Green roofs becoming more common, but still can be a challenge

Don’t miss Valerie Easton’s article on green roofs. There have been demonstrations of green roofs at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show for the past couple of years, and sometimes there are even self-guided “green roof home tours” organized in the Seattle area.

Read Keep a green roof thriving with the right soil and plants
Valerie says “Gritty soils and plenty of drought-tolerant, native plants are the secret to a successful green roof”

To My High Point Neighbors

I’ve spent the day slaving over a lovely jumbo postcard going out soon to my neigbhorhood. I’ve been a “secret agent” long enough. Despite several people around here knowing I am a real estate agent, it seems to be forgotten at the crucial moment of making a referral when someone talks about putting their lovely home, townhome, or condo here in HP up for sale. Personally, I have been surprised by how many homes I have seen go on the market in less than two years of occupancy. Why anyone would want to leave, I don’t know because I love it here! But that’s makes me a good listing agent for this neighborhood, too – no one can sell a neighborhood like a fan! I’ve got some great new pictures, too, so I’ll give my HP readers a preview of a fancy UV-coated 100% recyclable postcard arriving in the mail shortly!

No one knows your neighborhood better than you…
you live here
Except maybe me
…I live here, too

We’re neighbors. No one knows better than you and I what sells High Point as a neighborhood—we both bought homes here. But I also have been trained to know what it takes to sell a home in High Point.

If you suddenly find yourself needing to sell your Certified Built Green™ home, there’s no one better to
market it for you than a Certified Built Green™ Professional: Real
Estate agent. By hiring a
licensed real estate professional who has been trained and educated in green homes, the many invisible but very important green features of your home will be specially highlighted to your advantage in today’s market.

And by working with an agent living down the street, today’s very
independent and ‘net savvy buyer will be able to have almost immediate showings of your home, whether they have an agent or not. Very important in today’s “I want it now” and “I can do it myself” reality.

Call for your FREE comprehensive market analysis

Wendy Hughes-Jelen
Certified Built Green™ Professional
206.686.HOME (4663)

Check out my blog :

Wendy *IS* West Seattle – since 1997

Don’t miss this : Modern-Shed, a chic outdoor space

Caught a blurb in the Seattle Times this weekend about a creative shed design company that has blossomed in our midst. Called Modern-Shed, they have a great story and some neat designs. Read Modern-Shed: a chic outdoor space

Photo from

What is notable about these designs and this company is that they acknowledge the need for and also consumer desire for environmentally sensitive design. Besides a company mission statement, they also even have an Eco Statement on their web site, and green options hit all the right buttons:

  • Denim wall insulation
  • Cork floor tiles
  • Linoleum floor tiles (true linoleum)
  • Trex decking
  • SIPs (Structurally insulated panels)
  • FSC certified wood (Forest Stewardship Council)
  • Green roof options
  • Smart and efficient pre-fab structure made from materials supplied from Seattle area companies and completely constructed in one local facility

Be sure to check this company out. When my husband and I decided to build a shed at our last house, we hired a skilled friend to do the project for us. We bought all of our materials at McLendon’s (as I recall) and we felt real good about employing a neighbor for a few weeks to build it. We picked a nice basic floorplan but it had a clerestory that helped with lighting and heat during the winter. Ours was not insulated or anything like that, but we also weren’t using it for more than project and gardening and bike storage space. If I had to do it again (and I don’t because now I live in a townhouse and just have a big deck, but also have a large garage), I would definitely be considering a green Modern-Shed!

This is a photo of the shed we built in 2005

Flashback : Do you remember what your first dream job was?

Next week the international Association of Space Explorers opens its 21st Planetary Congress at Seattle’s Sheraton Hotel – followed by a public event at the Museum of Flight. Some 70 astronauts and cosmonauts from 16 countries are expected to attend the meeting, which includes multiple public events and runs through Sept. 19.

My first career choice was to be an astronaut. One of my most prized possessions is The Kids Whole Future Catalog. That 1982 book was my bible. It outlines a number of different technologies and scenarios about the future. From housing, to food, longevity research, floating cities, robotics, space-travel, underwater exploration and living, and colonization. I knew everything there was to know about the future from this great book. (And yes, I still have it.) There’s actually a movement out there to update and republish it. Wow, that would be something to read!

