Living in Seattle, Washington
Seattle Washington, the cultural center of the Pacific Northwest is a place where the great outdoors is a way of life. With such icons as Mount Rainier, Pike Place Market, Experience Music Project, and the Space Needle, plus breweries, wineries, a thriving arts scene and major ski areas, Seattle offers a well-rounded and appealing lifestyle.
Surrounded by the beautiful natural setting of Lake Washington and Puget Sound, Seattle is consistently voted one of America’s most vibrant and desirable cities. The city of Seattle holds many attractions for the prospective home buyer with its robust economy and employment opportunities, its broad range of architectural styles, its various entertainment venues, and its famed institution of higher education (the University of Washington). Seattle has a little something for everyone and extensive neighborhoods to call home.
Enjoy our Seattle Blog!
How many times have I heard someone tell me "I love Queen Anne! I would love to live there!" Well, those glorious old mansions on the top of the hill are not the only properties available. Many condos and some co-ops are available in Lower Queen Anne, with hugely high walk scores and cost effective pricing in this fast paced market. I probably don't have to tell you, the bargains are still out there, you just have to be ready to move quickly when you see a good one. The days of seeing a great property and thinking about it for two weeks then putting in a low offer to feel out the seller are past for the moment, but the bargains are still there. Here is a list of the condos available in Queen Anne right now (including co-ops, email me if you are not sure the difference and I will send you my little guide on co-ops vs. condos, and yes, I promise to blog about it soon).
Geoduck Farming on Puget Sound
In looking around Puget Sound for waterfront vacation properties with a client (we ultimately found a good deal on a fixer, estate sale in Port Orchard), I learned about the earning potential of creating a small scale geoduck farm and using the proceeds to completely pay off your waterfront property. Geoduck prices are soaring currently - driven by demand from China.
Read about the market potential:
A listing agent explained to me the revenue potential from her client's property. The tidelands property owner leased out 1/2 an acre to a shellfish harvesting company. The shellfish company did the planting and pays $500 per year in rent on the 1/2 acre. It takes 6 years for the geoducks to grow to harvestable size. Six years ago the company paid $37,500 to the owners for a harvest. Right now (summer 2012) they are told they could get $75,000 for the current crop, but they are waiting until next year when they hope to get 6 figures. Geoduck prices are rising currently.
Imagine if you were to plant an acre per year up to 6 acres, and then enjoy a regular annual harvest income.
Some people don't like the spread of geoduck farming over concerns about:
- The unsightly spread of PVC tubes over tidelands. Although, the tubes are removed after the first year.
- Concerns about mono-culture - the lack of bio-diversity on the affected beaches.
There has been a moratorium on new geoduck farming permits since 2007, but new research has become available and new permits are being considered:
Fun Geoduck Facts
- The are the world's largest, burrowing clam, growing up to 7 pounds (typical) on up to 20 pounds (record)
- Geoducks range from Baja California to Alaska
- Females produce up to 50 million eggs per year
- Geoducks can live up to 160 years
- Non-human predators: crabs, shrimp, sea stars, snails, fish, and sea otters
- The word "geoduck" comes from "gweduc" in the Nisqually language, meaning "dig deep"
Advantages of Geoducks over Other Types of Farming
- No need to milk the geoducks
- Geoducks do not wake you up in the morning with loud calls
- No need to feed the geoducks
- No need to herd the geoducks long distances
- No need to break in young geobucks
Disadvantage of Geoduck Farming
There has been a rise in illegal, nighttime harvesting. It would be rather difficult to protect your tidelands from thieves.
Shellfish Properties For Sale
I visited this property below and spoke with the owner. He thinks the property includes 5 acres of tidelands, which are currently left wild. Whenever he wants an extra $100 bucks, he'll go out and fill up a bucket and a half with oysters and clams and sell it to a shellfish distributor. He thinks the property has commercial potential.
Lifestyle Home Search
A great new feature on SeattlePowerSearch.com is its collection of Lifestyle search options. Try it here: SeattlePowerSearch.com Advanced Search. The data is scrubbed down to the block/group level - much finer than the zip code level.
The Lifestyle options are:
- Highly Rated Schools - Select "Very Important" or "Extremely Important" to quickly find the communities on the map with the best schools. This is often a big mystery for out-of-town buyers and difficult to grasp without local knowledge. The data comes from the highly respected GreatSchools.org.
- Low Crime Ratings - Choose "Very Important" or "Extremely Important" to quickly identify low crime neighborhoods.
- Median Home Income - Here you can choose the median home income level of the neighborhood based on census data. If you combine the best schools, low crime, and a high income neighborhood, you have likely identified a very fine community.
- Type of Neighborhood - I had a near-argument with a client once who wanted to live in a walkable, city neighborhood, while I tried to get her interested in a suburban neighborhood (quiet, space between neighbors, 2 car garages). This is another great feature for out-of-town buyers.
