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Jan. 18, 2013 - 3 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Seattle

 Top Three Things You Should Know Before Moving to Seattle

1) Directionals

We use what are called "directionals", which is why you can find yourself at the corner of 4th and 4th in Downtown Kirkland or 124th and 124th in Totem Lake.

Before you think it is just crazy and impossible to get around, you need to know:

- A STREET is usually East-West and the "directional" comes first as in NE 124th Street.

- AN AVENUE is usually North-South and the "directional" comes last as in 124th Ave. NE.

This is particularly true on The Eastside in cities like Bellevue. Some roads switch from SE to NE as you drive on the same road and you could be at the right address and right street but wrong "directional".

2) When the sun comes out...GO OUT INTO IT!

If the sun comes out from November through July 5th. RUN OUTSIDE and bask in the sunlight! It won't last all day. It might last 10 minutes. It might not come back for two weeks. Jump up and run outside and turn your face up to the sun!

From July 5th to October...usually no worries. The sun will stick around most every day.

3) Home prices change radically by school ranking

People will say it ain't so if you come from out of State, as they want you to buy the houses the locals won't buy. :) Even if you don't have children...watch your school ranking and school boundary lines, or you could end up paying too much for a house on the wrong side of a line drawn in the sand.

Do not go ONLY by "good school DISTRICT". Break it down to the elementary school level. There are cheap neighborhoods in best school districts, and cheap is good! But be sure to include the ranking when doing property valuation for offer price whether you personally care about schools or not. 



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Jun. 20, 2011 - Seattle Neighborhoods - Queen Anne

Home Prices in Queen Anne this year, as to the 62 sold homes with at least 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths that are not townhomes, ranged from $265,000 to $2,750,000. There are homes for sale for much more than that, but Year to Date none have hit the $3M mark as to sold price yet.

30 of those 62 sold between $400,000 and $600,000.

The most Popular price range. popular as in sold in less than a week after listed, was the $600,000 to $700,000 range for homes that were not perfect, but move in condition.

You don't get to "truly impressive" homes until the $750,000 to $900,000 range, and those can still be on the fairly smallish side if you don't count the basements, which I don't when comparing one house to another. A finished basement is a plus, for sure. But the size of the "house" is the house without the basement, unless it is a "reverse floor plan" which you don't see often.

There are only two that sold for over $1.3M and those sold for $2,450,000 and $2,750,000. They appear to have sold quickly, but not really, as they were both on market at much higher prices last year.

The map below is from the City, but most people refer to Upper Queen Anne, Lower Queen Anne and North Queen Anne vs "East and West". 

Often people will ask for "Queen Anne or Capitol Hill" and the map below shows the relationship between the two, and also Magnolia which I wrote about yesterday. I'm a little surprised that the stats for Queen Anne were not a lot different from Magnolia as to sales this year. They seem to have been equally considered, which is not the norm.



Required Disclosure: Stats are not compiled, verified or posted by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

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Jun. 20, 2011 - Seattle Neighborhoods - Magnolia

(Update: Forgot to mention that the prices seem to be at early 2005 levels for a move in ready home.)

Home Prices in Magnolia this year, as to the 72 sold homes with at least 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths that are not townhomes ranged from $250,000 to $1,950,000. There are homes for sale for much more than that, but Year to Date none have hit the $2M mark as to sold price yet.

38 of those 72 sold between $400,000 and $600,000, and one of my favorites sold for $615,000. The most expensive home sold was likely more about the views than the house, but it was a pretty cool Mid-Century Modern home.

One of the interesting things about Magnolia is that almost every decade of home construction from the early 1900s to present is represented. Most of it was built out by the late sixties and a lot of the large view homes will built in the 20s and 30s. A few new homes here and there, but an interesting walk through history. I would say the "missing period" is the 80s with fewer homes built between 1973 and 1995 than in other years both earlier and later.

Magnolia is not one of those areas people often ask for my name. Usually people will say "I want to live in Queen Anne...what do you think of Magnolia? There are only 3 points of ingress and egress over the railroad tracks, which gives Magnolia the reputation of being "isolated". But that's not always a bad thing.

The area in the vicinity of 34th and W. McGraw is deemed a "Walker's Paradise" by Walkscore.com. Fairly safe area as In-City stats go. You can check that by address on Homefacts.com They looked "high-average" to me based on other Seattle Neighborhoods.

I'll try to add some view photos when the weather gets nice around here after the 4th of July.


Required Disclosure - Stats are not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

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Apr. 16, 2011 - North Seattle Home Prices

975 Properties sold in North Seattle in the 1st Quarter of 2011.

664 were Single Family Homes of which 148 were Townhomes, 148 were 1 story with a basement, 133 were 2 story homes with a basement, 64 were 1 1/2 story with a basement, 56 were 1 story and 43 were 2 story homes without a basement. Those classes of housing accounted for about 90% of all single family home sales.

99, about 15%, were Bank Owned property (post foreclosure sales). 45 of those 99 bank owned sales were townhomes. 5 were split entry homes...significant given only 18 of the homes sold were split entry homes. The rest are split up among the property types, but a full 1/2 of the bank owned sales were townhomes. 

Only 15% of all homes sold in North Seattle were Bank Owned, BUT almost 50% of all townhomes sold were bank owned. 

44 were Short Sales with no heavy concentration in a particular housing type.

The Median Price for non-distressed single family homes that were not townhomes in North Seattle for the 1st Quarter of 2011 was $470,000.

