Adventures in Seattle Real Estate! Exploring Seattle's Urban Villages...what makes an Urban Village or neighborhood a place to call home?
Come journey with me on this Seattle Real Estate Blog and find out what makes these neighbohoods great places to live and visit...I will be your guide.
Neighborhoods such as: Alki, Ballard, Belltown, Fremont, Greenlake, Madison Park, Madison Valley, Magnolia, Montlake, Queen Anne, Wallingford, West Seattle, and many more.
As you walked into the lobby of the Washington State Convention Center the first display: Eat Your Vegetables! - Garden to Tablewas a warm, sheltered patio with a salad garden planted in the beds surrounding it.
If you would like ideas for your home, be it a condo balcony, townhome patio, or you single family home's front or backyard then plan on going to next years' Northwest Flower & Garden Show which will be February 4th to 8th, 2009. This is a wonderful way to welcome Spring!
Late last week I got another phone call from a Buyer's Agent asking me, the Seller's Agent, if my Pending listing is solid, or if there is a chance that the transaction could fall apart?
So I have to wonder where were these interested buyers all the months my seller clients' home was on the market? I mean I know that the Seattle Real Estate Market is picking up for spring, but still, I have gotten 3 of these calls in the past two weeks. In all three cases the buyers had been on the fence about making the decision to make an offer...then they lost the opportunity when someone did and beat them to it.
It is hard to make the decision to make an offer on a house, but think how you will feel if someone makes an accepted offer on what could have been YOUR home?
If you want some fabulous garden ideas for your Seattle Home or Seattle Condo....
***Be sure to come to this years Northwest Flower & Garden Show , there you will find an amazing array of ideas for your yard, patio, and balcony. If you are thinking of selling your Seattlehome this year, then you might want to get some ideas for improving your home's curb appeal. Of course you could just go to enjoy yourself and start dreaming of Spring!
Today I picked up the Seattle Times Weekend edition so I can get a head-start on getting the scoop on this years Northwest Flower & Garden Showwhich opens this Wednesday, February 20th and runs through Sunday the 24th, and I can't wait!
If you are moving to Seattle, or recently arrived, then here is a tip for YOU!
A few months before I moved to Seattle from Southern California in 1994, I found a very helpful book called "Seattle Survival GuideII". Since I did not know anyone who lived in Seattle I found this to be a great resource (pre-Internet!) to help me get to know Seattle before making my Big Move.
A few weeks ago I was browsing a bookstore and found a book called "Seattle Survival Guide. 4th edition". My curiosity made me pick up the book to check it out because it reminded me of my old book with all the highlights, and notes on the margins. I decided to buy it and see if it was the updated version of my old helpful book. As it turns out, it is the newest edition of a series of books on Seattle, now with web addresses as well as street addresses. Great resource if you are relocating to Seattle, the Eastside or the other surrounding areas.
It was fun to see the changes between the my older version and the newest edition which is subtitled "The EssentialHandbook for Seattle and Eastside Living". The older version did not have any web addresses since the Internet had not really arrived yet. The new book includes many more areas like Bellevue, South Seattle areas and cities, as well as the Islands; Mercer, Bainbridge, and Vashon.
One of the topics is employment in Seattle, and both editions list the top 10 companies. There have been some major changes there too. Microsoftdid not make the top 5 in the older edition. Amazonhad only just come into existence and was just a little start up no one had heard of.
If you are thinking of moving to Seattle, or your job is causing you to relocate to Seattle, this might be a good resource for you...it was for me!
We had a wonderful, clear evening (no rain!) to welcome the New Year, and there was a crowd surrounding the Space Needlewaiting to watch the fireworks launch the New Year. The surrounding neighboring hills allowed great vantage points to take in the sight. Lucky are those that live in parts of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Belltown, West Seattle, and Wallingford where they have views of the Space Needle from their homes!
This year's theme was a Tribute to Hollywood with well known music from the Movies. Star 101.5was broadcasting the music so anyone watching either on TV or in person with radios could enjoy the fireworks synchronized to dramatic film scores. The clock struck midnight and the New Year...showtime!
The fireworks and music began, the music played on and the fireworks...fizzeled...whoops...no fireworks! The fireworks computer had a glitch and had to be re-booted twice, when that did not work, the techs manually triggered the fireworks to ....>>>> Burst<<<< and flash. The music had marched on to it's own drummer leaving behind the fireworks. While is wasn't the elegant show that was planned, fireworks are spectacular and the crowds enjoyed what they saw.
The rockets roared, and the fireworks dazzled, whoooooshed, sparkled, twinkled, flashed, glowed, burst, and gloried in their "Aurora Seattlalis"! The Space Needle glowed and sparked in the darkness, looking even more Spaceship-like with the light show!
So while the show did not go as planned...it was an explosion of exuberant welcome to the New Year and wonderful way to celebrate 2008!
Last Saturday on the first full day of Winter Solstice, a friend and I went on one of our Christmas Light tours. This year we decided to follow KOMO TV's(channel 4) Parade of Lights list for finding spectacular Christmas Lights.
While it was rainy during the day, by evening it cleared up enough to see an almost full moon while driving around the Seattle Area. We covered a wide area to find these amazing displays, and while traveling from home to home, we spotted other beautiful electric expressions of the season to enjoy!
The journey began in Normandy Park....
Then over to West Seattle where to keep up our strength for the journey we stopped at Tully'sin West Seattle to pick up some Eggnog Shakes with extra nutmeg and then to Beach Drive.
Up to Queen Anne, then over the bridge to Wallingford...Santa was on the porch at this home greeting the visitors..."Hello Santa!"
Then across Lake Washington to Bellevue to see more, at this house there was a limo doing a tour of lights.
It was a wonderful, electrical extravaganza of creative Christmas Lights expression! Try and take a drive in your Seattle Neighborhood to see what your neighbors have done, it can be absolutely magical!
Last week for Friday Photo I wrote that it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.... Well, the next day on Saturday, December 1st we had snow! Not our average December weather.
Since I did not have an Open House that Saturday, I decided to take the day off to go shopping with a friend for Christmas decorations. We had snow flurries at University Village, and when we went to the West Seattle Target there was lots more snow.
