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QuBit The Wall Street Journal 20 04 2018 36 .pdf

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M4 | Friday, April 20, 2018


Bitcoin Mining Reshapes Real-Estate
An influx of cryptocurrency miners, retirees and young couples has riled the property market in
Wenatchee, Wash., known for its apple orchards—and cheap electricity; home prices up 11% over last year

around $1,500 a month.
“We looked and looked,” says
Jim Wonn, a retired tech executive
who moved to Wenatchee after
buying a lot and building a house
last year for $450,000, moving in in
November. Mr. Wonn says he’s
heard about the fires caused by bitcoin-mining computers overloading
electric-service wiring, but all the
people he knows who have moved


LOCAL OUTLOOK Currently, seven
homes are on the market priced at
over $1 million, including Craigmuir
Castle, a 1929 stone landmark, top
and above, listed for just under $1.8
million. Below, Pam and Jim Wonn
paid $450,000 for a lot and house
last year. Right, outdoor recreation at
Walla Walla Point Park.

to Wenatchee in the past few years
are retirees or second-home owners
who plan to eventually retire there.
Chris Holt, 50, just finished building a new 2,700-square-foot house
for $290,000, which he considers a
good deal: He now rents the 1,000square-foot house where he was living before for $1,400 a month. Mr.
Holt, an automobile dealer, says he
made the decision to build and rent

in part because building costs haven’t gone up as fast as rents.
Changes in Wenatchee are happening at “an alarming rate” he says—
especially an increase in traffic.
Still, Ms. Collins, the interior designer, says traffic conditions are
still better in Wenatchee than in Seattle. When she started her house
hunt, she set a $300,000 price
point. But when she couldn’t find

much, she doubled it. Even that may
not be enough. A couple weekends
ago she looked at a 10,000-squarefoot house in Wenatchee, advertised
as a castle, with a saltwater swimming pool and an acre of landscaped property listed for $1.7985
million, but decided it was too big
and old. So the hunt continues.
“I’m just looking for peace,” she

EAGER TO ESCAPE the traffic and
congestion of the Seattle area, Nia
Collins has her eye on a model
home in a new gated community in
Wenatchee, Wash., about 150 miles
to the east. She expects the home
will go on the market for around
$700,000. But she doesn’t know
exactly—because nobody has returned her calls.
“There’s so much going on they
can’t keep up,” says Ms. Collins, a
58-year-old interior designer.
Houses are not so easy to find
in Wenatchee these days. The realestate market in this town of
33,000 residents has been roiled
by an infusion of bitcoin miners
looking for cheap electricity to run
and cool computers that generate
new units of cryptocurrencies. Located on the Columbia River, Wenatchee is powered by hydroelectric dams and has some of the
lowest rates in the country.
Real-estate agents have been
getting calls for months from prospective home buyers and renters
looking for properties with a detached garage or shed—places
where a bitcoin miner could store
servers, says Jamie Wallace, president of the North Central Washington Association of Realtors.
Separately, Wenatchee properties
are being advertised to bitcoin
miners in online classifieds and on
social media, according to Chelan
County Public Utility District,
which serves the county that includes Wenatchee.
In February the Wenatchee City
Council imposed a one-year ban on
cryptocurrency mining in residential and mixed-use zones, citing
safety concerns and potential
strains on the electrical grid. Last
month, the utility district declared
a moratorium on applications for
cryptocurrency and other data-related activities. The commissioners
also directed staff to take all available steps to halt unauthorized
crypto operations.
The influx of cryptocurrency
mining comes on top of an uptick
in buyers looking for a home in
Wenatchee and the surrounding
area. Exiles from Seattle and California, both retirees and younger
couples, have been relocating to
the area, which has more affordable homes and extensive outdoor
recreation, such as hiking, water
sports and skiing in the nearby
Cascade Mountain Range. Last
year, Forbes magazine named Wenatchee one of the 25 best-places
to retire, another factor fueling demand, real-estate agents say.
Home prices in Wenatchee grew
11% in February compared with a
year earlier, while supply remained
tight, with the number of active
listings down 19%, according to
Wenatchee-based Pacific Appraisal
Associates, which also says there
are currently seven homes on the
market priced at over $1 million.
Home building is also on the
rise—there were 26 single-family
dwelling permits issued through
February, more than double the 12
permits issued in the same period
of 2017. But developers say they’re
stymied by limited buildable land
and a shortage of construction labor. Real-estate agents say a twobedroom rental house that went
for $600 a month a couple of
years ago is now getting rates

SPRING SCENE A three-bedroom, four-bathroom custom-built home is currently on the market for $1.735 million. The house measures 4,456 square feet and sits on almost 50 acres.

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