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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

$400,000 is Not "Affordable"

A couple of interesting letters to the editor floated to the surface today in response to Ms. Rhodes' latest article.

Here's my favorite:

I guess I don't understand how anyone would think that a $400,000 to $500,000 price tag on a town house is considered to be affordable housing. Not for folks who work for the city of Seattle making less than $35,000 a year. Not all of us are City Council members or managers.

— Diana Rodriguez, Lacey
Indeed, what a bizarro world we live in.

(Letters to the Editor, Seattle Times, 03.13.2007)

57 comments:

Kurt said...

Portland isn't too far behind Seattle. They are still doing ground breaking on lots of happy meal condo lofts all over the city. I have no idea who will spend $500k on an empty box just to get a view of Mt Hood.

softwarengineer said...

I READ IN THE PI LATELY, THEY SAY THE AVERAGE SEATTLE HOUSEHOLD INCOME ID $64K

What a JOKE. I imagine you can easily half that household income number to get to the REAL HOUSING MARKET INCOME.

Folks with two $60-80K incomes are usually more senior "double income" family household incomes that bought homes more than a decade ago and have switched to domestic equities, not real estate.

Yet, our local "hogwash" news averages this unrelated income disparity of those that aren't buying in, into the new home purchaser's capability anyway. Pathetic!!!

Alan said...

I think it is a resonable assumption that the income distribution of those who currently do not own their own house but would who would buy at the right price is similar to the income distribution of the general Seattle population.

B said...

We all know that the affordability situation in Seattle deteriorated badly over the last 3-5 years. However, judging by basically every statistic and economic indicator, and also due to the small-town late-to-the-party phenomenon, we will soon be seeing some price declines of at least a few single digit percentage points (percentage of the current inflated prices, mind you).

The really concerning thing is that very few, if any, of the people that actually make our city go, ie city functionaries, firefighters, cops, schoolteachers, etc, can afford to live within its borders. How can a city be well managed if all the services it needs have to be imported from Federal Way?

meshugy said...

The really concerning thing is that very few, if any, of the people that actually make our city go, ie city functionaries, firefighters, cops, schoolteachers, etc, can afford to live within its borders. How can a city be well managed if all the services it needs have to be imported from Federal Way?

Hi B,

I have a good friend who's a fire fighter and he owns a house...actually two houses (he rents the second one.) Both in George town. So there's defintly plenty of affordable housing around.

I think the problem here is that everyone wants an "affordable" house in their dream neighborhood, be it Queen Anne, Bellevue, Wallingford, Capitol Hill, etc. There was a time when people with modest salaries could afford those places...and now they're reaping the rewards of buying in what has become a trendy area. Today those areas are now reserved for people with high salaries.

But there's still plenty of affordable areas both in Seattle and the surrounding areas. You can get a house pretty cheap in Kent, White Center, Lynnwood, etc. Lots of affordable stuff in S. and W. Seattle. I don't think it's fair to only look at the trendiest areas and then complain everything is too expensive.

synthetik said...

I have a good friend who's a fire fighter and he owns a house...actually two houses (he rents the second one.)

hey shug... so how is your friend enjoying his subprime mortgage?

B said...

Shug - the funny part is, I can easily afford to rent in those nice, highly desirable areas (and have for years). And more and more specuvestors are increasingly willing to have me do just that.

Grivetti said...

Today those areas are now reserved for people with high salaries.

pffft, whatever. I have a mediocre salary yet I'm living in a house on Phinney that looks down on your place Meshugy, whatya gotta say about that?

info said...

whatya gotta say about that?

You're renting...I own.

Grivetti said...

You're renting...I own.

Who cares?.. as they say, why buy the cow when you get the milk for free.

info said...

btw...why don't you give us your real name and address so we can check out your dream house on phinney? Or are you to chicken sh## to let us know who you are?

Grivetti said...

btw...why don't you give us your real name and address so we can check out your dream house on phinney?

I have, a few times... go ahead and check the blog dude (or should I say Meshugy)

info said...

sorry, I'm logged in w/my other account. Info and Meshugy are both me. Google automatically logs me in as info...sometimes I'm too lazy to change.

Never seen your name here.

I'm Michael Horowitz...7310 19th Ave NW. But you already know that because you love looking my house up on zillow (which btw went up another 4K today and is now worth $534.)

