Why Does This House Cost $1,000,000?


While I agree that rezoning needs to happen, and Capitol Hill has plenty of lovely apartments that live side by side with your million dollar houses (that's the horrific post apocalyptic future you are freaking out about, Wallingford), lets get real: if we depend on rezoning alone, it's not going to drive down prices. You'll just have 500k condos instead.
Haven't read the article yet, but that sure looks like too many zeros.
What street is this?
@1 - You're right, the days of $600/month apartments are gone and won't be coming back. The question before us is if we want 500k condos or million dollar single-family homes. And from an affordability and environmental perspective, it's clear what the answer should be.
I'm going to guess it costs closer to $999,950. Just a guess.

Use emminent domain to seize the property and convert everything into affordable housing.

The landlords have a choice. They can work with us willingly to create a liveable city, or we can use less pleasant methods.
Dang, they fixed the headline.

Given its location, in all likelihood it'll easily bid up over $1mm.
Yeah I'm thinking that's a bargain unless it's a tear down.
@4 We can fit at least 10x the number of units in the city if we go with condos rather than SF homes. Home prices (and rents) are set by the marginal household - the household that would live here if only prices were a little bit cheaper. The more units you add the further down that demand curve you can drop, as marginal household after marginal household gets a place to live.

It just isn't true that the choice is between $1M houses and $500k condos. That's a snapshot of the market right now based on current zoning. Changing zoning changes everything.
Most multi-tenet buildings going up now are apartments, not condos. Very few condo buildings are going up since the buildings don't want to get sued...
The answer is this city sucks ass because everything went straight to the top earners for the last ten years. Have you been out of the Seattle-Everett-Tacoma giganto-metro area recently? It's California with worse weather up here. I actually enjoyed being in friggin Eugene because the streets weren't all packed with cars and ridesharers and the homeless actually seemed relatively reasonable. I could go from point to point without having to look out for people new to the idea of crosswalks or not using their phone. It was like up here was 10 years ago.

Seattle is going to grow whichever way the fuck-yall Prime Now-using rich assholes want to pay. Regular folks ought to find better places to live than fight to remain in an area increasingly built against your best interests and quality of life.
Bring on the motherfucking canyons!
Tear down ever SFH (especially the craftsman style bungalows!
Sure, rezone and allow density - but only if you concurrently provide all of the other things that are needed to make that happen, particularly transit.

What happens when there are 10x as many people living in the same neighborhood in apartments/condos that don't have parking because the urbanists say 'take transit' but you don't enhance the already inadequate transit? You end up with frustrated commuters who say 'fuck it' and buy cars and park them on the street.

And that's just the beginning. What about schools? What about access to affordable groceries? Or are we assuming all this new housing stock will be occuppied by childless hippsters who live off of microwaved hot-pockets?

And don't forget, upzoning without rent control doesn't create 'affordable housing' - it just creates housing that's slighlty more affordable for some people, mostly people who simply pocket the difference and buy more 'stuff' (however much they can cram into their studio apartment or aPodment).

Yes, we should rezone - but do so responsibly, and ensure that some of that housing is affordable family housing (actual units, not token fees paid by developers that will never amount to enough money for the city to do anything with) supported with enough parks and schools and transit to make a livable community.
@4 - hate to say it, but if you want to have "affordability" -$800 apartments (ok not 600, i'll give you that) are what we need to have. Otherwise, you aren't actually talking about "affordability," dude, unless you are making upwards of $65k a year - and even they can't afford that condo.
@14 Street parking is already at capacity at Capitol Hill. No matter how many more housing units you add you won't see more cars unless you also add parking under the new buildings. I recommend against requiring that.

Re: rent control. Rent control has never added a roof over anyone's head. You're just pushing the cost and the displacement to whoever wasn't lucky enough to get rent control. The best way to make housing affordable is to make it abundant.
Dan is being the Rachel Dolezal of the working class with this article. Doesn't he own a SF home very close to this house?
@15 - EXACTLY.

HALA is a toothless joke. "Affordable" under HALA guidelines is 60% of the median income level, which is what - 50k or so these days? Give me a break.
@14 Oh, and Yes! to more schools, transit, etc. This is within our power to do, and will make our city better. Hell, we just opened light rail on Capitol Hill.
We don't have to rezone. We should keep those nice old homes. They are historically and culturally our heritage.

Instead, we can solve this problem by forbidding foreigners, like the Chinese, from buying houses as investments; we can send back all those H1-b's who drive down wages and take American jobs and we can deport the some 150,000 illegal immigrants who live in our city. Can you imagine the housing market after 150,000 illegals go home? That's a lot of housing stock.

