Friends Who Joined Forces See Homeowner Dreams Come True

By Sanjay Bhatt
The Seattle Times.

SEATTLE

A group of longtime Seattle pals is going from renting together to buying houses together, like a real-life sequel to the television sitcom “Friends.”

James Sutter, 31; his wife, Margo Arnold, 34; and another couple recently bought a new three-bedroom, three-story house in the city’s Columbia City neighborhood for $705,000.

They chose the home partly to be a short walk from four other friends, who bought a seven-bedroom house together for $719,000.
“We wanted to buy a house and grow old together,” Sutter said. “Coming home to your best friends every night, that’s what drives us. The economics are just a bonus.”

In Seattle, where the median single-family-home price hit $598,000 in November, the notion of splitting a mortgage isn’t the only thing driving younger adults to shack up together.

The 30-somethings who bought the two houses in Columbia City say they decided to buy single-family homes close together only after their efforts to develop a cohousing community for about a dozen couples ran into too many roadblocks.

“It’s really hard to build a different model of house in a city like Seattle,” said Michelle Burce, 30, who is part of the group that bought the seven-bedroom house.

Most of the 30-somethings met as students at the University of Washington, roomed together after college and wanted to create a community together.

“There are a lot of artists and scientists within the group,” said Sutter, who writes fantasy novels and role-playing games.

“We go to Burning Man together.”

Two of his fellow owners work at technology firms, the fourth at a nonprofit.

The seven-bedroom house nearby was bought by Sutter’s friend Jared Roberts, 36, and his girlfriend Michelle Burce, along with Burce’s sister, Allison, and her husband, Aaron Jacobs.

Their household consists of a chemist, an energy forecaster, a former Twitter engineer and an arts educator.

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