Who are you? I'd really like to see what you're renting. If it's an amazing place for little rent...then I'll believe that you're living the good life renting. Please post your name and address.

Grivetti said...

215 NW 55th St.

Yeah, its in the undesirable 'below 60th' dregs, but whatever... its got a view

info said...

You're not looking down at much there...that's the bottom of the hill. We have views here of Ranier and the Olympics.

And your place is a dreaded 50s brick rambler....I'm not really impressed. If it was a totally renovated craftsman on the top of the hill for $1200 a month I'd sell my house tomorrow and start renting.

Anyway, what's the rent? Looks like you have roommates....

And what's your name? Since you're technically in Ballard, I may stop over and visit.

Grivetti said...

And your place is a dreaded 50s brick rambler....I'm not really impressed

I figured you wouldn't be... but the joint IS worth more than your place, so the zillow gods must deem it more worthy. Personally I don't really know why or care, don't have much faith in Zillow anyway.

Anyway, I love the 50's lounge culture that inspired the brick rambler, lots of amazing one's up in Blue Ridge and Olympic View, to each their own I suppose.

The owner keeps the small unit below me for the occasional stopover, about once a month for a night or two... not much of a roomate. Rents around $1300 or so...

As far as my name? not going to do the homework for you 'Shug... anyway, unlike you I actually have my email posted on my blog page, so if you're really dying to find out (which is creepy), email me...

info said...

As far as my name? not going to do the homework for you 'Shug

buck, buck, buck....


as I figured....chicken sh##

BTW, your place is also on the corner of 3rd which is a busy arterial. No way I'd live near that kind of traffic with two kids.

While we're at it....I think it's time to call out *Synthetic*.

I'd like to see the palace you're renting for nothing....name and address please.

Grivetti said...

as I figured....chicken sh##

oh... the horror...

BTW, your place is also on the corner of 3rd which is a busy arterial. No way I'd live near that kind of traffic with two kids.

I don't have kids, or pets, or absent minded elderly parents living with me... so... again, who cares...

While we're at it....I think it's time to call out *Synthetic*.

And again, this speaks to your drive-by trolling of the blog Meshugy/info, Synthetic is renting near downtown for ~$1600 a month, its The Tim who lives rent free in Kenmore...

if you'd read the blog posts carefully, add some analysis other than just dropping your zillow bombs, people might treat you kindlier on this blog (me included)

info said...

oh... the horror...

So you're happy to repeatedly post info on my house on this blog (address, price data, etc via zillow), but unwilling to reveal your own identity. Says a lot about your character...

Synthetic is renting near downtown for ~$1600 a month,

Didn't he say he was on Capitol Hill now? I want an address so I can see EXACTLY what he's renting for the price.

The Tim who lives rent free in Kenmore

Is he a Trustafarian or still living with Mommy and Daddy?

Wanderer said...

For the record, I am totally against anyone exposing other people's personal information... even if it is publically available. Feel free to disclose your own, though I think that is a really bad idea as we approach CRASHCON 2.

Shugy, I'm not sure what you ate recently, but looking forward to "paying a visit" is ridiculous. This is a blog for crying out loud. Threats, veiled in a chicken sh## way or otherwise, are misplaced.

info said...

but looking forward to "paying a visit" is ridiculous.

That was a joke...

For the record, I am totally against anyone exposing other people's personal information...

Grivetti has continuously posted links to my personal info on this blog. But won't tell us anything about himself. What a swell guy..

Grivetti said...

Grivetti has continuously posted links to my personal info on this blog.

For starters, you post your home price from zillow all the time, with repeated links to home prices and addresses on your block, you also mentioned what neighborhood you live in... it took about five minutes to look it up. My curiousity took over one day. I apologize if this has given you grief...

I will cease and desist further postings of your zillow link... but for the record, I didn't know your name until you posted it right now, nor do I necessarily care to know it.

Peace...

info said...

I will cease and desist further postings of your zillow link.

I actually don't care...unlike everyone else on this blog, I have nothing to hide. From now on I won't take anyone seriously on here unless they reveal their identity and address so we can see EXACTLY how glorious their living situation really is.

So, Synthetic, Elua, Mr.Bubbles, etc...let's see what you're living in and how much it cost. Prove to me that renting is the better choice.

From what I've seen of Grivetti, not so great.

msrelo said...