We can keep our culture and heritage and make Seattle great again by adopting an America First policy in regards to our city.
@`17--You had to stretch for that simile. No points
@ 20--Good luck with forbidding foreigners. It'll just add another level as people buy using front-men.
Barring an apocalyptic die-off, your only hope is re-zoning for density. Good fucking luck with that. Every time it's tried here in San Francisco, the neighborhood control-freaks, sorry, associations, go ballistic. They spout visions of masses of faceless buildings (never mind that there are parts of the city where 5 and 6 story apartments co-exist with SF homes)and immense traffic that means they can't come and go as they please on a whim. Every neighborhood association here has one goal--how do we control everything so it comes out in OUR vision only. North Beach association fought the restoration of the Pagoda Palace--a fabulous abandoned Chinese/Deco movie theater into a restaurant because 'we already have a lot of restaurants--we need a place that repairs shoes". The building was finally torn down which led to it's being listed on the National Trust for Historic Restoration as one of the top ten sites lost in 2013
@20: I have read the estimate that there are some 150,000 undocumented immigrants living in King County, but only 20,000 are thought to be Seattle residents. (Most live in South King County cities.)
15 minutes to downtown from what looks like 19th Avenue or environs? Hahahahaha.
By the by - let's not forget that those expressways Dan derides have created, conservatively, TRILLIONS of dollars of value (in land that can be developed and sold, in time saved, etc) and gave Dan the ability to live on his precious Capitol Hill and buy in on the cheap. He's as close to an Avatar of the gentrifier class as there is.
@15/@18: HALA isn't meant to provide housing for 'Extremely Low Income' people. Those houses are created by the housing levy that was passed last August. Further, MHA has to provide housing at that income level by the state law that enables it. The city does not have legal autonomy here.

HALA does have teeth, but it's not a panacea.
Want to drive down housing prices in Seattle? [...] Rezone all of Capitol Hill...

Eeeexcept that prices never really go down, and new multi-level housing stock will be sold at "market level prices", a palatable euphemism for "as expensive as possible".

Good-bye $1M home. Hello $4000/mo apartments/condos.
Personally I'm counting on the 9.0+ CSZ Quake (1-in-6 chance within the next 50 years) to clear our our old housing stock -- and many other residents too. Then we can upzone like drunken fools and everyone (left) will be able to move into two apartments simultaneously.
1/3 of housing in the city should be city owned and run like our other community owned utilities.
@6: "Use emminent domain to seize the property and convert everything into affordable housing.
The landlords have a choice. They can work with us willingly to create a liveable city, or we can use less pleasant methods."

Spoken like a good little Communist. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need, eh comrade?

Since Friday we've had almost 100 folks sign this petition. Some of the comments include:

Nancy Helm
Seattle, WA
19 hrs ago

We need these kinds of housing choices in all neighborhoods

Ian Crozier

I want abundant, diverse housing options in our growing city. I am sick of housing scarcity caused by the entitlement of the landed class.

Bill LaBorde
Seattle, WA

More affordable housing; more diverse and vibrant neighborhoods

Dustin Akers

Seattle is beyond a housing crisis. We need homes for everyone. All types. All price points. All neighborhoods. For all humans.

Matthew Amster-Burton

We need housing now.

Andrew Houston

2 days ago

I'm signing because I want to allow for more people to live in Seattle and to keep Seattle affordable for those who already do live here!

Holly Ferguson
Seattle, WA
2 days ago

Because I believe a vibrant city is one that is diverse in all aspects, including economics!

c k
Seattle, WA
2 days ago

Because I agree with Victoria, Michael, Robert, Andres, Jason, Garrett. If I bake a cake for my child's birthday party, I'm not going to serve the largest cake to the rich kid, the small size for the middle American and tell the homeless friend to leave with no cake.

This place sold for almost 1.2 million in glitzy and glamorous Beacon Hill.
hate to say it but cant you just get an apartment in skyway, renton, shoreline, south park etc etc? I mean for fucks sake we got the bus systems to get you into town? Why is it a right to live on cap hill to be close to some fucking lame scene? When i cant afford a neighborhood I look somewhere else to live. Dont try to tell me that Renton is too far, its 15 miles to downtown. I know, looked at rent on queen anne five years ago, saw that I could buy a cheap condo for the same price near the Renton landing and I pulled the trigger. Grow the fuck up Seattle, either make more money or move to the burbs and make it your own.
Dan Savage again showing what a pompous, hypocritical, fucking idiot he is.
@32, Don't mean to sound like a righty, but Car break ins Yet? condo break ins? organic food in the supermarkets? Good Pizza?

