Saturday, March 11, 2017

Life in the Puget Sound

View of City from the Space Needle's Observation Deck
I love that we lived in the Puget Sound area, the Seattle area. It is one of the coolest places I've ever been. Truth be told, I sort of miss it. The area is green all year long, hence the "Emerald City" moniker. I'll never forget the first time I saw Seattle. It was breathtaking. (Please know I'm not trying to sound cliché.)

I realize now that I really can't describe it in a meaningful way. I'll just say, a huge lake surrounded in the distance by mountains and in the foreground are evergreen trees. In one glance you can see some of the best in nature.

The city itself is unique. --Maybe you can say that about every place. I did not spend a lot of time in the financial district but I spent a lot of time at Seattle Center (home of the Space Needle). 

We often dreamed of moving to Seattle proper. We even had an offer on a condo across from the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. This is walking distance to Elliott Bay. The offer expired before our house sold. There is serendipity in not getting the condo. We decided to move back to NC less than a year later. Owning a condo would have made that an unlikely possibility. 

Our Highrise Apartment in Bellevue
Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, each with their own personalities. Our missed condo was in the Belltown. Which also includes Pike's Place Market. The neighborhood is quintessential Seattle. We also spent time in Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. We toured open houses and apartments and dreamed about how to make it work. The areas we dreamed of living are quirky older areas with lovely updates.
Belltown - Seattle
We lived in the area from 2003 until 2010. 

Hold on...I had to step away.  Why? My geek side wanted to research the Seattle economy during the time we lived there.  {I know! Geek!} 

The fact is I know what they were...I lived through them. But, being ever the diligent researcher I wanted to refresh my memory for dates. 

Bottom line, the proverbial real estate bubble burst in 2008ish. It was an interesting time to watch. In fact, I think Seattle was one of the last places in the country to actually feel the pain of the bubble burst.  {Deep breath, I'm trying to keep my geek side under control.} 

So, we bought a house out there in 2003. We sold it in early 2008. I looked like a guru to my friends. I was no guru. I was just done with having such a large home after my daughter was in college. And, we sort of wanted to move into a trendy condo (like I've been saying). Anyhoo, we put the house on the market and it didn't sell. I think we were overly optimistic in the list price (trying to get what we thought was reasonable appreciation). We let the listing expire and re-listed a few months later with someone else. This time we listed at the "right" price. We were not looking for offer & counter offer exchanges. We were realistic. We aggressively marketed it. We staged the house. (This really works!) And, the house sold. We did not "make money" per se. But we didn't lose any of our investment either. 

Because I was in the market (trying to sell) I was very aware of the market swings. It felt like a storm was brewing and we were able to outrun it.
View of Mountains and Space Needle from our Bellevue Apartment
After selling our house, I didn't want to jump right into buying something else. I was skiddish. It's so good our house didn't sell during our first listing. If it had sold, we would have become the proud owners of a really cute condo in Seattle. 

After 2008 the condo market in Seattle and Bellevue crashed! Several of the projects that were under construction had trouble selling out. Many of them ended up selling at auction. 

Between 2008 and 2010 the rental market became really attractive to renters. Several of the condos that were under construction converted to apartments, which increased the rental inventory. The population growth that was anticipated (to justify new apartment construction) did not come as fast as originally expected. The area had job growth with many offers out for re-location to people across the nation. But the bubble burst on the east coast and made its way west. So, when people were not able to sell their homes to relocate west, the rental inventory only grew.

That was a great time to rent an apartment in the area. Many of the apartments were beautiful highrises with condo like amenities. And because there were more apartments than renters, the apartments were giving deep discounts for a year's lease. 

It was a renter's paradise! We lived in three different amazing apartments before deciding to move "home".

Our first had a fantastic view of Lake Washington. It was on the "eastside" in Kirkland.  There were other buildings that had beautiful updates and were being sold as condos. We opted to rent one of the less luxurious (dated) units. The unobstructed view of the lake was absolutely priceless. 
Yarrow Bay-Kirkland

There are so many experiences that I would not have had if we had not ventured west. I'm so glad we did.

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