Category: News & Media

Light a commodity?


I have an unusual listing for sale, it’s an American Institute of Architects-award winner and was featured in Pacific NW Magazine, so I’m excited about the property and wanted to share the details.

I just did an interview with NPR and it’s featured on their website. There’s a short article about light and how it affects Seattle home prices. You can read the interview on the NPR website, or you can listen to the Podcast and my interview starts at minute 10.00. It’s on the local channel KUOW. It’s always so weird to hear yourself on the radio. Why do I sound like Minnie Mouse?

I also did an interview for the television show “What You Get For The Money” on HGTV. You can watch the clip on YouTube and have a laugh.

And in case you’re particularly intrigued about this home, you can view the website here:

Real estate broker starts online newspaper

Chuck Marunde, a real estate broker and ex-real estate attorney in Sequim, Washington, has started his own online newspaper the Sequim Port Angeles Newspaper Online.

It seems to be a home-grown mix of local, regional and national news, politics, events of interest and local photos, and welcomes input and submissions from area residents. It does have ads and classifieds but, oddly enough, the only real estate brokerage advertised is Marunde’s own brokerage, Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate.

The site it beautifully done and will no doubt bring him attention and success if he can keep it fresh and updated and relevant to the people in the area. He’s turned the idea of a neighborhood blog on it’s ear by making the new media “blog” into something more like an old-fashioned newspaper, so the format is accessible and readily understandable to everyone. Great idea for anyone trying to stay in touch with their constituents and present and future clients.

N.B. Chuck has been a writer with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Real Estate Professionals column for the past few years and he said he hatched the idea prior to the Seattle PI’s closure. At the time, he wasn’t sure if the PI was going to try to stay an online newspaper, so his move was a reaction to that. The fact that it has stayed online hasn’t disuaded him, and I hope he will continue to write for both.

The Obama Inauguration and The Moment

• Our friend David Gedye, who is always leading projects he cooks up with mind blowing results, just sent us an email for his newest project, a collaboration with CNN and Photosynth for an ambitious presidential inauguration project. He writes:

You’ll be interested to know that I’m on my way to Washington DC to help CNN with an ambitious presidential inauguration project that we cooked up a month ago.

The idea is to use Photosynth (the 3D photo technology I’ve been working on for the last few years) to capture the exact moment when the President-Elect becomes the President. We are using about 10 CNN photographers and thousands of people in the crowd, who are being asked to send us their photo of “the moment”.

If all goes well there will be a “synth” on the CNN website a few hours after the inauguration, and if it’s great, they will show it on their big Magic Wall on their TV broadcast sometime during the afternoon or evening of inauguration day. CNN is promoting the project on air already, so if you tune in today you’ll see graphics for “The Moment”, and Photosynth being demonstrated by Tom Foreman.

Exciting stuff! You can see how CNN is promoting it at

• You may remember the post that my husband wrote for with the video embedded of the Synth that David Gedye did of our living room for the Photosynth release Demo/How-To video last August. Here is a link to the article with the video.

I am hoping that Photosynth will be adopted and used more in the real estate industry, as it’s a natural fit for our business.

Google CEO: ‘Moral imperative’ to help newspapers

Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said that the Internet search leader hopes its recently acquired advertising service DoubleClick will aid newspapers as they struggle to corral more online revenue.

“It’s a huge moral imperative to help here,” Schmidt said during a question-and-answer session at an event hosted in San Francisco by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Without providing specifics about how it might be accomplished, Schmidt said DoubleClick’s system for serving up online display ads could generate “significant” revenue online for newspapers.

There’s been much concern and controversy concerning the drop in relevance of newspaper real estate ads.

Seattle’s a two newspaper town but due to a Joint Operating Agreement, only the Seattle Times publishes a Sunday newspaper.

Real estate ads reign supreme on Sunday, but the section’s a mess with random ads scattered over a dozen or so pages. It’s impossible to find the property in the price range and neighborhood you want without reading every single page and filtering out the unsuitable properties.

The best solution I’ve seen so far is the “booklet” published by such papers as the Santa Barbara News-Press. It’s published by a company called Classified Concepts, and they make an incredible interface by selling classified Open House ads around an area map. Visually and graphically, a buyer can see the house location in an easy-to-carry magazine format.

Though I respect the Fourth Estate and the honorable separation of the editorial and advertising departments, I am tired of journalists publishing press releases verbatim from real estate vendors.