- Cost of Living - Retirees may choose "Lower than Average" cost of living to search out low cost communities to live.
- Commute Time - This is based on census data, where residents are asked how long their commute is. However, you don't know where they are going. The developers plan to improve this feature, letting you pick a point where you need to commute to.
Branch Manager, Lake Union Office, eXp Realty
Want to do something fun and Seattle-based today? There is an event at the Olympic Sculpture Park, one of the ongoing days of fun and sun planned through August 30 for Summer at Olympic Sculpture Park (check out the events on Saturday the 11th,including yoga,drawing and sketching,zumba rhythms,food truck and more).
Today's excitement includes a visit by food truck Charlie's Buns and Stuff (check out Food Truck schedule for the month) music, and drawing. Combine this with a visit to the nearby Seattle Aquarium if you are with kids, or just enjoy the sun, views, and art with a long stroll while soaking in the natural beauty of the Northwest combined with SAM's sculpture garden's quirky humor... and the scintillating beauty of the glass wall, which never fails to fascinate. If you are out and about without kids, don't fail to stop by Pike Place Market on your way home to score one of the amazing $10 bouquets that would be twice as much in your local store and lasts twice as long! Or do some browsing in the many home design stores along Western Ave, which will also give you a chance to check out the progress being made on the Aqueduct construction (yes, parking is a little weird down there at the moment due to the construction, but not bad, for the summer crunch!). And there's always SAM itself, the Seattle Art Museum, with it's signature cafe Taste, starring executive chef Craig Hetherington with an innovative summer menu based on local farm products. (Here's a taste...of the lunch menu!)
Due to the great weather and plentiful summer events, it might be hard to concentrate on your real estate search, but let me just add a footnote, don't wait too long! We are seeing multiple offers for homes in the whole area now,certainly it's common this summer in Seattle.
This situation is stimulated by the "low inventory" which means a low supply of homes on the market, and historically low financing available.
We are out and about showing and finding our clients the best deals, so don't hesitate to get in touch for a list of
The new listings (including REOs) in Belltown, Magnolia, Queen Anne, Fremont, Wallingford, Phinney Ridge, Eastlake, Westlake, Ballard, the Highlands, Richmond Beach, Lake Forest Park, the U District, Ravenna, Wedgwood, Laurelhurst, Bryant, Sand Point, Madison Park, Madison Valley, Capitol Hill, Montlake, Madrona, Mt. Baker, Seward Park, Leschi and so on.
And if you've always wanted to invest, this is definitely the time with a focus on two to four unit buildings advised, or single family homes for rental, come to a free seminar on identifying and financing the right investments August 28, Tuesday, from 2 to 4 in Fremont at our Lake Union Office with an amazing lender, Mark Hatate of Washington Federal, email Edy at firstname.lastname@example.org for details (or call 206-249-2914). We also have an upcoming First-Time Home Buyer seminar on Sept. 20 with Ryan Halverson of Axia Home Loans (a top mortgage guy who has done brilliantly over and over for our home buyers and is a great communicator) ...so email Edy for details. (Also get in touch for Bellevue real estate investment seminar and first-time homebuyer seminar dates and times.)
In 1915 the Olmsted Brothers, a landscape architectural firm, designed a summer “Country Place” for the Arthur Dunn family on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. At the time, there were few year-round residences nearby. Views to the water and the Olympic Mountains were open due to logging which occurred earlier in the decade.
The location of this could be called "far-north Ballard" or if you know about the little neighborhood of Broadview, it's in Broadview.
The estate has remained in the family and with the passage of time, has now com to reflect the mature grace which the designers and owners desired for what was then a rural retreat. The Olmstead ideals of naturalistic groupings of trees set amidst broad lawns and borders of shrubs and ground covers, remain as vibrant today as they were at the turn of the century.
The grounds were divided among family members in the 1940?s. Today the gardens are part of three separate properties. The beauty of the landscape remains and can be fully appreciated by visitors from the encircling garden pathway.
One garden, the E.B. Dunn Woodland Garden, is a 2.7 acre parcel on the eastern side of the original estate. Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Dogwoods, Trilliums and Erythroniums are plentiful beneath a canopy of Douglas Fir, Chestnut and Maple trees. Notable features include a rock-edged pond and water garden and trails meandering through a forest full of rare seasonal effects.
The E. B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust is responsible for the conservation of this rare gem. The Dunn Gardens are open to guided tours by appointment only from April to November. Admission is $10 and no children under 12 or pets are permitted.
