Thoughts on my latest real estate journey 

As you may know, I took on a new role at the beginning of the year: managing feasibility and permitting for a builder. What a journey it’s been! 

I don’t know how clear the title is, but “feasibility” is critical to our company. Can we build at a profit? To state the obvious, in our culture, profitability equals survival. 

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service provides a form specifically for this. I’ve been asked a lot about it lately: most agents never use it. And they don’t understand what it’s for. 

The purpose: time to explore the components of build-ability. For some projects, say a custom home, we’re exploring whether the costs fit into your budget. Will state, county or municipal rules let you build at all? If so, can you afford it?

Construction is cleaner but more complicated. Can what you are able to build sell for for a profit? 

In Snohomish County, well, the whole state, we have challenges related to growth management. Important concerns, for the good of the community, and the ecosystem we draw our life from. I’ll get to that soon. 

Keyboxes, Wild Goose Chases, and This Afternoon

Lavery - 15811 Three Lakes Road, Snohomish

In the Seattle area, we real estate agents use electronic keyboxes to access houses. Which means, when we list a home, someone needs to zip to the property and put one on. My team put a house on the market yesterday, and we really wanted to get the keybox on today. So, after getting copies of our keys, I head out. This home isn’t too far from my office, but with afternoon traffic, it took me over 1/2 hour to head out to Snohomish. Oh, a key (see what I did there?) element of this house: it’s new construction…and under construction. Now, per our schedule, the doors are on. And per reality, they’re not.

It was a true Laugh Out Loud moment to walk to the house, past the construction team with a keybox and look at the non-existent front door. So, I’ll be heading back…at some point in the near future.

Live and learn…live and learn.


A few recommended Real Estate articles

As you may know, I work in the real estate industry. I’m a licensed real estate agent, though currently don’t have my license with a brokerage, and work in the construction sector. With that, I watch the industry closely. These articles below cover national trends, which do impact us at a local level, somewhat.

So, a few interesting articles about the national market.


Real Estate – Construction Thought Of The Day

A client saved a lot of money by buying house plans off the internet. However, the savings are being chipped away at by the needed engineering of the plans in order to make them compliant with local zoning and Washington State laws. Not sure if, in the end, they will still save money or these additional costs will raise bring up higher.

My advice: if you find a house you adore online, then, sure, go-ahead and buy those plans. Recognize that there will, most likely, be some additional costs associated with bringing the plans up-to-code locally. Make it about what you love, vs saving a few bucks here or there.

Hey, I fully support saving money. Just, well, make sure you’re not spending more money to save. Or, as a friend likes to put it, don’t step over dollars to get to nickles.

Thinking About Downtown Everett

Everett Logo

Yesterday I spent a little time walking right along Colby. I was struck by the large number of vacant store front spaces. Which surprises me, since retail space in the region is in high-demand. I guess we can see the upper bound of that.

Perhaps Everett is considered too far from Seattle. I find that interesting as it’s only 35 miles, 44 miles to Seatac airport.

There’s a great arts community up here, with the Everett Philharmonic, the Village Theatre and the Schack Arts Center, just to name a few.

Plenty of businesses occupy the larger buildings, banks, escrow companies, the offices for Snohomish County, and, of course, the City of Everett’s offices.

The city has an amazing amount of potential. I hope that the business community realizes it and helps Everett grow…and grow the right way.

Maybe that can Everett’s call to glory: smart and compassionate growth! Just a thought.

Gotta love those home renovation shows on TV

Finally made it to taekwondo yesterday and the gym today. This after a several week sabbatical of sorts. Was fighting a nasty cold for a few weeks, then sprained my ankle at taekwondo. Now, that sounds better than the full description. I sprained my ankle, at taekwondo, after my third JUMPING JACK! Jeez…I’m a black belt who can land jumping back kicks, and I lose my ability to walk normally from jumping jacks. Ugh!

Anyway, I’m slowly coming back up to speed, and didn’t push myself that hard tonight. Spent about 1/2 hour on the treadmill watching one of the real estate shows. This one is about buying fixers and flipping them.

I’ve seen the show before, and recognize the hosts. I admire their work, find the subject interesting. But…BUT…elements of the show boggle me. Today there was one moment where the project was nearly derailed because, in Torrence, CA, there’s a code preventing powerlines from crossing above pools. I get that, and it makes sense. What doesn’t, though, is how no one discovers this until the concrete patio has been poured. How did they get permits without having this addressed? Maybe California is different, and the grant permits after you build. But that seems quite daft.

The other thing this evening, which almost caused me to truly laugh out loud, was this shot where a host discovers a rat in this nasty, messy bank repo property. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of these houses have rats. When I was working for a real estate company selling bank owned properties, we had many. However, the rats were never, EVER a pristine white. Nor were they demure, like the one in the ad. The ones I’ve seen would hiss and snarl at you, and quite possibly chase you.

Anyway, that’s just my experience ruining the suspension of disbelieve. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the shows. Just now that those shows aren’t, well, “exactly” realistic. So, having a team of folks who knows what they’re doing might be a worthwhile investment.

Growth, development, change, and my little suburb, Lynnwood 

Went walking this evening. It’s been nice walking in the evenings these past two nights; last Friday I gave my left ankle s mild sprain. That frustrated me as I was starting to do jumping jacks. JUMPING JACKS! I’m a black belt in taekwondo and am limping after jumping jacks. Sigh…
It’s nice seeing the stars. Orion’s Belt crisp and clear in this night’s air. 

On part of my walk there’s some new construction. Working in the industry, I take notice of such things in my neighborhood. 

Now this lot (if you know Lynnwood, it’s on 60th between 176th and 173rd, just south of Meadowdale high school) was a single family home on a decent sized lot forever, or so it seemed. I walked by that house daily from junior high through high school. 

Well, the house is gone. 5 houses are going up. Five. And they’re 5 bedroom homes as well. Well, it was hard to read the sign in the dark, and I didn’t want to use my phone as a flashlight. Just seemed kinda weird. 

Anyway, the surrounding houses are mostly mid-century three bedroom ramblers. Nearby at some larger split levels from the 70s and 80s. These new homes are quite a shift from the existing ones. But that’s what’s bring built in my town right now. All around, and in some large plat developments, too. 

Makes me wonder what the future holds for Lynnwood. I’m expecting many more older homes will get replaced buy these larger homes on smaller lots. What will it look like in a couple years? That’s anyone’s guess. How many will get absorbed by growth, vs how many folks holding out against the incoming tide? There’ll be some hold outs. Perhaps many. But I expect there will be a gradual attrition that will snowball at times. Eventually, my funny little suburb will be as glitzy and shiny as Bellevue. BMWs, glad towers and McMansions. 

It’s the way of things,  I guess.