The Long Winter

I just started reading the 5th book in the Little House on the Prairie series (to my daughter!) and appropriately enough, it is called The Long Winter. Interestingly, it begins in the fall with Pa speculating that it is going to be a long winter because the Geese are flying fast and furious to the south (and least faster and more furious than usual).

Playing in SnowOn a related note, all signs are pointing to a long winter here in Seattle. From my office in Downtown, I could see the snow come down pretty furiously this past week, although there wasn’t much sticking in Seattle (yet!) until you got into the hills. And there is speculation that the real estate market is in for a long winter, but considering the usual slowdown in this time of year, we won’t really know the extent of the slowdown (if there is one) until Spring.

All of this makes me think that we’re going to need a lot of good blog reading to get us through this winter… So I decided to start with Chris Parillo’s list of Seattle real estate blogs and update it with some of the new sites that have been added since July.

My idea is to create a comprehensive list of Seattle blogs that cover real estate issues. I’m vigilant about following real estate news and websites here in Seattle and I’d be surprised if there was a real estate blog that has slipped passed me. However, that is definitely possible, but begs an obvious question. If you’re running a Seattle real estate blog that I don’t know about, why are you keeping such a low profile?

But before I give the list of active blogs, I first wanted to note that I was completely disappointed to hear that Tom had stopped posting on Seattle Property News. I thought he had one of the best real estate blogs around and he definitely encouraged me to take on some more analytical topics…

Without further ado, here are the Seattle sites that are actively covering real estate issues:

And here are the blogs I know of that are covering real estate related issues…

If you know of another site that should be included in this list, let us know by leaving a comment!

Hurricane Katrina affects us all…

The devastation related to Katrina is so overpowering that is has taken away my motivation to write about real estate… With that in mind, I’m going to take off my real estate cap and write about some of my observations as a transportation planner having worked on homeland security projects…

As you may know, I (Dustin, Anna’s husband) work by day as a transportation planner for a consulting firm in Seattle. One of my current projects is to help the City of Seattle prepare detour routing plans should the City experience a terrorist event. Among other things, my work has involved developing a graphical information system (GIS) tool for the City that would allow them to quickly prepare detour routing plans (such as which streets to close, where to place detour signs, how to re-time signals, etc.). This work has lead me to many discussions in the past few months on what could/should be done in Seattle should a major event occur here… I mention all of this because I know that my background clouds my current view of the government’s response to Katrina.

As I’ve watched the situation in New Orleans deteriorate over the last few days (only to finally show some signs of hope today!), I can’t help but think about a story that was told to me by the City of Seattle’s emergency response coordinator. He was at a conference recently where emergency response personnel from the Israeli government were discussing how they respond to suicide bombings. He was shocked to learn that the Israeli government has a policy of returning the situation back to normal within four hours of a bombing. This includes not only completing the police investigation, but also cleaning up the scene. In the United States, we’d still be waiting for investigators to arrive at the scene after four hours and no where near cleaning the mess up. My guess is that if a small backpack bomb was detonated in Seattle, things would not return to normal for days, if not weeks. What’s the relevance to Katrina? We are fortunate in the US to not have all that much experience with major disasters.

Along these lines, people are excellent at lulling themselves into complacency because their past “dances with fate” turned out okay. (Richard Feynman writes an excellent example of this in his investigation into the Reliability of the Challenger Shuttle). In other words, I think that the fact that many hurricanes have come and gone without causing such large-scale damage lulled people at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into thinking that their time was better spent worrying about terrorists events than natural disasters. (Fred Kaplan at Slate has more on the priorities of the DHS). My ramblings are not meant to excuse the inadequacy of the federal government’s response, but rather to highlight that no amount of training exercises will ever replace experience in dealing with major disasters.

Before I end this post, I feel I must mention that I’ve been in contact with real estate agents from both the real estate blog squad and the KW Cares who are looking to make a large impact in helping hurricane victims. I’m committed to working with both of these groups to provide long-term help to the thousands of people who have been displaced.

  • Are you a Puget Sound resident interested in working with me to organize an event to help hurricane victims?
  • Do you already have an event organized?