The unthinking and unquestioning publication of press releases from alternative online real estate companies is ironic to say the least. Our local bricks-and-mortar real estate firms spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in newspaper advertising. Online firms, who NEVER advertise, get so much ink that you’d think the editors and reporters were on the payroll.

Reporting news is good. Endlesslessly pushing and promoting online companies that will NEVER BUY ADVERTISING is bad journalism and poor judgement.

Press Release Journalism?

ZipRealty Launches Real Estate’s First Certified Pre-Owned Home Program

Sawbuck Realty Website Serves 1,000,000th Listing

Redfin claims sale of $7M home

Trulia Launches Self-Service Marketing for Real Estate Professionals

Microsoft closes down “Craigslist Killer”

Windows Live

Two years ago, seeing the success of Craigslist, Microsoft created Windows Live Expo. Hopes were, it was going to be a “Craigslist Killer”. It didn’t work out that way, however, and MS announced that the site will be discontinued at the end of July.

According to a message on its homepage, users can no longer create a new account, post or extend listings, or upgrade listings to “premium.” Although Microsoft hasn’t commented on the reasoning behind Live Expo’s departure, there’s speculation that because the service wasn’t as well advertised as it could have been, it never took it off in the way the company would have liked.

Online classifieds continue to be dominated by Craigslist, and none of the major players have been able to mount a good product to compete successfully. Google has Googlebase, which hasn’t seemed to take off with the real estate crowd, though here in the Pacific Northwest, Windermere and Coldwell Banker Bain has supplied them with a feed. Ebay has Kijiji. There’s Backpage, owned by Village Voice Media. Oodle, Vast, LiveDeal, now Overstock and literally hundreds more. None seem to have gained the traction that Craigslist has. Even with the looming threat of elimination of html, Craigslist will probably continue to reign supreme.

As an agent, I know that I have very limited patience with manually entering my listings to all of the sites out there. I’d much rather put it on one or two aggregators and call it a day, as I don’t have an assistant to post my listings on every single classified website in the entire universe. With the MLS, you get your listings posted automatically on every other real estate website and my brokerage, Coldwell Banker, is now supplying a feed to Zillow, GoogleBase and Trulia. If I make a Postlets ad, then it gets on Oodle and Lycos and Hot Pads. Manually entering each one of my listings to each of these sites is too labor intensive. Though it’s noted that each ad to Craigslist must be manually loaded, if it didn’t work, we wouldn’t do it.

Microsoft shuts down Live Expo classified ads site

The Giant Pool of Money, Explained

By far the best explanation I’ve heard of the Housing Mortage/Credit Crisis is — improbably — a podcast from the motherlode of story-telling on NPR, This American Life. This podcast is a bit different from their usual slice-o-life stories in that they try to explain something extremely complex and abstract — but in personal stories. The episode is called The Giant Pool of Money and it’s worth at least an hour of your time on your next commute. Hearing the agents all along the “chain” of events describe what they [were] thinking in their own words is about 100 times better than reading about it.

Link via Kevin Kelly

Unusual Homes on Evening Magazine

Evening Magazine screenshot
Evening Magazine video

Because of, I get frequent inquiries from television producers and magazine editors about unusual homes, and 3 of the houses I’ve written about were featured this week on Evening Magazine.

Methow Castle

This castle house is located in Winthrop, WA in the Methow Valley.
Winthrop Castle moat 1

The custom home is designed to look like a medieval castle, complete with moat and battlements.

Winthrop Castle moat

A labor of love on over a acre, designed by Ken Cramer.

Church in Sultan

Another interesting home is this church and art gallery in Sultan, Washington, on HY 2 on the way up to Stevens Pass.

Sultan Church exterior

It features an art gallery, a frame shop, a beautiful atrium, studio and shop space, plus living area. This would be a great place to have a little espresso stand too, and is a great stop on your way over the Cascades.

Bank in Douglas County

Several years ago, the Hunter’s bought this old bank in Douglas County, in the town of Waterville. Mr. Hunter restored the bank to run his law firm and he lives there with his wife. They converted one of the vaults into their guest room.

Sleep in a vault

An added plus is it’s cool in the summer and very quiet!

