You may have detected a hint of sarcasm with our choice of the Words to Live By above. In the case of Washington’s Condo Act, the threat of spending more time in the courtroom than the boardroom has pushed practically all developers to go apartment. Now, we sit with an apartment vacancy rate of 18% in some areas (10.5% regional average) and rents continuing to fall due to oversupply (and, yes, market adjustment), yet, the demand for more affordable housing options is sky high.

Here’s a possible light at the end of the tunnel for both the condo industry and hopeful condo buyers. Last week, a new bill was finally introduced to the state senate, SB 5334. As Dan Bertolet at Sightline Institute describes it, “The proposed bill would tighten what qualifies as a warrantable defect, and it would more explicitly shield condo association board members from personal liability so they would be less inclined to file lawsuits just to protect themselves.”

I won’t go into all the details of the situation (Mr. Bertolet already does a great job of that), but overall, it seems like a much-needed revision to get us back on track. I’m hopeful.

For now, I’ll just leave you with this chart from the article. Those gray bars represent lost opportunity.

This just about made me spit out my coffee. A large company investing $500M in programs to help solve the local affordable housing crisis? Really?

This new investment by Microsoft is, “Likely the largest-ever housing commitment by an American corporation,” according to Samantha Sharf of Forbes.

It’s hard to complain about the way Microsoft is going about it, either. Since it is cost prohibitive for many builders to build starter homes, they’ve decided to provide low-interest construction loan options to help make it an attractive segment again.

Another $225M will also go toward “the preservation and construction of middle-income residences” and a grant to fight homelessness.

Good lookin’ out, Microsoft. I’m very interested to see how this unfolds.

The first MLS press release of 2019 is out. If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here.

So here’s, like, you know, my opinion, man.

Price for today.  For right now! Inventory is low. Rates? Who knows. Prices are still up. Just not as much.

We had it good. We ALL had it really good for 18 months, or so. The fact of the matter is people buy and sell homes in every market. We needed some realism and we got some.

There is still some amount of uncertainty out in our little slice of the world. Much of it includes things we simply cannot control. However, we CAN control our product, our pricing, our presentation and our salesmanship. Don’t be a nihilist. Stay in the process and the results will follow, man, or dude, or whatever.


In case you haven’t heard, which would be shocking, this weekend the “Seattle Squeeze” begins with the closing of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, FOREVER. Personally I prefer “Viadoom” or “Carmageddon” now that I’ve heard The City banned the use of those terms.

The Seattle Times recently published about the great migration to Kitsap County, placing it in the Top 5 counties targeted by King County movers. It also holds the highest growth percentage, up 29%.

So, if you thought a 30-minute Fast Ferry commute was going to solve your problems, then you’re not the only one. If you’re a builder who got in early, well played!


The latest NWMLS press release came out last week. I’m grateful because now I know the current party line when it comes to answering the questions we all get, “How’s the market doing?” and “What’s going to happen in 6 months?”

Just being slightly facetious here. I love getting asked those questions and I hope they never stop coming.

So in any event, here’s the press release.

The one piece of news that jumped off the page was this little box of data:

Median prices by county (single-family homes only)

I do think we’re in a new market today. It’s not changing. It’s changed. The better question is, “Changed to what?” Of that I’m not sure. There are too many factors to consider that I, unfortunately, cannot control, like tariffs, material costs, wage costs, the City of Seattle, Amazon, etc.

What I do know is inventory is up to a scorching 2.3 months of supply.  I believe we’re not going to continue to see the bi-monthly, or tri-monthly, price increases we’ve enjoyed over periods in the recent past.

Finally, I also know homes sell in good markets, in bad markets and in transitional markets. So, at a micro level, if somebody asks you how the market is doing, ask them how their market is?  How is their work situation, credit and other qualifying factors? They might argue their individual market is OK, and, for me, that’s alright.


Recently, someone (not in our market, FYI) mentioned to me the week following Christmas is one of the busiest of the year for home buying. I immediately started to think back to past years, and while I do remember more traffic on the week after than the week before, I guess I didn’t notice a huge difference. That being said, I have always thought this is when the savvy shoppers are out in the market looking for year-end deals.

After some research, I was able to find some national analysis on the subject. A few years back posted a trend report showing December 28th as one of the biggest traffic days of the year. In a more recent story, Realtor states typically, “views per property are 21 percent lower in December than they are during the rest of the year”. However, the rest of the story goes on to talk about why this year could break the mold.

I also found this report from ATTOM Data Solutions. They looked at discounts based on closing date of a sale over a four-year period. Their conclusion was 7 of the 10 best days for real estate closings (from a buyers’ perspective) were in December, with closings on the 26th receiving the best deals. Given a 30-day closing period, this means people were probably out shopping in November right around Thanksgiving to hit those closing dates.

All of this to say, it’s clear the last week of the year is an important one. Buyers know builders have inventory to move and are less likely to face competition with their offers. The people we talk to are going to be highly-motivated. Whether we’re working on closings or meeting with new potential customers, it’s probably going to be busier than 2017.

