real estate

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

That Starbucks around the corner from your house may be draining your wallet, latte by latte. But if you’re a homeowner, it may be paying off for you in other ways, in the value of your home, for example.

That’s one of the eye-catching findings that two executives of the Seattle-based real estate data firm Zillow reveal in their recent book, "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate."


In the world of online real estate companies, Seattle-based Zillow has dominated headlines lately with its plans to purchase rival Trulia. Is that bad news for Redfin, another competitor based in Seattle?

In many American communities, buying a home is now less expensive than renting. And with the economics tilting in favor of homeownership, many first-time buyers are jumping into the market.

After eight years of renting, Kitsy Roberts and her husband, Janko Williams, are practically giddy about their new Seattle home. And like proud parents, they are eager to show it off, from its historic details to its fresh paint.

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - The housing market in the Northwest is finally showing signs of recovery. But there’s one sector of real estate that never let up during the economic downturn. Real estate agents who sell what’s known as “survival realty” are experiencing boom times. A remote corner of the Northwest has become a hotspot for home buyers wanting to ride out disaster – natural or otherwise.

Realtor Michael White guides me from room to room in a spacious three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home. Let’s just say it’s somewhere in north Idaho.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The number of apartments being built in downtown Seattle has jumped almost 10-fold compared with two years ago, suggesting the city’s downtown core is in the midst of a rebound.

The first condo building to start construction in five years also recently broke ground in the city's Denny Triangle neighborhood. That's another sign that the market may be beginning to revive, after the real estate crash brought condo construction to a halt.

The Associated Press

KPLU's  John Maynard posed this question to Seattle-area real estate appraiser, Richard Hager: "If I sold a $2 million dollar house and paid the real estate agent his standard commission, then he'd get $180,000 out of the deal. Is that a negotiable situation?" Hagar's answer?

Some banks will pay you if you keep your foreclosed house in good condition. That includes things like  mowing your lawn and keeping your toilets and countertops spick and span.

Seattle-area Real Estate Appraiser and educator Richard Hagar tells KPLU's John Maynard that some lenders offer in the neighborhood of $2,000.00 to ex-homeowners  for keeping foreclosed property looking neat and tidy. 

Great deals on new homes can be found on the plains and near the planes.

That's the word from Seattle-area real estate appraiser Richard Hagar. New developments on the  flatlands of  Quincy, Wash., and the "loud lands" near Sea-Tac Airport are being built and sold at a pretty fast clip. Hagar tells KPLU's John Maynard there are some interesting reasons for that.

David Zalubowski / Associated Press

Mortgage rates fell to near-record lows this week: The nationwide average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.3% according to Freddie Mac. Rates that low are proving to be catnip to consumers in an otherwise dismal week.

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University reports home sales and prices declined in the second quarter statewide.

A decline in the number of homes for sale in the area has raised hopes the market is improving or at least stabilizing, but some analysts say it's actually proof of a bank foreclosure bottleneck.

Erin Hennessey

Back in the early 1960's, a string of motels along Seattle's Aurora Avenue North sprang up to accommodate tourists pouring into town to visit the Seattle World's Fair. Real Estate Appraiser Richard Hagar tells KPLU's John Maynard that a lot of this property is being redeveloped.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Starting tomorrow, struggling homeowners in Washington have new rights. 

The Foreclosure Fairness Act signed into law in April is designed to prevent unnecessary foreclosures primarily by requiring banks to take part in mediation if borrowers ask for it and doubling the number of housing counselors.


These days home sellers are facing an uphill battle, and qualified buyers are becoming ever pickier. Find out how traffic congestion and pending construction project - even those that benefit the community at large- can impede the sale of a house.

Erin Hennessey

The good news is that some sellers in the current real estate market are getting multiple offers on their property but buyers are being much more choosy when it comes to deciding on a new home.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Home prices in major markets around the U.S. dropped to their lowest levels since 2006 in March. But not in Seattle.

After falling almost two percent in February, Seattle home prices were up a modest 0.1 percent in March, but still down 7.5 percent compared to March 2010.

Justin Shearer /

Remember the bidding wars over Seattle area homes before the housing bubble burst? Well, we're not returning to those crazy days just yet, but the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) says there are signs that the market may be warming up a bit. Home sellers in some neighborhoods are seeing multiple offers again. But it's not a boom; overall, the latest numbers show fewer sales and lower prices than a year ago.

File photo

Despite the massive fraud that has emerged as the U.S. tries to dig itself out of the foreclosure mess at the heart of the great recession, there are still huge numbers of honest folks working in the real estate business. 

That's according to professional appraisers in Washington state, dozens of whom have signed an on-line petition. 

Emergency measures in a new law go into effect immediately, creating the infrastructure needed to get more housing counselors working with banks and preventing people from losing their homes.

It's that time of year again when KPLU's John Maynard and real estate appraiser Richard Hagar look at the least expensive and the most expensive homes on the market. This time around, they're zeroing in on King County.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Foreclosures and uncertainty are clogging up the real estate market, and one local expert says prices won't go up again before next year.

The median price of a home in King County  is down nearly 7% compared to a year ago.  That's one of many tidbits in the mass of numbers released this month by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. 

Sales data for February show the median sales price in Washington's most populous county down 7 percent compared to last year. The median price of a home in King County has dropped to $320-thousand dollars. That's about $23,000 dollars less than in February of last year. 

Richard Hagar

It's happening all over the country, including in the Pacific Northwest. People are walking away from their mortgages. In most cases, the homes that are being abandoned are valued for less than their mortgage. 

Luan Nguyen-Tran

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • King County Property Taxes to Rise as Home Values Fall
  • Foss High School Won't Close After All
  • Hempfest Sues Seattle Over Permit Denial


Lower Property Values, Higher Taxes

It's a "counter-intuitive" reality according to King County Assessor Lloyd Hara. He tells the Seattle Times that many home owners will see their property taxes go up as the value of their homes goes down. Hara says this reality is primarily the result of new voter-approved levies and bonds. Voters approved 44 tax increases in 2010, 38 of them for schools.

David Zalubowski / AP

In the past month, the Seattle area's foreclosure rate has soared to new heights - it's now higher than the national average. One out of every 476 homes has a foreclosure filing, compared with one in every 497 nationally, according to a new report by RealtyTrac, a foreclosure information firm.


Update Feb. 10, 2011 - The correct percentage of area mortgage holders "underwater" - as reported by - is 34.3%, not of all homeowners. This post has been updated to clarify that point.

Do you owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth? You’re not alone. One-third of homeowners in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are “underwater” on their homes. "Negative equity" rose faster in this region than anywhere else in the country.

Divine Harvester / Flickr

Seattle area landlords are breathing a sigh of relief these days due to dropping rental vacancies. Real estate appraiser Richard Hagar tells KPLU's  John Maynard that two forces are driving this.

Home sales bumped up in December, in King County.  Analysts disagree over whether it’s sign of an important trend or not.  The Seattle Times calls it the biggest month for home sales since a federal tax credit expired last summer. 

But the Seattle P-I quotes Glenn Crellin of Washington State University as saying the real estate market is likely to stay sluggish for several months or longer:

Courtesy USGS

In Seattle, there's a lot of potentially dangerous places where the soil could give way any moment. This is especially true in neighborhoods with good views. 

The City of Seattle publishes a landslide map that makes this abundantly clear.  On the map, landslide-prone areas are marked in red. And, boy, is there a lot of red!


Is it possible for proud home owners who pay their mortgages on time to have their houses foreclosed on? KPLU’s John Maynard talks with real estate appraiser Richard Hagar who says this sort of thing happens all the time, thanks to sloppy bank practices.