Email me if you would like to coordinate efforts.

In the mean time, money donations to the Red Cross make a huge difference.

UPDATE: The Seattle Times has lots of information on how to get involved locally.

“If you can email, you can blog”

The first thing that struck me about this article from Inman the title of the article: “If you can email, you can blog”. I must have written and/or said a variant of that phrase about 10 times this past week in conversations and emails! (I’ve been evangelizing the wonders of blogging to all kinds of people!). While it IS very easy to blog, it is actually quite difficult to consistently write stuff that others find interesting. The Inman article I mentioned above describes the editor of Curbed, a real estate blog out of New York that consistently finds great off-the-wall stories to compliment their more serious posts. Curbed’s editor, Lockhart Steele, describes his site as: “It’s a blog about New York City, and everything in New York comes back to real estate.”).

Are you a food person? Curbed also puts out a blog that covers all things food in New York.

Catching up…

I haven’t blogged in a little while, but that is not because there is a lack of interesting things to talk about. All kinds of interesting things have been happening on the real estate front, so I’m going to attempt to catch up all in one huge post.

First off, I joined up with the Real Estate Blog Squad. The idea behind this group is that lots of real estate agents would team together to blog about topics related to the National Assn. of REALTORS® annual convention and exposition that will be going on October 28-31, 2005. In reality, I have no idea what will come out of this group, but I’m happy to take part in the experiment.

Redwood TreeNext I wanted to talk about a local news items from this previous week… Seattle Times: Seattle market: Distorted prices — or room to grow? The Seattle Times ran an article about a story I covered about the riskiest cities to live in… The only reason I mention it is that the article says: “The word went out on CNN. It ran in The Christian Science Monitor. A Seattle real-estate blog reported it, and it earned the cover-story spot on’s money page.” I’m pretty sure that I’m the only Seattle blogger that covered this story, so I’m going to hazard a guess that the Seattle Times real estate writer is now reading my blog! Welcome Elizabeth Rhodes! I definitely read just about everything you write!

After an absence of 5 days, I enjoyed reading this post from Counter Intelligence that described a situation that I’m sure is familiar to many real estate bloggers: “I’ve got to post a new article today or I’m going to lose readers.” I was surprised to hear that counter Intelligence lost 90% of their daily hits after 50 days of not posting. Contrary to the idea you might get by reading this recent article from National Association of Realtors (NAR), real estate blogging is hard work. Let this serve as a warning to real estate agents who are thinking of diving into blogging. Writing an interesting post on a daily basis is tough stuff. Make sure that you enjoy writing. Make sure that you enjoy keeping up on the news. Real estate blogs like Hot Property have an inherent advantage in that it would be so much easier with multiple bloggers all posting to the same site. Ideally, Rain City Guide will someday get about 5 of 6 different real estate agents who post articles on a regular basis. That way, any one of the agents can take a week off when they get burned out without the site suffering a blackout period.

Funny headline of the week… The Ballard News-Tribune (a local paper with a malfunctioning website) had this title for their August 3, 2005 issue: “We could get monorail first.” The article went on to describe how the Ballard segment of the Monorails Greenline would likely get built before other sections. This begs the question: Do the writers of the Ballard News-Tribune read other newspapers? . Do they know that the monorail is much closer to dead than ever being built at this point. The mayor of Seattle has given the monorail an September 15th deadline to come up with a plan or he is going to kill the entire project. The entire organization is in shambles.

Jeremy Zawodny had an interesting analysis of the insane housing market of Silicon Valley. The fact that home prices continue to rise at astronomically fast rates in Seattle, makes me glad to live in Seattle…

I think I bunched enough stuff together for one post, but I there are so many more stories to talk about… I’m just about ready to publish my first podcast for Rain City Guide. I’ve been working late into the night to create an updated MLS home search on top of google maps (nothing is ready to demonstrate yet!). Curbed nominated the “hotest” real estate agents in NY City (do we need something like that for Seattle? 🙂 )

. I imagine Bill Wendel over at Counter Intelligence will get a kick out of learning that even some at Wired News have been getting burned out on technology lately!