Adding back the pre and post foreclosure property, the median drops to $444,000. Only a 6% drag on prices.

Median Price for a Townhome is $350,000 and $366,000 for those that are not pre or post foreclosure properties.

2000 - 19 of the 593 homes - 3%

2001 - 58 of the 893 homes - 6%

2002 - 39 of 964 - 4%

2003 - 78 of 1028 - 8%

2004 - 63 of 999 - 6%

2005 - 128 0f 1027 - 12%

2006 - 143 of 1042 - 14%

2007 - 213 of 959 - 22%

2008 - 194 of 768 - 26%

2009 - 115 of 471 - 24%

2010 - 165 of 750 - 22%

2011 - 148 of 664 - 22%

Townhomes are generally on very small lots of about 1,500 sf. So even though they are technically considered Single Family Homes, including them in the Single Family Home stats is giving the false impression that median price of a home is dropping more than it really is.


(Required disclosure: Statistics in this post are not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.)

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Jan. 26, 2011 - Split-Entry, Split Foyer, Bi-Level, Raised Rambler, Raised Ranch or Splanch

UPDATE 1/2011 - Was recently asked what the difference is between a bi-level and a split-level home. The simple answer is in a split level the bedrooms are at least a few steps, usually about 6 steps, up from the kitchen level. If you look at the photos below of the bi-level (split entry) homes, a split level would have the rooms on the left (living room, dining room and kitchen) and the front door at ground level. The right hand side would be the same...two levels. So you lose the extra basement square footage on a split level to the left of the front door if garage is on the right. The garage is usually pulled forward so that there is more space in the house behind the garage.

For some recent advice on how to price out a bi-level Split Entry home, check out these methods and results.


Original Post from May 2009 below

Seattle and Eastside homes of this type are most often called Split Entry homes (not to be confused with split level homes).  In a split "level" home, the bedrooms are not on the same floor as the kitchen, as they are in a bi-level or split entry home. It's basically a rambler or ranch home, with a basement that is partially and sometimes entirely above ground.

A newer one, which we don't see too often, would likely look like this:

My favorite that you can find in this area, but don't see too often has this window configuration in the living room:


The standard version that you see most often in the Seattle Area looks like this one that my clients recently bought for $300,000 in Bothell King County in the Northshore School District.  It was a bank owned property that previously sold for $465,000. If it were not a bank owned property, it likely would have sold for about $360,000.

The top floor plan is pretty standard and usually all of the interior living space walls are easily modified, as the supports for the structure are rarely contained in those walls.

The floor plan above is the main floor plan and the house is pretty much a full rectangle, so that the basement square footage is often pretty close to identical to the main floor. They usually have 3 bedrooms up as shown. Many have a master bath, that is usually a shower bath, basically behind the hall bath and accessed from the master bedroom which would be larger than the size of the bedroom shown above.

There are usually two fireplaces, one on the outside living room wall and one on that same wall below, making a nice family room, often with sliding glass doors out to the yard. The kitchen often has a counter that makes the kitchen a U-shape, and separates the dining room from the kitchen.  Some prefer to make it one big kitchen with no wall, and with kitchen flooring extending into the dining room.

This floor plan above shows the master bath option, but most often there is a shower stall there and not a tub as shown.  The tub is only in the hall bath.  This version also shows the kitchen with a counter between the dining room and kitchen, which is more often the way I see it.

You should never try to price this style of home using a price per square foot method. If you do, only use the main floor footprint, as the basement doesn't value out the same. Make sure you know the main floor footprint from the tax records before studying the "comps".

Pay particular attention to the main floor footprint as they generally vary from just over 1,000 square feet to about 1,300 square feet.  Remember, that difference is often doubled, as the basement area is also larger. The home in the last photo that sold for $300,000 did have the extra master bath, and was 1,300 square feet on the main floor.  One of the larger ones. Some have one bath with two doors, one from the hall and a separate door into the bath from the master bedroom.  Most of the variations on the main floor have to do with the bathroom.

The one I note as my favorite with the big glass window is often much larger and pricier.  I had clients who bought one in early 2008 (a short sale) in Tam O'Shanter near the Lake in Bellevue that was over 1,750 square feet on the main level.

A lot of people don't like them at first sight, but they clearly offer you the most house for the least price. Men tend to like them more than women because of the big garage and tons of basement space in addition to the family room.  They almost always have a nice big yard, and there should be a deck behind the dining room and kitchen, with sliding glass doors and steps down to the yard.  This way you can access the yard from the family room, or from the upper living space.

It's a great "starter" home in this market, because you are not likely to grow out of it, and can usually have a 4th bedroom on the lower level in addition to the family room and garage. If the lot is large enough, you can even amplify the living space by finishing the garage and building a separate detached garage or carport to the side.

A great home that often meets the needs of most any growing family. Also makes a lot of sense for people who work from home, as the basement area usually has room for an office, if that room is not used for a 4th bedroom.  The lower level often has the laundry area at the bottom of the steps under the kitchen plumbing, and a 3/4 or full bath on the basement level behind the laundry area.

So the larger ones are easily 4 bedrooms, 2 3/4 baths, a living and family room both with fireplaces, plus a two car garage. A LOT of house for the money.


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ARDELL DellaLoggia of Sound Realty on Seattle Real Estate process and market including Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Green Lake and most areas around the top of Lake Washington North of Downtown Seattle. Phone: 206-910-1000 - Mailto:ARDELLd@gmail.com

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