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Seattle’s $475,000 Illegal Treehouse

Posted by Johnine Larsen on January 23, 2017
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The most private home in Seattle is illegal. It doesn’t have an address No driveway, no access roads. It doesn’t even have plumbing, electricity, or heat. But this illegal home is currently listing for $475,000—cash only.

It’s a treehouse in Magnolia, a quarter-mile away from the nearest road. You can only get there by boat or by walking (if the tide allows it), but once you do, you find yourself in a two-story, luxury treehouse complete with 280-square feet, a kitchenette, a queen size bed, and a view. Of course the view. It’s build on the side of a bluff just above the water, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more exclusive, private view anywhere else in the city.

This treehouse was built for Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters” TV show. It was paid for by Ronald Rae, a former lawyer who wanted to use the treehouse as a summer getaway. Rae had bought the property for $100,000 in 2013, and to develop it, the Animal Planet crew had to dock barges in Elliott Bay.

Rae has since decided that it is time to let the treehouse go. The listing has a few hurdles for prospective buyers, though. (Okay, a lot of hurdles.)

1) Permits

Rae and Animal Planet never got permits for the treehouse. It’s not up to code, and it’s not yet clear which code the treehouse needs to get up to. Is it a house? Is it a pavilion? Is it something else? A team of attorneys are sorting out the details, but they don’t have much time. Unless the treehouse meets the city’s requirements by the end of March, the treehouse will have to be torn down or Rae (or whoever buys it) will have to pay a $100,000 fine.

2) Cash Only

Because the treehouse isn’t a real house, buyers can’t get a mortgage for it. Cash only for this property. Because it’s so difficult to reach the home (the best access is by boat), potential buyers have to prove they have the necessary cash before they can see it.

3) Everything Else

The treehouse isn’t an option for long-term living. “It’s more suitable for somebody who lives in Seattle and can bring a sack lunch and then go home,” Rae told The Seattle Times. “Nobody should think that they are going to be able to pull off an inexpensive waterfront living arrangement. It’s not going to work.”

Despite all these obstacles, Rae has already been contacted by several prospective buyers.

More information from The Seattle Times

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