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.

We are available to talk now.