Tom Kelly: What price for a Puget Sound view?September 10, 2012 @ 3:25 pm (Updated: 4:48 pm - 9/10/12 )
There's no debate for second place: view. You can talk about imported hardwood floors and landscaped yards, but brokers and agents agree that views help to sell homes more than any other highlight.
Look at the ads online and in the newspaper. If a home has any view at all, it's always mentioned: "Peek-a-boo Sound view" can sometimes only be viewed by standing on a toilet near a second-floor dormer window and cranking your neck to get a glimpse of water through the neighbor's trees - in winter.
The recent story about John Olerud's home in Bellevue's Clyde Hill again has brought views to the front burner.
Folks here are spoiled and often take for granted the number of view properties in this region. The numerous bodies of water coupled with terraced hillsides offer Seattle-area residents view opportunities not available in most areas of the country.
For example, view homes are so common in West Seattle that an agent once told us that a view was "not that important because you get used to it. You don't even notice it after a while."
On warm summer afternoons, it sometimes seems that people who do not live on the water or look at the water have a boat to be on the water.
What price for a view? How do we determine its value? In Southern California beach cities, agents and brokers have assigned values of ocean view properties by the "type" of water in the view. For example, a "white water view" (waves crashing, white water foam) is much more expensive than a "blue water view" (no coastline). If you can barely make out water in the distance, it's tagged as a "horizon" view."
The value of a view will always be what someone will pay for it. In that regard, it's similar to a home or a painting. You can establish a market value by comparable sales, but people will often pay more or less than the established price.
Nearly three decades ago, Burnell Thorley, a real-estate appraiser, took a step to ascertain the value of a view of a vacant lot. Thorley researched 94 of the 614 lots in large subdivisions in Bellevue, Federal Way, and Mukilteo and compiled statistics on each lot. By considering 14 variables, including the date of sale, shape, square footage, location, water and degree of view, he determined the value of the view.
In some cases, the view was worth 50 percent of the selling price of the lot.
A view can be foreground, middle ground or background. It can be man-made (noisy freeway) or natural (placid lake). The value has always been in the eye of the beholder. Just ask John Olerud.
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