Category: Pacific Northwest/Regional

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.

Seattle Real Estate Bar Camp

The name “BarCamp” is a reference to the events origin, with reference to the hacker term, foobar: BarCamp arose as a spin-off of Foo Camp, an annual attendant-driven conference hosted by Tim O’Reilly.

The ideas were absconded by and riffed upon by techies in the real estate field and Real Estate Bar Camp was born.

The most interesting thing about it is that it’s user/attendant created: the program is developed by the attendees at the event, using big whiteboards upon which a schedule is hastily put together, that can be rewritten or overwritten by attendees to optimize the days events. The goal is to reach out to new people who will increase the common intelligence about new technologies, and to create opportunities for cross-fertilization between people and new ideas.

How cool is that?

Seattle’s event was held at the lovely Zillow offices and a big shout-out and thank you goes to the management who allowed us to use their vacant offices for the event.

I enjoyed seminars on blogging, creating dynamic websites, Twitter and other social networking sites, something from Greg Swann called Scenius, a great presentation by Mike Simondson from Altos Research, and another about Active Rain from Rich Jacobson. I met the fellow behind, which is a great way to rate the walkability of a neighborhood.

Rhonda Porter and Jim Reppond
Rhonda Porter and Jim Reppond

Greg Swann
Greg Swann

David Gibbons
David Gibbons

Whitney Tyner
Whitney Tyner

Rich Barton
Rich Barton

Jim, Lloyd Frink & Spencer Rascoff
Jim, Lloyd Frink & Spencer Rascoff

I got to listen to statistician Stan Humphries discuss Zillow’s data. I had a nice chat with Rhonda Porter and I guess Ardell was there, but I missed her somehow. I enjoyed seeing David Gibbons again and hearing about his roundabout journey to Zillow. I also got to meet a lot of the brains behind Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, and had a beer with my friend Whitney Tyner at the after-party beer blast that Zillow hosted in their 46th floor office suites.

Coldwell Banker Bain hosts 50-Family Garage Sale on Capitol Hill in Seattle Dec. 12-13

We’re trying to raise some money for a friend who has been diagnosed
with ALS. He has a wife and two boys and we need to make some
accommodations in his home so he can stay there as long as possible.

The garage sale will be at Coldwell Banker Bain building, at 1661 E.
Olive Way in Seattle this weekend, downstairs in the garage, so it’s rain-or-shine. This is right across the street from B&O Espresso and there is free parking in the lot behind the building.

We are also accepting donations of unwanted items, if you want to help.

You can drop them off at our office at 1661 E. Olive Way or call our office at 206-322-8711 and either I or someone else from the office will do a pick-up.

The big garage sale is Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 & 14 from 10am until 4pm. I know this is a busy time right before the holiday’s, but the need is now and we wanted to help him as soon as possible.


Bill Gates to address Realtors at Paul Allen First Citizen Awards

Four speakers from different aspects of Paul G. Allen’s life will share the stage at a civic banquet on Oct. 30 to pay tribute to Allen, this year’s recipient of the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award.

Bill Gates, James Kelly, Sen. Patty Murray and Tod Leiweke will share accolades and anecdotes when they talk about their connection to Allen, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., and some of the reasons for his selection as 2008’s First Citizen. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the prestigious award, which was created by the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors® (SKCAR) in 1939 to celebrate community leadership, volunteerism and public service.

Paul Allen is an empire builder and with his vision, he has changed the look, feel and vision of Seattle. He owns 2,600,000 square feet in the South Lake Union neighborhood. He’s developed new residential, office, retail and biotech research space and this redevelopment represents one of the largest urban revitalization projects in the country. His employees lobbied the Mayor and Seattle City Council to upzone this and other neighborhoods around the city, changing the social fabric and the conversion of Seattle as parochial backwater to bustling cityscape with distinct high-rise urban villages.

I have mixed feelings about his accomplishments and contributions to our city. On one hand, I appreciate his philanthropy, his donations to the UW and his creation of his Brain Institute. On the other hand, I’m not sure I approve of the uh…. Vancouverizaton of the South Lake Union area. The most interesting neighborhoods grow organically, made up of residents, shops, shopkeepers, services, art and public spaces. I do not believe that planned communities can ever match the vibrancy of a neighborhood that has developed over many years. His South Lake Union community has created residences to house the workers that work there. Like a glittery, upscale company town, it’s a fancy rat cage for the little mousies that can’t step off the treadmill for fear they’ll lose their granite-countered condos.

