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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
House prices fall again in May; Seattle condo prices up
Seattle Times Article talks about what most of us already know.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004459737_webhomesales06.html

Demonstrating that the lackluster housing market has yet to turn around, May's median King County's house price, $440,000, reflected a 1.9 percent decline compared with April and 6.2 percent drop year-over-year, Puget Sound housing statistics released today showed.

And while real-estate firms tout this spring as an ideal time to buy because the selection of homes is larger than it's been in years and sellers are ready to deal, buyers apparently remain unconvinced.

May's house and condominium sales both continued to lag year earlier totals and show little, if any, improvement over April, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which released May home sales numbers today.

Pending sales — deals signed but not yet completed — were down almost 40 percent compared with a year earlier for houses and condos, MLS figures show.

One bright spot was King County condo sales; May saw 648 compared with 579 in April.

Seattle's median condo price, $320,000, was an increase from the previous month's $312,500. It also reflected a 4.1 percent increase over May 2007.

Last month's in-city median house price, $475,000, was up significantly from the previous month's $440,000, but still reflected a 2.7 percent decline from the previous May 2007.

"Open-house traffic is picking up, and buyers are coming off the sidelines to make buying decisions," Dick Beeson, broker/owner at Windermere/Commencement Associates in Tacoma said in a statement.

Beeson credits the activity to buyers realizing that interest rates could creep up, canceling any gain they might see by waiting to prices to fall further.

Last month, the median Snohomish County house price, $349,950, was 6.9 percent below a year ago.

In Pierce County, the median house price dropped 6.7 percent year-over-year to $266,000. Kitsap County's median fell 11.3 percent to $265,462 for single-family homes.

Bond this thread is for you..
 

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haha I was going to make this thread only because Bond made a comment about it in the weather thread. I decided not to though because I didn't have anything to start it with.
 

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I watched the news on TV this morning saying that king county govt is laying off some workers. That also includes the state government, too. We're having some budget cuts, I wonder if it's from the economy downfall.
 

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The NW Weather Thread and the NW Economy thread were about the only reason why I regularly visited the NW section of SSP anymore. I guess you guys starting these 2 threads have put the nail in the coffin for me. ;)
Seems like just yesterday all Seattle discussion was over at SSP... Such a shame. I remember making a thread in the forum issues section and getting the Northwest section created. :(
 

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It's sort of odd how the forums are splitting up. For instance there's no SF discussion here, so if I want to go look at that I have to go to SSP. But as for Seattle I'm glad we're consolidating, at least somewhere, and I really like SSC because of the wider international exposure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It is a shame what happened to SSP. I really like it there, but the new format sucked. And you are right with SSC has great international threads.
I used to go to SSP just for some of this economy info...Lets get it here.
 

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Washington's GDP growth third-fastest in U.S.

Pacific Northwest

Washington state posted the nation's third-fastest growth rate last year and was one of only 13 states where economic activity expanded, according to federal data released Thursday.

State gross domestic product — the sum of all goods and services produced within a state's borders — rose 4.3 percent in Washington after adjustment for inflation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That put the state's 2007 growth rate behind just Utah (5.3 percent) and New York (4.4 percent).

Growth in Washington accelerated from 3.5 percent in 2006.

Nationally, GDP growth slowed to 2 percent last year from 3.1 percent in 2006.

Information industries, retail and durable-goods manufacturing were the largest contributors to Washington's economic growth last year, while construction and finance were the biggest drags.
 

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Icahn Tells Yahoo to `Stop Dancing Around,' Sell (Update1)

By Amy Thomson
Enlarge Image/Details

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Carl Icahn said Yahoo! Inc.'s board should ``stop dancing around'' and offer to sell the Internet company to Microsoft Corp. for $49.5 billion, or 11 percent more than the software maker's original bid.

Icahn, who threatened to oust directors if they didn't reach a deal with Microsoft, escalated a spat with Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock over a severance plan that Icahn says drove its suitor away. He suggested a price of $34.375 a share, compared with the $31 Microsoft offered in January.

``I again call upon you to honor your fiduciary duty to your shareholders,'' he said in a letter to Bostock released today.