If you want to do a little home search near Dunn Gardens, try checking out these home listings in Broadview, I've included only those fresh on the market in the last 60 days:
Dale Chihuly is one of the world's preeminent glass artists based right here, so it was exciting to find out that the Seattle Center had approved the building the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. As a native Pacific North-westerner and world-renown glass artist, he deserved to have a permanent exhibit in his home state. What is wonderful about Chihuly's artwork is that it's so accessible to the masses, both the young and old, art novices and art collectors. In a recent visit to the exhibit, we enjoyed learning about Dale Chihuly and his work by decade and seeing all the colorful artwork on display.
The recently opened Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit takes up 45,000 square-feet space in the Seattle Center, at the base of Seattle’s iconic, Space Needle. This comprehensive collection of Chihuly’s work is the perfect addition to the “maturing” Seattle Center. The exhibit contains an Exhibition Hall that spreads across eight distinctively-themed exhibit galleries and three Drawing Walls, a lecture hall, an elaborate Garden, a dazzling Glasshouse (overlooking the Space Needle), a theater, Collections Café, and The Book store. Each installation was laid out impressively, and it is obvious that he draws a lot of inspiration from nature.
A tour through the Hall starts with the Glass Forest; then leads you into the Northwest Room, Sealife Room, Persian Ceiling, Mille Fiori, Ikebana & Float Boat, Chandeliers, and lastly Macchia Forest. In between the exhibit galleries, you will encounter the Drawing Walls which showcases Dale’s drawings of his visions and designs of art that he communicate to his team. Chihuly is no longer able to blow glasses himself because of eye sight lost on his left eye and severely dislocated shoulder.
After the Exhibition Hall, there are three different entrances that lead to the Garden, Glasshouse, and the Collection Café. The Garden was delightful! It is an amazing array of colors and variety of glass work that is truly a must see. Not only the displays of glasswork were amazing, the meticulously-maintained outdoor green space was impressive. The Glasshouse is a brilliant glass building with floral glass pieces all along the ceiling; words can’t simply describe this magnificent work. Not to mention the view of the Space Needle as the perfect backdrop. And the Collection Café, which is open for lunch and dinner, features local fresh fare. Actually, the café is, in itself a kind of museum on its own because it houses 28 of the artist’s own collections. The Bookstore sold perfectly – chosen items, and I left with few items myself, mostly postcards!
Although apprehensive about having permanent exhibition dedicated to one artist, we left delightfully surprised with how the exhibit turned out. It was also gratifying that they allowed visitors to take pictures. We can’t wait for the extensive community programs beginning this fall,designed public and maybe even spawn glass artists of the future.
It is not at all rare for me to be found in Old Ballard on Sunday morning, because the most marvelous Farmer's Market takes place there every week year round. Booths of all kinds... vegetables, fresh salmon, amazing cheese, local honey, flowers, crafts, street musicians, happy wanderers and their happy pooches, most shoppers with a string bag or a backpack to take home the wonderful finds. Dinner on Sunday night will be fresh and probably exciting, bursting with just picked Northwest flavors and organic goodness, if
you shop here Sunday morning. And there is very little doubt that you will want to come home with a treasure or two... I brought back a whole salmon (fresh sockeye at $8 pound! wow!), a lovely purple-y bouquet, and a fiddle-head maple wooden paddle for cooking, hand carved on Vashon Island. As well as a
Yew wood medallion for my son...who promptly put it over his head and wore it around his neck. (Yew wood is known for various anti-cancer properties, and in ancient times was said to promote long life and protection from evil spirits...makes sense!)
There is so much that it is impossible to focus on everything in any given day or visit, but I found wonderful treasures and met three creative craftspeople whose work I plan to follow. All three informed me they live in the stone age and don't have websites, but I took some photos and will follow up with visits to their studios for a more in-depth visit.
Dean Robertson of Forest Life Creations is a wood artist that does amazing things with the natural substance. He is at present working hard to introduce monkey puzzle tree wood (parts of it are translucent, jewelers are using it with diamonds!), and I learned a lot about it. I found his earrings and jewelry the result of a remarkably creative mind. Suzanne Hays of Michael Baehr Jewelry creates remarkable collage ornaments that I immediately coveted, whether as icons or jewelry I'm not sure, I suppose the highest and best use is as both at once! Kyote Beth Jones, with studios on Vashon Island, offers remarkable stained glass. I know that next time I go back to Ballard Sunday Market my eye will be caught by a new plethora of exciting worlds of art, craft, wonderful food, and inspiration.
Shoreline Remodeled Rambler
This former bank owned house has been expertly remodeled with a totally reimagined kitchen and numerous updates:
- Kitchen remodel with granite counter tops, new refrigerator, tile back splash, and new cabinets
- New roof, new gutters and downspouts, and tube light in bathroom
- New windows all around
- New doors
- New light fixtures
- New flooring - carpet and tile
- New wall heaters
- Full bathroom remodel with tiled shower
- Fresh paint inside and out
The landscaping has been refreshed and the deck repaired. The deep, fully-fenced back yard is among the property's best features.
