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

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: 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