Unusual Homes for sale in the Pacific Northwest

Real estate agents suing Google for links to stories about them

Real estate agents Mark Forytarz and Paul Castran of Castran Gilbert in Victoria Australia have filed a defamation lawsuit against Google. The two agents said that they asked Google to remove allegedly defaming links to articles about them, but that Google did not take any action. The plaintiffs claim the articles suggest Mr Forytarz bullied an intellectually disabled man into selling his home in order to claim a commission of at least $200,000. It is claimed the article paints Mr Forytarz as unscrupulous and unethical and he suffered distress embarrassment and humiliation as a result.

Real estate agents launch defamation action against Google – ABC News

‘So sue me’ taunt to agents over ‘defamatory’ web articles – The Age

Googie versus Goliath

Amber Trillo photo
Set your Tivo’s to see my interview with Jenny Cunningham, a reporter with KCTS-TV (9) in Seattle at 7:30 this evening on Channel 9. She has been working on a segment called, “Googie versus Goliath,” and it’s a look at the landmarking process in Seattle and the controversy surrounding the Ballard Manning’s/Denny’s battle. She invited me to add my two cents to the proceedings, as I’ve been documenting Googie architecture in the Seattle area for several years on The show will be repeated again Sunday morning 2/10 at 10:30 am.

Mannings 1964

Many folks have asked me what prompted my interest in Google and I have to think it was looking at the Space Needle most every day outside my window. We’re living here with the largest known monument to Googe Architecture right in our backyard. What’s not to love?

Space Needle

Googie Architecture is most closely associated with the popular architecture and culture of 1950’s and 60’s Southern California, but the Seattle area had it share as well. Though quicky disappearing, there are still some remnants of this modern and space-age look around Seattle, and this Ballard Mannings building is one of them, and that’s why it’s so important to try to preserve this building.

Googie Architecture features bold angles, sweeping cantilevered roofs and pop-culture design. It was a way to grab and hold the attention of a budding car-culture, as we sped by on the freeways. It was a glimpse of the future, Today.

Knute Berger has a great series of articles about the controversy at Crosscut, our local online magazine of news from the Great Nearby.

Denny’s fans hunger for a historic grand slam in Seattle (Los Angeles Times)

Degrees of separation

I love juxtapositions and reciprocity and capillaries of connections. I like to look for patterns and order and the weave, web and wiring between people and events. Relationships, correlations and networking connect the people, places and things in our lives.

Walt Crowley 2007

If you’re a Seattleite, you may know Walt Crowley, founder of, a journalist, a social services director, a policy planner for the City of Seattle and the Municipal League of King County, a television news commentator, a freelance writer, communications consultant and networker extraordinaire.

In a sad twist of fate, this former radio and television commentator, lobbyist and public speaker was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer on July 15, 2005. He began treatment at Group Health Cooperative in August, but chemo and radiation therapy ultimately failed to kill the disease, necessitating removal of his larynx on February 9, 2007. Luckily, word is he did well and is now in recovery. He’s not seeing guests quite yet (not even recent visitor Mayor Greg Nickels), but he’s making good progress. Slowly, he will learn to use one of those hand-held voiceboxes and will communicate with his multi-layered network of friends, political cronies, writers, artists and other assorted ne’er’-do-well’s in that way.

In the weeks before he went in for the surgery, he recorded his words so his wife, friends, family and, more importantly, he himself, would not forget how his own voice sounded.

In a degree of bravery I have rarely witnessed, the evening before his surgery he invited some of the friends, cohorts, sidekicks, well-wishers, patrons, advocates, supporters, politicians, ex-hippies and rabble-rousers he’s known, to come by one last time to hear him speak and for a going-away party for his voicebox.

Norm Rice, Walt Crowley, Jean Godden

There were several past mayors in attendance, including former Seattle Mayors Wes Uhlman and Norm Rice. Here is a photo of Walt, ex-Mayor Norm Rice and current City Councilmember Jean Godden.

Walt Crowley and Nick Licata

There were also many City Council members there, including President Nick Licata, Peter Steinbrueck and ex-Port of Seattle Commissioner Henry Aronson.

Danny O\'Keefe, Walt and Milo Johnstone

The place was packed. Writers such as Paul Dorpat. Artists such as David Kane (having his own battle with Hugo). Other writers like Milo Johnstone (The Magic Decade) and singer/songwriter Danny O’Keefe.

Walt and Marlow

Walt is also the author of several historical tomes about Seattle University, my alma mater. He wrote “William J. Sullivan, S.J” , a celebration of Seattle University’s renaissance during 20 years under its 20th president and “Seattle University, A Century of Jesuit Education”.