Within a short walking distance you can reach:
- Echo Lake Elementary
- Echo Lake Park
- The Shoreline Pool
- The Interurban Trail
How many times have you thought, "I want to live where I can walk to the shops and cafes, have a pub and a bookstore and a grocery store and a dry cleaner nearby, where I don't get my car out of the garage every day, and almost never on Sunday." It might be that Satellites are spoiled because this city has so many walkableneighborhoods and the urban village scale is so human that choices abound.
One of the most Seattle of the neighborhoods in my opinion, is Wallingford, the central walking street being N 45th Avenue. If you come explore you will be astounded at the variety of choices and the slow paced atmosphere of this neighborhood. From the Farmer's Market to the Wallingford Center to the abundance of restaurants, cafes, tea houses, coffee houses and pubs, to the eclectic shopping (dare you to try going away empty handed!) it is a gathering of delightful experiences waiting for you to discover them. According to one of my favorite websites, walkscore.com, Wallingford is the 19th most walkable neighborhood in Seattle with a "good" score of 86.
But if you find yourself within a block or two of N 45th Street that score will quickly go up to near 100 and you will be in Walkability Heaven. Below a list of shops, parks, restaurants and cafes for you to peruse, and below that a little photo album of some of the sights.
Shops: Kids on 45th; Comics Dungeon; Golden Oldies Records; Not a Number Gifts; Tweedy and Poop Hardware; The Vintage Closet; Alphabet Soup Books; The Sock Monster; Portage Bay Goods; Jewlry by Jilla; Paper Delights; I DO Bridal; Strictly Percussion; The Potted Garden; Zanadia; Yazdi; Pharmaca Integrated Pharmacy; Wish Boutique; Terra Hemp Boutique; Amita Art of Gifts; evo; Bonnie River; Mona Lisa Boutique; The Gypsy Trader; Seattle Book Company.
Cafes: Starbucks; Tully's; M0saic Community Coffee House; Irwin's Coffee Shop; A Muddy Cup; Fuel Coffee; Choolati Cafe; Teahouse Kuan Yin.
Restaurants: Satay; Tilth Restaurant; Rusty Pellican Cafe; Julia's; Sutra; Blue Star Cafe and Pub; Bizarro Italian Cafe; Chutney's Bistro, Moon Temple; That Thai Place; Dick's Drive In; May Restaurant and Lounge; Rain Sushi; Kasbah; Bottleworks; Murphy's Irish Pub; Trophy Cupcakes, Wallingford Bakery; Hawaiian Breeze; Fainting Goat Gelato; Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream; Kozue; Issian; Musashi's; Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai Cuisine; Sea Thai; Djan's Thai; Lotus Thai Cuisine; Chili Pepper Mexican Restaurant; La Casa Azul Oaxacan Cuisine.
More fun: Wallingford Farmers Market (Wed 3-7 May-Sept); Woodland Park Zoo; The Rose Garden at Woodland Park (one of only two dozen certified Rose Test Gardens in the United States); nearby Meridian Park; Green Lake Park; Lake Union and Gasworks Park. Not to mention the Burke Gilman Trail twelve blocks south running along the banks of Lake Union. This 27 mile multi-use recreational corridor connects Kenmore and even south as far as Issaquah on the East Side with Ballard Locks (hence a pathway for bicyclists to head downtown) and Shilshole Bay on Puget Sound.
Meet Edy Kizaki.
Edy's May in Seattle 2012 blog.
In the last 30 days, 17 single-family properties sold in Wallingford, from a 518 square foot condo which sold for $6,000 over the listing price, to a houseboat that sold for asking price at $255,000, all the way to a 3,100 square foot 1919 Craftsman that sold for slightly less than list, at $810,000, from $825,000. But the very interesting thing in looking at this neighborhood snapshot is that so many of the properties went for over the listed price. Just more evidence for what all the Seattle Real Estate Brokers I know are talking about, the market has turned, it's a fast competitive market with considerable multiple offer situations, and prices are inching upwards slightly. Good news or bad? Good if you are ready to buy now, good if you need to sell, not so great if your strategy is to wait another year, although we keep hearing that interest rates are not predicted to rise very soon. How many homes sold in the same period last year? What are the median prices this year compared to last? It's a rather small sample but worth a look:
This year: 17 sold, from $150,000 to $810,000 with a median price of $560,000, an average of 41 days on market. 8 of them sold for at or above list price.
Last year same time period: 10 sold, from $200,000 to $675,000 with a median price of $497,000 and an average of 78 days on market. 5 sold at or above list.
Here is the CMA sheet for the last 30 days in Wallingford:
What's available for sale in Wallingford right now? There are 15 listings (not counting mutlti-family etc.)
Meet Edy Kizaki.
Edy's May in Seattle 2012 blog.