seattle floating homes

Step in to Style on the Lake in this Floating Home!

seattle floating homesBrand New Construction Seattle Floating Home On Lake Union!

Tucked away in the exclusive enclave of  Seattle floating homes in Portage Bay, is this beautiful gem which is brand new and gleaming from sky to lake.

Be the first to own a new construction floating home on a great condo owned dock. This beautiful custom designed home by Prentiss+Balance+Wickline marvels in walnut hardwood floors throughout the 1580 square feet of luxury. Four decks to entertain or soak up the sun. The reverse floor plan maximizes views and light in a 360 fashion. A chef’s kitchen makes it fun to entertain and cook. Timeless Ceasarstone counter tops & custom cabinetry. Spectacular roof top deck for more outdoor space.

  • 3 Bedrooms
  • 2.5 Baths
  • 1580 Square Feet
  • Built in 2017

If you have luxury living in mind then step one foot in this floating abode and be transported to comfort and tranquility! Be the first chapter of this gorgeous home’s life and enjoy the amazing community you find yourself lucky enough to be in now! Life really is better on the lake afloat! $1,898,000

Want to see it? Call/Text Molly Cartwright or Courtney Cooper 206-841-6800 or email us at houseboats@cooperjacobs.com

colorful Seattle houseboats

A Little “Dirt” On Seattle Houseboats History You May Not Know

Seattle houseboats

Colorful Seattle Houseboats History on The Log Foundation docks of Eastlake in 2014. Image courtesy of Cooper Jacobs Real Estate.

Seattle Houseboats History Has A “Colorful” Background & Entrepreneurial Spirit Transcends Time…

To look at all the colorful and cheery Lake Union floating homes today is to never know how truly Seattle houseboats history is. Seattle floating homes are a living and evolving part of Seattle’s history.  From their humble beginnings over a hundred years ago as floating shanties compiled of pillaged lumber, it is amazing to see that some sell for over $3 Million dollars in today’s real estate market.

Seattle houseboats were originally built in two different ways.  Either the worker would utilize his commuting work boat and build living quarters above it, or they would gather “loose” logs and raft them together to build a completely free floating structure.  It was an inexpensive way of living and was tax free on top of it.

Madison Park Seattle houseboats

Map of Seattle houseboats along shores of Madison Park. Image Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives Item #944

At the peak, the Seattle floating homes community was as large as two thousand houseboats lining the shores of the city in various locations which even included Madison Park in Lake Washington.  The residents of the surrounding Seattle neighborhoods reportedly snubbed them and looked down at this way of life.  They apparently felt that it was beneath their standards and so began the struggle of Seattle houseboats to Stay Afloat In Seattle™.  Today there are around 500 Seattle floating homes and probably another two or three hundred liveaboards that are officially newly categorized as Seattle Floating On-Water Residences (final count once all have registered themselves in the latest legislation). The latest Seattle floating home dock was a new construction floating home development called Ward’s Cove.  Very specific requirements need to be in place in order to develop new construction Seattle floating homes, so it is next to impossible to do so.

If The City Historically Wanted Them Gone, Why Did They Allow Docks To Begin With?

Denny Hill View

Here is a view towards Downtown from the South slope of Denny Hill in 1886 (photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives Item # 2869)

The short answer is The University of Washington. Wait.  What? The long answer is that Seattle has a very long history of making some incredibly hairbrained decisions as far as infrastructure goes. A perfect example (and my apologies for going off subject here for a minute, but….) The Denny Regrade: The hill is too big?  Scrape it into the Puget Sound. In 1900, the city decided to basically eliminate a whole hill which covered 62 city blocks.  Denny Hill was a significantly beautiful hill in Seattle.  It had a gorgeous crowned jewel of a hotel atop it that was so grand that even President Theodore Roosevelt stayed there! It had an old cemetery and a beautiful park on it with expansivel views in all directions.  In all, they removed a reported six million cubic yards of earth.

