Here's another one of those stories that follow the basic formula of: take an anecdote, fill in all the back story, write it as dramatically as possible, and stretch it to a full-length article. Today's topic: finding a nice house for less than $400,000 around Seattle is darn near impossible. It certainly doesn't qualify as "news," but it at least makes a semi-interesting read.
Adam and Leticia Hewitt's adventure in Puget Sound-area home buying began innocuously enough, with Adam dutifully researching the housing market to allay the couple's anxieties over their move north.I seem to recall hearing some people claim that even if the Puget Sound sees price declines, the "close-in" neighborhoods to Seattle will be safe, because people want to live close to where they work. What I find particularly interesting about this anecdote is that not only did their subject family end up way up in Lynnwood, even the "high up corporate" people in Starbucks were recommending Issaquah.
The manager of a Starbucks store in Portland, the 32-year-old accepted a promotion in February to financial analyst in the corporate office south of downtown Seattle. But the thrill of career advancement spiraled into distress as the couple searched for an affordable place to live.
"All I kept hearing about Seattle was that traffic was terrible," [Leticia] said. "Everyone said that we may as well spend more on housing to live closer to work, that the investment would be worth it in time saved on the commute."
After Adam started his new job in Seattle, co-workers at Starbucks offered good-intentioned advice.
"Live in Issaquah," they said. "It's great there and the housing is affordable."
Adam explored Issaquah and found houses selling for as low as $600,000 and as high as seven figures.
"They were right — it is great out in Issaquah. But the housing is not affordable. I began to realize that everyone I was talking to was high up in corporate and making a lot more money than I was."
The couple finally found their dream house within the Red Oaks subdivision in north Lynnwood, a house that had been on the market since February but had not yet sold because two offers had fallen through.
The commute still is so fresh that Adam is timing the compromise each afternoon.
"Forty-two minutes," he said about one recent commute home. "But yesterday, it was only 32."
If home prices do not go down, this kind of scenario will continue to play out in Seattle, and in fact only get worse.
(Stuart Eskenazi, Seattle Times, 09.05.2006)