Meet a Realtor Who Doesn't Sell Houses…

The NY Times ran an article a few weeks ago on how hard it is for new real estate agents to break into the market (I’d like to the article but it is now behind a password-protected wall, so instead I’ll just link to the Property Grunt’s excellent summary and analysis). This article got me thinking of a way that I could still be very useful to my clients without actually buying or selling any homes.

What’s that? A Realtor who doesn’t buy or sell any homes?

For the next six-months or so, I really won’t be in a position where I can dedicate a significant amount of time to helping clients. (higher priorities! ) But what I would really enjoy doing over the next few months is staying connected to the business by helping buyers and sellers find appropriate agents.

Say that again?

Mariel Kicking a Soccer BallIn my office alone, there are almost 100 real estate agents who would love to have your business (assuming you’re buying or selling a home) and while I don’t know all of these agents, I do know the successful ones . What I would like to do is use my inside knowledge of successful Seattle agents to connect individuals with the right agents.

For example:

  • Are you looking for a condo in Downtown? I know an agent who specializes there!
  • Are you looking to buy land in Woodinville? I know a different agent who specializes there!
  • How about a modern-style home in Seattle? I know a different agent who specializes in modern homes.

Regardless if you’re trying to sell a home, condo, boathouse, townhome, etc., I’ve come into contact with a highly successful agent who specializes in that field. Talk with me, and I’ll connect you with the right person.

Why would I do this?

It is really a win-win-win situation. You get the best representation possible, a successful real estate agent gets one more client, and I can continue to help people in a small but important way. (I’ll also get a small referral fee from the agent…)

By the way, my recommendations are not limited to just people moving to Seattle. I know a few listings agents who go out of their way to please, so if you are currently a Seattle-area homeowner looking to list your house, talk with me before you list. I’m confident that no matter how good your realtor is, I can get you a better one!

Local Treasure: Golden Gardens

[photopress:golden_gardens_beach.gif,thumb,alignright]There’s a fun story on the City of Seattle’s website about the history of the Golden Gardens park. Turns out this local gem was named and developed “in 1907 as an attraction at the end of the novel, new electric car lines being built by realtors to induce townfolk to take a ‘Sunday outing’ out of town and through the woods to a picnic or swim at a beach. (Along the way they were made aware of the real estate available!)”

Wow! Back then agents understood that a rail project adds to property values! 🙂

Of course, some things never change:

“In 1933, the community celebrated the opening of Seaview Avenue, a narrow two-lane road alongside the railroad, but on its own fill behind a new rock seawall, that ended abruptly with a new railroad underpass connecting with the old parking lot and providing a drive through the park, as well as auto access to the beach area. Then traffic really became a problem!

[photopress:golden_gardens.JPG,thumb,alignleft]Why was (and is) parking so tight? Because Golden Gardens is still a great place to take a ‘Sunday outing’ (or an outing on any day of the week!). The park has a little bit for everyone…. There are beaches and creeks for the kids, fire pits for the teens and wonderful views and trails for the rest of us!

Want more? More history of Golden Gardens in this acrobat file (pdf). More on Seattle’s first electric streetcar. More archived photos of Seattle. More archived photos of Golden Gardens. More modern shots of Golden Gardens.

And, of course, there are more local treasures on Rain City Guide.

More In-depth Sale Price vs List Price Analysis

Me and my sistersIf you were following the comments from my post from yesterday, I said I would follow up with another stab at diving into how the sales prices versus listing price changes over time. Seeing as how it is already getting late (and I’m tired!), I’m going to stop trying to make sense out of the numbers and present what I’ve found so far.

However, before I go any further, I’m going to rant at my fellow real estate agents! For the sake of all of us who actually care about data, please learn to double check your work before submitting listing information to the MLS! I spent more time cleaning up the database due to lazy real estate agents then I did actually creating the charts! Here are some things to look out for (but this list is by no means exhaustive): (1) Spelling: Fremont is spelled with only one “e”, (2) Location: South Lake Union is not a neighborhood located within Ballard and (3)Price: your home that sold for $345,000 probably should not have been listed for $34,500,000.

With that rant out of the way, I thought I would also mention that I’m not the only one surprised by housing numbers today… Hot Property had an article where Amey Stone says reading NAR’s press releases on sales levels “is starting to be a bit of a yawn — sales weren’t quite at record levels, but darn near close to it.” Unless you get tickled by trends and statistics, expect to sleep through the rest of this post…

When I look at the entire Ballard Area as defined by the MLS (this is a huge area that includes places like Greenlake, Blue Ridge, Wallingford, Fremont, Sunset Hill etc). We see the same seasonal trends over the past two years that I identified yesterday. But when we go back another season, the trend becomes much less pronounced.

Adjusted vs Original List Price Chart

Here are the things I found most interesting about the chart:

  1. The seasonal variation is much less pronounced in previous years
  2. There has been a steady trend up wards where the sale price is greater than the listing price
  3. In terms of trends, it didn’t really matter whether I used the original list price or the adjusted list price.
  4. The huge drop in 08/03 is due to some homes in Broadview that were listed way to high!

My speculation is that the patterns identified the above chart have a lot to do with evolving sales tactics by agents. It seems like it has become more and more common for agents to list a home below the value that they think it will sell for… This does two things: (1) It assures a quick sale and therefore a quick commission for the agent. (2) It has the potential to bring in more buyers and thereby raise the final sale price of the home.