Connecting the dots:  What does this all have to do with Seattle houseboats and The University of Washington? Let’s go backwards.  The modern day campus of The University of Washington was largely laid out and shaped by The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909.   In 1907 the city of Seattle platted and sold the submerged “parcels” in Lake Union to the adjacent waterfront property land owners.  This enabled docks to be built and Seattle houseboats to be moored to them.  According to The Lake Union Mail on an article about Submerged Parcels Park on the Cheshiahud Loop, “The “Lake Union Shore Lands” were created in 1907 as a funding mechanism for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (S.B. #101). Water extending from shore approximately one block (roughly 400 feet) was platted as buildable land, then sold. These parcels didn’t sink, they started sunk. And they were considered valuable.” Now you know how a World’s Fair, Denny Hill, The University of Washington, and Seattle Houseboats are related.

Seattle houseboats booze hatch

While replacing the carpet for one of our Seattle historic houseboat listings in 2010, we found an old booze hatch left over from Prohibition days. Image Courtesy of Courtney Cooper.

More Shady Past on The Lake: Life Afloat In Seattle℠: You Want To Stay Dry, Except When It Comes To Your Drink…..

Creativity has always been a strong characteristic of the Seattle floating homes community.  This was never so true as during the prohibition era. According to the 1996 article by Sharon Boswell in The Seattle Times, “But for those who couldn’t afford the pleasures of Doc’s or one of the hundreds of other boozy night spots and music clubs along Jackson Street, in Belltown or even on Lake Union houseboats, there was always a bottle of locally produced bootleg available to consume in the privacy of home.”  If floating homes seem like an unlikely place to get your alcohol fix then consider that In his highly acclaimed book, “Seattle’s Unsinkable Houseboats”, Howard Droker tells the story of a very enterprising entrepreneur who along with the cedar bark he sold off his boat, also sold smuggled Canadian liquor.

It’s absolutely true.  If you take a peek under carpets of older floating homes you will see the leftover evidence of the Prohibition era and how crafty houseboaters were able to not stay dry.  Many of them have hidden trap doors under the floor that were used for storing alcohol.  At one point in time there were regular “rum run” routes such as the one Droker writes about which would make their rounds delivering to Lake Union floating homes. These booze hatches were ingenious and stored between the floating logs with a wire cage so that the waters of the lake itself could keep the liquor cold and well hidden.  According to HistoryLink.org, The Seattle Times noted at one point that in regard to those wild times, “Some of the stories behind the houseboat population are as colorful as anything that ever came out of Seattle’s history, but respect for another’s privacy and past is an unspoken code on the lake.”

Seattle houseboats for sale in Eastlake

This historic Seattle houseboat was once used as a floating dance hall. It is for sale today for $697,000. Listed by Cooper Jacobs Real Estate. Molly Cartwright 206-841-6800

Seattle Houseboats Are Still Afloat & Strong Today

Go experience their magic – Take a kayak tour through Lake Union and Portage Bay where you will find what is left of the Seattle floating homes community.  Take a walk around Lake Union on the Cheshiahud Loop. Lake Union is the very heart of the city. Try and imagine the colorful past as you look at the beauty and creativeness which is so abundant today.  This is a living and breathing Seattle neighborhood, but also a significant part of Northwest history.  It is as vibrant as the wonderful people who live in it.  I am so thankful to have known so many of them and appreciate how they have enriched my life so far.  Please also take a minute and donate to the Seattle Floating Homes Association if you can.

Want more information on Seattle houseboats?

seattle houseboats expertsWe are happy to help!  Please call Courtney or Molly.  We are Seattle Houseboats Experts ℠, and have been Seattle Realtors specializing in floating homes and waterfront for many years. We look forward to helping you find your piece of Lake Union.

Molly Cartwright 206-841-6800   Courtney Cooper 206-850-8841
We can immediately answer your questions or email us at houseboats@CooperJacobs.com
Seattle Afloat ® We want to help you live your life Afloat In Seattle Cooper Jacobs Real Estate

Seattle Houseboats In The MLS Again Soon

Houseboats For Sale In Seattle Soon To Be listed In The NWMLS Again

If you have been looking at Seattle houseboats for sale, then you know that some are in the MLS and some are not. As of July 24th, the NWMLS will be having more than before listed under style 24.  Here is the latest according to the email I just received from the MLS:

As you probably know, effective July 24th, RCW 18.85 will be revised to allow real estate brokers to list and sell a “floating on-water residence, as defined in RCW 90.58.270.”  In addition, RCW 88.02 will be revised to allow real estate brokers to list and sell floating on-water residences without being licensed as a vessel dealer.

