Discover fabulous views from amazing properties in Southwest Washington

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What About the 'lesser' Urban Views?

I recently wrote an article for Urban Living in the 'Couv' about views that are eliminated or obstructed when new high-rise projects are erected. That article focused on the potential for loss of property value as well as losing the view which may have been an important part of the decision to buy a particular unit.

Here is a link to that article: Careful, Urban Views can be Fleeting

But many units in urban areas already have obstructed views of the city. In fact the target project of the above reference article is Parkview Tower in Downtown Vancouver WA. This building has west facing units with a permanently protected view of Esther Short Park but the east facing units all look directly at Vancouver Center 3.

What about these obstructed urban views? Some may feel that their is a lack of privacy when you are looking right into the windows of another high rise only 50-100 feet away. But there is a certain cool vibe about it. Sure, at night you might want to pull the blinds in your bedroom, but looking out your living room window after dark yields a pretty nice city lights type experience. For some there is value in this real urban type view, that whole New York City style view. You don't have to be up 40 floors to get it either.

Really the view is highly subjective. Some people just like being up high off the ground, others expect a view to include something spectacular like a grand panorama or a river, mountain, etc. To each his own as they say, but bear in mind that those more majestic views will not come cheap in most cases. But "not cheap" is subjective as well. This nice little condo in Parkview is listed for $350k and features a permanent view of the very majestic, Esther Short Park. Who says you can't get a cheap view? The guy with a budget of 290k, I guess ;)

Whatever you do, enjoy the view be it majestic or just another building.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

New Views on the North Shore of Lacamas Lake

The north shore of Lacamas Lake in Camas has been opened up and soon a whole new series of neighborhoods with views of Lacamas Lake and Prune Hill will come to market. The map shows the overall area that will undergo development although sizable chunks of the red area is reserved for permanent natural preservation and parkland.

Lacamas Shores has been the exclusive neighborhood featuring homes overlooking the lake. Now that Camas has opened up the north shore of the lake, more opportunity for that Lacamas experience should soon arrive. The first of these new north shore developments, Deer Haven is nearly built out and features modern homes on smallish lots, many with a view of the lake.

I have a property in Deer Haven listed at $695,000 and it has a peek-a-boo view. But others have a more majestic vista of the lake and surrounding terrain. The range of prices in this subdivision run from $700 to $900k and 3000-4000 SF. Deer Haven is featured in New Homes of Clark County, here.

Camas is on the move and growing like a weed it was only a matter of time before the North Shore opened up. So now at Lacamas you can be sure to enjoy the view... north or south.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New Colorado Ridge Opportunities

Colorado Ridge is back with a few more lots under construction. A beautiful new spec home is about half way complete on lot 11 that will feature this view shown in these photos.

Lot 11 is up near the top of the development and features excellent views of the river and some views to the southwest of Portland as well.

Colorado Ridge in Washougal, is almost built out so now is the time to get a home in this excellent community.

Washougal is adjacent to Camas on the west and the amazing Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to the east. The modern hillside development sin Washougal offer similar homes, and views to Camas' Prune Hill but at prices roughly 10-15% lower than comparable units in Camas.

More information on Colorado Ridge can be found here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Neighborhood Views, an Affordable Alternative

From the street near NE 152nd and NE 108th ,Vancouver
I have blathered on ad nauseum about views, views, views. What can I say? I love views :) But owning a home with a view can be an expensive proposition. Sure, sitting out on that deck perched up high over the river, the city or the valley is great. Who doesn't want to relax after a long day a watch the sun set over the gorgeous Pacific Northwest scenery? But homes that offer these terrific views are often substantially more expenses than a similar home without such views.

For those among us that like to walk or bike around the neighborhood an affordable view opportunity may exist. Owning a home in a neighborhood that has other homes with spectacular views means there is a very good chance that just walking around the neighborhood will offer gorgeous views. Sure, this scenario doesn't offer the opportunity to sip your favorite beverage while soaking in the view, but it could save you tens of thousands of dollars on the purchase price.

Overlooking WSUV, Mount Vista Neighborhood
Clark County is chock full of neighborhoods with a variety of views and many homes are situated on lots that do not have a view. A quick walk around the block however often yields wonderful view opportunities. Many neighborhoods have small community parks that have views of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, or the river and a short walk or bike ride gets you there.