When I went to analyze the data at a more local level, things got much messier… Rather than seeing clear seasonal patterns as I did in Loyal Heights, things simply got fuzzy. They got so fuzzy that I’m hesitant to even provide the next chart because it simply looks like an ugly mess…

My goal in creating the chart was to see if the same trend that held up in my analysis yesterday for Loyal Heights, would hold up for other neighborhoods. As the chart above demonstrates, it roughly holds up for all of Ballard, but as the chart below demonstrates, it does not hold up at the neighborhood level. I’ve done enough regression analysis for transportation planning studies to know that a chart like this is going to give meaningless trends.

Sale Price as a Percent of Listing Price for Ballard Neighborhoods

By the way, if you’re interested in the raw data that I used to create these statistics, just email me, and I can send you the Excel file that has all the wonderful (?) pivot tables and charts I used in creating this post.

Also, please feel free to comment on other ideas you might have for exploring the wealth of information that is locked up behind the MLS database. Anna has the key that opens that door! 🙂

Inbox: Where to Live Within Biking Distance of UW?

Sasha With BikeI had someone email me the other day with an interesting question, and I thought I would share my response… and then see if anyone in the community could improve upon it.

Question: I’m moving to Seattle and interested in finding a neighborhood where I can bike to my work at the University of Washington (UW). Where should I be looking?

My Answer: There are a bunch of great places to live in North Seattle that are within biking distance to the UW. I would stay away from the south part of Seattle because there are not a lot of good north-south bike route through the downtown… (too many hills and not enough dedicated bike lanes).

Seeing as how I live in North Seattle and I bike a lot, I end up referencing the bike map put out by the City of Seattle quite often. Here is a direct link to the bike map of North Seattle (*.pdf), but note that this is a large file (1.5 MB). If you download the map, you’ll notice that the Burke-Gilman trail (a solid red line) goes through the UW campus. The Burke-Gilman is a wonderful commuting trail and has been recently expanded to the north-west all the way to the Golden Gardens Park. If you can find a place to live within a short ride to the Burke-Gilman, then you will have an easy ride to work!

By the way, if you follow this link, you can order a free hard-copy of the bike map:

Do you have a better answer for this question? Are there any neighborhoods that are particularly attractive for bicyclists? Please share your knowledge in the comments section!

Zoom… monorail agreement finally reached

107 0791 IMGThe Seattle Times is reporting that an agreement has finally been reached to build the monorail. As stated in a previous post, you can be pretty sure that high-capacity transit will increase property values.

On a related note, does it seem odd to anyone else that they announced the agreement on a Friday afternoon?

After all, this is the only positive news that’s come out of the Monorail agency in months, and then they effectively bury the story… Of course, the completion data of December 2010 is later than initial forecasts, but at this point, I’d like to see some construction in order to know that all parties are serious about building this thing.

SOLD: 7007 34th Ave NW

[photopress:25063873.jpg,thumb,alignright]This is a Spectacular Sunset Hill Tudor!

This enchanted wood frame Tudor sits on terrific lot owerlooking the Sound and wonderful views of the Olympic mountains. It includes secret gardens, lush landscaping and a glorious master suite with walk in closet, bath with skylight and a jet tub. The award winning kitchen design creates a wonderful atmostphere for gallery-style cooking.

The main floor features a formal entry, mahogany woodwork and doors, original full-tiled bath , a dining room, a family room with build in book cases and an entertainment center. Second floor features 2nd and 3rd full bath with larger than average guest bedroom and wonderful 3rd bedroom view suite. Lower level includes 4th bedroom , 3/4th bath, small kitchenette, hobby room, and a rec-room.

What more? There’s lots of storage, high efficiency gas furnace, a laundry room and access to the covered patio leads to gardens and Grotto. Homes like this in Sunset Hill do not come on the market very often!


7007 34th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Bedrooms: 4


Square Feet (approx):3350

MLS #: 25063873

List Price: $ 995,000

Are you interested in learning more about this house? Contact Me!

Seattle Wikipedia

Jim on GuitarAre you looking for some background information on the Seattle area? Maybe you are moving to Seattle or just want to find out more about a local neighborhoods? You could do much worse than where they have entries on all the major aspects of Seattle. Entries include the local economy, culture, polities and neighborhoods (among many other entries!). Currently, the neighborhoods with entries that are pretty comprehensive include:

Also, another group has put a Seattle Wiki together that is much more specific to the area and might be of interest to some. However, as of today, the entries are not nearly as complete as the general Wiki…

What is a Wiki?

Essentially a Wiki is a user-updated on-line encyclopedia. The sheer volume of entries and the fact that anyone can update it are both its strongest and its weakest points. There is a massive amount of interesting articles, but the editors (me and you!) are often a little biased!

6602 30th Ave NW

6602 30th Ave. NW
Compared to other homes in the Sunset Hill/Ballard market this home shows really well. It’s a relatively small house (barely under 2000 sf) but it does not feel that way. The living room is very large and would be great for entertaining.

And it’s hard to find a better place to live than the Sunset Hill neighborhood! This house is only a short walk from a great coffee shop and a local video store


6602 30th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98117

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 1.75

Square Feet (approx): 1940

MLS #: 25053368

List Price: $ 469,500

Are you interested in learning more about this house? Contact Me!

Ballard’s Shinking Nordic Population

Ballard's Shrinking Nordic ChartI just came across this graphic illustrating one of the major changes in Ballard. Namely, that Ballard’s Nordic population is shrinking. Of course, this brings up many issues for the community.
For example, how to welcome the increased diversity while keeping Ballard “Ballard”?
How do you feel about this issue? Feel free to comment!

Comcast Problems

Broken MercedesHave you been having problems with your Comcast cable service lately? I know I have… It looks like Comcast is willing to give a refund for your down time, but you have to call them up. Their customer service number is: 877-824-2288.
Here is an article regarding the issue from the Seattle Times:
The Seattle Times: Local News: Internet snag hits Comcast customers