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Seattle Waterfront Real Estate Blog

Seattle Waterfront Homes, Condos, Houseboats - SeattleHome.com

By Sam DeBord | Broker in Seattle, WA
  • Save Seattle Houseboats - DPD's Crusade: Swapping Shapes For No Gain

    Posted Under: General Area in Seattle, Market Conditions in Seattle, In My Neighborhood in Seattle  |  January 5, 2013 8:11 AM  |  2,020 views  |  1 comment

    Seattle City Council and Mayor Mike McGinn: Protect Seattle's Houseboats-Sign the petition to protect Seattle houseboats from wasteful regulation now -

    Seattle's Department of Planning and Development has been in the process of changing regulations to limit the number of houseboats in Seattle for some time now.  Repeated reviews by the Lake Union community have created great criticism for the proposed regulations, but it seems that each new revision by the DPD takes one step forward and one step back.

    Seattle's DPD believes that houseboats:

    • Displace recreational vessels while marinas are at capacity
    • Represent an environmental hazard with their liveaboard residents

    As a real estate broker who has worked in Lake Union communities for years, the suggestion that houseboats are even a significant portion of the vessels on Lake Union is the first miscalculation by the DPD.  There are many large "floating home" communities on Lake Union, but these are permanently-affixed homes with regular city electric, water, and sewer service.  Floating homes, sailboats, and cruising vessels (with V-shaped hulls) dwarf the number of actual move-able "houseboats" on the lake.

    More importantly, there is no shortage of marina availability.  The Lake Union Liveaboard Association recently did a study on the number of slip vacancies in Seattle:

    • In the summer (the busiest season of the year), 24% of slips were vacant
    • There are 9,790 slips in the Seattle shoreline management area
    • 113 slips are occupied by houseboats (1.15%)

    The DPD has decided that the shape of a vessel will determine whether or not it will fall under the new regulations.  Clearly, this does not have the intended effect that was stated in the group's goals.  There are far more sailboats and cabin cruisers with liveaboard residents on the lake than houseboats.  If the goal is to evict a houseboat with a regtangular-shaped hull (the definition the DPD has for a houseboat currently), they can simply be replaced by liveaboard V-shaped vessels, and likely will be.  There will be no effect on marina availability.

    DPD is effectively spending hundreds of thousand of dollars on a campaign to remove a tiny number of houseboats, which will have no net gain for Lake Union, save for a gain in liveaboard sailboats.  To be frank, there are a small number of DPD members have become so focused on houseboats that these new regulations have become their personal crusade.  The politics have locked those involved into such set positions that they can no longer see the big picture.

    The Seattle city council is now tasked with reviewing DPD's recommendations and taking a more pragmatic view.  If we look at the DPD's stated goals, the new regulations against houseboats will clearly not achieve them.  They will, however, create enormous legal and financial hurdles for a small portion of Lake Union's residents.

    Houseboat owners can't afford to fight this legal battle on their own, and the city shouldn't burden them with it. The new regulations don't help the city, local marinas, or the local environment.  At the very least, the city should grandfather in those houseboats which already reside on Lake Union and have been a part of the community since the city was first settled.

    Let Mayor McGinn and the Seattle city council know that you support the historic houseboat community on Lake Union.

    Sign the petition, and share it on Facebook.

    © Seattle Homes, LLC: - Sam DeBord, Managing Broker, Realtor
    Coldwell Banker Seattle: Coldwell Banker Danforth & Associates
    Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google + | Sam (at) SeattleHome.com

  • Bellevue Waterfront Home Sales Rise In 2011: 2% More Waterfront Real Estate Closings

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Bellevue, Home Buying in Bellevue, Home Selling in Bellevue  |  January 26, 2012 10:51 AM  |  806 views  |  No comments

    Home sales on Bellevue's waterfront made another incremental gain during 2011.  While the luxury and waterfront markets nationwide are grinding their way back to healthier levels of sales, we're seeing a similar trend across the greater Seattle market.

    Sales of waterfront homes on the Eastside increased in general in the past year.  Bellevue, in particular, held strong with 50 waterfront home sales (these Bellevue sales do not include homes in Medina, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point, and Beaux Arts which are all sometimes referred to as "Bellevue waterfront homes").

    The number of multi-million dollar waterfront homes sold in Bellevue decreased in 2011, with 9 homes over $2 million sold as compared to 12 in 2010.  This is partially due to a smaller pool of buyers at the upper reaches of the market, as well as price decreases over the last few years lowering the aggregate pricing of the luxury market.


    Greater Seattle and the Eastside: Seattle Homes For Sale | Condos | Waterfront | Luxury Homes | Bank-Owned

    Sam DeBord - Realtor® | Managing Broker | SeattleHome.com | Coldwell Banker Danforth
    Wiegand & DeBord - WD Estates | ph: 206-658-3225 | email: Sam(at)SeattleHome.com
    Member NWMLS, N.A.R., WA Realtors, Seattle-King County Realtors

    Source: NWMLS Data - This information was not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

  • Seattle Waterfront Real Estate Sales Up 3% in 2011

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Seattle, Home Buying in Seattle, Home Selling in Seattle  |  January 25, 2012 9:48 PM  |  587 views  |  No comments

    Sales of waterfront homes in Seattle were up 2.91 percent in 2011, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.  While waterfront sales have been steadily increasing for the past couple of years, the continued resurgence of this market is another strong driver of confidence for real estate investors in the Seattle area.

