The Value of a Water View Home

Real Estate Agent with -Coldwell Banker Danforth

Water views are some of the most difficult factors to value when pricing a home.  There are so many contributing factors to a water view's value, it's hard to know where to start.  Everything from the body of water, direction, angle of view, fullness of view, proximity to water, obstructions, reflection, which rooms have view/which don't, and potential of future development/obstructions can weigh into a water view's value.

Seattle Water View Homes

There's no perfect way to calculate the value, but there's also no denying that there is great inherent value in a water view.  The most straight-forward analysis involves condos, as they typically have a view from only one side of the home, and it usually doesn't require standing on a roof/opening a bathroom window/walking to the end of a lot as is required in some single family home views.

Although these numbers by no means give a standard for the valuation of water views, it's interesting to see the differences in sales prices that can be somewhat attributed to the view.  In 2008, there were over 2100 condos sold in the city of Seattle.  Out of those, about 700 had a water view and 1400 did not.  Considering those numbers alone, it's likely that many of these sellers had "peekaboo" or very minor views of the water, as it's unlikely 1 out of every 3 Seattle condos has a true water view.

Miniscule views notwithstanding, water view condos had a median sales price in 2008 of over 40% higher than condos without a water view.  The median sales price of non-view condos was $277,000 while water view condos sold at a median of $392,500.  Days on market was similar between the groups, at just about 7 weeks for all condos.

Clearly there are other factors at work.  A building that will have water views will likely be built to a higher standard than one built on inexpensive land elsewhere.  Water view condo buildings would likely build a higher percentage of 2 and 3 bedroom condos, as they're planning on more upscale buyers.  This too, would skew the median price upward.

With all of these factors involved, it's still clear that water views have great value to a home buyer.  Each individual home's view value is probably much more personal to the buyer than can be pinned down with a formula.

Seattle Water View Homes

Statistics not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Comments (27)

Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

I would love to have a waterfront home at some point!!

Jun 22, 2009 05:24 AM
Chelsea Stevens
Chelsea Stevens Marketing - Burlington, IA

Hey Sam, very interesting post.

I'm in Iowa right alongside the Mississippi River...we will automatically add around hundred thousand to the price of the house for a good river view, but it definatley varies with the quality of the view, obstructions, and the lot of land.

Jun 22, 2009 05:31 AM
Courtney Cooper
Cooper | Cartwright - Seattle, WA

This is a great description, Sam -we are so lucky to have so much great waterfront and water view homes in and around Seattle!

Jun 22, 2009 06:11 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Timely post . . . I was just looking at listings on the Oregon Coast and remember this remark blurb was funny:  Ocean glimpse

Jun 22, 2009 06:18 AM
Sam DeBord -Coldwell Banker Danforth - Seattle, WA
Seattle Real Estate Broker

Carla, that's another great one to add to the vault of "creative" marketing.  Maybe the MLS should have a separate water "glimpse" category.

Jun 22, 2009 06:21 AM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

HA!  I've been educating home buyers about water front premiums forever.  It can be a costly feature.  However, these properties have very stable values. 


Jun 22, 2009 06:23 AM
Marie Story
Coldwell Banker - Pinecrest (Miami) - Pinecrest, FL
Broker Associate, Pinecrest (Miami) Specialist

In my area we have several single family homes with canal/lake views.  What I find frustrating is getting a direct answer from the appraisers as to how much is the waterview worth.

Jun 22, 2009 06:29 AM
Christine Wade
Christine Wade - Townsend, MT
Operations Strategist / Online Business Manager

That is a great analysis...we all know that water views add value, but it was great to see the way you came up with it logically.

Jun 22, 2009 07:02 AM
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

This is an excellent post and I just had a call over the weekend about this very topic. How to value the water view for a home (or even a golf course view).

Jun 22, 2009 07:21 AM
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Sam -- Great specific points on the various and complex attributes of water views.  I think your profile photo is very cool and unique!

Jun 22, 2009 07:37 AM
Sam DeBord -Coldwell Banker Danforth - Seattle, WA
Seattle Real Estate Broker

Marie, good point on the appraisers - nobody wants to get tied down to a specific number, but isn't that their job?  It's as hard for them as it is for us in pricing the home.

Jun 22, 2009 07:45 AM
Janet Guilbault
Platinum Home Mortgage Company - Walnut Creek, CA
San Francisco Bay Area Direct Mortgage Lender

This is the actual view from the deck of my weekend house. Taken at dawn on New Year's Day. I have blogged with this exact view so many times.

I am a VERY LUCKY owner of waterfront real estate in California.

Jun 22, 2009 08:04 AM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

Our MLS has been doing a lot of refining and revising on this topic . . .

On the Colorado River we have different kinds of water frontage, ranging from 'dead water' channels to deep fast water to man made lakes with catch/release fishing and electric boats only.

The difference can be big bucks! GREAT post . . .

Jun 22, 2009 08:07 AM
Dawn Maloney
RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist - Hudson, OH
330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio

I love waterfront property!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just saying :)

Jun 22, 2009 08:26 AM
Marcus Valdez
Berkshire Hathaway Rocky Mountain Realtors - Fort Collins, CO

water and land.  they aren't making anymore of it.  scarcity creates value.  if you want to charge a lot for something don't offer a lot of it. 

Jun 22, 2009 09:01 AM
Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate

This is equally applicable to where I live in Lake Norman NC.  During our stable market a "good" waterview home would get about $50 per square foot more than a home with no waterviews.  We have here what we call "seasonal waterviews" because when the trees all along the lake loose their leaves some of us have spectacular views that are hidden the rest of the year.  The same goes for waterfront...some water is better than others!  Great post!

Jun 22, 2009 10:26 AM
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

Palos Verdes is renown for its spectacular views and there is an art to placing a value on a view.  I'd love to be able to use a formula, but with such a wide variety of water views it must be tweaked by all the variables at play.   Some of our jaw-dropping coastal views clearly add  tremendous value to a property.

Jun 22, 2009 01:34 PM
An Marshall
Berkshire Hathaway - St. Augustine - Saint Augustine, FL
Your St Augustine Real Estate Consultant

Great subject.  I emailed this to an appraiser who may use this subject at an educaitonal event I am hosting. Thanks.

Jun 22, 2009 01:46 PM
AMBER NOBLE GARLAND - Top Real Estate Expert, Property Tax Appeal Specialist & Author
Strategic Marketing Expert & Relocation Specialist Serving New Jersey and nationwide! - Marlboro, NJ
- The Agent You Can Trust To Deliver REAL Results!

I only wish buyers and sellers in water view communities understood these factors as much as we do.

Jun 22, 2009 05:00 PM
Home Loan Search.Online
Home Loan Search Online - Newnan, GA

I just spent Father's Day weekend at the beach and our condo had an amazing view of the Gulf. Yes, I'd pay a premium for that view!

Jun 23, 2009 01:38 AM