Afterwards we drove along Beach Dr, then Alki and back to Seattle, the snow was lovely!
Tomorrow is December first and we are off to a great start for the Holiday, the weather this past November has been wonderful with many sunny days (Thanksgiving was glorious!) and the weatherman is predicting a bit of snow for the first day of December! So it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Seattle...
I'll be looking for all my favorite places in Seattle for Christmas lights in the weeks to come!
This Autumn is the best season for Seattle Home Buyers since 2001. There are several reasons for this.
The Mortgage Meltdown caused many loan programs to disappear, and lending standards became tighter (good things in the long run) so that some buyers who were planning on buying a Seattle home this fall are now finding themselves having to put it off until later (spring?). These buyers may have to look for different loan programs because theirs became unavailable, or may find themselves having to improve their credit scores since the standards have tightened, or may have to save for a higher down payment or for closing costs.
Some buyers may have been influenced by the national media and its' reporting of home prices declining in many areas of the US, and are waiting (hoping) that home prices will decline here in Seattle. Fall usually has a higher ratio of inventory (homes for sale on the market) to buyers when compared to spring, resulting in slightly lower prices and this year we have about 1/3 higher inventory than usual which is causing some extra downward pressure on home prices. These buyers may be deciding to wait until spring to see if the prices on Seattle real estate will continue to go down as it becomes a balenced market.
Now we have two groups of buyers waiting until spring to buy. This means that home buyers who are looking to buy now have less competition than in the past, and have an increase of inventory to chose from. Next spring this will change. Spring typically has a higher ratio of buyers to inventory which causes upward pressure on prices for Seattle homes. This coming spring may have the additional buyers (as outlined above) who have decided to wait until spring to buy a home, added together with the typical number of buyers in the spring causing additional upward pressure on home prices.
Even with the tightened mortgage standards, I believe this spring will have a lot of buyers looking to buy homes because of our strong Seattle economy, and continued growth with more people moving to Washington and the Seattle area. While I believe that while we won't have the kind of sellers market the past few springs have seen, it will still favor sellers (in the close in Urban areas) and the buyers who decided to wait out the buyers market this Autumn will have lost their advantage.
So here's a tip for some Seattle Home Buyers: this Autumn could be a very favorable time to "Harvest" the opportunity to buy a Seattle Home!
UPDATE: Dec. 7 2007 Seattle Times article "Home Prices Slip..." on recent trends in Seattle area home prices.
On Wednesday, Halloween late afternoon, I was leaving one of the houses I have listed for sale, after re-stocking it with flyers, and came upon this Scary, Haunted House nearby....
This home was really decked out with a lot of imaginative touches (the mailbox reads "City Morgue") there were three witches out in the front yard with a smoking cauldron, the garage was set up like this....
and the music playing was Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, very dramatic! The couple who live here even had posted by the front door, photos of past Trick or Treaters in costume so everyone who stopped by for the "funeral" fun could see the cute and scary Trick or Treaters from Halloweens past.
You gotta love Seattle Homeowners who really get into the "Spirit" and create such imaginative displays for their neighborhood's children (and their escorting parents) who go out Trick or Treating!
The gray days we've been having vanish and a sparkling Sunny October Day appears, and this red sailboat takes advantage....
Driving with a friend on Alki Point in West Seattle we spotted this red sailboat sailing Elliott Bay with Magnolia (and a large red bottomed container ship) in the backgorund. It's days like this that make living inSeattle a joy.
Last Sunday was a mostly sunny day, so late in the afternoon after my Open House in Montlake, I went for a drive through Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum to see some fall color and Wow...did I see color!
The Japanese Maples were glowing with color beneath the dark evergreens, just beautiful....
Today in the Sunday Seattle TimesPacific Magazine there was a terrific article called "Bay Watch"about the wetlands that are bordered by Montlake, Madison Park, and the University of Washington.
As Tom Reese writes in the article, that the park really is an amazing natural area in the midst of such an urban setting. My favorite juxtaposition is the 520 freeway overpass system that sweeps over the water. The fact that there is a beaver lodge in middle of it all and visible from the freeway is truly a bit of wildness that always surprises me.
After my Montlake open house had ended for the day, I decided to walk around the Montlake Waterfront Park , to relax and take some photos. It was the last in a series of sunny days that we have been having recently and even though it was later in the day, there were people out kayaking and walking on the trails, the bridges and relaxing on the decks.
The park is a great place to get away and in such a close in location. One more wonderful reason to enjoy living in Seattle!
This week I stopped by the Interbay (the low point between Queen Anne and Magnolia) P-Patch to check out this year's bounty and spend a quiet moment before heading back to my office. It was glorious with flowers, fruits and vegetables with a heavy, sweet, earthy scent all around.
These flaming orange dahlias with their companion cannas are in the foreground with Queen Anne condos rising up in the background.
Unfortunately, the online photos of the views were of gray, overcast skies, not the sun drenched, bright, open concept rooms and their stunning views. Their home had been listed on the market for awhile earlier this year with another real estate agent and had not sold, even with price reductions. This house is ideal for a couple who are downsizing from a larger home, and want to live a more urban Seattle experience, but want more privacy, parking and square footage than they would find living in a high rise Seattle condo.
Last spring I sent the listing to a couple who live out of state who were thinking of retiring and moving to Seattle where they moor their 40 foot boat. I previewed the house and strongly encouraged my clients to see the house next time they were in town, because the view really needed to be experienced in person, and the online photos did not do it justice. Unfortunately my clients plans have changed and are putting off moving for awhile.
Later, when the house was no longer listed on the market, I called and left a message with the homeowners saying that I had some ideas about improving the marketing for their home. Last week I received a call from the owners that resulted in our meeting this afternoon. We talked for quite awhile after I toured their home. They had questions, and we talked about my ideas for marketing their home if they decide to hire me as their real estate agent to list and market their Magnolia home next spring.
Now that we are in the slower, fall market I feel waiting until next spring will be a better time to list and present their home to potential buyers, because the views are shown off to their best advantage in the spring and summer. Wouldn't you love to enjoy views like this?
