What will they say in 20 years about today's new homes?

rcg1When I look at new construction for sale I often wonder if the architect and the builder ever spoke or better yet, if the architect or the builder would ever live in the house they designed/built (I am a builder). I seem to be asking myself that question even more lately as I tour homes built from about 2005+.

I wonder, besides the financial crisis, what will this era’s theme of houses be?
It will for sure be about townhomes, but (on average) I am afraid it will also equate to poorly designed and constructed too.

I was touring a home today that made me wonder if the builder ever asked the question, “where will the couch go

Zillow widens gap on Trulia, traffic soars to 7.5 million visitors

Thanks to John Cook at TechFlash for the article (and picture)zillow-month.  I overheard Rich Barton talking to some friends a couple weeks ago at a TechFlash Launch Party talking about the record number of hits they were receiving.

I guess using Zillow today, was like watching the NASDAQ 8 years ago.

Goodbye Sonics… We Will Miss YOU!

Like Ardel said, bye bye Sonics. From the start of the trial, the City looked like a bunch of Rookies playing against The Celtics. It is unfortunate the poor political leadership of Washington (Gregoire, Sims, Nickels and the Seattle Council and then some) is not confident in their own decisions to call a spade a spade. The smug look on the mayor and the council members was telling they could care less about sports in Seattle (if not Washington).  Since the start of this all, they have said it was “never not about a cash settlement to Seattle.” In the end, it was made to be a cash settlement.

Lets hope they all know something we do not! If they don’t, once again, another political stumble… it will be interesting to see how this plays out in up and coming elections.

Ballard Denny's is now gone

As Myballard.com reported, the ballard Denny’s is no longer.  Without public notice, the building was taken down just 3 days after Benaroya received the demo permit (looks like the application was opened and issued on June 19th). Myballard.com did a great job reporting (with great pictures) on this demo, so check out that site for more info.  Here is a video one of their viewers posted:

A New Way To View Condos

About two years ago when I did property or land searches I would log in to the MLS. With technology advancing like it does, now I find myself searching for real estate with other sites (Galen’s is one of my favorite). The best sites all tend to use MLS map searches as their primary search. For instance, if you go to Estately and type in Ballard as the town, you get a great map giving the boundaries to the town and the homes that fit your criteria within that area.

I was doing a search for a client (a good friend) this weekend, but instead of residential properties, he was looking for a condo. Since condo ownership is different than owning a single family home we wanted to look at the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) too. Since many of the new condos all have about the same features, one of my client’s #1 priority was condo community. They wanted to get as much feedback from other owners or tenants in the building as possible.

Basically I wanted to compare condos, so I Google’d Seattle Ballard Condo Compare Search

The first link was actually a company called Condo Compare. It is pretty cool. All of the other sites list the individual units for sale and do not focus as much on the building as a community. Once you do find a couple buildings you like, I have not ever found a way to compare these buildings side-by-side or see all the data about each building or condo unit. Condo Compare has a pretty cool ‘push pin compare this condo’ feature where you can view a bunch of different units/buildings side by side.

When I started with RCG I was talking to Dustin about something like Condo Compare, but for areas (Ballard, Queen Anne, Bryant), so its cool that someone is starting something like this… if anyone else knows of anyone else doing something like this, please let me know.

Board votes 6-3 to landmark Ballard Denny’s building

dennys1 1For those who have been watching Benaroya vs. Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board were probably not surprised by the outcome of today’s vote. The Landmarks board’s 6-3 vote to designate the exterior of Ballard Denny’s a city landmark did little to signify anything except give opposition another Trojan Horse to attack future development.

My problem with this vote is not to say opposition is not free to their opinion. Instead the Seattle Landmarks Preservation board’s vote was a perfect example of putting personal feelings in front of political freedoms.

The Fifth Amendment ends saying, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

To Whom it May Concern :)

[photopress:finger_pointing_796415.jpg,thumb,alignright]I am not sure who or where this letter should be directed.  I am not even sure if I am angry.  Perhaps I am just confused?  Here is my dilemma.  I was born and raised in the Northwest and I guess you can say I bleed rain. purple and gold, lattes and the Seahawks :).  I typically don’t get involved in the political game, however the past couple of years have gotten me to question my NW beliefs.

In my opinion, NW locals take pride in their liberal political beliefs.  In recent years, this liberalism has elected Gov. Chris Gregoire (no comments from the Rossi camp please), King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.  As I mentioned in my blog almost a year ago, What the Viaduct Vote means (even to those outside of Seattle), it looks as though things are progressing… or aren’t they… there in lies my confusion!

A week ago today, the trifecta of indecision finally joined forces and announced a major step forward in replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle’s central waterfront.  If you read this report you will see that once again, this is another futile attempt by our elected officials to make good on a promise while at the same time creating even more red tape to getting a final decision. “The central waterfront project will be decided through a collaborative process managed by the State of Washington, King County, and the City of Seattle.

What will a market slow down do to discount brokers?

One of the reasons I became a real estate broker and started a RE company was because I felt 3% across the board was not right. Using capitalism, over the past 100 years as a guide, real estate will move away from the % model to a more competitive flat fee for service model. Speaking of Seattle in general, a 750k house is not worth $7,500 more in commission than a 500k house. Of course there are special circumstances, but on average.

The mood is changing in real estate. Greg Swann talks about some changes in the industry as a whole in his post here. The real change will come as full service agents become more and more aggressive for business. The slow down in the housing market will surely result in a long over due change in the traditional real estate commission structure. Following the typical paradigm shift, prices decrease, while customer services increase. This means ‘No Touch’ discount brokers will have it rough down the road. As more agents offer their services at competitive prices, discount brokers will loose their appeal.

I do not want to pin point any specific discount brokerages, but in the past week I have noticed two well known discount brokers signs taken down and replaced by reputable full service firms. Discount brokers are stuck at a flat fee with zero customer support (AGAIN… on AVERAGE).

The big question is, “Would the average buyer/seller rather pay a bit extra for a live body than an 800 number to call? “ Time will only tell, but in a service industry, price is never the deciding factor!

UPDATE: I have received an unusual amount of personal emails about this post. I would like to reiterate my reason behind this post was to show the real estate paradigm is shifting. My purpose WAS NOT to challenge the value of an agent or was I trying to make agents defend their side of the story (I am a broker so I guess mine too). My purpose was sharing my view of the future and what will happen.

Content is King!

I have always said content is king, especially in the Web 2.0 world.  Without content, you are not only invisible to the ‘net, you are also meaningless.  No matter how significant of technology you possess.  This was never more apparent then the time we launched our first mapping application a couple generations ago (that is August of ’05 in Internet time).

[photopress:streetadvisorlogo.jpg,thumb,alignright]A company that will win or loose depending on their content launched Yesterday morning. Melbourne, Australia based company Streetadvisor.com launched their site and lets people comment on, and find information about, streets in their neighborhood. 

What a great idea!  Since back in the day, I have always wanted to create what I feel would be the perfect real estate site.  This site would not only list hosues for sale and sold (like every other site), but would also have neighborhood information.  The perfect site would essentially be to houses what vehix is to cars.

StreetAdvisor is the easy way to find out what people REALLY think about the street they live in.  They ask many of the questions I would want answered before I moved in to a new neighborhood.

  • “If only I knew what my street was like before I bought the house!”
  • “I wish there was a way to ask my neighbors a question, but I’m just too busy to see them.”
  • “I like my house, but my street is so noisy!”
  • “My neighbor’s dog is always barking” (I added that one)

I know Shackprices has something similar to this under their Shack Neighborhoods.