Hubert Locke and Walt Crowley

Also in attendance was Ken Bunting, associate publisher of the PI, Tracy Rowland, Maura Donahue, Kurt Geissell, owner of our favorite brunch spot, Cafe Racer, and Quintard Taylor, Dr. Hubert Locke, Professor of Public Affairs, Dean Emeritus, and Marguerite Corbally Professor of Public Service and author of Learning from History: A Black Christian’s Perspective on the Holocaust and Searching for God in Godforsaken Times and Places: Reflections on the Holocaust, Racism, and Death

John Carlson and Walt Crowley

Walt used to have a show on KIRO-TV called “Point/CounterPoint” with John Carlson, who is still a talk show host on conservative talk-radio, KVI. The show consisted of exchanges between the conservative organizer John and left-wing writer Walt. The mini-debates aired two or three times a week and covered a wide range of political and social topics.

Walt Crowley and John Carlson

John stopped by for one last verbal spar with Walt, the night before the surgery.

One of Walt’s great successes was the founding of History Link, a fabulous State of Washington history website, with over 100,000 visitors a day.

So what does any of this have to do with real estate

The seed money for came from a $100,000.00 grant from Paul Allen, owner of Vulcan Real Estate, the builder of 1000’s of condo’s in the Seattle area and also owner of Vulcan Capital, the main funder of Redfin.

Also, the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors created the First Citizen’s Award in 1939 to honor outstanding community and civic leaders who’ve made a contribution to improve the region where we live. (The Gates Family were recipients in 1995, Jeff Brotman, founder of Costco in 2005, the McCaw’s in 2004. Dale Chihuly was a recipient in 2006. (Read “Glass Artist = Realtor?”).

The Association of Realtors created a relationship with Walt’s organization,, to memorialize the 1st Citizen Award event and most importantly, the contributions of the past recipients. Walt helped write the biographies to provide a new, authoritative, and easily accessible historical reference. created 1,500 word biographies for each past recipient.

This past week, Crowley took his voice on a farewell tour, appearing on public radio and local TV news stations:

Cancer claims radio host’s voice on NPR

Historian’s voice still fighting to be heard

NPR (KUOW) radio interview with Walt Crowley

Seattle historian loses voice (KOMO-TV)

A voice of Seattle faces a challenge (Seattle Times)

To send get-well wishes and to check up on Walt’s progress, you can visit Driving Mr. Walt.

What You Get For The Money

Please join me this evening and again on Jan. 6th for “What You Get For The Money“, on the Fine Living Channel.

This show compares houses with a $300,000 price tag in six markets across the country. In Portland, Ore., $300,000 means a clean and simple floating home on the Pacific ocean, while the same amount translates to a vintage 1917 condo with original charm and 1950s décor in Chicago and a spacious place in Philadelphia.

In Seattle, the only thing I can find that isn’t a fixer is a condo development in the Central District. There were no single-family homes under $300,000 that were available for filming in the Metropolitan Seattle area the day they were here for filming, without going to White Center or to Lynnwood. I find that so sad! Anyway, have a laugh at one of my 15 minutes.

• January 03, 2007 6:30 PM EST
• January 06, 2007 1:00 PM EST

Real World Seattle

Real World Seattle

I was inspired by a piece on the Zillow blog today, on MTV’s “Real World” show.

In college one of my constant companions was MTV and I always tried to watch it and study at the same time. It’s a wonder I ever graduated. Anyway, when Real World came to Seattle, I was fascinated with their very hip digs down on the Seattle waterfront. Zillow blog has a post about other homes used by the cast, entitled “Would you want the Real World House to be Your Real House?” , and the answer for me is Yes. Yes, I would.

The series was filmed in Seattle at Pier 70, a creaky old pier built in 1902 jutting West into Puget Sound. It had been used by the Liquor Board and the Coast Guard and in 1970 it was converted to retail and restaurant use and was the home to one of my favorite live music and disco venues of the same name, Pier 70. (For anyone interested in local Seattle-area bands that used to play there, check out “Pacific Northwest Bands Tribute Page“. Pier 70 was not the first disco in Seattle, as I think that title would go to Shelley’s Leg (so named because it was named after the leg poor Shelley lost to an errant cannon ball shot off at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square for a celebration there. The cannon ball, or the cannon itself, exploded and ripped off Shelley’s leg. She used the settlement money from the City of Seattle to open the disco under the viaduct, but I digress…. ) anyway, Triad Development bought Pier 70 in 1995 and renovated it into its current use as a restaurant and office/retail space. (I think Shelley’s Leg closed after a truck over turned on the viaduct and somehow caught the disco under it on fire…. if you like obscure Seattle history, be sure to check out Clark Humphrey’s soon-to-be-published book Vanishing Seattle.)