My intention to travel to space was further fueled by Robert Heinlein books and science classes. I was a sophomore in high school when the Challenger exploded. It was a very traumatic day for me. And it made me think about my willingness to die for my career. I’m a fickle girl, I guess. I got interested in marine biology. My thinking was that maybe we shouldn’t be exploring space before exploring Earth’s own oceans, which we knew so little of that it was essentially another planet anyway. Heinlein then died just as I was graduating from high school.

When I was a freshman at UW, planning to major in oceanography, I tried diving. It didn’t go so well. I was born scared of the water (according to my mother) and they told me I would need private lessons and a lot of counseling to be able to overcome the instinct to surface I was battling.

Lucky for you, I then decided to study business instead!! And here I am, 20 years later, having worked in real estate and related industries for 17+ years.

Just because it was not for me, doesn’t mean space travel isn’t for you – or your children who are beginning to dream about what they want to be when they grow up. So you better read Space explorers conference lands here next week. Now’s your chance to take your kids so they can ask those burning questions they (or you) have always wanted to know the answer to. Click here for the schedule. The morning and afternoon sessions at the UW are open to the public, with ample seating, and are free. The Monday afternoon session at the Museum of Flight is free with Museum admission. Technical Sessions at Microsoft will be web cast, with on site seating by invitation only.

You just might see me in the audience, with my hand up, asking them if any of them ever did like astronaut ice cream.

Green sourcing your bamboo flooring

Interesting little article in Seattle Times this weekend, read Some bamboo floors aren’t quite as green.

My recommendation is to check with the Forest Stewardship Council before committing to a purchase of flooring (or other home remodeling product). If you are going to the trouble to do a green remodel in your home, just putting in a bamboo floor is not necessarily “green” (as per the Times story).

To facilitate access to suppliers of FSC-certified products for LEED and other green building programs, Rainforest Alliance has compiled and introduced the SmartGuide, a listing of suppliers of FSC-certified products, with contact and product information, arranged according to product type. The list is growing quickly, so check this page periodically for updated versions of the guide.

’round the hood : pics from this morning’s walk

My battery died when I turned on the camera yesterday, so I had to wait another day and hope for still water to get this photo of homes around High Point Pond. There is amazing flora and fauna here, enjoy these pics!

Three surviving Mallard juvenile ducks from a clutch of 10 that were born at High Point Pond this spring. All girls.

High Point Market Garden is a very bountiful place.

Sunflowers are my favorite!

A gardener tends to his crops in the early morning.

Don’t miss this ~ Real estate taxes Q&A

From the Seattle Times web site:

Barbara Alsheikh is supervisor for the King County Tax Advisor Office. She and her staff answer questions about assessment practices and values and help taxpayers navigate the tax-appeals process. She was a county appraiser for three years and is a certified real-estate appraiser with the state of Washington. She has a BA in economics from the University of Washington.

Q&A; session from noon today transcript here.

A personal perspective on an application of basic real estate principles that affect the value of new in-city homes in conforming communities

(Photo of High Point homes above High Point Pond taken this morning shortly after sunrise)

Before I lived in a master planned community, and even longer before I became a real estate professional and began to understand the driving forces and governing principles of the housing market, I had no respect for suburban developments full of houses that all looked so similar but slightly different that I thought the builder had to think we were idiots to not know there wasn’t a house exactly like *that* one 5 houses down. A friend of mine bought a house in an Auburn community in 2000, and I shook my head and still didn’t really get it – why someone had to drive to Auburn to live in a house in a neighborhood that had sidewalks (the big thing that her husband wanted).

I certainly don’t believe in driving out to the country to live in a community with sidewalks. You can get those right here in the city. Any city or town, actually. But some people really want to live out in the “country”. There will always be people who want to live in big developments in the suburbs. I grew up in the country, 10 miles from the nearest town, 3 miles off the highway, and no such thing as bus service. My folks had 5 acres, and there were no suburban developments at the time (late 70s).

Country living, been there done that. I *like* living in the city – if you can call West Seattle the city. It is within the city limits but it really is like a small town all its own. When my husband and I bought our first house here its as if we were still hanging on to our roots but with an “in-city” compromise. We bought a 1929 farmhouse on a 1/4 acre lot, on a street with no sidewalks and few street lights. There was an elementary school a couple of blocks away, and a major community college a half mile away. It was within two blocks of the bus line, altho I never rode the bus (having grown up in the country, I never really learned how to use mass transit, and the few times as an adult I rode a public bus I got extremely motion sick). After almost 6 years there, having decided we were going to remain child-free and having become disenchanted with how much work a 75 year old house and really large yard and garden were, we finally looked at each other and said why are we doing this? Shortly thereafter we “sold out” and moved to a master planned community, albeit it was only a half mile away and still in the city. I am referring to High Point.