Seattle's skyline is beautiful, and a classic place to enjoy it is from Queen Anne's Kerry Park. From the park you look south to the Space Needle, Downtown Seattle and beyond to Mt Rainier (when the mountain is out!). Looking the southwest, you see Elliott Bay and West Seattle's Alki Point. If you watch long enough you can watch the Washington State Ferries crossing Puget Sound from Bainbridge Island and Bremerton to Seattle, as well as passing container ships, and sometimes even large cruise ships.
Originally these boots were the restrooms for a gas station a few blocks away at the corner of Corson Ave. S and E. Marginal Way. The gas station eventually closed down and soon neglect took it's toll. The residents of Georgetown began a campaign to save this kitschy, retro piece of Americana. Eventually both the Hat n' Boots were moved to the new park with a P-patch and playground. The Boots have been restored and the Hat is awaiting its return to glory.
Today I am beginning a new feature I am calling Friday Photo. I enjoy taking photos of Seattle when I am out and about, and would like to share them with you. Sometimes there may be a post that goes along with the photo, but most of them will just have a caption.
My debuting Friday Photo does have a story behind it. When leaving my office late last Friday night I was driving past a play-field near my office. As it was neat 9PM and dark the field lights were on and I saw an amazing sight glowing in the darkness...a field of Pink Tents!
The Pink Tents were for the Breast Cancer 3-Day, and were for the Walkers to overnight in during their 3-Day walk. I realized as I drove by what the tents represented, and what made it even more meaningful was that the last thing I did before leaving my office was to address a card to an Internet associate who is hospitalized for complications for her Breast Cancer.
I turned around to take a few photos, and just after I finished, the field lights went out for the night! The lights had lasted just long enough for me to see and photograph this extraordinary sight. I posted a photo and a note where my Internet associate would see it and know I was thinking of her, and to share with her this wonderful sight and all the people out there that are supporting her and all others fighting Breast Cancer.
opened to begin a tradition of offering fresh produce and eventually all the glorious fruits, flowers, fish
and other vendor products; crafts, cafes, confections, coffee, collectibles and so on that can be found strolling the market. Of course, back in 1907 it was just a few farmers selling produce off the back of their wagons, and there were no fishmongers tossing fish over the heads tourists!
The pigs are now scattered all over Downtown Seattle, so when you are Downtown keep an eye out for the splendid pigs.
Of course Rachel the Pike Place Market Pig is still in her spot ready to pose for a photo with anyone who wishes.
The Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously open farmers market in the US, that is quite an accomplishment for a City that is well more than a 100 years younger than cities on the east coast! While the market has had challenges over the decades fighting off developers and neglect, it has become one of the unique places that defines Seattle and makes it such a wonderful place to live and visit.
So come out and wish Happy 100th Birthday our Pike Place Market!
A great way to find a good Seattle real estate agent when you are thinking about selling your Seattle home is by attending open houses in your neighborhood.
You get to see an agent "in action" at an open house! While you are there you can gauge their professionalism by the way they greet you, engage you in conversation and talk about the house they are hosting the open house at. Ask questions about the neighborhood, the Seattle real estate market both in general and specifically homes in the neighborhood and comparable homes. While talking to the agent, do you find them knowledgeable, and a good "fit" to work with you?
Check out the agents' marketing materials (flyer's etc.) are they informative and interesting to look at? Ask the agent what they did to help their client get the house "market ready" and their philosophy for marketing and selling homes. Later when you get home, look the house up online to see the quality of the online photos, and the marketing remarks for that house, do you find them to present the home well?
A good agent will be happy to answer all your questions, but be careful not to monopolize their time after-all, they are working to sell their clients home! The agent is there to show their clients' house to potential buyers so they will need to greet and talk with other visitors at the open house too.
Sometimes the agent hosting the open house is not the listing agent, so that is something to find out while talking to the agent. The hosting agent is still a good potential agent for you even if they are not the listing agent. Sometimes a listing agent is not available to host that week's open house for one of several reasons, and another agent is hosting it. Even if the agent you meet and talk to is not the listing agent, that hosting agent may be a good fit for you if they impress you with their professionalism, knowledge and marketing savvy.
Be sure to get the agents' business card and a flyer too so that you can follow up and call them later to talk about what they can do for you to market and sell your home. A little time and effort spent doing this will help you to find the bestSeattle agent for you when the time comes to sell your home.
Strolling along on Seattle's 24th Avenue East in the little retail core of Montlake, you come to Mr Johnson's Antiques.
When you step inside you are surrounded by treasures, and your eyes have to keep moving about to take them in. Seated behind a desk near the entrance you see Mr Johnson, aka Matthew Johnson, who greets you and laughingly puts you at your ease.
Matthew, who I met a year before at Georgetown's Art & Garden Walk where he now makes his home (also filled with many wonderful objects) is very outgoing and loves to show off the treasures that his shop holds. The Montlake neighbors often drop by and there is a candy bowl just for the kids, one mom and young daughter stopped by while I was there recently and they were delighted by Matthews' charm. One of the neighbors who came by my open house in Montlake recently told me that he considers Matthew to be the "Mayor of Montlake". Matthew is a long time resident of the area, he grew up in North Capitol and played baseball at the Montlake Playfields as a child, there is even a photo of him in the shop with his bat the ready for a pitch.
When you are in the Montlake neighborhood, and if you love to poke around to find treasures, then Mr Johnson's Antiques is a great place to stop by.
there were many neighbors (and of course buyers looking for a new home) stopping by to see the house now that it is for sale, and it's improvements. It was very enjoyable meeting everyone and giving tours of the home because there are many unusual features like a walled over stained glass window just waiting for new owners to reveal it to the world again and...this house even has a secret room! There was a surprise for me when the former owner, before my client bought the house about 10 years ago, stopped by.
Mrs. G. and her family lived there for over 30 years and she wanted to see the home again where she had lived with her husband and their children grew up. It was wonderful to listen to Mrs G. tell me about the way the house used to be when it was her home and the changes she and her husband made to the homes as its' second owners. Things like adding the extra bathrooms (the house has 5, very unusual in Montlake!)and I finally got to find out why there was an odd cut out in the balcony off the kitchen (many people had asked me about that) Mr. G. cut out that portion so that their dog could lie on the floor and look out at the street, who knew!
