Wednesday Links: April 19

I was just singing the Seattle Bubble’s praises, but I’m going to do it again.  They’ve put up an analysis of housing affordability in the area, with adjustments for what the index would be with different interest rates.  I highly recommend reading the article as a whole, less for its information about affordability rates in the area, and more because it winds up being a very useful discussion of interest rates, where the current rates fall in comparison to historical norms, and the potential affect they can have on the market.  With affordability reaching for historical lows and interest rates creeping back toward more normal ranges, the rising interest rates could put some pressure against rising prices in many markets.  I don’t foresee it having much of an impact on that front in the Seattle market since we have plenty of cash, and high-cash buyers who can avoid or mitigate those effects, but it could start to affect national trends which will, eventually play into the Seattle market.

If you’ve been paying attention to the upzoning going on around the city as part HALA, then you’ll be wanting to pay attention to the next neighborhood up for review: the International District.  And not just because increased density in that neighborhood might increase floorspace for tea shops.  (Though, in my opinion, that’s a very good reason to pay attention.)  The two neighborhoods that have already been through review had unanimous approval, but they were also, arguably, the least controversial choices.  There was small but significant opposition to the downtown plan because many activists wanted an increase in the Mandatory Housing Affordability component of the downtown plan, the opposite of the NIMBY trend expected in most neighborhoods, but overall these were straightforward approvals.  The International District is a different creature altogether, and relatively unique in the city, too.  Paying attention to the conversations going on during its review could be enlightening about what to expect as HALA approvals move into more controversial parts of the city.

And a final farewell to Bertha.  After many years, many breakages, and a lot of disappointment, she’s finished her job and gotten dismantled.  SDOT has continued their support for webcam curiosity and has a video up to let you see the giant drill head for her final resting place. (She’s mostly getting recycled.)

Bussing Broker: Week 28

The sun is shining and I shamelessly abandoned the office for a lunch time tour.  I hopped on the train, took it down to Pioneer Square, then worked my way north until I was at Westlake station.  Back on the train and back to work.  That netted me visits to five properties and some spectacularly great views of downtown and the sound.  It was a really great Tuesday tour, and I’m not just saying that because it didn’t involve Queen Anne.

The takeaway theme for today was, “Isn’t this a great balcony? It’ll be quieter, of course, when they finish work on the viaduct.”  Someday!

Location: Pioneer Square, Downtown
Time: 2 hours
Transit modes: Train, feet
Cost: $2.50
Cats petted: 0
Tea consumed: Ice black tea with basil
Properties Viewed: 5

Bussing Broker: Week 20

After completely missing tour last week (I shake my fist at thee, rhinovirus!) I jumped on the wagon in a big way the first chance I had this week.  Yesterday I took a nice long lunch break and made a tour of the condos on offer from Belltown down to Pike Place.  The sky was a delightful Seattle gray, the temperature was comfy, and it didn’t drizzle even a little.

This has always been my favorite way to do property tour.  It’s near my office but since it’s not Capitol Hill, it’s mostly flat, and the views are always great – I’m a an admitted sucker for views of downtown, so even if water or mountains are lacking from a unit, it probably has something I like.  Now, with the experiment in touring without a car, I get a bonus opportunity to be smug everytime somebody asks, “How did you find parking?”  I should perhaps start tracking this stat, too.  It happened at four out of six properties yesterday.

Location: Belltown / Downtown
Time: 2.25 hr
Transit modes: Bus, Foot, Train
Cost: 2.75
Cats petted: 0
Tea consumed: Iced Oolong
Properties Viewed: 6

Bussing Broker: Week 17

This week was a Tuesday tour week.  I’ve been running from appointment to appointment ever since and this is the first chance I’ve gotten to write it up.

The weather on Tuesday was pretty nice, so I caught the train downtown and took a look at condos.  I had five I wanted to see, the last on in Belltown, but I cut the Belltown condo from my plans because I was getting tight on time.  The downtown condos were all clustered fairly near Pike Place Market, so walking between them was quite easy – I probably would have opted to walk even if I’d had a car with me just because parking downtown is such a hassle.  My favorite part of looking at condos downtown: the views were fantastic.  Mount Rainier wasn’t out – it was hazy enough in the distance to hide a shy mountain – but the sun on the water was great.  Days like that, I spend a little time wishing I worked out of an office downtown instead of in Capitol Hill.

This tour was definitely a clear victory over using a car, though.  The train to Westlake was easy, and not having to find parking and debate whether I should move the car from one showing to the next was a huge improvement.  So far, the tours in the denser parts of the city have been strong arguments in the no-car column.

Location: Downtown
Time: 1.5 hours
Transit modes: Train, Feet
Cost: $2.25
Cats petted: 0
Tea consumed: No tea
Properties Viewed: 4

Bussing Broker: Week 7

Oh my gosh, the weather today is gorgeous.  The mountains are out, and it was a great day for a walk.  I hopped on a bus to head over to Belltown for tour there and it was so nice that I walked up Alaskan Way to look at condo near Pike Place Market before coming back.  I couldn’t have designed a nicer lunch break, and not having to park in Belltown was approximately the best thing ever.

I would complain that this was the second tour day in a row where I did not encounter a single kitty, but I’m entirely too pleased with my mountain-view intake to mind.  Victories all around today.

Location: Belltown / Downtown
Time: 1.45 hr
Transit modes: Bus / Feet
Cost: $2.50
Cats petted: 0
Tea consumed: 0
Properties Viewed: 4