 RCW 90.58.270(6)(d) defines a floating on-water residence as “any floating structure other than a floating home, as defined under subsection (5) of this section, that: (i) Is designed or used primarily as a residence on the water and has detachable utilities; and (ii) whose owner or primary occupant has held an ownership interest in space in a marina, or has held a lease or sublease to use space in a marina, since a date prior to July 1, 2014.”

 On July 24th, NWMLS will revise Style Code 24 from “Floating Home” to “Floating Home/On-Water RES.” The revision will automatically update the style code on floating home listings and doesn’t require any action from the listing broker.

 Like with other listings, NWMLS will rely upon the listing firm to determine if a certain property is eligible to be listed.  We will address questions/complaints with listings on a case-by-case basis.

 The City of Seattle has a verification process for floating on-water residences.  You can note in the listing that property has been verified by the City as a floating on-water residence or upload the verification as an attached document to the listing.  You may want to do this so that other brokers know that the property has been verified by the City, however, the verification is not required by NWMLS.

If you are interested in learning more, then please do visit our Seattle Floating On-Water Residences page for additional information.  Call/Text Molly or myself if you have questions or are interested in looking at Seattle houseboats for sale currently – on or off the MLS.  206-841-6800 or email houseboats@CooperJacobs.com

Seattle houseboats

Seattle Houseboats: Annie “O” Is In The House

Seattle Houseboats for sale: this ONESeattle Houseboats: Enduring Over 100 Years And Still Floating.  This particular one hasn’t been around quite that long, but long enough for it to be a site!

 Yes.  It floats.

Seattle houseboats have been afloat for over one hundred years now.  It all started when a few resourceful and down on their luck people decided to basically start tying loose logs up and forming rafts. A little time before 1909 Seattle came up with an ingenious way to raise money for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. This world’s fair eventually shaped the campus of The University Of Washington! And it was financed largely by the beginnings of Seattle houseboats:

Over one hundred years ago the city of Seattle platted and sold the submerged “parcels” in Lake Union to the adjacent waterfront property land owners.  This enabled docks to be built and Seattle houseboats to be moored to them.  It was quite a popular and thrifty idea!  The city now regulates them heavily and as a result of this regulation, Seattle houseboats have dwindled down considerably  from well over two thousand Seattle houseboats at one time to just around five hundred or so of the floating home variety. They are scattered throughout Lake Union and in Portage Bay.

Speaking of dwindling.seattle houseboats

The Seattle houseboats market has had a dwindling inventory and we are down to just a couple options right now in the floating homes world. This particular home is my favorite.  “Annie O” is her nick name.  She is houseboat “O” because the slips on the dock are lettered according to the alphabet, but I like her nick name personally.  She is a jewel and is priced perfectly at $599,000.  Two bedrooms are not always easy to come by in the land of Seattle houseboats, but this is a beautiful two bedroom and it has been lovingly restored by the famous Sid McFarland and also upgraded and improved by its current owner who has a real artist’s eye.  If this doesn’t make you want to go buy a boat or a kayak to tie up to it, then that is okay because there is lots to do in this community.  Annie O happens to be on one of the very best docks in one of the very best co-ops on Lake Union.  You will own the slip you and your home are in so there is security of knowing that this log pack is not going anywhere.  Let us know if you would like more information on this perfect little Lake Union gem!  Molly: 206.841.6800 or Courtney 206.850.8841  Please call or text for more info. 

NWMLS Changes How Some Houseboats Are Treated So We Won’t Have Any More Boats

In recent years all houseboats have been listed in the NWMLS whether they were floating homes, vessels, or barges.  This opened the door for a broader definition of houseboat and in some cases we saw vessels in the MLS that were practically ski boats being listed by real estate agents.  I am exaggerating of course,  but you get my point.

