Buying a House? Consider the Houseboat

Float your boat with a house on the water
houseboats for sale in seattle magazine
A houseboat for sale on Seattle's North Lake Union

Classic Craftsman houses may dominate local neighborhoods, but for pure Seattle flavor, nothing beats the humble houseboat. With ties to Seattle’s earliest days, killer views, convenient access to downtown (imagine kayaking to work) and tight-knit communities (all the better to fight developers with designs on waterfront property), floating homes are as much a lifestyle as a domicile—and, with only about 480 in the city, an exclusive one. Recently, three choice examples drifted onto the market.

North Lake Union (pictured above)
Price: $295,000        
Square footage: 15 by 40 exterior dimension; 1 bedroom and 3/4 bath
Property taxes: No property tax; buyer pays sales tax on vessel purchase.
Fees: End-of-the-dock slip rental $430 per month; can be moved.
Views: Eastlake open water, Space Needle view from dock
Year built: 2006
Bonus: Haida houseboat built by GreenPod. Aluminum hull, wave-shape cedar shake exterior, transom windows, arched stained glass door, hardwood floors and tongue-and-groove ceiling, small deck, pellet stove
Listed: February 2014

East Lake Union

Price: $2,888,000
Square footage: 1,000; 3 bedrooms, 1.25 baths
Property taxes: $2,952
Fees: Homeowner association dues, $455
Views: 270 degrees, including Mount Rainier, downtown, Space Needle, Queen Anne, Aurora Bridge and Gas Works Park
Year built: 1976, remodeled in 2011
Bonus: Minimalist style and custom furnishings and finishes, originally designed by Jim Olson; high-tech cabling, skylights
Listed: February 2014

Portage Bay

Price: $750,000
Square footage: 1,500; 3 bedrooms; 1.75 baths
Property taxes: $3,626, divided among as many as 11 houseboat owners
Fees: No association fees or rent
Views: Portage Bay, University of Washington, Montlake Cut, mountains
Year built: 1960
Bonus: Skylights, sunroom, wood-­burning fireplace, wraparound deck, French doors, assigned parking spot, tie-up space for a small boat
Listed: February 2014