So I just zillowed the house I rent in Ballard and the address is quite wrong. Anybody know why this would be the case? Ohh and this is good for a laugh: the value is supposedly up $21k in the last 30 days. This is for a 100 plus year old house that has seen little renovation, has original windows, ancient heating system, questionable plumbing, and zero insulation.

Peter Taylor said...

Michael said:

>You're renting...I own.

Let's be clear. *You* don't own your home. You share ownership with the bank that holds the mortgage on your home.

plymster said...

How long until Shugy gets banned from this board? Veiled threats, outright abusive language, calls for personal information. He's been piling on misinformation and lies for about a year now, and in my opinion should have been banned for just that reason.

I'm all for free speech, but that doesn't mean I want to listen to a crazy person verbally abuse people.

Tim has 3 rules:
-No personal attacks.
-No intentional antagonism.
-No excessive swearing.

Meshugy's been skirting 1 and 2 for a year. Ban this guy. He does nothing but detract from the conversation and create an environment of animosity.

Comrade Chairman Greenspan said...

Seconded.

WTF said...

Children, children.....

Let's be civilized, or at least pretend to be.

Shug, this doesn't need to be a pissing match. If you choose to continually dismiss the shaky fundamentals that are affording you your current situation, then so be it. Take a loan out on that newly found 4k and buy yourself another flat screen. I just hope you can still find a way to read this blog when you can no longer pay for your internet connection.

Eleua said...

Info,

What is your problem?

Rents are cheap and houses are expensive. That is the entire point of this blog.

Get a life.

If you think anyone is going to allow an obviously unstable person into their personal life, you are seriously deluded.

info said...

Elua...hiding behind his anonymity. I bet you're not so brave in person. God forbid you actually be held accountable for your own opinions.

You don't have any problems slandering other people who use their own identity here: Ardell, myself, etc.

Why don't you come out of your shell...or maybe you've got something to hide?

WTF said...

Dude - you sound like a crazy person. Give it up.

Present your arguments, back it up with facts and let's get on with the discussion.

Eleua said...

Held accountable?

Slandering others?

I wonder about your childhood.

I really hope Tim doesn't broom this thread. This is going to be fun.

Grivetti said...

...let's get on with the discussion.

I second that notion, really I wouldn't even have posted today knowing all the negative waves were going to start...

...and to 'Shugy, my "watcha gotta say about that?" was antogonistic, I admit, sorry, but let's moveon.org this whole thing already, huh?

just was trying to make the point that living in desireable neighborhoods is affordable if you make a lifestyle choice not to buy.

I personally would like to buy, knock a wall out if I felt like it, but the compromise ain't that bad, its definitely a close second. That and if a heavy metal band decides to make next door its practice space, I just put in my month's notice and head for greener pastures...

again, I apologize for the bad vibes I may've started.

info said...

Dude - you sound like a crazy person.

If I'm going to follow someone's financial advice, I'd at least like to know who they are, what they do, where the live, etc. Do you buy stocks based on tips from anonymous spam emails? Of course not...so let's all be straight about who we are and our financial situation. As far as I know Elua is a sexual predator posting from a prison library computer. I'd have a lot more respect for his point of view if he'd back it up. Let's face it, it's easy to be a big mouth when your anonymous. If he came clean and still could back up his position, then I'd be much more willing to listen. Anything other then that is the work of a coward.

Nothing crazy about that....

wreckingbull said...

Infoshug,

The whole point of this blog is to talk about the hard data that tells us the housing boom is supported by toothpicks.

I don't care who provides the data. Engineer, aircraft pilot, or McDonalds fry guy...does not matter.

You are a real Mr. Hyde today. We can smell your fear a mile away.

Matthew said...

Meshugy/INFO,

There are plenty of reasons people don't want to identify their name and address on a public message board. If I were a Real Estate agent, in sales, HR, PR, a stock broker, etc, I probably wouldn't care. However, people are doing serious federal time because of the work I have done, and I'd rather not give them an opportunity to allow them to visit www.mapquest.com and plan a late night Rendez-vous at casa de la Matthew.

If by some warped reason in your mind that makes mine, or anyone elses points of view less valid, well to quote Ardell "I don't give a rat's arse!"