I might have tried Shoreline.
@14: The urbanists are also saying "more transit now!" in addition to more housing.

As far as schools and other infrastructure - development impact fees, please. Lots of other cities in WA state have them, why doesn't Seattle?
@33, While Dan has been all of those, he's highlighting an issue that needs proactive addressing . . . or we'll suffer (more of) what we must. I give him props on this one.

I am a Communist. And proud of it.
Just one point: apartments can become condos. It's called condominium conversion. Therefore, building apartments could theoretically lead to a greater supply of condomiums down the road. http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/co…
Why is it a right to live on cap hill to be close to some fucking lame scene?

Of course, there is no right to live in Capitol Hill, and Dan is proposing nothing of the sort.

But turn the logic around: why should homeowners in Capitol Hill have a "right" to prevent people who live near them from building--or living in--apartment buildings? No one is questioning those homeowner's right to hoard a chunk of valuable land all for themselves--we're questioning the wisdom of forcing all their neighbors to similarly hoard the land, so that they can continue to hoard not just their land but public resources like on-street parking, etc.

And Capitol Hill possesses some of the most valuable land in the state because of its proximity to various amenities and jobs, not (just) popular restaurants and bars. And, of course, under the scenario you describe urban refugees will drive up the cost of housing in those currently affordable places.
This is what you get with over half a Century of one Party Democratic rule in the City and County.
@38 is right. All these new apartments might very well become condos once the statute of limitations on construction defects expires (10 years).
@26 Agree with your point here—and Dan, $500k condos don't piss off gentrifiers, it enables them. $1M homes piss off everyone but the top 5%.

Your point at @27 I hear repeated in San Francisco pretty often, but the truth is a major earthquake would punish all but the most cash-rich residents and squeeze the housing market tighter for the next few years. Unless, of course, the areas highest paying employers all built on brick foundations and decided they're moving to Nebraska instead... that'd get housing prices down.
Some Thoughts:
According to a 2014 report by the Seattle DPD, there is an unbuilt capacity for 213,000+ additional housing units in Seattle under the present zoning. A casual stroll around the city and a minimal familiarity with the zoning maps will reveal the truth of that. That is a lot of housing capacity. Maybe let's build another 50,000 units and see what things look like before hauling out the revolution.
For most of the single family home owners in Seattle (me included) their house equity constitutes most if not all of their accumulated worldly wealth. (Probably not so for Dan Savage's family, I would guess) This wealth was piled up with considerable effort, cost and the sacrifice of other opportunities. It will not likely be surrendered easily.
If you are hanging around waiting for some great socialist future where Seattle housing is collectively owned and distributed to each according to his need, I would suggest you don't hold your breath. It ain't going to happen.
I do think the zoning code is overly restrictive in multi-family zones and and mixed use zones in terms of height limits, FAR and unit density (look it up, urbanist wannabes). Easing up there is not blocked by the SFR zone folks, and could free up some considerable capacity. Up-zoning the SFR zones will be more a process of nibbling at the edges rather than wholesale destruction of the zones. That is just the reality of the situation. Ask Mayor Murray about the reaction when he proposed something far less disruptive in the SFR zones.
Witness the wailing and gnashing of the teeth when some little worn out shithole restaurant building in SLU is to be torn down for more housing. SEATTLE IS LOSING ITS SOUL! See last weeks issue. Same letter writers?
The whole "Urban Village" idea actually works pretty well. Many thousands of housing units have been built in the last few years in the Alaska Junction/ Triangle neighborhood, and a former dead wasteland is becoming a pretty cool neighborhood, with the bars, restaurants and stores that follow higher density. Similar development is happening all over the city. These areas will never attract the Capitol Hill groovesters, but fuck you all anyway, I don't care.
The city has been for the last few years building out about as fast at the the resource capacities (labor, material, management, capital- you know, that boring old shit) will allow. It probably cannot move any faster or even be sustained at this pace for a great deal longer.
So, the dream of every part time barista living alone in a deeply subsidized new build, bright and sunny one bedroom with a view on Capitol Hill is not likely to happen. Ever.
But, isn't it pretty to think so?
@39 You wrote: "why should homeowners in Capitol Hill have a "right" to prevent people who live near them from building--or living in--apartment buildings."

