What is a view worth?

[photopress:lake.jpg,thumb,alignright] The higest value attributable to the view component of a property, would be “an unobstructable panoramic view”. The lowest, would be a potentially obstructable “peek”, or a “winter view” meaning the view is totally blocked by deciduous trees, and the view only appears when the trees shed their leaves in winter.

The value of a view is built in layers. The value of the lot, with no house on it at all, contains the first layer of view value. Some people are amazed when they see a property with no view at all, that is practically falling down, valued at $800,000. Who would pay that? If the answer is that no one except a builder would pay $800,000 for that “house”, then the house becomes a “tear down”, as the “value is in the lot”.

How a house is constructed, and the positioning of the rooms, and the windows in those rooms, is ultra important to its value. Especially here in the Seattle area. If the best views are from outside on a deck, then the value is diminished to the number of days in a year you can be outside to enjoy that view. If the best view is from “all main rooms”, meaning those rooms where you spend most of your time and do most of your entertaining with guests, the value will be higher than if the best view is from a little “cozy art studio” perched high above the main living areas. If the view is only from a bedroom, the house will be worth more if the builder puts the master bedroom in that view corner, rather than one or two, or even all, of the “odd” bedrooms.

Then you have the “bad” side of the street and the “good” side of the street. For instance here in Kirkland, the Market Street side of 1st Street will have a lesser value than the opposite side of the Street, particularly in those blocks where the opposite side is higher…much higher. The noise factor from Market Street and the ability to see traffic going by at a steady pace, detracts from the value of the view, even if the long distance view is pretty much the same from both sides of the street. The house on the “bad” side of the street, blocks the view of Market Street from the “good” side of the street, so that house being there, adds to the value of the property across the street.

If all of the properties in your view have already been built out to max height, the value is more likely to be retained long term, than if all of the houses, between your house and the view, are older ramblers that could potentially be built up to max height. So when you look out the window, don’t just look at the view. Look to see if most of the homes, between you and the view, are newer construction at “max height”, or “tear downs”.

What is “max height”? You can do a quick and fairly accurate determination, by spotting the newest houses in each level of slope between you and the view. Construct a “view viewer” with your hands (thumbs together and palms up, the way movie directors used to do to construct a facsimile “frame”), and move your hands from the height of the newest house, scanning over the entire landscape in your vision. This is one of the cases when Zillow can’t value a property for you, because Zillow has no hands! LOL

When it comes to view…do not make the mistake of basing what you will pay, on “what you see is what you get”. You have to determine the long term probabilities of view retention. Don’t expect to be told by anyone that the view “may” at some point in the future, be obstructed. You are pretty much on your own in that regard, as what “might” happen to your view is usually not a disclosure item, unless the neighbors have already pulled permits to build. Even then, I have yet to see a property flyer say, “This great view is going to be obstructed by a condo complex going up sometime next year”.

All that being said, for a view-oriented person like me, a home with a view is indeed “priceless”. Waking up each morning to see the Seattle Skyline across Lake Washington, AND Mt. Rainier to the left, brings a joy to my life that is hard to place a “value” on. But being a real estate agent, I can place that value, and for my house it was $50,000 when I bought it, and hopefully will be $250,000, after I finish enhancing certain features to capture more of the view’s value.

So to Mr. Freakonomics, who asks “Why do agents get more for their homes than other people”? Maybe it is because we tend to choose homes where a seller “left money on the table”, and then make those minor changes that capture value, before we sell. Always choose an agent that helps you make the same kinds of decisions that they would make, if they were buying or selling the property themselves.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

16 thoughts on “What is a view worth?

  1. Ardell, you make a pretty good point about how agents choose homes where sellers left money on the table. But what aboue the fact that “Mr Freakonomics” noted that most agents kept their houses on the market *longer* than they did for their clients?

  2. Agents generally get more money because they are usually more willing to do ALL of the things needed to get the property in really good showing condition. Not necessarily because they want to make more money, but because all of their peers will be coming to see it. It’s like your getting your house ready if your boss and co-workers are coming vs. your brother in law stopping by.

    I don’t think anyone “chooses” to have their home on the market longer, and I’m not sure longer equals more money either. Clearly the properties I have sold at the highest price are ones were I can build a synergy and multiple bid situation within the first few days on market. I did read that point in Freakonmics, but wasn’t sure why he thought longer on market equalled higher sale price…that is generally not the case.

  3. Thanks Carol. But I never can seem to KISS anything! I love your blog by the way. I’m changing mine all around to be more of a real estate resource site, than a blog. I started a couple of days ago. It will take some time to finish…but with my speed of typing…maybe by the end of the weekend.

    I have to redo every single post and add some to fit the new format. It’s Dustin’s fault…he wrote that “style” post 🙂

  4. Ardell, I saw the style post and the KISS comment, which I like very much. I actually just changed my style today (before I read Dustin’s post) to be more simple! Must have been getting vibes. AND, thanks for checking out my blog. I enjoy doing it and, like you, want it to be a resource. Over 30% of our sales are to new people moving to the area so I’ve started posting more (off subject) pictures to give them a feel for the area. Good luck with your changeover. Will keep watching your posts.

  5. I’ve noticed that you are overhauling your site because you’re messing with my feed reader! Every time you update a post, my reader thinks it is a new entry! 🙂

  6. I think that is because I am burying the links in the sticky entry back into the “bottom of the pile”. Since I don’t know how to write in html, I have to resort to tricking the blog into obeying my commands 🙂 It’s working so far. Sorry for the confusion.

  7. Pingback: Ardell’s Kirkland Blog

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