Icahn, backed by shareholders such as hedge-fund manager John Paulson and BP Capital LLC Chairman T. Boone Pickens, contends a combination is the only way the two companies can compete with Google Inc., the leader in Internet search traffic. Icahn criticized Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang's efforts to complete an alternative transaction with Microsoft, saying he will refuse to negotiate a deal worth less than $33 a share.

``Icahn is saying to Microsoft, `You want to be in the advertising business, you need to buy the entire Yahoo company,''' ICAP analyst Sachin Shah said in an interview. ``A full acquisition is in the best interest of both companies.'' Jersey City, New Jersey-based Shah advises investors to buy Yahoo stock and doesn't own any.

Yahoo fell 5 cents to $26.31 at 12:11 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock had risen 13 percent this year before today. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft dropped 28 cents to $28.02.

Yahoo's Response

Yahoo responded today by saying that Icahn's suggestion to publicly offer itself up is ``ill-advised,'' and that the company is open to any deal, including a takeover by Microsoft, if it's in the best interest of investors.

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to comment.

Icahn, who owned 10 million shares of Yahoo and options to buy an additional 49 million as of May 15, has claimed that the board sabotaged Microsoft's attempts to take over the company. His nominees for Yahoo's board, up for re-election Aug. 1, include himself and former Viacom Inc. chief Frank Biondi Jr.

In today's letter, Icahn accused Yang of using an employee severance plan to deter Microsoft, saying the move would have cost the software maker a ``staggering $2.4 billion'' if it had pursued a bid at $35 a share.

``You neglected to mention that the true cost to an acquirer may be even higher as the perverse change in control severance incentives may diminish the work effort of Yahoo employees,'' Icahn said.

Microsoft's initial cash-and-stock bid was 62 percent more than Yahoo's stock price at the time. CEO Steve Ballmer later offered as much as $33 a share, which Yang deemed to low, prompting Microsoft to scrap the bid May 3.

Bad Economics

Buying Yahoo would have helped Microsoft triple its share of U.S. Web searches, fueling revenue from Internet advertising. That still wouldn't be enough to wrest the lead from Mountain View, California-based Google, which controls almost two-thirds of Internet queries in that country.

``After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us,'' Ballmer, 52, said in a letter to the company.

Microsoft said later that it would pursue an alternative transaction with Yahoo and reserved the right to eventually attempt another takeover. Icahn, 72, said that if he gains control of the board, he will cut off talks on alternative transactions unless they guarantee investors will get at least $33.

Google Partnership?

If Microsoft fails to renew its advances, he plans to seek a partnership with Google on Web searches, as long as the agreement wouldn't prevent Yahoo from a merger with the software maker later.

Icahn has a mixed record in proxy fights. His effort to break up Time Warner Inc. failed in 2006, while earlier this year he successfully pushed software maker BEA Systems Inc. to accept an $8.5 billion takeover offer from Oracle Corp.

The investor said he will replace Yang if he gets control, moving him back to the Chief Yahoo role he held while former CEO Terry Semel was in place. Yang co-founded Yahoo more than a decade ago when he and David Filo created ``Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web'' as graduate students at Stanford University.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Thomson in New York at [email protected]
Last Updated: June 6, 2008 12:13 EDT
 

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The NW Weather Thread and the NW Economy thread were about the only reason why I regularly visited the NW section of SSP anymore. I guess you guys starting these 2 threads have put the nail in the coffin for me. ;)
So this has effectively become the Washington State forum, and not a Seattle forum anymore?
 

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I don't even know what's going on at SSP anymore - I lost my password, then the email that I had listed as my main email was from years ago and I couldn't get into that either. I emailed the mods twice and they've ignored me for months - so I guess they were glad to see me go?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Interesting article.
Like we didn't know this would happen. They always undershoot on the figures don't they?

Seattle's housing growth is off the charts

It should come as a surprise to no one that Seattle is growing fast.

But this fast?

In just over three years, Seattle already is halfway to reaching its targeted housing growth for 20 years.

And a few sections of town — Ballard, Eastlake, the Central Area, Greenlake, Lower Queen Anne and downtown — already have exceeded their 20-year targets.

The numbers, included within a city report on residential growth, provide fodder for those who argue that runaway growth has sacrificed Seattle's quality of life.

They plan to use the report to oppose a proposal at City Hall that would expand tax exemptions for developers who build condos and apartments in areas targeted for significant growth. To get the tax breaks, some of the units must be priced below market rate.