If you buy this place, you will be moving in across the street from one apartment complex, with several others just steps away. One of those complexes is relatively new, but the others have been there for decades. This has always been a relatively high density area, at least by Seattle standards.
Too bad we have NIMBYs living in exclusive Queen Anne zones like this one, filing lawsuits against the city to halt zoning and density progress:
There is a tremendous capacity for expansion of all things urban south of 90 all the way to Renton along Rainier. Also the ID has many many buildings that should be Demo'd and rebuilt with twice the capacity. These areas are very close to downtown and the best light rail system in the area.
The upzone fantasists here are really going to town for the developers of apartments and condos for the wealthy professionals! They love you so so much. Without first doing a massive change, the kind that isn't even being discussed at even the most basic level, change in housing regulations and bringing on serious rent control, the kind of upzoning happening in Seattle does nothing for apartment affordability. The idea that upzoning all on its own, with a sprinkle of the current faux affordable housing deals being done with developers right now, is going to bring about a sea change in housing prices is laughable on its face. These policies are only contributing to the thing you claim to be against...
What is the evidence that rent will go down if we upzone single-family zones?
you can always add more housing and more people but you can't add more street capacity and you can't dictate prices. tearing down million dollar houses to build $500,000 condos solves nothing.
South Capitol Hill was a unique and thriving community before it was sold out to shitty, generic, soulless, overpriced McApartments. And rents didn't fall, they rose.

Developers stay the fuck out of North Capitol Hill.
@48: I believe the answer is none.

So looks like Dan wants the Manhattenization of Seattle. Considering NYC gets a lot more sun, our canyons will be gloomier.
So many people in this thread that don't understand basic economics that think we should exclude the poor from the Single Family neighborhoods. Many brainwashed by the guy living here : http://blue.kingcounty.com/Assessor/eRea…
I like to go about things from the other side of history, to make sure we're doing things right. Pretend we already had dense zoning throughout Seattle. Would everyone here be advocating that we remove this dense zoning and only allow people that can afford 5,000sf of land to buy homes?
Dan—Fremont has not been majority SF zoning ever.

@52—You do realize that the CD had lots of SF zoning with housing owned by POC until gentrification displaced most of them starting in the 1980s?

You say bring on the canyons, but the reality in Seattle is that it is already so grey and blocking out the sun would be miserable. If this growth could be done in a way that was actually livable, preserving some set backs, front yards, trees and yes, access to sunlight, then maybe there wouldn't be so much push back. But you density lovers are advocating to get rid of everything that gets in the way of a bulldozer, including what made Seattle cool in the first place. And HALA is benefiting the rich developers downtown more than anyone else.

Rezone those neighborhoods and you'll just have more densely packed expensive homes. Making Seattle more affordable is more complicated than just supply and demand because our housing market has become an investment tool for the worldwide elite.

See these links for affordable housing solutions:
@37,"I am a Communist. And proud of it."
Hey Precious, you're in America. Move to Putin's Russia if you're so proud of it. BTW, who is your favorite hero? Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Castro?
You should see Sydney prices. That house is a bargain.
So there is something afoot. Pence has just done the rounds of parts of south east Asia, to which Australia belongs. High level talks was had with our self preening mob. Now our PM is just doing a secret trip to Iraq. Meanwhile, trump is talking to the Senators at the White House in a few days.
Wtf are they all up to?
So glad I moved to a state that actually has an "affordable cost of living". When all you do is work to pay the rent all you have is "liberal slavery". Enjoy Seattle, after 20+ years of seeing that town slide into overpriced, fktarddom, you deserve everything that Pandora's box has to offer. Maybe a slutwalk, overpriced gay pride march, or anti-Trump/Conservative march will help!
@17 is right Dan lives in a big house on CapHill. Is this a guilt thing? Or just shit-stirring for the sake of shit-stirring? I respect (adore) Dan but pot calling kettle black? Also, many of these homes have been converted to multi family units. They don't need to be torn down but maybe there could be incentives for this sort of use so we don't lose the character of this neighborhood.
@6 - Eminent Domain requires paying for the property you take, per the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution. Vienna, Austria actually did something like that (though I believe it was mostly building on vacant land close to the city), to great success. But how do you propose Seattle duplicate that, given (a) Washington State law, unlike Austrian law, does not give municipalities great leeway to levy and collect new taxes, and (b) urban sprawl means there's no good supply of close-in vacant land to develop?
@43 says: "For most of the single family home owners in Seattle (me included) their house equity constitutes most if not all of their accumulated worldly wealth. (Probably not so for Dan Savage's family, I would guess) This wealth was piled up with considerable effort, cost and the sacrifice of other opportunities. It will not likely be surrendered easily."

Actually, upzoning typically *increases* equity in the upzoned properties, because there's significant profits to be made by densifying urban development. That's why, when properties sell in upzoned neighborhoods, they typically get sold to developers who demolish and densify: developers are willing to outbid those who are just interested in buying the house to live in.
#61: This is true for for spot up-zones or limited scope rezones. I do not know this for certain, but my best guess would be that up-zoning all SF zones in the city at once would cause a property value crash. It would certainly cause a lot of unhappiness.
This Aus-USA tie gets tighter. Our PM going to meet trump in NY next week.
Finally, someone said it. Thank you.

