High Point real estate sobering – no rainbow yet

Where is the rainbow in High Point real estate?

I’ve just pulled a report for my neighborhood, which has been a perfect micro-climate to observe the dark side of the recession and collapse in real estate in the Seattle area. We personally closed July 27, 2007 on our townhome on Raymond – the month and year considered the peak of the bubble.

I’ve been on the ground here for five years (we wrote up the contract in April 2007), literally since I am walking my dog twice a day (or often three times). High Point’s Built Green Certification has cushioned home values somewhat, but at this point there are too many people who have been hanging on too long. There is a plethora of short sale listings now, many of them in my condo association of Redwood High Point.

Out of 16 active listings on the NWMLS in High Point proper (the redeveloped area), 7 are short sales, 2 are bank owned (both Fannie Mae, already foreclosed on), 5 are Polygon Phase 2 listings, (which have been selling like hot cakes in our new reality – almost 80 homes sold in less than a year, they are at really good prices and are attractive since so many people want “new”, they are rated 300 point Built Green Certified), and 2 are Seller occupied and considered Market Rate listings (at $460k and $530k, but both have been on the market for months). 7 of the 16 listings are in Redwood High Point and all of them are distressed pricing.

I look around me and just get depressed. I have not seen this many listings,all at once, ever. Owners are dropping like flies. We’ve been trying to negotiate with our own lender for over three years and only recently engaged an attorney who is looking into the robo-signing issue (among others) that was prevalent at the time everyone in Phase 1 purchased. I only hope we don’t end up moving like so many others have.

As someone who has been in this community for so long, and watched it change and grow from one day to the next, I don’t want to leave. But a lot of people have been in extended financial distress and just need it to be over. Way over. A couple of my neighbors moved on two years ago and my porch-mate tried to sell for a year before giving up. We’re just stubborn fools, I guess, committed to our community and lifestyle here (my husband and I). We watched our home be built, we customized every square inch of it, and I feel safe walking my dog here most of the time. I might gripe about being sick of walking in circles in the rain for 6 months, but when I think of where else I could be living, from a safety standard High Point beats anywhere I have lived in 20 years.

My heart aches for those who moved here with such great dreams and high expectations, only to be disappointed by job loss or transfers, a bad turn in finances, and the gradual slipping away of the American Dream. Many criticize, saying people who are in trouble with their home now didn’t deserve to own that home in the first place. I try to not take it personally. Our household just happened to be comprised of careers in two industries really hit hard by this recession – and I have fought hard to stay in this business since I am passionate about solving people’s real estate problems. It’s not like there were a lot of jobs out there for me to go to even though I have extensive professional experience outside of real estate.

But this plethora of short sales is just one problem I can’t solve. I just hope I don’t end up as one myself.

To those who have given up, moved on and started over somewhere else – my thoughts are with you and your family. I hope there will come a time that you can look at your place in High Point in a positive way and not just some big black period in your life. And your contribution to our neighborhood will be sorely missed.

Regardless of my personal situation, I continue to be an Ambassador for High Point and I bring all of my buyer clients through my neighborhood to educate them. I am a believer in the community, the natural surroundings, the storm water management and watershed interface, and the Built Green Certification process. And I am an optimist. Things will get better. It is always a good time to buy – or sell – a home, depending on your personal circumstances. And as long as I am a resident of High Point you can always call on me for information about this unique, green community and the larger West Seattle area. We have lived in West Seattle almost 15 years and it is in our blood. They will have to drag me kicking and screaming out the door to get rid of me.

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About Wendy Hughes-Jelen

Wendy Hughes-Jelen is a Seattle-area Realtor® who is EcoBroker Certified® and is a Earth Advantage® Broker AND Built Green® Certified Professional. She helps people find and create their own healthy home, and is trained to assist those with chemical sensitivities, asthma, allergies, or other health concerns that indoor air quality can impact. Wendy is certified to use Energy Star's Portfolio Manager for Energy Efficiency Accounting and Benchmarking (NRGbenchmarking.com). Be sure to look for Westside Green Living With Wendy on Facebook.
This entry was posted in Buyers, Green Homes, High Point, Real Estate For Sale, Sellers, Townhome, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to High Point real estate sobering – no rainbow yet

  1. No need to be worried. Rain will come definitely. The real estate agents will get profit then.

  2. Joniv says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Great write up. We’ve been at Highpoint since June 2006 and just did a short sale on our phase 1 Polygon home. We were not under financial strain to pay the mortgage, but both our jobs had moved to Bellevue and we were spending 2 hours a day in our cars, and our son was spending 10 hour days in daycare. It was a huge stress on our family. The home was valued at 350k and we owed 390k. Not a huge difference, but with realtor fees and excise tax, we would have had to come up with over 50k to close and we just didn’t have it.

    As a bright spot, a nice young family bought our house and they got a great price for it! 85k less than what we paid 6 years ago!

    In my mind, one of the biggest issues for West Seattle home prices is proximity to good jobs. Since the recession, there’s basically no work and no major companies in Seattle downtown core, so that means a huge commute for anyone who chooses to live in WS. With the constant bridge construction, and the impending viaduct teardown, it’s really going to hurt the market. When all that infrastructure work is complete I think home prices will come back up. It’s just a bummer for those of us who couldn’t wait it out.

    We were sad to leave Highpoint, but now we walk to work and my son is literally across the street at daycare. You can’t beat that convenience. I am honored to have lived at Highpoint and I will always believe in the community we helped build. I will miss seeing everyone pull together to get MacArthur Garden built. I will miss the veggie stand, the amazing parks, the blue heron and the osprey diving for koi in the pond. But most of all I will miss the people! We had such amazing neighbors and we felt a wonderful sense of community. You don’t get that in Bellevue, trust me.

    We still have family in West Seattle, so we visit often, but we will miss calling it home. Best of luck to you and the rest of the Highpoint community.

  3. Joni, thank you for your post. It is sad to see people like you leave the neighborhood for sure. It is a special place. I wish you luck, tho, and West Seattle will always be a part of you!!

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