It's not everyday that a listing agent gets to find out the history of a beautiful and unique Montlake Tudor Home from such long term former owners!
Yesterday I received an update from the NWMLS for one of my searches that I have out for Buyer clients. This was a notice for a price reduction, the 6th one for a house that has been on the market for well over 600 days - YES - over 600 days on the market. The price has dropped almost $350,000 since it was first listed and it is still with the original Seattle listing agent. BTW, this is not a high end , multi million dollar luxury home that would have very few buyers who could afford the property, and that you would expect to be on the market for awhile.
The original photos are still showing on the listing, which is doubly bad since they were of poor quality to begin with. This home has great sound views, because it is waterfront, not that you can tell from the photos. The house is very dated and certainly could have benefited from some work being done to update and get it market ready so that it has more visual appeal, and would photograph better. I doubt many buyers have even asked to see the house because of what they have seen online. Unfortunately, because of the NWMLS rules no agents can approach the seller with better ideas while the house is under contract with an agent. I can only watch <sigh> and hope that the seller makes a change.
I don't know the agent or his relationship (not related per listing remarks) with the seller, but I have to wonder why there has been no changes made other than price to sell the house. I feel for the seller because there may be other options to look into to improve the house to appeal to buyers and get the best possible price. Of course another option would be changing to a different real estate agent, which brings us back to the original question. When is it time to change to a different Seattle real estateagent? A Tip for Sellers; I think that this seller owes it to themselves to hire another agent who can bring a fresh approach to selling this home;600 plus days on the market and hundreds of thousands of dollars in price reductions are clearly not getting this house sold.
**Update October 25, 2007**
The house just had another price reduction, 4th for a total of $75,000 since July 11, 2007. The house has now been on the market for 731 days and reduced a total of $424,950, still no changes to the marketing remarks or photos. I really feel for the owner.
Last year, was a day of sun and fun exploring the streets and gardens of Georgetown. There were nooks and crannies to look into, and art to discover all over. The event is Sunday, July 8 2007 from 10AM to 5PM and you can get maps at the Georgetown Bank of America at 1112 S. Bailey St.
Here are some photos from last year....
Boots of the famous "Hats and Boots" in Oxbow Park.
Saturday, June 23rd, Georgetown in Seattle was the scene of Artopiaan art and fair event sponsored by The Seattle Weekly.The Seattle Weekly describing the event: "Welcome to Artopia - SeattleWeekly's first annual celebration of local innovative art and emerging talent. Artopia is a multidisciplinary event that boasts an eclectic mix of art, ranging from the renowned to the obscure to the completely undiscovered." The event seemed to be a great success, so here's hoping that next year there will be the 2nd annual Artopia in Georgetown!
There was a swirl of people out enjoying the mix of carnival midway fun
with Cotton Candy, the Power Tool Races, Spin Art, and even a Petting Zoo (a very friendly Rottweiler corralled in baled straw!).
There were artists studios open for viewing and even an impromptu "gallery" (future Georgetown Tile Works store) where Artist Catherine Cross Uehara hosted her own show, "Animal Angst" for Artopia. Uehara's work in mixed media and oil reflects on the expressionistic tension between our urban lives and wildlife surviving in the margins of our society.
The Artopia crowd flowed in an out of the shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and coffee house that make an interesting mix of places to hang out in Georgetown. There is, George, Smarty Pants, Stellar Pizza,9 LB Hammer, Jules Maes Saloon, Two Tartes Bakery, and All City Coffee among other cool destinations for the crowd to shop, eat, drink and be wired!
Next Georgetown event is the Annual Georgetown Art & Garden Walk July 8th 2007.
Recently some buyer clients, who I have been working with for the past two and a half years to help them find and buy their perfect next home, finally had the "perfect home" come on the market late last week. Last Sunday we met at the house, spent some time looking it over and found it was everything they were looking for. We discussed the plan to meet with a lender and start the process to make an offer.
Later last week after my clients got the lender's approval, we met at my office to work on our offer strategy for the house and write up a Purchase and Sales Agreement. While talking with my clients and asking questions, I found out that while this house was everything they had been looking for in the past, it really didn't fit their needs now, nor their financial goals at this time.
I asked more questions, and as we got deeper into the discussion, I pointed out that while we could pursue making an offer on this house, I did not think that it would ultimately be the best choice for them at this time. We talked further and developed a new house hunting strategy and a new financial strategy that would put them in a better position (they own their home and a rental as well) when we find the new "perfect" home...a rambler this time!
So a TIP FOR BUYERS; be sure that your agent is willing to walk away from making an offer for you if it's not the best house for you, or does not really fit your financial goals. Your agent should not be a SALESMAN, but your consultant or advisor to help you through the Seattle home buying process. A SALESMAN is not looking after your best interest, but a good, ethical Seattle Real Estate Agent is. Your agent should not be acting in their best interest. Your Seattle Real Estate Agent should be acting inYOUR BEST INTERESTS when buying a home!
The Solstice Cyclists (aka Nude-Painted Cyclists) kicked off the unofficial parade beginning with creative body paint and joyful fun to celebrate the upcoming longest day of the year.
Flamingo Nude Cyclists
Swarm of Nude Cyclists
Red Dragon Nude Tandem Cyclists
Now...TheFremont Solstice Parade...no need for (many) words...just enjoy the photos!
Greg, who I met on Thursday and gave me a quickie tour of the behind-the-scenes of the Parade preparations, was to be one of the "Thirst People", maybe this was him!
"Hands Around the World" and "Bugs and Beasts" were some of the many spectacles that kids got to take part of...this was a joyful, cheerful, and expressive time celebrated by the full spectrum from a napping child in a stroller (in the parade!) to the older and child-at-hearts!
If you'd like to see more photos on my other blog, click HERE .