The MLS has recently ruled that they will not allow any houseboats that are or have ever been registered as vessels in the MLS.  This caused many listings in the last week or so to be deleted without warning even though I personally think they should have been grandfathered in and allowed until expiration.  Never the less, they were deleted.  Seattle houseboat

Molly and I deal mostly in floating homes, but we are SeattleAfloat.com so we have sold all types of houseboats.  In addition to the Seattle floating homes we have listed right now, we also have a house barge.  Until today we also had a vessel houseboat listed in the MLS.  Our client is actually lucky because they happen to have a houseboat AND an owned moorage slip in Gas Works Park Marina.  As Realtors in the MLS we are allowed to list moorage slips so the slip is listed now and the “houseboat is included for the buyer’s convenience”.

Seattle floating homes owners:  What does this mean to you?

  • If you are a Seattle floating home, you are allowed to be in the MLS – whether your moorage is owned or leased.
  • If you are a legal housebarge owner and your houseboat is in your owned slip, then you are good to go and can be listed no problem as of this date.  No guarantees from the MLS on when this will change, but for now you are allowed to be in the MLS as a houseboat.
  • If you are not one of the grandfathered in legal house barges of Seattle, you are not even allowed to be on the lake as a live aboard as far as I know and definitely not allowed in the MLS.
  • If you are a Vessel type houseboat and in a leased or otherwise unowned slip, you are left to your own devices to sell outside of the MLS.  I personally suggest Craigslist.  This includes most marinas around Lake Union and most importantly Seattle Marina which has the largest concentration of vessel type houseboats.  Nothing in Seattle Marina can be listed in the MLS as of last week.
  • If you are a Vessel type houseboat and you are in your owned moorage slip, you are allowed to be in the MLS, but under moorage, not as a houseboat. We can still market your houseboat along with your slip because it is included in the slip purchase.

If you are confused, you are not alone.  However, this is what we are here for.  Let me know if you have questions or need details on how to sell your Seattle houseboat.  courtney@cooperjacobs.com

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

 

 

 

Seattle Floating Homes: Why You Need The Security Of OWNED Moorage Vs. A Rented Slip

Why You Need The Security Of OWNED Moorage Vs. A Rented Slip

Don’t buy a floating home in a rented slip when there are Seattle floating homes for sale with the security of an owned slip!!!  Why on Earth would you want your investment to not be secure?  The city of Seattle has been dwindling down the Seattle floating community for a hundred years with regular new ordinances and it is more important now than ever to make sure that you are purchasing a floating home that is either on a fee simple dock, a condominium dock, or a co-op dock.  Leased slips are not secure and when you go to sell it, you will have trouble finding buyers who can obtain financing.  The few lenders who lend on Seattle floating homes don’t like to do it on leased docks unless there is a long term lease in place.  
 
Can the seller obtain owned moorage from their landlord?  Ask them!  
 

Here is an example of a Seattle floating home for sale that is in its secure OWNED slip: (UPDATE: THIS SEATTLE HOUSEBOAT IS NOT FOR SALE ANYMORE)

Enjoy life afloat in Seattle in one of the most private spots along Westlake: Large kitchen & wonderful sleeping loft, plus a great office. Newer roof and deck – Great access to Downtown, Queen Anne & Fremont, walking/cycling trails (including the Cheshiahud Loop) w/ all the perks of living on Lake Union!  If you are looking for Amazon Housing or other Housing near South Lake Union, then this is a GREAT Choice!

2764 Westlake Ave N Houseboat # D

seattle floating homesOffered at just $255,000

  •   (Co-op owned moorage is a very secure way to own the land that your  is in) Owned Lake Union Moorage Seattle floating home
  • LOW Taxes and dues (you will be shocked at the affordability compared to the warnings some might give you as to the affordability of a Seattle floating home)
  • LOW Mortgage Interest rates available (ask me for referrals for your Seattle Houseboat financing needs because it is different than a traditional mortgage in requirements and terms)
  • Sleeping loft with room to go up below city height restrictions.
  • extra room for office or second sleeping room
  • large bathroom can accomodate a full laundry suite
  • ridiculously large entertaining kitchen
  • Very friendly dock from my experiences there
  • Westlake Cove is quite protected from rougher waters in parts of Lake Union

This is a great Seattle floating home for sale – you can compare it to other Seattle houseboats for sale right now and see that this one is a GREAT BUY!  It is the most affordable Seattle floating home on the market with owned moorage.