Last time I checked the purpose of this blog was not to give financial advice for people, it was to discuss a potential housing bubble in the Seattle area (hence www.seattlebubble.com). There are plenty of economic blogs and broker forums where one get more than adequate fincial assistance.

Are you perhaps upset that :

1. subprime is imploding
2. your favorite site www.housingtracker.net has shown inventory increases for the last several weeks and a plateu in median price for the last 9 months.
3. You got fired up because someone is doing a little research on your house you love to talk about everytime you logon to this site.

Relax buddy, take a deep breath and exhale. Repeat after me:

I'm good enough.
I'm smart enough.
And gosh darnit, people like me.

SDtoSEA said...

I'm sure we'll just be seeing Shug getting more and more upset with everyone as this whole thing plays out. Used to be he'd stop by with a link supporing rising prices. Now he's honestly getting scared about what's gonna happen. That's making him a little irritable.

Eleua said...

Info,

How, exactly, do you want me to "back it up?" Do I have to post my brokerage statements?

I've given more info about me than is probably prudent. Rest assured, there is nothing I am saying on SB, or my own blog, that misrepresents how I view this topic in my personal and financial life.

Believe me...I do literally have my money where my mouth is - perhaps more than just about anyone.

One reason this anonymous forum works, is I can say what I think, and not have to worry about some freak connecting the dots, realizing he is totally screwed due to his overwhelming stupidity, and then scapegoating me. If you want to blame "Eleua" that is fine by me.

There is no way I would have you following me home to exact some revenge for a perceived tort. Just because I connected the dots before you did does not make me the bad guy.

If you believed the lie the REIC puts out, congratulations! You are in the majority.

On a personal note...I really do not like to see individuals get hurt by all of this. That is why I am so passionate about the subject. I created the Eleua persona to convey that emotion in an irreverent and informative fashion. I have learned so much from the regular posters on this forum, and I attempt to return the favor.

I routinely flog the faceless REIC for the pain they have caused so many people.

Thanks for the compliment. If I was wrong, you wouldn't care. Now that I have been shown to be correct, you are pissed off at me. What sophistication!

It's kind of like someone telling you that your wife is shagging your boss. You want to strike back, but you can't. You blame the person that figured it out.

I wasn't the idiot that signed your mortgage. If you had listened to anybody on any of the dozens of bubble blogs, you probably wouldn't be crapping your pants.

Eleua said...

BTW, I have NEVER said anyone should follow my financial advice. I give my opinions. If you like them, add them to the corpus of knowledge and insight you should already have.

Never act on my opinions. I am the only one that should do that.

If you did act on my opinions, you still have nobody to blame but yourself. If you act on my opinions and it works in your favor, thank yourself.

Either way, I am just an amateur economist giving my opinions. They are worth what you paid.

I will say...I found it extremely funny that CNBC did an entire segment on "Did Wall Street Miss the Subprime Implosion?"

SB regulars figured this out months ago. Any person with a 3rd grade education could have figured it out. It was there for the taking.

Somehow, the professionals missed it. My bet is they were blinded by the money - much like people that have recently signed a mortgage in hopes of cashing in on the RE equity freight train.

"Greed makes you stupid."

You can take that last piece of advice to the bank. I'll stand behind that one.

MisterBubble said...

I second what everyone else has said.

Meshugy, you sound desperate and crazy. If you think I'm going to give you a way to "visit me", you truly have lost your grip on reality (and Realty).

You can believe me, or not, for whatever reasons you choose -- I could care less. But my identity, my finances and my address have no bearing on the quality of the arguments that I make.

And one more thing: if you didn't want people to figure out where you lived, you probably should have held back a bit on the endless bragging about your personal gold mine. Bitter? Tough. That's poetic justice, brother.

MisterBubble said...

I will say this: I live in Ballard, in an apartment, and I pay significantly less than $1000 a month. I'm quite happy.

How much does your lifestyle cost you?

uptown said...

I live on the south slope of QA and have a view of downtown, the Mt., and part of Elliott Bay. It's only a (very) large studio, but I'm currently single so it's big enough. It's a bargain at less than $700 with parking; cheaper than any apartment I rented in California over the last 20 years.

For investment purpose I use the stock market, where my average return is over 30% a year without really trying.

uptown said...

One more comment on investing:

I've found you make more money by doing the opposite of what the masses are. And I've learned not to take any emotional interest in my investments.

T,V & Mr.B said...

