Website launches to reveal how much your property is really worth
by: Natasha Chen
SEATTLE – A website that has so far been available only to developers, launched for the public on Wednesday afternoon, to show King County property owners the potential value of their land if they were to sell for the purpose of redevelopment.
CityBldr.com, which uses 189 data points, calculates what type of development would make the most profit on any given King County parcel.
For more than 80,000 property owners in the county, they can now see that selling to a developer for that purpose would bring in more money than selling the house on the market.
“It’s going to be very empowering. That’s going to give a lot of people really, really valuable information that could change their lives,” said Bryan Copley, the CEO and co-founder of CityBldr.
Copley showed KIRO 7 one example of a property on Aurora Avenue North, whose market value is about $482,000. But CityBldr estimates the owner could sell to a developer for $637,000.
Once the property owner is ready to sell for that amount, he or she could register the property with CityBldr, who then gives more than 100 investors, builders and developers the access to bid on it.
Currently, one email address can allow a user to search for one property’s information. The idea is that a property owner would search for his or her own property.
Copley said this came about in part because of KIRO 7’s story in November of 2015, when the information was exclusively for developers and investors who paid for the service to see all property potential.
“You asked if we were going to use this software just to make the rich richer, essentially. Or if we were going to use this information and give it out to property owners. And we decided we would democratize a lot of this information,” Copley said.
In seeing properties that could sell for more money to developers, CityBldr calls those lots ‘underutilized,’ because having retail, affordable housing and market-rate housing, would better maximize not only profit, but also the number of people who could move into a city currently plagued with a housing shortage.
Here are CityBldr’s top 10 King County neighborhoods that have the most number of properties with a high redevelopment score:
One of the properties CityBldr showed as an example, is a single-family home that sits next to an apartment complex on South Hinds Street in Seattle.
That house could sell on the market for $465,000. But the owner could get $597,000 if he or she sold to it to someone for the purpose of redeveloping the land.
Currently, availability of parking is not considered in the algorithm for what should be developed.
Phil Morris, who rents a single-family home across the street, said his landlord is already thinking along those lines. Morris said when he moved in two and a half years ago, his landlord told him he would likely turn it into a multi-family complex within a few years.
“Sure, why not? It’s a free country, I don’t think you’re killing the community. I don’t think you’re destroying Seattle. I think this occurs in any prosperous boomtown situation,” Morris said.
In fact, he thinks it may make the city better.
In a housing environment where many residents are trying to preserve the character of their neighborhood, the idea of encouraging density may be difficult to swallow.
“San Francisco has maintained a wonderful look. But at what cost?” Copley said.
He said people have been economically evicted there, which has become a problem in Seattle too. But by looking at the best way to utilize a property, King County stands the chance to keep more people in the same space.