This Just In!!! Seattle Houseboat Lending Opens Up Again!

Just came across my desk this afternoon!  Seattle Houseboat lending is wide open again!

From Denise Carlson at Seattle Metropolitan:

We have great news to share……    We are back online with our houseboat lending program.  Below is the update we have made to our program guidelines.  

seattle houseboatsAug. 2011 update:  City of Seattle’s Shoreline Management plan is being revised and will most likely impact the houseboat community in some way.  Information is currently being gathered by the City.  The final plan will be drafted and submitted to the City Council for approval.  Once approved, it will then be sent to the Department of Ecology for their approval.  The estimated timeline looks to extend to year end 2011.  Details of the plan are uncertain at this time and pertain to various aspects of above water living, including the treatment of gray water and the % of ‘live aboards’ allowed around the lake.  There is uncertainty as to the impact on houseboat values any future changes in the SMP may create.  Given this uncertainty, SMCU has modified the requirements to the existing houseboat loan program to allow lending in this program as well as compensate for any potential negative impact as follows:

 

  • Minimum FICO score of 680 – no change
  • 45% maximum DTI – new
  • Minimum of 2 months documented reserves required on all transactions.
  • No other program details have been changed

 


You can reach Denise at 206-398-5581 if you have questions about houseboat lending.  Denise also does Seattle floating homes lending.  As always if you are interested in Seattle houseboats, please let us know – we would love to show you some of our favorites – both on the market and off.

 

From The Seattle Floating Homes Association:

The Seattle Floating Homes Association is in place to support this historic and unique neighborhood which happens to be an anchor of Seattle culture in my own opinion.  Here is the latest from their Floating Newsletter –

Important issues which are getting some good support, but we would love your support, too.  Amalia has been doing a phenomenal job on this task and she deserves some applause for it.  Please support the Floating Homes Association’s cause by donating to them.  Molly and I donate to the FHA every time we sell a houseboat and we encourage you to become of member and help out where you can.

Basically, the new legislation will define houseboats as a water-dependent use which would ensure the protection and sustainability of the community going forward.  Here is what the Floating Homes Association has to say about it:

Floating Homes News 2/2/2011


New Legislative Bill to Secure the Future of Our Houseboat Community

The Shoreline Management Program Committee is pleased to announce the introduction of a legislative bill that would secure the future of our historic houseboat community by giving our homes preferred, water-dependent status on the lake.

We are grateful for the support of Representatives Pedersen, Carlyle and Upthegrove, Senators Murray and Kohl-Welles and members of the House Local Government Committee. Please find a press release and related links below. We encourage you to direct any questions or comments to the Committee Chair, Amalia Walton.

Amalia can be reached at unsinkablehouseboats@gmail.com.

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SEATTLE REPS. JAMIE PEDERSEN AND REUVEN CARLYLE:

“The diversity of housing options in Seattle is a reflection of its people. Our houseboat communities are a key piece of our rich history and unique identity. The same is true in many communities across our state.

“As required by the state’s Shoreline Management Act, Seattle is currently updating its shoreline regulations. These regulations deal in part with houseboat effects on the environment. The proposed changes will significantly compromise the ability of some of these families to remain in their homes, since they will likely face new, unexpected costs to comply with stricter regulations. Regulating people out of their homes is not acceptable. We have introduced House Bill 1783 to recognize houseboats as a protected, legitimate use of shorelines.

“Seattle, other cities, and the state will continue to balance environmental and housing policy for generations to come. This proposal will help to preserve an important piece of our history while also protecting our shorelines.”

Online:

Peterson, Carlyle announcement: www-stage.housedemocrats.wa.gov/jamie-pedersen/seattle-reps-pedersen-and-carlyle-introduce-houseboat-legislation/
Bill information: apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1783&year=2011

Contact us at 206.325.1132 or by replying to this email.

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