DowntownSeattle.com has recognized the Seattle waterfront as one of the area’s most notable locations. With dozens of neighborhoods there, many of which are home to waterfront houses near expansive Puget Sound or beautiful lakes such as Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish, which of these neighborhood communities is the best? There are many factors that can impact a buyer’s decision as to the best location to live, but these three neighborhoods are extremely popular choices for anyone who enjoys waterfront living. There are plenty of other great neighborhoods in and around Seattle to live in, but these stand out even among those, and here’s why.

South Lake Union

Among the neighborhoods in the Seattle metropolitan area, South Lake Union can boast many appealing qualities. South Lake Union has high walkability, or the ability to walk to local businesses, work, school, and recreation with ease. This accessibility heavily heightens the quality of life of South Lake Union’s residents, who can enjoy the waterfront lifestyle in Seattle with few obstacles. They can walk to a beach or a seafood shop, to their job, or to their neighbor’s party quickly and conveniently. South Lake Union has high quality waterfront property at a reasonable urban price, which easily places it as one of the top waterfront neighborhoods in Seattle.


Magnolia is another attractive choice for a prospective Seattleite. Magnolia is the second largest neighborhood in Seattle, and is in a prime location. From the Magnolia waterfront, there is a breathtaking view of Mount Rainier, the Puget Sound, and of course, the Seattle skyline. To have a waterfront home in Magnolia means to have a lifestyle of immersion in a community designed to be self sufficient and walkable. It is simple to find a great place to eat or a place to play among the prosperous Magnolia businesses. All in all, Magnolia has earned its place on the top Seattle waterfront neighborhood list because of its lifestyle: Magnolia residents live in luxury, with some wonderful things to see and places to walk to, all in one wonderful neighborhood.

Madison Park

Last but not least, Madison Park is also a great neighborhood to call home in Seattle. The waterfront homes in Madison Park are on the edge of Lake Washington with a beautiful view. Perhaps more importantly, the lake is so close that all water activities a resident could ever want, such as boating or swimming, are within a very reasonable walking distance. This is of the utmost importance to some, and it makes Madison Park the epitome of what it means to be a top Seattle waterfront neighborhood. Madison Park is upscale and has numerous restaurants, shops, and banks, as well as zoning for excellent Seattle schools nearby. A neighborhood like Madison Park is sure to please.

Though these three waterfront neighborhoods are on the list, there are easily another dozen that could be perfect for a buyer looking for waterfront real estate. All of them are great communities that cater well to the discerning homebuyer. WaterHavens has more information about a number of Seattle’s top neighborhoods for those looking to buy or sell.




As football fans everywhere look forward to a Seattle Seahawks/Denver Broncos Super Bowl, real estate experts are again pitting the two cities against each other in terms of their burgeoning real estate markets. Yes, it’s time for a hard-fought Real Estate Super Bowl.

Last year, Seattle dominated categories like median household income and education level. 58% of Seattleites over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, versus 45% of Denver residents. The teams were almost neck-and-neck in population (612,916 for Seattle; 604,356 for Denver) and average square footage (1622 for Seattle, 1671 for Denver). Forty-nine extra square feet doesn’t equate to a lot of yardage for Denver, but the Mile-High City did surge ahead in categories like average lot size (6250 vs. Seattle’s 5500) and number of homes for sale near the city’s football stadium (299 vs. Seattle’s 194). It was indeed a close contest overall.

This year will be another close call. According to projections, Denver’s “players” move the fastest—the median number of days a home spends on the market is just 18 days in Denver, vs. 32 in Seattle. Seattle, however, has the most valuable players, if you measure value in terms of a home’s selling price: Seattle’s average home price is $285,849, compared to $259,000 for Denver. Seattle also has significantly more veteran players—it has a higher ratio of existing homes on the market compared to new construction. This kind of matchup should make for a riveting Real Estate Super Bowl. Who will come out ahead?

To make an accurate prediction, it’s necessary to look beyond figures and investigate more subjective categories. Seattle leads in two such areas: coaching staff and home-field advantage. Seattle’s superior coaching staff consists of real estate agents who are deeply knowledgeable and totally committed to finding buyers the home of their dreams.