The City Council's Housing and Economic Development Committee is to consider that proposal today.

"There's been so much focus on Seattle absorbing its fair share of growth to stop suburban sprawl," Councilmember Nick Licata said. "Well, we have to pat ourselves on the back. We are more than meeting our responsibility.

"Now's the time for us to step back and ask ourselves if we are accompanying that growth with improvements to our public services, cultural amenities and open spaces. And I would say the answer to that question is no."

Alan Justad, spokesman for the Department of Planning and Development that created the report, cautioned that the 2024 targets are minimum projections and should not be interpreted as prescribed limits on residential growth.

He said the numbers are neither terribly alarming nor particularly surprising.

"A target is a planning tool to help us decide how to invest to accommodate growth," Justad said. "We expected high and low cycles during this 20 years. We've just been through a very high construction spike — very high. It's quite possible that cycle is changing right now."
Between January 2005 and March 2008, Seattle experienced a net gain of more than 10,600 housing units, with an additional 13,000 or so in progress. That's 50 percent of the city's 2024 target of 47,000 additional units.

Among the city's 38 urban villages (neighborhood centers targeted for high-density growth), Ballard wins the prize as being the farthest above its 20-year target.

Since 2005, Ballard has added 287 units, with a whopping 1,452 more permitted, many almost ready for occupancy. Combined, that's 174 percent of Ballard's target of adding 1,000 housing units.

"On some level, I'm surprised the numbers are that low," said Catherine Weatbrook, who works on planning issues for the Ballard District Council, a neighborhood group. "I mean, all you have to do is just look around."

She said services to accommodate Ballard's rapid growth are not keeping pace. For example, buses that service Ballard are standing-room-only during rush hour, sometimes so packed they don't even stop to pick up waiting passengers.

"The demand for services is not going down and we don't seem to have the structure in place to respond," she said. "Growth is going to happen. We can plan for it — or we can have chaos."

Jim Jacobson, Metro's deputy general manager, said Metro constantly adjusts its service to meet demand, but that Ballard is only one of several rapidly growing areas wanting more buses. Metro is adding some service to Ballard this fall, he said, "but are we adding as much as people would like? Probably not," he said.

To contain suburban sprawl, the state's Growth Management Act required counties to set growth targets. In King County, Seattle is responsible for absorbing a large percentage of that growth. As part of its planning process, the city apportioned its share among its urban villages.

The targets are to be revised in 2011.

Other parts of King County growing faster than anticipated include downtown Bellevue, downtown Renton, Covington and Maple Valley, while some areas of Southwest King County are behind targeted levels, said Paul Reitenbach, senior policy analyst for King County's Department of Development and Environmental Services.

"It's not unusual to exceed targets where demand for housing really spikes," he said. "To me, it's a healthy thing. I'd rather be on the upper edge with far more growth than lagging behind, which is a sign of a struggling economy."

In Seattle, Eastlake already is at 158 percent of its residential growth target, second only to Ballard.

"While some Eastlake residents might mourn the change of their neighborhood, others appreciate the urban vitality they see growing up around them," said Matthew Stubbs, president of the Eastlake Community Council. "I would not say there is a universal cry to halt development, but there are some common desires for our neighborhood that I hear repeatedly.

"We want to ensure that our voices are heard in the development process. We want our infrastructure to keep pace with our growth. We need access to our neighborhood schools, reliable mass transportation, well-maintained open space and community gathering places. These needs become more critical as each new development opens its doors."

Other parts of town are falling shy of target, such as Rainier Beach, where only 41 additional housing units have been built or permitted since January 2005. That's just 7 percent of its target of 600.

One area where the city is promoting significant growth — Northgate — is at 30 percent of its target of 2,500 additional units. South Lake Union, which was targeted for the most growth at 8,000 new units, is at 19 percent.

The residential-growth report was highlighted in a recent Seattle Displacement Coalition news release that calls for opposing Mayor Greg Nickels' proposal to expand tax exemptions for developers.

The coalition opposes development that jeopardizes low-income housing.

"These numbers ought to dispel the myth that Seattle isn't taking its fair share of responsibility for growth, which is something the mayor uses to justify upzones and other perks for developers and builders," the coalition's John Fox said. "This reinforces people's suspicions that we're accommodating special interests at City Hall."

