I just know you'll love this opinion piece in today's Seattle Times:
Rising interest rates have cooled the housing explosion around much of the country, but in the Puget Sound region, real estate remains king.I'm just going to let that one speak for itself.
And the queen is the over-the-top but never disappointing model home.
I'm not referring to the minipalaces laid out in the Seattle Street of Dreams — although a step through the annual event's custom doors begs the question of whether affordable housing exists anymore.
I'm talking about the model homes showcasing the miles and miles of new housing developments springing up along the Interstate 90 and Interstate 5 corridors. From Seattle to Puyallup to North Bend and back, developers are building for the hordes to come.
And they're coming. This region remains desirable for jobs and livability. And despite the jaw-dropping housing prices, on sunny weekends throngs of home shoppers wander in and out of model homes like they're touring art galleries.
Expect this trend to continue as Sound Transit and the possibility of light rail turns the suburbs into attractive urban-like enclaves.
If cars evoke who we are today — SUV's for the hip and fertile, Buicks for the conservatives and mini-Coopers for the aspiring gazillionaires — houses are being built to reflect who we aspire to be. We hope someday to be the hobbyist puttering around the hobby room or the fitness buff splayed on a yoga mat in the garden room. We want to be the grande dame gliding down the winding staircase to greet a guest in the two-story foyer.
And thanks to the miracle growth of real estate, many of us can. The aphorism that a rising tide lifts all boats is a principle at work here. People are using equity in existing homes to move up. Median home prices in King County shot up 16 percent last year. Try to mimic that on Wall Street.
There are drawbacks. Any gold rush inevitably leaves someone in the dust. The future may be rosy for some but for others it may consist of laboring underneath zero-down, interest-only, short-term ARMs, one of many creative and scary mortgage packages out there.
(Lynne Varner, Seattle Times, 07.19.2006)