So, Pier 70 would be the coolest place to live, but it would be impossible to get a permit today to build something like this. Residential uses are prohibited on the Pier because of an urban-harborfront overly district. In order for the series to be filmed on the Pier, a special permit was obtained declaring Pier 70 as a “24 hour” film set. The interior design was created by Two Downtown, Ltd. The filming of series in 1998 delayed the planned remodel of the Pier by 6 months. Pier 70 has now been remodeled and the exterior no longer resembles the Pier that was used for the filming of the series.

So, I tried to use Zillow to find out what its value would be. What would condo’s that jut out over the water cost? But, since it’s not a residence, there were no comparable sales nearby. However, I was able to use Property Shark and found out that King County gives it a value of $3,003,300, which seems incredibly low to me. The wharf has 76,000 sq. ft. on 3 floors. With a change in zoning, you could put at least 40 condos there. At a minimum of $500K a piece (with the end units probably going for $1M+, you’d think this pier could be worth a lot more than $3M….. They changed the zoning across the street to build the Marriot, so who knows what could happen with this property. Anyway, building anything over the water here is a challenge. That’s why the Union Harbor Condo’s on Lake Union are so unique. And for an incredible story of City of Seattle politics, zoning, vision and perseverance, read about Rome Ventura and Lake Union Crew. The rowing club, located at 11 E. Allison St., had been at odds with neighbors and city officials since it opened in 1998. Zoning laws ruled against building any permanent structures over the water. So, in a way to get around those regulations, she moved two barges onto the lake and connected them to land by a gangplank. She converted these barges into two Coast Guard licensed passenger vessels and now these “vessels” are the Lake Union Crew Club. You can view photos of these “barges” (wink) and judge for yourself. (Speaking of ways people try to get around rules, did you hear about the couple in Ames Lake who attached an outboard motor to an illegal dock and then called it a boat? Ha ha….)

What do you get for $1 million dollars?

Million Dollar Home

They say money can’t buy happiness, so FINE LIVING TV set out to see What You Get for the Money. From a 500-square-foot urban dwelling to a five-bedroom rural house, find out what your money really can buy in various cities across the country. How far does your money stretch? Or does it shrink?

When the price range is about $1 million, these houses are within reach in six markets across the U.S.: a Boulder, Colo., 3,100 square foot 1950s renovated home in a “freaky” mountain town, an Art Deco home updated by husband and wife architects in Chicago, a ranch in Jackson, Wyo. and three other million-dollar babies in Pittsburgh, Seattle and Philadelphia.

We filmed about 6 hours and it was edited down to about 30 seconds in this TV Show. See Yours Truly tonight for one of my 15 minutes of fame.

What You Get For The Money

Apprentice Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agents Trump

Inman Blog notes that a group of real estate professionals are competing in the latest “The Apprentice” series (which prominently features Donald Trump) and are hoping not to hear “The Donald” utter those two words “You’re Fired” in their general direction.

Among the cast members of this reality series are Leslie Bourgeois, 28, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Boca Raton, Fla.; Bryce Gahagan, 28, a home builder who co-founded Gahagan-Eddy Building Co.; Charmaine Hunt, 27, an executive at First American Home Warranty in Nashville, Tenn.; and Brent Buckman, 30, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., lawyer who also handles real estate closings.

Seattle New York at trump Tower
Marlow and Gang at Trump Tower

Paul Alien

With the Seahawks win last week, Paul Allen is becoming quite the cultural icon, even outside of Seattle. He even rated a feature in the New York Times. Paul Allen / New York Times.

Have you heard about Alex Mayer’s film, Paul Alien? It’s a mockumentary film that proves the billionaire is collaborating with space aliens hell-bent on seizing control of earth. Ha ha ha ha….. Paul Alien – The Movie.

Unfortunately, Alex’s other endeaver, the blog “The Tattler” has ceased cyberspace publication. But you can read past entries here…..The Tattler. Scroll to the very beginning to read her biting remarks about the zillionth rerun of “Almost Live”. The funny thing is, you see the old stars of that show around town, and they’ve aged, but their TV-counterparts haven’t at all. Yikes!