Nickels' proposal would make the tax incentive available to developers who build housing geared toward people earning just shy of median income — such as rookie cops and firefighters, teachers and hospital workers. It would spread the program across the city, including to areas that have surpassed their 20-year growth targets, such as Ballard, Eastlake, parts of the Central Area, Greenlake and Lower Queen Anne.

"Meeting the growth target doesn't mean an area is at capacity," said Alex Fryer, Nickels' spokesman. "Ballard has more capacity. Growth is going to come there anyway. The mayor just wants to make sure that the new units are affordable for people like school teachers and firefighters."

But Licata said priorities should focus on providing services to areas that already have grown.

"This is an example of some developers latching onto a public subsidy scheme without comparable public benefits," he said. "Just stuffing more people into the city without making investments in infrastructure is irresponsible."

Seattle Times:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008003405_growth18m.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
H&M opens first Washington Store today.

Seattle Times Article
At H&M's new store in Westfield Southcenter, an argyle cardigan sweater can be had for $24.90, a lacy push-up bra for under $20, and a brightly colored tank top for only $5.90.

Just don't think of it as cheap chic.

Jennifer Uglialoro, a New York-based spokeswoman for H&M, said the most common misperception about the Swedish retailer is that its clothes fall apart after a few wash cycles.

"These are quality clothes that hold up," she said, pointing to the stylish black blouse with brass buttons she's wearing.

Uglialoro paid $24.90 for it at another H&M store two years ago, and the "buttons are still here," she noted. "It's still perfect since the day I bought it." (Uglialoro also is wearing dark slim-fit jeans, but she didn't get them at H&M — and, she added, "they're falling apart at the bottom!")

Uglialoro gave local media a tour of the new store Thursday before it opens to the public today at 10 a.m. It's part of a $240 million Southcenter expansion that also opens today, delivering an additional 400,000 square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment space.

H&M expects between 400 and 600 people to start lining up outside the mall early this morning to be among the first inside the new store. That prediction is based on recent turnouts at H&M openings elsewhere in the U.S., Uglialoro says, but she predicts an especially strong showing given that this is H&M's first store in the Seattle area.

Read the entire article here:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/retailreport/2008071888_retailreport25.html

Good news for Shoppers. Now Southcenter Mall is the largest in the Northwest.
 

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Crying Cow bank's decline has been quite obvious to folks having to deal with them. I had an account with them for around 25 years. I finally switched to a better, friendlier local bank, Heritage (which is slowly making it's way north to Seattle). They also were terrible in their loans division. As a realtor, I go out of my way to not work with Crying Cow, they screwed up just about everytime I have worked with them. Then there is the name change, terrible commericials, etc. What the heck is with that? From rodeo grandmas to ripping off Homer Simpson, Crying Cow's ad dept. has been pathetic.

I don't miss them at all. Plus they never opened a West Olympia branch, the retail epicenter of the South Sound. Idiots.
 

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I guess this means they've discovered natural gas in eastern Washington.

Though it's unfortunate the way they ended up finding it. :(

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008072766_apwadrillfire1stldwritethru.html
Friday, July 25, 2008
Four injured in Wash. drill rig fire
Four men were hospitalized early Friday with injuries from a flash fire at an exploratory natural gas well in central Washington.


BICKLETON, Wash. — Four men were hospitalized early Friday with injuries from a flash fire at an exploratory natural gas well in central Washington.

The fire occurred shortly after 2:30 a.m. at the Delta Petroleum Corp. well near Bickleton, about 40 miles southeast of Yakima. The fire was "presumably" caused by natural gas and burned itself out fairly quickly, company spokesman Carl Lakey said.

Two workers were transferred from Sunnyside Community Hospital to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center in critical condition, Sunnyside spokesman Tom Lathen said.

A third worker was transferred to Harborview from Kadlec Medical Center in stable condition with burns to the face and hands. The fourth injured worker was in surgery for a leg fracture, said Kelly Harper, Kadlec spokeswoman.

Their names were not released.

All four men work for companies contracted by Delta Petroleum to aid in drilling the oil and gas company's first exploratory well in the Columbia River basin. Delta has drilling interests on 508,000 acres in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon.

Three of the workers are employed by DHS Drilling Co. of Casper, Wyo. The fourth works for Air Drilling Associates Inc. of Aztec, N.M.
 
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