Last month Forbes ranked Seattle as the most overpriced city in the country citing a huge gap between income and housing costs.
Consider these statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service: in 1990, the average price of a home in King County was $166,270; in the first seven months of this year, the average price reached $394,783 – an increase of 137 percent.
Back in 1990, the median household income in Seattle was $29,353; by 2003 it had reached $49,469 – an increase of 69 percent.
When a 105 – year-old fixer-upper recently listed for $329,950 on Northwest 61st Street in their “hot” neighborhood, residents shared their thoughts on the changing face of their block.
Kellie Holzer, age 31
“I rent a room from my boyfriend who owns a house. Its down the street from the house that I live in and I’ve always admired it from the outside and I would LOVE to be able to buy it myself and renovate it because I think it’s a great fixer-upper. Not a chance in hell (can I buy it). Not on my own. I don’t have a down payment and I definitely don’t have the motivation and the know how to fix it up myself. I’m sad. I love this house. Absolutely love this house. I really hope that a nice person or people buy it and fix it up the way it should be fixed up because I think this house deserves love.”
Gwen Weinert 25, and Steve Roberts, 30
Gwen: We just live across the street and we just wanted to see what the market was like over here. We just figure there’s going to be condos going up here. Right now we’re just renters. I’d like to buy but I don’t think we ever would be able to in Seattle.
Steve: It’s too expensive here. The housing market is ridiculous.
Gwen: I actually was just talking to my neighbor yesterday, and he’s looking to buy a house. (He’s) a first time owner, and he’s right at about the level where this is the place he would get. Either fixer-uppers or really small. And usually you just get outbid right away by someone who’s funded, and who can just come in and pay cash for the property and tear it down and build condos and sell them and turn them. It happened a block over last summer. They sold their house at this time and there’s already people living in new condos.
Don Black, age 51 and Cindy Black , age 45
Don: We live in the neighborhood and we were just checking out the house. We’ve seen the elderly lady that used to live here and we thought this is our opportunity to take a look at her house.
The neighborhood has changed in that older folks are dying, younger families are coming in, and there’s a lot more condominiums. Lot of 4-packs,and 6-packs,and 8-packs. It is changing the face of the neighborhood. Nobody wanted anything to do with Ballard 20 years ago. We were the brunt of everybody’s jokes. but Ha! Ha! Now we’re not.
Cindy: I think it would be difficult to afford a house like this with the incomes that people are making right now. Everyone’s guessing. You hear people saying it’s going to bust any time now.
Patti Shaw, age 54
“I came to look at this house because my dear friend Rose lived here (Ballard) for 60 years I think. I used to kind of look after her. I guess I came for one last visit. She was so proud when she bought this house though on her own. She was a single Mom. She worked at the Bon. It was a big deal for her to be able to buy this house.
“When we first moved in here there were little old ladies. There was an old lady Martha, Rose, and Martha next to us, and Ethel across the street, and Alice down the street. I think most of them were widows. There’s one more. There’s Betty across the street.”