Phones are ringing off the hook as curious buyers inquire about an “illegal” treehouse with no electricity, septic or bathrooms, located in upscale Magnolia Bluff – an expensive neighborhood in Seattle.
The owner only asked for $230,000 cash for the “Levitating Lighthouse,” located on a rocky bluff along Elliott Bay beach, a quarter-mile from the nearest road.
But the listing was quietly withdrawn from the market on Thursday evening, after a month of persistent inquiries from potential buyers.
“There have been a lot of calls to that property, the phones have been ringing off the hook,” said Matthew Gerrish, owner and designated broker at Premier Real Estate Partners, in an interview with KIRO7.
Without modern facilities such as electricity, sewerage, septic tank or bathrooms, the treehouse has been deemed “illegal” by Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections.
The owner only asked for $230,000 cash for the ‘Levitating Lighthouse’, located on a rocky bluff along Elliott Bay beach, a quarter mile from the nearest road
The listing was quietly withdrawn from the market on Thursday evening, after a month of persistent inquiries from potential buyers
‘Conventional financing does not work for this. It must be a livable home. It’s pretty much just a holiday home, not really a home or anything. There’s no electricity, there’s no bathroom,” Gerrish said.
The property was built in 2014 by Nelson Treehouse and quickly gained both attention and controversy after being featured on the TV show ‘Treehouse Masters’ on Animal Planet.
Set amongst the trees, the property offers beautiful, unobstructed views of both the water and mountains, with a ladder and steps leading straight to the beach.
Other homes in the area are priced as high as $5.5 million on Zillow.
However, famed treehouse builder Pete Nelson and the original owner, Ronald Rae, were denied a building permit by the city.
Rae, a former lawyer, used the treehouse as a summer vacation spot after purchasing the land for $100,000 in 2013.
In fact, he never intended to build the treehouse as a full-time residence said in 2017 that he wanted to give up the property after welcoming three young triplets into his home.
After Animal Planet’s show aired in 2014, the city filed a lawsuit against Rae, saying the property could not be considered a typical childish treehouse exempt from building codes.
The city argued that the structure was too extensive and that the property was built on a steep hill next to the water.
Under King County codes, certain structures may be exempt from the need for a building permit if they are less than 200 square feet in size and have an unconditioned space.
Rae was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and as a result obtain the necessary permits.
Without modern facilities such as electricity, sewerage, septic tank or bathrooms, the treehouse is considered “illegal” by Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections.
The treehouse has been on the market ever since, with the asking price fluctuating between $475,000 and $109,000.
It remains unclear whether Rae still owns the property today. Regardless, the owner never obtained a permit and now faces a $100,000 fine for non-compliance.
Earlier this year, the treehouse reappeared on the market with an asking price of $230,000 cash.
The listing contained warnings in all caps, stating “SOLD AS IS – CASH ONLY – NO FINANCING – NO UTILITIES – NO SEPTIC – NOT CONNECTED TO SEWER – NO ELECTRICITY – 0 BED – 0 BATH.”
The list also warned of climate risks, including flooding, wildfires, extreme heat and hurricane winds.
As of Friday, the property has been delisted by its owner and there is no indication if it has been sold.
The Department of Construction and Inspections deemed the property “illegal” and said it “has a history of code enforcement issues for waterfront construction in an area prone to landslides without a permit.”
“The owner had to obtain permits or demolish the structure. The owner failed to comply and the court entered a judgment against him,” Bryan Stevens, spokesperson for the Department of Construction and Inspections, said in a statement.
The treehouse has been on and off the market since then, with the asking price fluctuating between $475,000 and $109,000
Garrish, on the other hand, defended the owner, saying the structure is smaller than 2,000 square feet and does not require a permit.
The recent one mention shows the property as 1,800 square feet, but the 2017 report from the Seattle Times indicates it was 2,800 square feet.
‘The unliveability of it, it does help to remedy the lack of a habitable residential permit. It is mainly a day out. We have an open door policy. We are very open about any due diligence they may want to do on the property,” Gerrish said.
Regarding landslide concerns, builder Nelson said during the 2014 episode of Treehouse Masters, “This heavy rock holds the land here, so trees have been able to grow straight up.”
Garrish agreed: “If it’s attached to a tree, that might provide a little more security than if it’s attached to the ground itself.”