Not only did we move to a community with an HOA, we even moved into a subassociation that was a condominium. We have NO yard and are glad for it. We can’t touch the landscaping out front and we are glad for it. We are free. We just celebrated our one year anniversary in our townhome and are still extremely happy we made the decision to move into a community with “rules”. The homes that do have yards are small and manageable. Most of the landscaping and all of the parks are maintained by a service.

There is a lot of architectural variety here, but admittedly there are repeats of building plans frequently. Color changes can sort of hide the similarities, and flower pots certainly liven up the front porches on every street.

Why was this a smart move?
Altho we are taught to rail against conformity in our personalities, clothing style, and other parts of our culture, the principle of conformity when it pertains to real estate actually increases the value of homes within conforming neighborhoods. When all the buildings in a given area are of similar design, age, size, maintenance, and market appeal, value increases for everyone because the neighborhood is aesthetically pleasing due to its conformity or consistency.

The principle of progression refers to higher values attained when structures conform to each other. For example, a new home that appeals to current market preference is worth more when it is surrounded by other new homes in line with the current market preference.

The principle of regression refers to how ill placement or a lack of conformity adversely affects value. Consider in the previous example of the new home in adherence to current market preference. If this home was located around older homes with obsolete floor plans (i.e. my old neighborhood), then its value would be LESS than if it were surrounded by homes of the same style.

The principle of supply and demand: Most people understand that a high demand and low supply cause an increase in value. A new property probably corresponds to current market tastes and needs. Because new properties are generally in demand, and assuming no fundamental design flaw, you can conclude that for a period of time, the property’s value will continue to increase. This defines the growth period. Eventually stability will then settle over the neighborhood. It will be a long time, if ever, before decline comes to this area.

Demand and scarcity are not unlike supply and demand on a local level. If there are only three houses of a popular style in a neighborhood, then those three homes are each worth more than if there were 30 homes of that style. Generally, a home is a useful commodity, however, a poor design or the presence of obsolete features lowers the value of property.

High Point was built with a lot of variety. Every home I have been in (and that’s been *a lot*) was smartly designed, and all of the homes in High Point also bear the Built Green environmental certification, further increasing the value of the homes within these blocks. Every home is 2006 or newer. Not every home is unique, altho there is a limited amount of each kind of home here. There were 5 different development companies that built market rate homes in this community.

For all intents and purposes, governing real estate principles indicate High Point homes are a really good investment. I know I am glad I made the move.

There are some new homes still for sale, and there are even some resales now on the market. There is a studio with a really nice view of downtown, a carriage house with a loft, a rare 2×2.5 townhouse with 2-car tandem garage, and several 3+ bedroom townhomes or detached homes available. (Click here to view Built Green certified homes for sale in High Point in West Seattle). As most everywhere, supply is out of balance with demand at the moment, so some homes have been on the market longer than others. Most are competitively priced, some have experienced realistic price reductions, and one short sale townhome was an aberration and should not be considered as an indication of which direction home values in this community are headed (it went pending in 4 days and someone is getting a really amazing deal).

My home recently appraised at an 8.86% increase over what I paid for it in less than a year. The tax assessments are nicely below current market values so you don’t feel like the government is putting the screws to you. It’s a great community with lots of diversity and we have great friends and good volunteer opportunities within steps of our front door.

Now is the perfect time to be a buyer if you have the means to get into your starter townhome, or downsize from a larger real estate parcel into something more manageable. You’ll find, like we did, that there ar
e smart floor plans with sensible square footage that will perfectly meet your needs. Give me a call for a private tour or sign up for the Green Spaces Real Estate meetup group “outdoor environmental feature tour combined with an indoor real estate tour” scheduled for September 28th.

The High Point Market Garden is a very busy place these days. At last week’s “farm stand” sales event, I got a ridiculous amount of SUPER FRESH vegetables for $6.50
2 1 pound bags of new potatoes
1 large bunch long green beans
1 bunch spinach
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 patty pan squash
1 fresh white onion
A bag of fresh carrots