The Mount Vista area in Vancouver offers a lot of views along NE 29th above the WSUV Campus and there are nice paved trails on the campus as well featuring rather spectacular views of three Cascade volcanoes, Mount hood, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Adams.

Renaissance Trail, Vancouver
Some of the condos along the waterfront near the Kaiser Shipyards offer excellent waterfront views, yet many more are interior units that do not have a view. It is a very short walk to the Renaissance trail to take in the wonderful riverside vistas.

There are many great public viewpoints throughout our city and Clark County, and the next best thing to a great view property is a great view neighborhood.

What ever you do, please enjoy the view.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Affordable Waterfront View?

That seems like an oxymoron these days, right? Well yes and no, really. Portland and Vancouver offer some neighborhoods with actual waterfront living in a diverse array of houseboat communities. I wrote about some of these back in 2015 here is that article. This can be an affordable alternative to the high priced traditional waterfront living.

Originally posted March 17th, 2015, by Rod Sager

Floating views? You may be thinking I am taking advantage of Washington State's legal marijuana with a headline like that. No, I assure you I am quite sober. The Portland metro area however does have a pretty large collection of floating homes. I would say the lion's share is in the inside channel of the Columbia River between Hayden Island and North Portland. This channel is protected from the main Columbia River traffic and flow through clever engineering. There are a variety of yacht harbors and marinas in and around Hayden and Tomahawk Islands in North Portland. Of course there are hundreds of permanent floating homes in the area as well. These vary from cozy little ensembles well under $100,000 to elaborate floating mansions approaching a million dollars.

Over here on the Washington side of the Columbia we have floating homes as well. Although our collection is much smaller since the Columbia River's main channel is not suitable for such housing. Our shore of the Columbia features more traditional and very expensive river front property. There is Caterpillar Island however, that creates a narrow inside channel. It has a marina and house boats. These floating homes look over the water into a recreation area on the island.

Here in the 'Couv' we have the beautiful Vancouver Lake and it is drained by a tributary called the Lake River. The Lake river carries water from Vancouver Lake to the Columbia River. Unlike the Hayden Island urban style of floating homes, the Lake River features homes that look across the water and into a National Wildlife Refuge. In Vancouver and Ridgefield are two more such places to buy a floating home with a view. The upside to the Lake River is that it is a very slow flowing tributary. There are strict 5 mph speed limits and no through traffic at all. Motorized vehicles are strictly restricted on Vancouver Lake and heavily regulated on the Lake River.

Here is an opportunity to own waterfront view property starting at entry level prices. I have seen listings as low as $20,000. There are of course some issues to be considered. First and foremost is the very name of these properties; floating homes. Yes they are floating and there is some mild swaying that happens in this type of home. It is not as bad as you might imagine however. There is also the marina fees. Just like a manufactured home in a park, these homes occupy a rented space. In this case a marina slip and those will having monthly fees ranging from $200-$500. These marinas sometimes offer a variety of services included with the slip fee.

There is some special maintenance requirements with this type of home and they are less forgiving than a traditional home when it comes to neglect. All of this aside many people enjoy the dockside living afforded to floating home owners. Although the views are sometimes limited due to the close proximity of the homes, they can be quite enjoyable.

The Columbian newspaper ran an article on houseboats here. Due to Washington State's more strict laws governing navigable waterways it is more difficult to build houseboat communities than it is in neighboring Oregon. This could be a factor in why we have fewer such facilities on the Washington side. Houseboat living is yet another way to enjoy the view.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Best Mobile Home Park View?

Well friends if you need a mobile home Portland is your town! Yes I will head a mile south of the border to Hayden Island where we find the Hayden Island Manufactured Home Community. It is here where you will find a mobile home park with a few hundred mobile homes. Roughly 50 of these homes actually front the Columbia River. These home owners have had the prime viewing spot for the rise of Vancouver's new waterfront. The riverfront mobile homes have a small walking trail that lies between them and the embankment that drops down to the river.

Downtown Vancouver and Waterfront, taken from pathway
along river at Hayden Island Manufactured Home Community
The views from these manufactured homes, mostly double wide units and small lots, are as good as some homes I have seen in the multi-million dollar price range. These homes are much less expensive than that.
This is the view you'd get from one of the many decks strategically placed fronting the water in this pretty nice mobile home park.

