Are Houseboats Drifting Away?

2143 North Northlake Way #18

2143 North Northlake Way

Are Seattle Houseboats Drifting Away?

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Seattle houseboats in the news lately.  And if you receive your news from just one source, it might sound like Seattle houseboats are drifting away.

So what’s really going on? What is the dispute over?  One could argue it’s really about should private people be taking over public space.

In broad terms, the dispute is about freeing up the shorelines on parts of Lake Union.  According to the state law, water dependent (vs water oriented) businesses and industries, shoreline restoration and public access are all given priority.  With this in mind, some city council members say shorelines should be preserved for recreational and water-dependent uses (aka not houseboats).  Yet other city committee representatives say they want to protect the Seattle lifestyle of houseboats.  Yep, definitely confusing.  But one thing is crystal clear:  current houseboat owners and liveaboards say they’re tired of battling for their chosen lifestyle, investment, and freedom to live and just want to be left alone after years of this with the city.

Big agencies like The Planning Land Use and Sustainability Committee, State Department of Ecology, Coast Guard, and Lake Union Liveaboard Association are all trying to come to an agreement about what defines a houseboat.  The due date of January 14th is fast approaching to make this distinction and it’s complex to say the least.  By current standards, a houseboat is treated as a water oriented vessel.  Most should have propulsion, safety equipment, steering and navigational lights, and all already have a black water holding tank, also title and registration. One must beg the question: How is this standard different than say a sailboat, yacht or ferry which are all legal and not up for debate.

Some LULU members (Lake Union Liveaboard Association) remind city officials that houseboats have been around Seattle waters even before it was a city.  Naturally, anger and resentment have come to an all time high for the liveaboards, houseboat builders, marina owners, local vendors and businesses.

I want to be clear there is a difference between houseboats and floating homes in Seattle.  The 500 floating homes in Lake Union and Portage Bay are completely void of these litigation’s.  Floating homes, unlike houseboats, are floating structures usually consisting of logs or concrete which are connected to city water/sewer and are considered “real property” and remain in place by a very heavy moorage arm and do not move from their location.

I understand with the growing population and the fascination of such an intriguing lifestyle, the state/city would want certain regulations intact.  There are essentially two arguments going on simultaneously:  preserving the shoreline for recreational and “water-dependent” use and the defining a houseboat.  The houseboat community is no stranger to reinforcing their lifestyle to the city.  These are folks who care deeply about their lake and go to great lengths to pacify others in order to remain there.  This will not change and it will not change without a fight.

If you’d like more information about houseboats or floating homes please feel free to contact me via email at molly@cooperjacobs.com

 

 

 

Lake Union Moorage Slips In Demand

Lake Union Moorage Slips In Demand

Spring in Seattle has sprung and the Cooper Jacobs office is ringing with inqueries for space on Lake Union. Recent sales of moorage slips are in the range of $75,000 to $125,000 for slips around the lake excluding Wards Cove.  Due to the lack of inventory prices have remained strong and even appear to be increasing from the data we look at.

Wards Cove Listings  are the newest slips available on Lake Union and could be some of the last to ever be developed. There are only a few out of the original twelve available.  A slip at Wards Cove sold on December 28, 2011 which was listed for $885,000 and SOLD for $850,000.  Another was listed for $850,000 and SOLD for $682,000 in July 2011. One listed for sale at $735,000 SOLD for $685,000 on October 25, 2011. Houseboats on Lake Union and Portage Bay are two of Seattle’s strongest real estate markets. More houseboats are being designed and built for Wards Cove and the remaining slips are going quickly so don’t miss the boat! I personally see more and more Seattle houseboats around Lake Union being completely renovated. This is not only good for the local economy like the contractors, suppliers and banks lending the money but also a significant indication that these property values are holding strong.

Cooper Jacobs has a Westlake floating home coming on the market soon and if you want a sneak peak email Courtney at courtney@cooperjacobs.com or conatct her at 206/850-8841 to schedule a tour. It’s a great time to be in the know so if you want an evaluation of your property call Courtney Cooper. Recently, across ‘the pond’ from Wards Cove there was a slip at Gas Works Park Marina that was listed for sale by another real estate agency at $75,000 and sold for $70,000 in 16 days which in our opinion was underpriced. Don’t miss out!

Check out listings for Seattle houseboats at  Seattle Houseboats For Sale.

Westlake Cove On Lake Union

Seattle Houseboats Open Houses: I’m here at my Seattle houseboat open house on the glorious Westlake Cove. I open up both Float C and Float D and welcome people who stop by.

Seattle houseboats dock
Westlake Cove Seattle Houseboats Dock on Lake Union

Seattle Houseboat Living: Many people ask me what living on a floating home is like. I tell them, with skepticism in their eyes, that it’s one of the coolest Seattle communities you can possibly find. No, I don’t live on one myself but I do appreciate them. If I had to clock in, I’d say I’m close to full time on a floating home between showings, open houses, and writing about them.

To me, Seattle floating homes signify tidiness. Square footage and space are a privilege (which I also like). So to live on a floating home you either:

  1. Like water, views, boating, kayaking (the obvious)
  2. Like to live simply
  3. Like the solitude when you want it or the friendly neighbors when you need it. Happy hour on Float F anyone?
  4. Like to bike. Many bike commuters since Lake Union is in the heart of north-south, east-west.
  5. Like creative gardening
  6. Like to boat to your dinner reservations
  7. And finally like individuality

Insuring Seattle floating homes aren’t tough. There are three reputable companies in Seattle who welcomes floating home insurers.

There are things to know about financing Seattle floating homes. Again, using a local resource (we have our favorites for Seattle houseboats) is essential so feel free to contact us to share some of the resources with you.  homes@SeattleAfloat.com
We look forward to talking to you!   – Molly 206-841-6800

Gas Works Park Marina On Lake Union

Gas Works Park Marina On Lake Union

Gorgeous Day in Seattle for water lovers on Lake Union.  Gas Works Marina is sweet spot on North Lake Union for Seattle houseboats.  Courtney and I looked at an adorable housebarge today on this sunny Seattle day.  With less than 35 housebarges available on Lake Union, this is a score!  Here is a great shot of Gas Works Park Marina lines with adorable houseboats. 

Gas Works Park Marina

We are available to talk now.