Yesterday I went to Seattle's Fremont, and while prowling around The Center of the Universe drove past the new Theo Chocolate Factorywarehouse (formerly the old Red Hook Brewery) with a sign posted on it about the Fremont Solstice Parade. I parked my car and checked it out. The doors were locked so I peered in the windows beside the doors and saw lots of stuff for the Parade. I amused myself reading the information about the classes for participants of the parade when a guy propped open one side of the door to let in some fresh, sunshiny air. I started chatting with Greg, as he introduced him self, and we started talking about the Parade. Greg invited me in to see what he, Carla and Leslie were working on to get ready for the parade tomorrow, Saturday, June 16 2007.
Greg showed me the "Thirst People" costumes he was working on, Carla was working on papermache masks, and Leslie was sewing cloth for costumes. Greg and I chatted about the parade for awhile and I left them to work on their parade creations. It was really cool to see some of the preparation for the parade, of course, there were no nude "painted cyclists" hanging out in the warehouse, they will appeared on Saturday with all the other fun and wacky parade entertainment!
I met Tina Larson last week while poking around the cool shops in Olde Burien on SW 152nd St in Burien, and what a passionate person about plants! A few months ago Tinarealized a dream and bought a "pocket retail nursery" in Burien's Olde Burien shopping district called Grass Roots.
Tina (that's her in the photo walking out the door into the outdoor space) is an absolute "plant junkie" and lead me around her wonderful shop tempting me with cool and unusual annuals like ""solanum pyracanthum" (porcupine tomato), castor bean, and a cool variety of solomon's seal with a silvery edged leaf. She plans on carrying some of my other favorite annuals such as nicotiana sylvestris and langsdorfi. I forgot to ask about love-lies-bleeding (ammaranthus) but I am willing to bet that Tina will have that in her shop too when she can get it from the growers. Ask Tina to show you the "7up" plant when you visit, it's the little plant in front of the spikey porcupine tomato in the photo below!
This splendid little shop is well worth a visit to Burien toshop for some cool and unusual plants (annuals, perennials and some small trees and shrubs) to enhance your garden and fill some glazed pottery as a garden focal point. Tina's enthusiasm for plants will both entertain and educate you on what you can do to make your garden an even more magical place this spring, summer and fall! On the inside, the shop has beautiful garden ornaments (both indoors and outdoors) for anyone who loves gardens whether they currently have a garden or not.
Yes...there is a whole lotta cool stuff happening in Burien, just 10 minuets south of Downtown Seattle via the "secret" 509 highway. The past couple of years has seen a wonderful change with new businesses opening up to enhance the local experience for Burien residents and as Jimi Lou, the Proprietor of ALLUSIA(921 SW 152nd St) told me last week, "we have people coming from West Seattle and the Kent area because it's easier to come here and shop than other places in Seattle, particularly North Seattle."
There are now cool things to do, and eat and drink in Burien, places like Poggi Bonsi
where you can shop for Italian tableware, and at their sister shop Poggi Bonsi Cucina for gourmet cookware and supplies, they even have candied violets! There is Grass Roots for unique annuals, perennials and garden gifts, Fireweed Bead Co., TheFlower Gallery for flowers and Art. For refreshment there is the MARK, The Tin Room , Elliott Bay Brewery , 909 Coffee & Wine, and Vino Bello.
There is much more to Olde Burien to see, visit, shop and enjoy. This really great for those who live in Burien and the surrounding areas of Normandy Park, Tukwila, Seatacand the southern part ofunincorporated Seattle (North Highline, Boulevard Park, White Center etc.). Of course since Real Estate values are lower here than in most parts of the Seattle area, very nice for those looking to buy a home in a great neighborhood or Urban Village!
Last night around midnight, John L. Scottlaunched it's new online toy for Home Buyers to make searches easier with the Neighborhood Wizard search tool. The Neighborhood Wizard allows searches to be customized by "drawing a boundary line" with the mouse around the area that the Home Buyer is interested in. This allows a narrower search area than could be done before, and helps to make sure a Home Buyer does not miss a home that the Listing Agent may have entered under a different neighborhood name, or perhaps the Home Buyer is unaware of.
So just after midnight I was playing around with this cool new tool and did several searches to get a feel for how it works. The last one I did was a complicated boundary outline around Alki which was fairly easy to do once you got the hang of "clicking" at each point before changing direction.
Bravo to John L. Scott (Okay confession...JLS is my broker so I am a little biased, but this is a really cooltool for Home Buyers!) for continuing to be a major leader with Real Estate innovation!
Yes, we do have a lot of drizzly gray days but our average Seattle rain fallis actually only 36 inches compared to 60" in New Orleans, 58" in Miami, 44" in Boston, 40" in New York City, 39" in Washington DC, 34" in Chicago, 19" in San Fransisco, 12" in L.A. per our Northwest Weather Room . We can have a month of straight gloomy, gray drizzle usually in November, and we can have dazzling sunshine in the middle of January like we did several times last January and on the weekends too! The Grand Opening of The Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Parkon January 20th & 21st 2007, was an outdoor celebration in bright sunshine, and wow (!) did Seattle come out to see it's newest outdoor space!
So now you know a few things about Seattle to overturn what I think are the 3 Top Myths about Seattle. Of course I am sure there are more...let me know what you have heard about Seattle...and I'll add some more to my Things to Know About Seattle!
My new Montlakelisting-to-be is nearing the end of it's "spa treatment" with a contractor who is freshening it up so I will be be listing it for sale in the Seattle Real Estate market in a week or two. There are many details to be attended to for my client who lives out of state, and since we are nearing it's completion, I have been spending even more time at the house and working with the contractor in my client's absence, and my job at the Listing Agent has not even begun!
The Montlake neighborhood is absolutely gorgeous right now with our mild and fair May weather producing lush flowers, shrubs and trees. Wednesday afternoon and evening I spent planting the flowers for the newly redone front yard and noticed all the walker's, some with their beautiful dogs, and joggers out in the afternoon and evening. Everyone seemed to be particularly enjoying the beautiful days, and many gave me complements on how wonderful "my garden" (to complicated to explain that I was the Real Estate Agent!) was turning out.
