”

I don’t spend all my time with teen-friendly films and neither should you.  For gratuitous sex and violence, I’ll be catching “Dowloading Nancy” with my gratuitous-sex-and-violence-film-festival-buddy Ron.  Our pact is to ONLY see movies with gratuitous sex and violence each year.  I try to see the opening and closing night galas with my friend Kyoko who always entertains me with stories about what it was like when she was a UW student in the early 70s when the film festival was first getting started

Another favorite genre is horror.  Josh and I will be catching “Deadgirl” which created a buzz at the Toronto Film Festival and “The Hills Run Red.”  I wish I had time to see more psychological thrillers but alas, business calls.  If only I could take three weeks off work every year.  You can search the SIFF film sorter by website by genre, program, director, country or venue.   The calendar will give you a quick look at what films are playing where and when every day.  SIFF even has an iPhone app for the festival. I recommend buying tickets online and printing your ticket vouchers in advance. That way if the movie you want to see is sold out by the time you arrive, you’re rewarded for planning ahead by exchanging your vouchers for tickets at will call and get in the ticket holder line!  All the SIFF volunteers have been amazing at helping me with various questions.  My only complaint is having to constantly pay for parking at every venue which really adds up. 

Come say “Hi” if you see me at Four Boxes, West of Pluto, Burning Plain, Worlds Greatest Dad (filmed in Seattle), Cold Souls, or The Clone Returns Home and I hope everyone is enjoying our awesome weather this weekend!

Look No Further Than Seattle Neighborhoods For Penny Pinching Summer Fun This Year!

Some people don’t know this, but….

Gorgeous globe light at Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard

Gorgeous globe light at Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard

I was a single mother for years until I met and fell in love with my next door neighbor in the Sunset Hill neighborhood of Ballard. Single parents develop a real knack for making every dollar stretch, and I am thankful that things have been easier (most of the time) with a husband! As we all look for ways to save money and make sure that our families are provided for, I find myself revisiting some of those older ideas.

Seattle is really a phenomenal place to live for great free entertainment, but out of town visitors will love these, too! Make sure and check out the Seattle Parks Foundation website if you have a minute, too. They have wonderful resources for all the latest and greatest in parks! This is only the first ten of these because I really don’t want to hog the whole page. Happy Seattle summer 2009!

1. Go visit the Hiram M. Chittenden locks (aka Ballard Locks) in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. OK, I will be honest. I am starting with my one of my very favorite places.dsc_0299 This was built in 1911 and serves as a passageway between the Puget Sound and the Ship Canal so that boats can travel to and from Lake Washington and Lake Union despite the huge difference in water levels. Visitors can watch as the water is raised and lowered to let boats come in and out on either side. But that is not all! The grounds are beautiful and feature extensive mature gardens and plantings. There is also a cool fish ladder on site as well as a museum/learning center. Even after any trips here, we always have fun going again!  Need more free here? In 2009 from June 6th to September 7th (Labor Day) there will over 30 FREE and open to the public concerts at the Ballard Locks!

Just one section of this amazing place! 

2. Museum of Flight This is one of the Seattle museums that offers first Thursdays free (after 5PM only) and is a great place to see some of the world’s amazing historic planes including one of the Air Force One planes that Kennedy flew in! This is another of my favorite places in Seattle. This museum is located in one of the early Boeing facilities and the history is just rich. There is something for everyone here and it is kid friendly. I would suggest visiting item #6 (Hat n Boots) after wards because of the close proximity. There is a good restaurant on site at the museum, but a picnic at the park is much more fun!

Beautiful entry at the Conservatory in Volunteer Park3. Conservatory at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill is so much fun! The park itself is also amazing and has great paths and spaces, but I am in awe of the Conservatory building itself – 6200 square feet of plantings and displays by people that obviously know what they are doing. There are 3426 glass panes on the building. It was assembled in 1912 and has two plants in it that are over 75 years old – one of which is a giant Jade Tree. This is not your ordinary Jade plant! The Conservatory is completely FREE, though I do encourage you to throw a few dollars in their donation bin.