    2011 statistics showed 672 sales of Seattle waterfront homes during the full year of 2011.   This is in comparison to 653 waterfront homes sold in the city in 2010.  Sales of houseboats and waterfront houses of every size and category continued to surprise real estate investors throughout 2011, even as the economy as a whole maintained its flat course.

    Some analysts point to a loosening of jumbo and super-jumbo mortgage lending as helping the higher-end real estate market recover in recent months.  Luxury home financing has certainly played a part, but even the large number of all-cash transactions on the waterfront have increased, leading many to believe that investors have “called the bottom” and are finding that real estate is one of the safest bets for their money in the current economic environment.

    Greater Seattle and the Eastside: Seattle Homes For Sale | Condos | Waterfront | Luxury Homes | Bank-Owned

    Sam DeBord - Realtor® | Managing Broker | SeattleHome.com | Coldwell Banker Danforth
    Wiegand & DeBord - WD Estates | ph: 206-658-3225 | email: Sam(at)SeattleHome.com
    Member NWMLS, N.A.R., WA Realtors, Seattle-King County Realtors

    Source: NWMLS Data - This information was not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

  • Defaults And Foreclosure Repossessions Down In U.S., King County

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Seattle, Home Buying in Seattle, Home Selling in Seattle  |  December 16, 2011 1:11 PM  |  1,244 views  |  No comments

    Foreclosure data for King County and the U.S. are showing significant changes in foreclosure statistics for the past month.  While the number of auctions for previously-defaulting properties was up significantly, the number of new defaults and bank repossessions dropped.  Less homeowners are falling behind on their payments and receiving default notices from their lenders.  Add this to the fact that non-distressed home prices in the U.S. have stabilized, and there are some strong signs for a real estate recovery.

    The takeaway from the full range of new data is this:  A large number of homes defaulted and were put into the foreclosure process earlier this year.  The bulk of those homes will be coming to the market as bank-owned homes and foreclosure auctions in the near-term.  At the same time, fewer homeowners are defaulting, and having their homes repossessed by the banks.

    These are good signs for the market.  The current number of foreclosures being held by banks needs to be cleared out, and that is happening in a significant way with the new increase in auction numbers.  Buyers, especially in the greater Seattle market, are actually seeing very low inventory numbers and these new homes on the market will allow for a wider variety of properties available.  The overall trend is less new potential foreclosures in the long run.

    Significant statistics via Seattle Times:

    • U.S. repossessions hit their lowest level since March 2008 last month, down 17% from one year ago.
    • King county repossessions were down 16% compared to last year.
    • Total bank repossessions are projected at 810,000 homes this year, down from more than 1 million last year.
    • Properties receiving foreclosure-related notices were down 3% in November and down 14% compared to last year.

    There are some very positive signs in the real estate market for buyers and sellers these days.  Foreclosures will continue to affect the market for some time, but the direction of the market continues to point toward recovery.

    Greater Seattle and the Eastside: Seattle Homes For Sale | Condos | Waterfront | Luxury Homes | Bank-Owned

    Sam DeBord - Realtor® | Managing Broker | SeattleHome.com | Coldwell Banker Danforth
    Wiegand & DeBord - WD Estates | ph: 206-658-3225 | email: Sam(at)SeattleHome.com
    Member NWMLS, N.A.R., WA Realtors, Seattle-King County Realtors

    Source: NWMLS Data - This information was not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

  • Have Your Heard That Home Prices Already Stabilized? Distressed Properties Are Distracting Us

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Seattle, Home Buying in Seattle, Home Selling in Seattle  |  December 8, 2011 8:50 AM  |  1,270 views  |  No comments

    Seattle HomesWith stories about real estate trends in the U.S. headed in every direction, it's difficult to get a good feel for where we are in terms of a recovery.  Headlines about sinking distressed home prices certainly receive attention but, in their simplicity, they fail to capture the overall market and its complex mix of properties.  For the average home buyer or seller, the condition of the real estate in their specific market is what they truly need to know--not just in locale, but also in property type.

    The most significant statistics in real estate sales right now are those of non-distressed home sales.  Prices of traditional resale homes (those that make up the majority of the market and are likely what an average American homeowner intends to purchase) have stabilized over the past year.  We've seen minor fluctuations in prices throughout the year, but the general fact across the U.S. is that if you're buying or selling a traditional home, we are already in a flat market with increasing sales numbers.

    Barclays Capital analyst Stephen Kim supports the idea of a recovery in the non-distressed market.  "In the absence of a government home buyer incentives, prices for non-distressed home sales have stabilized for almost a year," Kim said. "This is the most important trend in the housing industry right now, and we are amazed at how little attention it has been getting from the media and the street. This stability on the part of nondistressed prices has occurred despite a very high share of distressed activity and continued declines in overall prices."