One has to wonder how this park has resisted the temptation to redevelop this prime piece of Hayden Island riverfront. Yet it remains and oddly so does the empty lot just tot he east that was the former home of the Thunderbird Hotel.

It is kind of nice that folks on a more modest budget can find a place with a King's view yet it is an odd state of affairs to have that kind of real estate value under developed.

Sold unit $117k July, 2018
The unit shown to the left was sold over the summer at the tidy little price of only $117,000. That is cheap, but the space rent on these waterfront parcels is a bit higher than one might expect in a mobile home park community coming in at $922/month and likely rises every year. That is coupled with property taxes of $1850 a year. This view manny would cost roughly $1700 a month if financed. That is about what a garden variety no frills two bedroom apartment costs. Not bad really. Apartments in this area on either side of the river sporting a view like this would easily command double that monthly ticket.

So this quirky place on the island offers something genuinely unique in the area and for that it earns a spot on my golden view properties list. Very cool and remember, whatever your do, be sure to enjoy the view.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A New View is Emerging

It was bound to happen and it's happening now. It was only a matter of time before the new Vancouver Waterfront joined the the ranks of our local view properties. That time is now. The first two towers are about to open with the finishing touches going in now. The Rediviva is very close to opening and in fact they are taking leases now for some 63 luxury apartments in a 6 story building wedged between the topped out, Riverwest Apartment building opening first quarter 2019 and the new Murdock office tower opening next month. Some of these first apartments will feature some good views. Those that face the river should have a "forever" view as no buildings will go up in front of them. Those facing downtown will have temporary views until the buildings on the north side of the street are erected.

These are new views emerging. Soon residents will be living on the new waterfront. When I say soon I'm thinking as soon as next month! The Waterfront Project is planned to bring some 3300 units online over the next several years and many of these will have spectacular views of the river or downtown.

Most of the buildings that front the waterfront park will have permanent views of the river, park, and waterfront. Other views as mentioned above are subject to future development. Anyone planing to purchase a unit in one of these new projects should be careful about location if the view is a big part of the appeal or the price for that matter.

The waterfront area is more than just views, it is an urban neighborhood that is intended to be vibrant and busy with much to do all the time. The views are just an added bonus. They will come at a premium however, be sure to stay on top of the plans to make sure the view you buy today is a view you'll still have tomorrow.

I wrote a blog post on my real estate news blog about the Kirkland Tower here. That structure is under way and will feature 12 floors with luxury condos attached to an 8 story boutique hotel also under construction. Kirkland has a website here, and they are showing the views by floor. Apparently there will be windows facing every direction except east. They have floors two through eleven with photos of the "view." Kirkland tower is being erected right next door to the Murdock, so I'd imagine that the view west from floors 2-8 will be obstructed on day one. The south view should be a forever view as this tower will front the river. The north view is a wild card. Right now it seems like it will have a pretty spectacular downtown vista particularly up on the top six floors. But there are plans for taller structures on the north side of the street in the future. Timberhouse is already proposed for block 3 immediately north of Kirkland tower, that structure is to be 12 floors as well. A tallish building is planned for block 5 that is north of the two Block 6 towers opening in October.

The new view to the north is likely to be a bit temporary. If the developer has a lower price for north view due to the uncertainty of its longevity, these could end up being a bargain if plans change and a shorter building is erected instead. The FAA has already chopped the heights of a few planned towers in this development citing aircraft safety from the pair of airports nearby,  PDX and Pearson.

Here are the "views" from the future 11th floor condos in Kirkland tower taken last year before the towers rose to the west. These are from Kirkland's website.

Forever View from floors above the 4th floor
The Murdock is 7 stories, view partially protected above the 8th floor

Big wildcard here, almost certainly partial obstructions coming

The south view should be forever here, but trees in the park may eventually get tall enough to partially obstruct river views below the fifth floor. The west view is already obstructed by the nearly completed 7 story Murdock. Above the 8th floor should be fine, but partial future obstructions are likely as taller buildings are eventually erected on blocks 5 and 7. The north view is the big wild card and I believe that the Timberhouse will be erected and that is not only a tallish building with 12 floors, but it is proposed as a large building covering the whole block.

New views are truly rising up at the waterfront and all over downtown Vancouver existing views are changing as the skyline of this city is undergoing a remarkable growth spurt not seen since the early 2000's It's all very exciting, isn't it?

Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy the view.