Montlake,with it's many Tudor style homes, lovely gardens and parks reminds me of what I imagine England is like, of course since I have never actually been there, my mental images are based on movies and books!
The neighborhood is surrounded by parks so is very green and peaceful, and since much of it is level with some gentle slopes, the neighborhood is perfect for enjoying an evening stroll or jog. There are many great places to walk, jog or ride a bike in Seattle, places like Green Lake, Alkior other parks, but not so many that are the neighborhood itself like Montake.
My seller's home is returning to it's previous lovely state with the attention it has been receiving this spring, and like the Montlakeneighborhood itself, springtime refreshed and soon ready to be enjoyed by it's new owners.
I moved to Seattle the fall of 1994 not knowing a soul in town. But when I arrived my best friend who had moved to Lewiston, Idaho a few years before, met me at my new apt. in a suburb of Seattle - Tukwila.
It was in the afternoon when I pulled in the parking lot driving the huge rental moving van and pulling the trailer with my VW Bug (the late Bugasaurus). My friend helped me unload the van, and some nice neighbor guys helped with some larger things. The following day my friend and I unpacked and set up my home for the 15 months until I was ready to buy a home in Seattle.
My third day was the beginning of my Seattle Adventure of exploring what I now call Seattle's Urban Villages....
We went to Fremont, self proclaimed Center of the Universe! There, resides the Giant Troll hiding under Aurora Bridge, a kitschy 53 foot rocket ship stands ready at launch, and a statue of Lenin is frozen mid-stride in a plaza. Fremont also hosts it's annual Solstice Parade (June 16th) with it's wild and fun celebrants both on the street and along the sidewalks, and as the Fremont Chamber of Commerce notes, Fremont is "Far from Normal".
We explored shops like Les Amis, Deluxe Junk, and Fremont Antique Mall, that are still our favorites to stop by every time we visit. I had my first Thai food that day and of course my first official cup of coffee in Seattle!
This funky and fun introduction to Seattle began what would eventually transform into my interest in sharing Seattle's Urban Villages to the world with blogging and, as a Seattle Real Estate Agent, allow me to help my buyer clients know where to look when buying a home in Seattle that best suits their goals and lifestyle.
#4 - Spying Bald Eagles soaring in Seattle skies while driving...WoW! I will never stop being excited seeing one!
#3 - The outdoor activities are wonderful, and because of the weather, you can enjoy indoor activities without the guilt wasting a sunny day! A mini vacation get-a-way!
#2 - The weather...I got so tired of what I called "relentless sunshine" while living in Southern California. Okay, so now in February I get a little tired of our "relentless drizzle" and begin to crave spending some time in So. Cal. or Tucson where I was born! I love the cooler marine weather we have in Seattle, my favorite temperature range is 68 to 70 degrees!
And my number 1 reason is.......The coffee, you just can't fully savour a cup of coffee when it's 80 plus degrees and bright sunshine!
The Seattle Times yesterday, May 20th 2007, published it's annual Home Valuesreview for 2007. Their analysis supports what Seattle Real Estate Agents have been seeing that is very contrary to all the Bubble talk last year of a collapsing Seattle Real Estate market for 2006 which the Seattle Times reports as, for single family homes, rising 15.9% for King County.
The article is mostly maps showing neighborhoods and the sales data for that map area. It's well worth clicking through to find information on a neighborhood area (usually several neighborhoods combined) to get the 2006 sales data, an appreciation map, and an affordability map.
For example, if we look at North Capitol Hill / Montlake ( which includes Portage Bay) on the main map we will find that the median Price for 2006 was $772,000 and the average price change from 2005 to 2007 was 11.8%. The income needed in 2006 for Median priced home in North Capitol Hill / Montlake was $185,624 (yikes!)
Prices for buying a homein Seattle continues to increase due to our stable employment, increasing population growth, enjoyable quality of life and the lag in our home appreciation compared to much of the rest of the U.S. because of we took a bigger hit during the Tech bust in 1999/2000 causing more moderate appreciation for the Seattle Real Estate market. Great news for selling a home in Seattle, although the extra cash will be needed to buy another home unless you are downsizing.
So check it out for yourself, it's very interesting and who doesn't like knowing more about Seattle Real Estate!
The Real Estate Network...whoops... HGTV, recently broadcast a special; "Designed to Sell Top 35 Selling Secrets" and offered up an entertaining list of mostly common sense things to do to get your home ready to list and enter the SeattleReal Estate market.
Number 35's tip was "Get Rid of Clutter"... you knew that was going to be on the list! I was able to jot down most of the selling secrets, but not all, so here is an incomplete list:
#34 - Dirt, clean it up! Ugh factor rules here, no one wants to see someone else's dirt.
#33 - Fix it or forget it! Deferred maintenance causes buyers to deduct more value off the price than the cost to the seller to fix.
#32 - "Go Neutral"...no unusual colors please!
#31 - Smells...that would be pet oders, cooking, mold, smoke...buyers want a home to smell fresh!
#29 - Curb Appeal. Buyers may never come into your home if it has poor curb appeal.
#26 - "Deck it out"...make your outdoor spaces nice living spaces.
#25 - Fireplaces play them up for maximum value.
#22 - "Money's in the details"...add molding to "crown" your rooms and add value.
#21 - "Designed to Dine"...play up dining room.
#20 - "Check out the competition"...go to open houses in your neighborhood to see how well your house stacks up.
#18 - Master bedroom must only a master bedroom, and not a gym, office, storage room too!
#17 - "Create instant luxury"...in the master bedroom with a new luxurious bedding set.
#16 - Closet space...clean out the clutter in the closets.
#15 - "Price your home to sell, not sit"
#14 - Use high end materials in the bathrooms...the rooms are small, so are not too costly to make a difference.
#13 - "Primp your vanity"...paint and add new hardware.
#12 - "Don't pour money down the drain"...install new shower door, or refinish the tub.
#11 - "Whisk them away to a Spa"...buy new thick towels (display only) add spa products to add a air of pampering.
#10 - "Cook up your kitchen"
#9 - Kitchen cabinets need new hardware and paint.
#8 - Kitchen counter tops...update!