Seattle’s home-field advantage is equally impressive. While the football Super Bowl is taking place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the Real Estate Super Bowl takes place on the home field of each competing city, and the Seattle waterfront home field is considerably more appealing than Denver’s. Ocean views and a wide variety of bay and lakeside homes put the Emerald City decisively ahead. Only in Seattle can home buyers find stunning properties overlooking Puget Sound, and amazing waterfront houses bordering Lake Washington and the other breathtaking bodies of water that dot the Seattle metro area. This is going to be the game clincher for Seattle.




It’s clear that Seattle has a lot of wonderful features that are unique to it. The greater metropolitan area can claim the Space Needle, an assortment of parks and gardens, incredible restaurants and shops, and of course, many views of gorgeous lakes and ocean. From Lake Washington to Puget Sound, there’s nothing like being situated on the waterfront, especially if you’re a home owner. Now you can add one more unique feature to being in Seattle’s waterfront community, and that is the tram. There’s something particularly special about trams.

Origin of the Trams

Before you admire the trams themselves, it helps to take a step back and consider how they’re possible today. Take a look back at the history of the area and you’ll uncover the role glaciers played in Seattle’s modern waterfront and topography. Those glaciers painstakingly carved the steep slopes that Seattle’s waterfront is known for today. The hilly terrain is a picturesque feature of some waterfront property, allowing home owners to see far out into the water from a high vantage point. For some waterfront property residents, the tram was a natural next step for both convenience and enjoyment. It allowed them to position their home lower on a hillside or bluff while still having relatively easy access from their car above.

Using Trams in the Waterfront Community

Imagine your home is situated on a bluff and there’s a beach below. As the owner of a tram access property, you can travel by tram from your home to the beach on a direct path, rather than resorting to a steep switchback trail. Or you can do the reverse: have your home at the low bank water’s edge, below where cars can readily access the area above. Using the tram might be an extra leg in your journey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t thoroughly enjoy the experience. Many waterfront home owners opted for a property on the lake or Sound because they sought the privacy and solitude. With a tram, you are literally above or below it all, and it can be an incredibly peaceful and relaxing experience. Best of all, trams have started incorporating a number of highly effective and approved safety devices, so all you have to worry about is where you’re headed next.

Grand Ralph Anderson Designed Haven

If you like the idea of a tram access property, a grand Ralph Anderson designed WaterHaven currently available might be a good choice for you. This is a house that captures the spirit of the Great Northwest and provides the owner with 76 beautiful feet of sandy low bank waterfront. It looks out across Puget Sound and frequently bears witness to an astonishing array of colors at sunrise and sunset. If you’re looking to enjoy waterfront property and tram access, this is a home that showcases what’s great about being on the water in Seattle. Couple that with the quiet community, and you can start to see the appeal Seattle’s waterfront houses.

Puget Sound view from private and peaceful tram access home

Puget Sound view from private and peaceful tram access home




There’s a lot about the city of Seattle that’s special, but one of its most exciting and enduring features is the presence of so many pristine lakes and other bodies of water. From Lake Washington to Puget Sound, the greater Seattle Metropolitan Area offers a lot to appreciate when it comes to owning a waterfront home. Waterfront property owners get the benefits of a gorgeous view, a convenient new mode of transportation, and close access to downtown Seattle and a thriving business district. One good example of life in a waterfront community is an upcoming family event in the spirit of Halloween.

Trick or Treat

Kids have it good in Seattle. Not only do the little ones get the opportunity to trick or treat days ahead of Halloween, but they also have a wide variety of places to visit. On Sunday, October 27, from 11 AM to 5 PM, trick-or-treaters can visit the Seattle waterfront and get candy from the businesses there for free. The businesses that will be participating are located between Ferry Terminal and Bell Harbor Conference Center. On top of the free candy, the trick-or-treaters and their families can enjoy free parking on the street because it’s on a Sunday.

Other Festive Events

As if several hours of free candy from businesses along the waterfront weren’t enough, there are more events happening in the area. You can dedicate your weekend to the Halloween holiday by stopping by the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium is putting on a special event called Aquarium Halloween 2013, and it features fun events like underwater pumpkin carving, face painting, games, and more. Also on October 27, from 11 AM to 1 PM, is a Seattle Fire Department show and tell. It’s clear that there’s no shortage of activity and festivities in downtown Seattle along the waterfront this year.

The Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle waterfront is one of the most memorable and captivating neighborhoods in Seattle. Along with the Seattle Aquarium, it features a variety of restaurants, souvenir shops, and more. You can experience one of the greatest pleasures of having access to the waterfront by simply walking along the pier and admiring the view of Elliott Bay. You can get even more up close to the water view by taking a scenic ferry ride. It calls to mind the kind of view that a waterfront home owner can enjoy every day, as well as the kind of convenience they get to visit Seattle’s bustling downtown business communities.


Along with some truly breathtaking views, residential waterfront property in Seattle offers several perks, including peace, prestige, and easy access to the action through transportation like the King County Water Taxi or ferries. With the ability to tap into a thriving and generous business community, waterfront residents can easily take advantage of some of the greatest benefits that Seattle has to offer. Be sure to take advantage of the one of them yourself when October 27 rolls around. Early trick or treating and Aquarium Halloween 2013 are just some of the many events that remind people why Seattle is a fantastic place to live.





In Washington State, and the Seattle area in particular, real estate has been booming. With a healthy jobs market and plenty of great locations still available, it’s no surprise that buyers are snapping up homes as they become available. One of the most attractive features of the greater Seattle metropolitan area is its waterfront property, which is bordered by Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and the Puget Sound, among other bodies of water. Thanks to an array of features, including a gorgeous view and convenient transportation options, waterfront property continues to be a desirable choice for Washington residents. Where the market really shines, however, is in its luxury waterfront real estate.

A New Olson Kundig Home

As a shining beacon of what you can find on the waterfront, there’s a new waterfront home available from legendary Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects. The home is available for $5.895 million, and it comes with all of the niceties and amenities you would expect with that kind of price tag, such as tall ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, custom millwork, columns, and an open concept floor plan. It even combines indoor and outdoor living by providing a dock with boatlift for your boat, terraces on the waterfront, and a large balcony off of the massive master suite to overlook the water of Lake Washington. This is just one example of the kind of luxury available on the waterfront in Seattle.

The Locale of Luxury Waterfront Real Estate

It’s one thing to buy a nice property on the waterfront, but it’s another thing entirely to buy something based on the location itself. Fortunately, waterfront property like the new Olson Kundig home is located in the prestigious Washington Park neighborhood. This area is known for many of Seattle’s most desirable waterfront locations, as well as elegant streets and famed residences. If you look for a waterfront home in this particular neighborhood, you’ll be in good company, as many of Seattle’s power brokers live in this community’s enormous and stylish waterfront houses. Of course, there are other waterfront communities throughout Seattle that offer plenty of perks, such as close proximity to the heart of Seattle and access to amazing cafes and shops.

Future Prospects for Seattle Real Estate

In general, the outlook for Seattle real estate is good. It has been outperforming the nation, with property prices up by over 15 percent compared to a year ago, according to Zillow. At the same time, bank-owned home sales make up less than 10 percent of total sales, which means the local real estate market is rebounding nicely. With the luxury of some of these waterfront homes, it’s clear that there’s still healthy demand in the area. If you’re interested in an attractive home with a fantastic view, and one that also happens to be a great investment, then it just might be worth your while to look into some quality waterfront real estate in one of the bustling Lake Washington communities in the greater Seattle metropolitan area.




There’s an issue being discussed by the city of Bellevue and Washington State’s Department of Ecology. At stake is Bellevue’s shoreline plan, which is a document that outlines how to protect the city’s bodies of water, including Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and Phantom Lake. While there’s nothing objectionable in the intent of the plan, which is to protect the lakes within Bellevue’s borders, it’s become a problem with waterfront property homeowners who feel that certain provisions would create an unnecessary and unfair restriction on the usage of their own property.

The Waterfront Property Shoreline Plan

What was contained in the shoreline plan that irked many owners of waterfront houses along Lake Sammamish? In an early draft of the plan, the Department of Ecology asked for clear criteria for a property owner to show that an erosion-control structure is necessary in order to protect a home. It also called for limits on a process that could exempt property owners from some regulations. The Shoreline Master Program must be approved by Ecology before it will become law, which is where the conflict is coming in. Homeowners are worried the new plan would overly complicate the process of remodeling their homes or building new features like patios and docks, as it requires new houses to be situated at least 50 feet from the water and creates a 25-feet “vegetation conservation area” where native plants must be retained or replaced as needed.