    Home prices have stabilized in the market you're intending to buy or sell.

    If you're  a traditional home buyer or seller, this is already true.  We've seen the effect in Greater Seattle, with King County numbers showing a wide divergence between foreclosures and short sales, and the majority of sales with are non-distressed.  Most of the recent headlines have pointed to the 11% year-over-year loss in median values, but this is skewed inordinately by the 18% price drop in bank-owned homes.  Non-distressed Seattle homes, on the other hand, have decreased only 2.5%, and that number has bounced around near zero for quite some time now.

    Even more striking, there were droves of new sales in November, netting huge increases over 2010's sales.  King County recorded 41% more sales of houses this November than in the same month last year, according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at WSU.  Condo sales were even stronger, with a 70% increase over the previous year. Total inventories of homes for sale are down significantly year-over-year, meaning that homes that are on the market today are much more likely to sell than they were one year ago.

    Shrinking inventory, increasing sales, and stability of prices in the non-distressed market point to a recovery in this sector

    This isn't to say that we shouldn't be aware of the distressed property issues.  They will certainly be an important component in the market and will take a few years to flush out of the system.  However, the leading edge of real estate price recovery will come from traditional home sales.  Investors will continue to scoop up cheap distressed properties and rehab them at a lower cost.  Average home buyers, on the other hand, have decided that prices for traditional homes are favorable, and combined with the affordability of homes with the current low interest rates, they're buying in at reasonable prices.

    As an average home buyer or seller, this specific sector of the market should be your focus.  As we always say in real estate, "Location, Location, Location".  Don't be distracted by flashy headlines that have little effect on your current situation.  If your location is in the traditional, non-distressed home market, we've hit that flat market that you've been waiting for. 


    Greater Seattle and the Eastside: Seattle Homes For Sale | Condos | Waterfront | Luxury Homes | Bank-Owned

    Sam DeBord - Realtor® | Managing Broker | SeattleHome.com | Coldwell Banker Danforth
    Wiegand & DeBord - WD Estates | ph: 206-658-3225 | email: Sam(at)SeattleHome.com
    Member NWMLS, N.A.R., WA Realtors, Seattle-King County Realtors

    Source: NWMLS Data - This information was not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

  • New Home Sales Post Biggest Gains Since May

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Seattle, Home Buying in Seattle, Home Selling in Seattle  |  December 1, 2011 8:28 AM  |  1,315 views  |  No comments

    Sales of new homes in the U.S. rose 1.3 percent this past month, marking a positive sign for the greater real estate market.  According to the U.S. Commercer Department, this is the biggest gain in the past six months.  New construction is a needed component to the real estate recovery, as inventories nationwide have dipped significantly in the past year.

    New home sales were up significantly in the West, with a 14.9 percent increase intotal sales for October.  With a 6-month supply of homes available nationwide, and much less in parts of the Seattle market, home builders are encouraged by the recent statistics.


    Greater Seattle and the Eastside: Seattle Homes For Sale | Condos | Waterfront | Luxury Homes | Bank-Owned

    Sam DeBord - Realtor® | Managing Broker | SeattleHome.com | Coldwell Banker Danforth
    Wiegand & DeBord - WD Estates | ph: 206-658-3225 | email: Sam(at)SeattleHome.com
    Member NWMLS, N.A.R., WA Realtors, Seattle-King County Realtors

    Source: NWMLS Data - This information was not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

  • FHA Loan Limits Restored in High-Cost Areas - $729,750 Maximum Mortgage

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Seattle, Home Buying in Seattle, Home Selling in Seattle  |  November 18, 2011 12:07 PM  |  1,293 views  |  No comments

    FHA mortgages' high cost loan limits have been restored.  FHA loans in high-cost areas had previously been allowed at up to 125% percent of the median home price for individual counties, with the maximum loan being $729,950.  In September, those limits were temporarily reduced as Congress failed to renew the temporarily-increased limits.  Maximum loans were reduced to $625,500 and 115% of the median as a result, affecting a large number of markets in larger cities with higher costs of living.

    Congress's passage of the new bill, along with the President's signature, assures a consistent lending market for the near future, a key to strengthening a real estate recovery.  While conventional loan limits are still at $625,500, there is a good chance that they too could be increased, matching the FHA limits.  The National Association of Realtors has been pushing consistently for the enactments of these measures to reassure home buyers in some of the country's largest markets that financing will still be available in their areas.


    Greater Seattle and the Eastside: Seattle Homes For Sale | Condos | Waterfront | Luxury Homes | Bank-Owned

    Sam DeBord - Realtor® | Managing Broker | SeattleHome.com | Coldwell Banker Danforth
    Wiegand & DeBord - WD Estates | ph: 206-658-3225 | email: Sam(at)SeattleHome.com
    Member NWMLS, N.A.R., WA Realtors, Seattle-King County Realtors

    Source: NWMLS Data - This information was not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

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