#7 - Appliances replace them!
#6 - "Open up the kitchen" Knock down a wall or overhanging cabinets to open up the kitchen to create more of a great room.
....And...drum roll please....the number one "Selling Secret" is "Don't do nuthin' "! Take the time to get your home Market Ready! So a tip if you are thinking about selling your Seattle Home, be sure you are thinking of these things as well!
As I am always saying when you sell your car, you'd wash it, wax it, vacuum it, Armor-all it, change the oil, tune it up etc...so put in the same effort when you sell your home. Remember, your home is worth much, much more!
For more complete information on this list, HGTV will re-broadcast this on June 3rd at 5PM PST, so check it out.
A few weeks ago I got a call from some Buyer Clients that they were back in Seattle and wanted to see the new listing I had emailed them Friday night. Since it was Sunday, and the house just came on the Seattle RealEstate market late Friday, there was an Open House scheduled that afternoon. The "Agent Only" remarks had posted that the Sellers were requesting no showings until the Open House so I arranged to meet my Buyer's at the house during the Open House.
The house was showing well and had lots of traffic; neighbors and potential buyers. While I was examining the garage with my clients I opened up a storage closet door and found...a rifle! There it was leaning against the wall....
After quietly telling my Clients, I immediately went to inform the Listing Agent what I had found so that he could either secure the closet or the rifle and get in touch with his Sellers.
This was an item that should have been locked up before the Open House for the safety of the people looking at the house, and to prevent the theft of the Seller's personal property. Seller's Agents coach their Clients when listing their home, to lock up cash, prescription drugs, valuable jewelry, important documents/papers and of course weapons.
When a home is listed for sale, all this type of personal property must be made secure to prevent it's possible theft. While Buyer's Agents are escorting their clients throughout the residence, they may not be able to keep an eye on everyone at all times, and the Clients may be new to the Agent.
So Tip For Sellers: When selling your home on the Seattle Real Estate market, lock up your valuable personal property!
Reading the Seattle Times last Sunday I ran across an interesting article in the News section: "Notyour typical U.S. surplus: posh embassies", written by Associated Press writer Matthew Lee and found the article on-line to share with you at the Boston Globe . The real estate locations sounded far away and exotic...like an adventure movie location...places like Kathmandu, Bangkok, and Jakarta...places you would expect to find James Bond or some other cloak and dagger movie spy. Very different from the Seattle Real Estate market!
Of course some of the properties are fixers having been the scene of riots or are run down and cannot be made secure for the level of terror that stalks the world today. The most expensive property "for sale" is actually a lease for 939 years remaining (of a 999 year lease) for a property in London. However, I looked at the State Department website to check out some of the properties my self and was very disappointed. I am afraid the Real EstateMarketing for the properties is nonexistent, no on-line photos, no marketing remarks...no nothing to spark an interest! Hmmm...I'd love to write the marketing for these properties!
Well, the party was an "artful" success and SAM is open again at last! Over the weekend the Seattle Art Museum celebrated it's re-opening by throwing a 35 hour party for free to every one who showed up. I went with a friend Saturday night, but the line to get the free entry ticket was loooong with lots of Saturday Night revelers, so we went to a downtown theater to see a late night showing of "Spiderman" (umm, not very good).
My friend returned very early Sunday morning to visit SAM, and I went later at noon although first, I had to stop by my recent Buyer's new home in Madison Valley (one of Seattle's Urban Villages) to drop off their Home Book. After driving to Downtown Seattle, I walked over to Pike's Place Market to pick up some lunch on my way to the Museum. Lucky me...no line and got right on in....
WOW! The Grand Foyer was spectacular with Cai Guo-Qiang's installation: "Inopportune: Stage One"
This piece is a series of Ford Tauruses suspended above the crowd in sort of a stop-action, frame by frame of the Tauruses tumbling over and over with light beams radiating outwards from the cars. Great tension with these large, heavy metal objects dangling over the crowd...then my phone rang and my new Buyers (looking for a smaller Seattle home) were back in town and ready to see the new house that had just come on to the Seattle housing market Friday night. So off to meet my Buyers and show the house...we did write up an offer for it later that evening.
This has been a fabulous year for the Seattle Art Museum with it's first Grand Opening earlier this year of the Olympic Sculpture Parkin Belltown in January. I can't wait to return and check out the new and larger SAM!
I AM SAM, YOU ARE SAM, WE ARE ALL SAM TOGETHER....
The Grand Opening of SAM: The Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum, SAM, will be celebrating it's Grand Opening May 5th & 6th. The museum has been closed for it's expansion, and is now almost ready for it's Grand Opening Debut next week. This has been a very busy year so far for SAM, because earlier this year in January the Museum celebrated the Grand Opening of it's new outdoor sculpture park in Belltown. The Olympic Sculpture Park opened during a sunny winter weekend with large crowds of Seattleites roaming the Park.
SAM will be open for 35 straight hours beginning 10AM on Saturday May 5th until 11:59 PM on Sunday evening. There will be music, and other live entertainment for Art lovers and admission to the main museum will be free. The special exhibits in the Galleries will require entry tickets. Should be a fun adventure in Downtown Seattle so come by!
One of the benefits of living in one of the close-in Urban Villages in Seattle (Belltown, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill are especially close by)is that it's easy to enjoy great events like this one will be.
Last Saturday, I was across the hall in another Seattle Real Estate Agent's office chatting about Seattle real estate (what else!) and I noticed on the screen of her laptop an article on MSN. The article was on the ethics of using PhotoShop to "touch up" online photos used in marketing homes for sale. This was a very interesting and engaging article, I really enjoyed it. Ethically challenged people sure make life more interesting and complicated!
Well...of course then I wanted to air (okay...vent!) my opinion on BAD real estate photos. Most Seattle real estate agents do a credible to fabulous job with the marketing photos as Listing Agents...then there are the ones who's cameras should be taken away! It riles me up so much when I see a listing with poor photos, all I can think is poor, poor sellers.