Further Conflict

While existing homes are usually grandfathered in to their existing footprints, the plan still seems too invasive and controlling for many Lake Sammamish property owners, because of the onerous restrictions on new construction. This backlash led to the proposal being rewritten by Bellevue’s Planning Commission, which shook up and reformed appointments of many waterfront property-rights advocates. The inevitable problem was that the state Department of Ecology not only didn’t agree with the changes, but actually viewed many of them as violations of state regulations and was irritated at not being kept informed of the changes as they occurred. In fact, officials cited 101 elements of the plan that they deemed out of compliance.

Communication and Compromise on the Waterfront

Ultimately, the key to a future where these bodies of water and happy waterfront real estate owners can peacefully coexist is dependent on communication and compromise. While it’s not too pressing of an issue for existing homeowners who don’t feel the need to do any major remodels or near-water construction projects, the fact remains that the proposal would put major burdens on future waterfront property buyers. Since owning property along the lake is a fixture of the Seattle community, it’s really up to the Bellevue Planning Commission and Washington’s Department of Ecology to work out a compromise that won’t alienate existing and future homeowners along the water but will still get the job of protecting the water done right. On the positive side, both the Planning Commission in Bellevue and Ecology are prepared to reinitiate communication with each other on the proposal until the issue is resolved. In the end, both sides hope it will be better for everybody, including waterfront homeowners.




A precedent setting dispute and complicated situation for property rights just came to a close. On one side of the dispute was the owner (a former American League baseball player) of a Clyde Hill home who wanted his view of Lake Washington and Seattle improved by having the trees on his neighbors’ property cut down. On the other side of the dispute were the owners of the adjoining property and trees; they wanted to keep their trees (which had been there long before the other neighbor purchased his home). The unique factor: Clyde Hill has a 1991 view obstruction and tree removal ordinance in place.

The view-desiring neighbors had law on their side. The tree-owning neighbors had property rights and 50 year old pre-existing trees on their side. In the end, law won. However, the view-desiring neighbors had to pay about $63,000 to remove and replace the trees, although a professional appraisal found that the improved view will increase the market value of their $4 million home by $255,000. So, it was a good return on investment for resale, if not for neighbor relations.

In the end, it does demonstrate the value of our area’s gorgeous water views, and what people will do to get it or keep it.




There’s now a “famous person groupies” cruise around Lake Union and Lake Washington, showing the locations of famous people who live on our beautiful lakes. Here is the info quoted from their inaugural invitation:

“”Map of the Stars” Cruise-Tours

The 3 hour “Map of the Stars” cruise includes Lake Union sights (Sleepless in Seattle floating home, Chihuly’s Studio, views of Space Needle and downtown, etc.) and Lake Washington with the premiere mansions (Gates, McCaws, Schultz, et al.) of Madison Park, The Eastside’s Gold Coast (Meydenbauer Bay, Medina and Hunts Point) and the North end of Mercer Island. I will narrate the tour and provide information as we view most of the homes in the book. We include the homes of eighty percent of the state’s billionaires. I will also point out homes listed for sale for more than $5 million.

The yacht has a wonderful upper level sundeck and a stately heated interior party and dining room with large picture windows.

Cruise includes:
Appetizers and dinner buffet
Margaritas, wine, beer and soft drinks
The book, Lake Washington 130 Homes ($17.95 retail).

$50 per person

More information is via Anchor Bay Charters and Hundred Homes.

View some of these cruises on YouTube (2 minutes):




You know there’s something “over the top” when the sale of a waterfront home makes the front page lead story of the Seattle Times… The 23,000 square foot Mercer Island waterfront home of the Lytles (founders of Leisure Care retirement community chain) finally sold after 6 years on the market and eventually being put up for auction (though not a foreclosure auction). The original $40 Million asking price was always overpriced, even in the go-go heyday of a few years ago. It was a classic case of asking too much in the beginning and continually chasing the market down, never getting ahead of the actual market value and market trends to make it truly in sync with real buyers. If it had been priced right initially they would have sold much quicker and they would have received a higher sales price.