I am also bitter about problems that only Paul Allen could have solved. I don’t fault Bill for not funding certain frivolous community pet projects. After all, he has a family and is busy saving lives with his Gates Foundation. But Paul, he’s buying yachts and his favorite sports teams and venues, the EMP and the Science Fiction Museum. If he can spend his money on those boy-toy sort of things, he could certainly spend some of that on some of my favorite civic projects.

One of our biggest losses was the Kalakala. a former ferry that operated on Puget Sound from 1935 until its retirement in 1967.

Kalakala was notable for its unique streamlined superstructure, art deco styling, and luxurious amenities. The vessel was a popular attraction for locals and tourists, and was voted second only to the Space Needle in popularity among visitors to Seattle during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

After its retirement in 1967, the vessel was sold to a seafood processing company and towed to Alaska to work as a factory ship. There, a group of artists discovered the rusting hulk in 1984, purchased the vessel, and managed to refloat her and tow her back to Seattle in 1998. The vessel has since been a source of controversy as its owners were unable to raise sufficient funds to refurbish the vessel or even to keep her moored in Seattle’s Union Bay. That’s where Paul Allen could have stepped in. The vessel was sold in 2004 to a private investor, who moved it to an anchorage in Neah Bay provided by the Makah Tribe. Who knows what’s going to happen to it now.

What a great opportunity Paul had, to keep the Kalakala in Seattle and moor it in South Lake Union, at the Center for Wooden Boats and near the Armory where the Museum of History and Industry will be relocating.

It’s probably not too late. He could buy back the Kalakala, restore it, turn it into a floating museum or fancy dinner ship or what ever he wanted. Paul Allen owns the worlds largest privately owned yacht, the “Octopus” plus an entire fleet of other yachts, including the Tatoosh and the Meduse. He obviously loves boats and feels an affinity for the sea. This would have been the perfect public works project for him and the citizens of Seattle.

As you can see, I’m still bitter about this lost opportunity.

But I’ll be there, at the dinner to honor the things he has done right. It’s this coming Thursday, October 30th at the Sheraton in Downtown Seattle. Though this civic award is sponsored by the Seattle King County Association of Realtors, anyone can attend. Click HERE for tickets.

Colossal Castle or Humble Home?

I had written before about the Home Price Comparison Index compiled by Coldwell Banker Real Estate that allows one to approximate how much your home might cost in different areas around the U.S.

For instance, here in Seattle, $800K-900K might buy you a 100-year old house in a nice in-city neighborhood with 1800 sqft and 3-4 bedrooms and 2-3 baths and a 1-car garage on a 3000 sqft lot.

Magnolia House

Just 50 miles South in Tacoma, with the same amount of money, you can buy a newer 4BR/4Bbth home with 5000 sqft and a 3-car garage. On 20 acres.

Tacoma House

In Colossal Castle or Humble Home, Neha Grey finds similar examples of home values all around the world.

Does this house make my butt look big?

University of Washington researchers recently found wide disparities in obesity rates among King County ZIP codes. The rates range from less than 10 percent in parts of central Seattle and Bellevue to more than 25 percent in some south county neighborhoods.

Obesity Map (From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

The strongest predictor of obesity rates wasn’t income or education but property values, the study found.
Each additional $100,000 in median home value for a ZIP code corresponded with a drop in obesity of 2 percentage points.

It’s further evidence, experts say, that weight isn’t solely about individual behavior and that the environment you live in matters.

As the Seattle P-I notes in “Overweight? Blame your zipcode”:

“If you have this mind-set that obesity has to do with the individual alone, then ZIP codes or areas really should not come into this. But they do, big-time,” said Adam Drewnowski, director of the UW Center for Obesity Research.

It’s common sense that a lack of access to fresh produce and nutritious groceries, plus an excess of fast-food restaurants, might contribute to packing on the pounds. Add that to being in a neighborhood that might be unsafe to walk or exercise, and the result is the residents tend to be overweight.

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!