All of the design trends reports for 2019 have been coming out and they are fascinating. While many feel like they’re spot-on, others feel like they’re trying to make “fetch” happen. I’ve been collecting these as I see them and I figured why not just spend a little time posting an opinion or twelve.

Overall Themes – Natural and Relaxed
2019 will be moving toward fresh, natural materials such as stone, copper, concrete, quartz and granite. These elements add an organic and serene ambiance to a space. This is in strong contrast to some of the tech-centric décor of 2018.

Benjamin Moore’s Color of the YearMetropolitan AF-690
I can’t complain much here. It’s a nice gray, but also grays have been in for a while. Some designers, like Jeff Andrews of Andrews Design, are opting for stark white and warm neutrals instead. (On a related note, I visited Tahoe over the summer and his Lake Tahoe project is definitely on point. I’m crushing on it!)

Sherwin Williams’s Color of the Year – Cavern Clay SW 7701
Love it. As I mentioned, earth tones are coming back big and this one hits the nail on the head.

Appliances – Not Stainless
I understand where the author in the article above is going. Stainless has been the standard for two decades. However, I still don’t think it’s a sin to go silver. The black matte finishes and fun colors are very cool, though, and offer a great opportunity to stand out and put your own personality into your kitchen.

FloorsNew Products and Creative Applications
Newer materials are growing in popularity as are American-made products. Textured materials will continue to be a very big deal. There are more options to get creative in 2019, with unique patterns and unconventional widths providing the opportunity to show a lot of individuality. Wood and stone-look floors are even more in demand. Contemporary, coastal and farmhouse will be the most sought-after flooring styles next year. Fortunate for us, flooring trends don’t change nearly as often as fashion. Right now we have more options than ever before, and new advancements in technology will continue to ensure we haven’t seen the best options yet.

FixturesBright Metallic, Hammered Finishes and (Yes, Even) Brass
We will see some gold, but there is a shift from bright, reflective gold. Black and darker matte fixtures contrasted with white and bold colors in ceramic sinks are new and trending. What about an 18K Gold toilet? Yes, they really do exist, but we’re going to move on.

LightingIndustrial, Vintage, Unique
Industrial styles and vintage light bulbs will continue to trend.  We’ll see some very unique lighting styles with personalized forms and more ability to adjust strength and color of the light. Geometric shapes will be big.

FurnitureSmaller in Natural Tones and Metals
Natural materials and metals again! “Handmade with a story behind it” will continue to be popular. Check out Fyrn for some cool, modern concepts.  The surge in popularity of mid-century modern has created some interesting hybrids. Wood furniture pieces in solid teak and reclaimed wood will be particularly satisfying.  Oh, and cocktail tables and carts are still in.

Art and DecorMore Etsy, Less Pinterest
I still love to have a few mason jars and terrariums here or there, but it’s time for the real artists to have their day again. In the Northwest there’s no shortage of glass blowers, potters or painters, so go out there and purchase some great pieces from local artists who truly know what they’re doing. Many even offer classes if you still prefer the DIY approach.

That’s year 2019 in a nutshell. Let us know if you’re seeing anything we missed and have fun planning those options packages and model homes.

Last week’s NWMLS press release was filled with some great quotes. Let’s run down a few:

  • J. Lennox Scott states, “We’ve gone from being virtually sold out in many areas close to the job centers to healthier inventory levels.”
  • “Contrary to recent media reports, the sky is not falling,” says Mike Grady, President/COO of Coldwell Banker Bain.
  • George Moorhead of Bentley Properties stated there is a, “significant uptick in buyer activity during the past three weeks” as buyers “test the waters.”
  • Moorhead’s answer when asked about chance of a housing bubble is, “Absolutely not.” He continues, “When you look at the big picture, inventory is still below what we call a balanced market, the economy is performing above average, and home appreciation is still increasing.”

Basically, we’ve seen prices level out and some inventory is spending more time on the market. Buyers have the ability to make choices again and Sellers are re-adjusting to life as it once was. Inventory and prices are both up year-over-year, but there are ongoing concerns about affordable inventory and the rise of interest rates. Overall, it was a positive report heading into the holiday season.

Speaking of the Holiday Season, I would like to take this moment to say I am thankful for the Grace bestowed upon my family and me, and I wish that same grace be bestowed upon you this holiday season. So, from my family and the entire family here at TeamBuilder Worldwide Headquarters (HQ1), we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and continued blessings for this year and for many more to come.


Amazon finally made the announcement the country has been waiting to hear. HQ2 will be split between two locations, New York and Virginia. For the cities in the running to be chosen, I’m sure it was a tough pill to swallow after working so hard to lure the business. Around here, I think it’s a relief to hear the final decision. Not only do our current Seattle Amazon workers have a clearer picture of what their own future holds, but also Seattle remains the larger focus of Amazon’s attention and hiring here should continue.

It has also become evident Amazon used this process to gain a ridiculous amount of data about the 238 prospective locations for basically nothing. Information about residents’ lifestyles, education, infrastructure, local governments, tax structures, etc. was handed over in the hopes for a piece of the pie. It’s a very smart move, which will certainly guide how they do business in the future. The above article also states, “An Amazon representative said the company will not use any data from cities to target customers for products or advertisements.” Color me a little skeptical on that one.