The home sold – to the owner of the Video Only electronics stores chain – for the auction’s minimum bid of $12 Million. It is set up with grand spaces, indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, large dock and waterfrontage, great views, and all the details you would expect in a $12M waterfront home. Mr. Edwards will be having some great parties soon!




The salmon runs through the Ballard Locks are up from the past two years, but still below levels needed to permit recreational salmon fishing in Lake Washington. The salmon runs last met the minimum numbers in 2006. Distant Columbia River sockeye salmon are returning in record numbers through the Bonneville Dam, but that success hasn’t translated to our local fish populations yet.
As an interesting historical and habitat note, Lake Washington sockeye salmon were artificially introduced by the state in the 1930s to create a fishery and provide lifecycle nutrients for riverbank plants. Most start in the Cedar River, while others are released from local hatcheries. Hopefully the numbers will continue increasing!

Cedar River Lake Washington sockeye salmon

Lake Washington and Cedar River sockeye salmon in spawning colors

Click here for Des Moines Woodmont Beach Puget Sound waterfront house for sale

Des Moines Puget Sound no bank waterfront home




Have you ever wondered what famous local folks live where – and in what kind of home – on the shores of Lake Washington? Well, local waterfront home owner David Dykstra wrote a book about just that, including lots of photographs: “Lake Washington 130 Homes“.

The King 5 Evening Magazine TV show recently interviewed the author and took a guided tour themselves.





The Enatai neighborhood has long been a really interesting waterfront community option for living on or by Lake Washington. Its location is very convenient for commuting to either the Eastside or to downtown Seattle, and yet it retains the character of an older established neighborhood with big trees, nearby parks, and a sense of community.

Located just north of I-90 and on the west / Lake Washington side of I-405, it is bounded by the lake, Mercer Slough Park, Beaux Arts Village, and Bellevue. There are many home options here both on the lake or with easy nearby lake access, plus a wide range of home prices to choose from.

The Seattle Times published a nice informative article about Enatai neighborhood today. Check it out, and let me know if you have any questions or interest in Enatai.

The Seattle Times logo




The previously reported battle between the city of Bellevue versus a resident of Newport Shores and his community association came to a legal head recently when a federal judge ruled against the resident and Newport Shores / Newport Yacht Club.

At issue was whether or not Bellevue met its obligations in managing stormwater runoff and sediment issues in Coal Creek, and also whether or not the resident created improper salmon habitat enhancement, all of which was part of a prior settlement. Bellevue was found to have met its obligations and the resident was found to have not created an actual salmon habitat enhancement on their property as specified, but instead to have effectively created a small salmon hatchery for introducing new fish into the creek.

And the battle continues on: The resident has been prevented from moving into his home for a long time now; he still needs to figure out how he can legally occupy his newly built – but never lived in – home. The city plans to file for reimbursement of their attorney fees. No winners in that protracted battle!




Want to see two immovable forces battle over riparian zone and salmon related permit issues? The Seattle Times reported about the legal battle between a Bellevue/Newport Shores attorney and the city of Bellevue over the construction of his home beside Coal Creek.

There are some interesting twists to this story, a bit different than the usual disputes over buffer zones, pervious surfaces, geotech, and such. The two opposing sides had a prior dispute 5 years ago, and are at it again. The home owner has built a nice new home beside Coal Creek and actually installed what amounts to a small salmon hatchery plus water-filtration plant with sump pumps to feed an artificial stream and holding pond! He even has a bridge over Coal Creek. The city claims he exceeded the size and location of disturbance zones around the home, plus says the mini salmon hatchery was never approved and he also did not create required flood mitigation berms. Bellevue is holding back his occupancy permit, and the home owner says he may not be able to move into his new pad for another 5 years.

Wow, what a convoluted mess there for everyone involved. Hope they get it all worked out.

The Seattle Times logo and subscription




I was recently asked an interesting question: who is responsible for removing floating logs from Lake Washington? I did some digging with King County and the US Army Corps of Engineers, and this is what I found out:

The US Army Corps of Engineers is usually responsible for managing on-water safety issues, including occasional removal of floating danger logs from Lake Washington. This is part of their mission mainly because the lake is considered a navigable waterway with heavy marine traffic.