You have probably seen them online: crooked photos (yikes an inebriated photographer!) dark photos (scary, who would want to live there?) photos of unlovely rooms (no photos of the "cooks kitchen" but one of the semi-finished basement?) poor choices of angle (nice ceiling, but what does the room look like?) and the real money loser, amazing Sound (Lake, City etc.) view and no photos or good ones to draw a buyers interest!
The home a friend of mine was leasing recently has been listed for sale. On Lake Washington, it has wonderful views of the lake from almost all the rooms, so you can imagine the list price. Well, at that price I would have thought the Seattle Listing Agent, (Marketing Agent) would have engaged the services of a professional photographer to capture the value of this house, but instead, the photos online barely show the views. I wish I could share some examples with you, but unfortunately I would have to have the permission of the SeattleListing Agent, and it's not likely they'd give it for a post like this.
So next time you are on line looking at houses and condos, look at the photos, do they show an appealing home? Does the written marketing celebrate a home's virtues but the photos tell a different story?
So a Tip for Sellers, make sure you ask to see examples of your Seattle Listing Agent's Northwest Multiple ListingService (NWMLS) Listing or Marketing Photos, and ask to see the listings for similar types of homes and compare them. Make sure your Seattle Realtor will truly market your home properly so that it appeals to as many potential buyers as possible. You don't want to miss the opportunity to capture the eye of the buyer who is willing to pay the highest price for your home by having less than great photos posted on line.
Whichever design is ultimately chosen it will certainly affect Montlake, and surrounding neighborhoods of Portage Bay, University District, and the Arboretum with some unknown mix of positive and negative changes. I do not believe it will adversely affect Montlake Real Estate (and the surrounding neighborhoods) value, since whatever design is actually built will for the most part, be on top of the existing structures. There will be additional noise since the amount of traffic will increase as Seattle's population continues to grow and the Seattle real estate market with it. However, the alternative design is much better thought out and community friendly, so if you are interested in buying a house inMontlake and living there, then you can make a difference the future of Montlake's neighborhood by getting involved.
Personally I love driving through the Montlake Interchange, and often want to "go over it again"! When I first arrived in Seattle I was captivated by the the swooping bridges over the water and islands that make up the Montlake Interchange...it reminded me of my childhood visits to Disneyland and the rides Autopia and the lagoons of Submarine Voyage with the Monorail swooping above!
Late last week another agent in my office got a call on a listing of hers from an Unrepresented Buyer, a buyer not working with a Seattle real estate agent. My colleague asked me to meet with the buyer since she (rightly) prefers to represent her Seller 100% and not act as a Dual Agent, representing both the Seller and the Buyer and not providing either with their best representation.
I met with the Buyer and his wife at the house, they looked the house over, while I accompanied them answering their questions. They also asked to see the house that was listed across the street, and since I had the listing information about that house, we went to view that one as well.
Afterwards we talked in the driveway of the first house, mostly me answering their questions about realestate in general, the Seattle real estate market, and mortgages. These Buyers are originally from another country, English is not their first language, and their prior experience in real estate in their original country was very different from how real estate is practiced here.
They were driving around the nearby Seattle neighborhoods, calling the phone numbers on the signs for the houses they liked, and asking the Seattle listing agent to show them the house. Because they did not understand the real estate process here, with Buyer's Agents working for the buyers, representing their best interests, and by working with them understanding their wants and needs to better advise the buyers, they were missing out on a very important resource available to them, one that they pay for in the price of the home.
This is a particularly important resource for buyers who are not knowledgeable about how the real estate process works. These buyers did not realize that they were putting themselves at a what could be a serious disadvantage in their home search, and negotiation which could cost them thousands of dollars.
I encouraged them to choose a Seattle Real Estate Agent from those they had met, and have that Seattle Realtor work for them. They may or may not choose me, but I asked them to please choose someone to help them.
When you have not chosen an agent to work for you, you become an "Unrepresented Buyer" which unless you have done your homework, have experience, have the time, and knowledge can put you at a serious disadvantage and cost you thousands of dollars.
Please don't be an "Unrepresented Buyer" unless you can effectively represent yourself.
... is where I have been spending a lot of time these past few weeks. I am working with some out of state sellers as their Seattle Real Estate Agent to prepare their house to enter the Seattle Real Estate market when we list their Montlake home for sale later this spring. It has been an interesting project for me and it will be exciting to see it to it's conclusion.
The Montlake neighborhood lies just south of the University of Washington across from the Montlake cut, north and down the hill from Capitol Hill, east of Portage Bay and Eastlake, and west of the Arboretum and Lake Washington. It has great accessibility to Downtown Seattle, as well as Bellevue and The Eastside via the 520 freeway which runs through Montlake...in an interesting way. The freeway is mostly bridges over water and provides motorists with some great views of wildlife on their commute!
The homes, built mostly in the 1920's, are made up of brick Tudor and Craftsman styles of single family homes. The market history for the month of March has just sixteen total homes comprising it. The eight that are active as of April 1st range between $549,000 to $879,000. Three are STI (Subject To Inspection) ranging between $847,000 and $1,250,000, Four are Pending ranging between $609,900 and $959,000. Only one closed for the month sellling for $734,000. This puts Montlake well above the median price for homes sold in King County, $429,925, in February.
Now that spring had arrived Montlake is especially beautiful right now, good timing for the springtime Seattle Real Estate rush!
Exploring Seattle's Urban Villages, let the Adventure begin!
Seattle has so many interesting and unique neighborhoods, or what I like to call "Urban Villages". Places like Ballard, Magnolia,Queen Anne, Belltown, PioneerSquare, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Madison Valley, Madrona, Madison Park, Montlake, Wallingford, GreenLake, and Fremont, the self proclaimed "Center of the Universe"!
I have probably left out a few of your favorites, but we will add them as we explore what makes each one a unique place to live or visit.
Learning what makes a Seattle neighborhood special and appealing to you (and me as a Seattle RealEstate Agent) helps to narrow down the choices when you are selecting a place in Seattle's exciting real estate market to live and eventually buying a home in Seattle. Of course selecting a location is only part of what makes up the Seattle Real Estate market. There is the hard data of sales figures, history and trends, the lending process, the home buying processes, marketing a home for sale and more....