Look at the demographics of Seattle's NIMBY crowd (any public hearing on development will do). Almost to a person they moved to the city or came of age here at a time when Seattle had lost 100,000 people from its first peak population.

1970s Seattle was cheap because large swaths of it were half-abandoned. Period.
Rich people want single family houses - not apartments. Start tearing them down and watch the prices go up (and a lot of those folks move to the eastside where they can find SF houses).
@65 Actually, poor people want single family homes too, but upzoning isn't even going to create apartments they can afford.
You want more affordable housing? Try developing along the rail line in Soout Seattle. We have enough area under current zoning in southSeattle to accommodate all the people moving here.
Let's develop what is available before we start tearing
down our neighborhoods.
When houses on Beacon Hill start selling for a million, I am officially out of here. I'll buy me a little mobile home down in Palm Springs and live out my days on the proceeds frim chez Vel-DuRay
Tons of people from all stripes and incomes want single family homes. The Stranger likes to push this falsehood that urbanism is the universal desired future.

You ho-asses like going on hikes? Cool, some of us like having a decades-old tree in our back yard instead of concrete planters and a common barbecue. Fuck having neighbors above you. Fuck having neighbors below you.

Did you all *really* graduate from college or did you just move in to a slightly nicer dorm room?
Nearly no one wants density. It sucks. Apartments are terrible. I'd gladly take a hour train ride each way to live in a small, run down, old, house.

Here's a link:


It's actually millennials that least want density.

And we don't need density. Post industrial economies don't need everyone coming into the city every day to work. It's a bad habit that we need to shake.
@70 Explain? That link shows, to me, people want amenities that are hard to come by in crowded cities yet are obviously willing to go without them.

Urban life has been slowly coming back into fashion for 20 years—inventions like telecommuting and video conferencing haven't replaced the meeting, they've just added a little flair the old-fashioned conference call, and working from home is an increasingly rare perk, not the future. Even when the moneyed class starts pining for big yards and quiet evenings and trickling out to the exurbs, commerce will still need a center.
a little info on my personal situation. In the last eight years my property taxes have gone from $4500 a year to $9000.
What seems to be missing in the conversation is how property taxes and the levy's affect the rental costs.


Dan, why not be the change you want to see in the world, and sell your own single family Cap Hill home and move you and Terry and all of his and your and DJ's belongings into a multi unit 1 or 2 bedroom apartment or condo building? I'm serious. If single family living is so unpalatable and bad for a city in driving up housing costs to insane levels, then why not, instead of fleeing to Austria, set an example and do the right thing here in Seattle, and tell us all about it, with pics, and updates on how it's going, etc?

Do you not see that you are being incredibly hypocritical in your continous denouncement of single family homes and the damage they apparently cause to Seattle and places like Capital Hill, while living in one right in that neighborhood, yourself? Btw when is the last time you actually lived full time/year round in an apartment or multi unit building, ie how long have you yourself chosen to live in/own a single famly home instead of renting or living in a multi unit building?

Do you even remember what it's like to live in cramped confines with strangers living on either side, above and below? People blasting music at all hours, stomping around overhead at all hours, etc., when you have to get up to work the next day, and the day after? I sure as fuck do. Laundry in the basement, W/D that sometimes worked, and sometimes didn't, and was usually already in use - remember how delightful that was? No storage or a tiny "storage locker". Oh and sure as hell, no pets allowed - hope Terry is okay with surrendering both dogs to the pound.

1) "..to live in the middle of nowhere and get to downtown Seattle in 15 minutes in a car going 75 miles an hour" Dan, I appreciate that you rarely drive because if you did, you'd know that statement is laughable. I can't even think the last time I went over 60 on the freeway in the city.

2) Ditto on @48 - "What is the evidence that rent will go down if we upzone single-family zones?"
Again, you WILL create MORE housing but more affordable housing? I'm not sure that's true at all.

3) Two words - impact fees. If that's not happening, I'm not in. Because the roads, the schools, the infrastructure needs it if we are to grow and become more dense. And I'm not voting for any mayoral candidate who won't support them.

4) And HALA is benefiting the rich developers downtown more than anyone else." Yup.

5) @69 is right - for many reasons - noisy neighbors above and below you, kids, not having half your building be Air BnB rentals, gardening- people like single family homes. That used to be the middle class dream but it's out of reach for many now. That needs to change.