Oh Shugy, You're so cute when you're angry.

Joe Consumer said...

Wow. People are going crazy. A sign of the times. I follow all the arguments of the Eleua's and Synthetik's, and they make sense. My question is why does Eleua and others seem to spend so much of their time on this site? You guys are right about the credit collapse..congratulations.

I assume you have made financial decisions in line with your prognostications (I'm sure you have). If so, you're in good shape.

Take a vacation! Enjoy yourselves. Why spend all your time commenting on this blog? Is it the vindication? Is there a rush?

Just curious. I'm pretty intense about some of my interests, but none of them have so much negative energy associated with them...like the credit bubble collapse. Doesn't seem very healthy.

Eleua said...

Joe,

Yes, I post quite frequently. Don't mistake that for not having a life.

My day has me spending about 4 hours reading about investment opportunities and fundamentals. The bulk of that comes via the internet, so I'm already a mouse click away from SB. If the lion's share of one's investment portfolio is taking advantage of the enormous disconnect with the housing market, it makes sense to stop in and see if anything is new.

Sometimes I need a mental break, and sometimes I need to put my thoughts into words to help me organize my thinking.

SB is like a mental doodle pad for me.

I may have my vision of the situation, but it is always in need of refinement. Many of the posters on SB help in that effort. You never know when someone will be able to bring clarity to a variety of data points. Who knows? perhaps I provide that service for someone else.

Lastly, I just enjoy bitch-slapping the occasional troll.

synthetik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

Info is the Shugster, he has already admitted it.

Eleua said...

If Info = Shug...

Just WTF was he doing all this time on SB? Rubbing our faces in his equity? Finally, he knows he has screwed himself to the wall, and he is looking to blame us.

It wasn't that the info eluded him. He was just to preoccupied doing his year-long endzone dance.

The Tim said...

Is he a Trustafarian or still living with Mommy and Daddy?

Not that it particularly matters, but the answer is C) None of the above.

We moved into the place when friends of ours moved out. We were originally paying a paltry $250/mo rent thinking we were subletting to the residents that lived here before our friends, but one day the owner came by and said "I don't charge rent for this place." So we stopped paying rent.

That's pretty much the whole story. I don't ask too many questions about it. Something about looking a gift horse in the mouth and all that...

For the record, I don't see how anonymity has any affect on the validity of one's argument. It does however make it difficult to launch ad hominem attacks.

synthetik said...

and for the record, my wife and I were living at Harbor Steps in Downtown Seattle, paying $2460 for a 13th floor Rainier view.

Now we're in Cap hill and rent is $1400 /mo and I like it much better. More neighborhoody.

Cheers.

synthetik said...

Guys, I'm no expert but I dont' see how "info" is Meshugy.

If it is, he's flipped his lid, and, well, it's kinda funny.

I'm more inclinded to think it's some other "person on the brink"

So whether you happen to own a tiny sh*tbox in Ballard or hawk eastside properties to unsuspecting FB's, you have to be getting a little "meshugy" at this point in the game.

Matthew said...

"sorry, I'm logged in w/my other account. Info and Meshugy are both me. Google automatically logs me in as info...sometimes I'm too lazy to change."

From INFO himself a few posts up.

synthetik said...

It's not meshugy, trust me. While his ideas of the housing market may be way off base, does not act like the massive douche that is 'info'.

Shug, that's not you right? Or did you go off your meds? ARM reset?

Eleua said...

Shug/info has been patting himself on the back for buying in a "trendy" area, and vouchsafing Kent, and White Center for the rest of us peons.

Now, he has snapped. I'm with Synthetik and suspect an ARM reset. He probably is smart enough to realize* that the mortgage finance trainwreck spells doom for his home value, but he can't get out.



Poor bastard. Good luck with your house.

* (warning: salty language)

synthetik said...

>like the credit bubble collapse. Doesn't seem very healthy.

It's very healthy as long as your on the right end of it! ;)

Jazon123 said...

Ah yes, Shuggy.
Again, a fool and his money will soon be parted.
The stock market never goes down (quotes from idiots before the 99-00 crash). I only know this not to be true, because I believed it wouldn't happen, yet, the market dropped like a hot freakin' rock. Luckily, my losses in the stock market do not effect my credit rating. Defaulting on your mortgage makes loans in the future, hard to come by.
Good lucks shugs.