However, a “nuisance log” has many different interpretations and would not be addressed by most agencies, especially if the logs are onshore and not posing a hazard to marine traffic. What one person may not want may actually be good habitat for many creatures, and hence there would be a permitting conflict. There are actually Fish and Wildlife regulations against removing large wood from shorelines because the removal decreases refuge and food sources for fish. Officially, a hydraulic project approval would even need to be obtained from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before such work could be done in the water. Smaller stuff is usually just handled by home owners on an individual basis.

Updated to answer reader question: I contacted the Army Corps of Engineers to get more information about what they do with the logs that they corral. They try to empty the holding pen monthly plus make a monthly round of Lake Washington as their schedule permits. The collected debris is off-loaded onto storage barges at the Ballard Locks. They dispose of usable debris to government agencies for restoration work or recycle it. The rest goes to the landfill.

Lake Washington waterfront real estate for sale covered porch view of Bellevue and Mercer Island




A waterfront home owner who lives on the Renton shores of Lake Washington was recently found guilty of constructing a dock and boat lift without permits. Apparently a neighbor complained to the US Army Corps of Engineers (they are involved in the shoreline permitting process for docks), and even after the Corps cited the home owner to stop work he still kept going. As a result, he now faces up to a year in prison plus up to a $100,000 fine! He was charged with a misdemeanor violation of the federal Rivers and Harbors Act.

US Army Corps of Engineers logo related to waterfront homes dock regulations
For information on who to contact to determine regulations on dock construction and refurbishing, check my list of Seattle area government waterfront regulatory agencies on WaterHavens.com.

So make sure you have those permits in hand, and then you can relax and fully enjoy a beauty like this Lake Washington waterfront home for sale:

Lake Washington waterfront real estate for sale in Renton, this boat dock and lift IS fully permitted




Have you checked out the Christmas Ships around Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Sound this year? Definitely worth a look, especially the December 23rd finale with the Best Decorated Boat Contest at Gasworks Park on Lake Union. Come bundle up and watch the festive sights at the different locations. It’s a great way to enjoy your WaterHaven, or visit someone else’s!

In local waterfront news, proposed land use regulations still dominate the talk among local rural WaterHaven owners. Both the Critical Areas Ordinance and a new ruling related to federal flood insurance / salmon protection have stirred up the debate something fierce. Petition drives and court cases are underway opposing restrictions on property usage, while other local organizations are educating people about environmental and community benefits. This should be interesting to watch…

Also, a team of divers discovered a World War II era fighter plane in the bottom of Lake Washington; certainly a more intriguing find than the usual array of old anchors and lawn furniture. If you haven’t mustered the time or courage to take up diving around our waterways, I highly recommend it. The lakes can be interesting, but the life teeming along the shores of the Sound are especially fascinating and world class. Yes it’s rather cold, but modern wetsuits or – even better – drysuits can keep you warm enough for your short explorations into inner space. Check out the Activities section of WaterHavens.com for a listing of local scuba clubs to get you started.

Unlike normal holiday trends, the real estate market is still very active right now. Last month saw new highs, available inventory has declined 18% from last year, and there are more buyers than sellers out there. Accordingly, prices have risen and time on market has declined. Some of the better priced properties are still moving very fast. For the November general King County market, the average residential closed sales price was $399,464 (as compared to $368,496 for November 2003) and the average condo sales price was $238,508 ($223,735 for November 2003). Average time on market has shortened from 61 days to 49 days.

In the WaterHavens waterfront market, house sales ranged from a Federal Way walk-down home on the Sound for $299,950 to a Mercer Island Lake Washington home for $5,250,000, condo sales ranged from $145,000 for a Redmond condo on Lake Sammamish to a Kirkland Lake Washington condo for $900,000, and floating home sales ranged from $135,000 to $1,135,000. Waterfront and water view inventory is down across the board, but that is usual for this time of year and is amplified by the still hot market plus excellent interest rates. There are currently 216 waterfront WaterHavens available in our local area, and even more water view and water access WaterHavens.

Enjoy a WaterHaven! Our waterfront and waterview is the best in the world.