4.Carkeek ParkOver six miles of trails and an Education Center, large open spaces for playing, picnic facilities, a stage, wonderful dsc_0450playgrounds including a fish slide where children can slide through a salmon, plus the beach!!!! Carkeek Park overlooks the Puget Sound and is one of my favorite parks in Seattle! Carkeek Park is just North of the Blue Ridge neighborhood in Seattle and well worth the trip from anywhere in the Puget Sound.

5.Pike Place Market – You do not need a dime to go have fun here, but support these locals if you can. I love it here and could spend all day watching the hustle and bustle!

6. Hat 'N' Boots in GerogetownThe Hat N Boots in Georgetown – I love these!  How cool is it to visit some old giant boots that used to be his and hers restrooms at a gas station. According to one source when the hat and boots gas station was up and running in its previous location even Elvis stopped in once ( I am sure there are lots of Elvis sighting stories – true and untrue, but I love the idea that Elvis may have peed in that boy boot!).  The good people of Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood played a huge part in getting the Hat n Boots moved to their current location at Oxbow Park (6400 S Corson Ave.). The boots are newly refurbished, but the hat is looking sad while waiting for funds. There is a great neighborhood p-patch there with some of the most amazing plantings I have had the privilege of seeing and the playground keeps my kids entertained for quite some time, but don’t expect to be able to use the boots as a restroom today – they are for display only.

7. Green Lake – Go explore Green Lake Park – This park has it all – a 3+ mile path around the lake itselfdsc_0036 which is perfect for biking, hiking, running, skating, and more, play space, ball fields, pool, tennis courts, and my favorite: the wading pool on the North side of the lake which is filled when it is warm. There are docks for kayak launching or you can fish off the side of the banks of the lake. There is golf here and basketball, plus bathrooms. Swimming is allowed and there is a life guarded swimming beach. Green Lake is a great neighborhood to live in anyway, but really gets busy when the nice weather hits. Green Lake is a great place to take the dog for a walk, too.

8. Fremont Troll. This is a giant troll made of concrete holding an actual VW in its hand! It is located in Fremont under the Aurora Bridge and WORTH THE STOP! The Fremont Troll is also a great photo opportunity! While you are in Fremont, take a stroll along the ship canal waterfront and visit all the great little vintage shops. There is almost always something fun going on in Fremont.

9. Alki Beach Park While I was a single mother, the tradition was to go every Sunday morning and find beach glass at Alki Beach in West Seattle and then drive up into the hills and look at the dreamy houses. Alki has some of the best views of the Downtown area of Seattle anyway and the beach glass is abundant! There is also a rough boat launch for hand carried kayaks, etc. and restrooms. Alki Beach is a 2.5 mile strip of beach and one of the closest to a California Beach atmosphere I can think of right here in Seattle complete with rollerblading and jogging patrons.

10. Take a bike ride on the Burke Gilman TrailGo basically from Ballard all the way up to Kenmore2008-1661 along some of the prettiest trails and areas in Seattle. The Burke Gilman is virtually uninterrupted for the most part from Fremont to Kenmore and skirts the Western side of Lake Washington plus there are restrooms along the way.

Okay, well that is it for now with my penny pinching ideas for fun around Seattle! Even if you aren’t in the market for saving money, go and explore your city! Seattle is a great place to live and play.

Seattle Sounders and the Space Needle

seattle-soundersWhen I first saw the pictures below taken by Damon Cortesi who I know as @dacort on Twitter, it was St. Patrick’s Day.  I thought the green “hat” on the space needle was a Lepruchan’s hat 🙂 I didn’t know why it wasn’t all green.

Kim told me that the blue and green colors on the Space Needle are for the Seattle Sounders Football Club. Tickets for their inaugural game were sold out well ahead of time, and they WON!

But this is a post about the fabulous night shots taken by Damon, and I appreciate his permission to post them here for everyone’s enjoyment. Thanks @dacort !spotlight-on-seattle-space-needle1

space-needle-soundersdowntown-seattle-at-night