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January 2007

Condo Purchasing Dynamics

ChessgameWorking with condo buyers and sellers over the years has allowed me to see a lot of the interesting dynamics that occur between buyers and sellers.  I thought it would be helpful for SCR readers to outline a few of the scenarios I've seen most frequently. 

Keep in mind every situation is different and depends on knowing the real market conditions, particulars of the property in question, and dynamics between your Realtor and the other party's Realtor.  In other words, what may be a perfect strategy in once instance may be a disaster in another so strategize carefully. 

Caveats aside, familiarizing yourself with some common scenarios is a step in the right direction.

Example Scenarios

  • Smart Low Ball Offer

    Seller has a property that's been on the market for a long time and the price has not been lowered since listing, the unit is vacant, and there's some imminent external conditions which will make it even hard for the seller in the future (e.g. major siding repairs, new construction blocking existing view, possible pending assessment, public fears of price declines, etc.). 

    In this case, the buyer is often well advised to submit and offer below asking price -- especially if the buyer is not in love with the unit or in no hurry to move.  The seller will usually counter and the buyer has room to be picky at inspection time.
  • Unrealistic Low Ball Offer

    Seller has hot property recently listed, priced consistent or slightly higher than recent sales, and in high demand with no major limitations.

    In this case, the buyer who submits a below asking price offer will likely be outbid by another buyer.  Sometimes even more frustrating, the two parties enter a series of bad faith counter offers ending up at a higher closing price than had the orignal offer been more reasonable.  Even worse, this often also involves increasingly unyielding post sales agreement negotiations (e.g. inspection repairs, closing extentions, rent back agreements, etc.).

    This was a very common occurence late last year when many frustrated buyers were worried about a softening market and butted heads with more confident sellers.
  • Full asking price offer

    Seller has a good property, not super hot and not super cold.  Property has been on the market for a reasonable period (again, not too long or short) and is priced consistently with sold comparables. 

    In this case, the buyer can usually submit a single offer at the full asking price, the buyer's Realtor makes it clear this is a final and fair offer, the seller accepts and good will remains for reasonable inspection repairs.

-Wendy

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Woof Woof- Where are the pet friendly condos?

Image0copy_1I have been told many times by my husband not to dress up my dog. How could I not, she looks great in them. Many homeowners are just like me, we treat our pets as part of the family. Even when it comes time to move, looking for a pet friendly condo is one of the most important criteria.

I've been asked by some readers to write up a list of condos that are pet friendly. So for all the pet lovers out there reading this blog, this post is for you.

In general, most condos allow cats and dogs and up to 2 pets per unit.  A number of condos do have restriction on the breed of the dogs, aggressive breed like pit bull and rottweiler are usually not allow. Many condos have different rules when it comes to pets, so be sure to read them on what you and your pet may or may not do. Here is an example of common rules and regulation for owners with pets.

Do keep in mind that homeowner association may change their pet policy from time to time and it is always advisable to check with them or the management company regarding their current pet policy. You don't want to be surprised at the time of move in that your pet has to be left at the door.

I'll be updating this post periodically, so do check back on the neighborhood that you are interested in. If I have missed a condo (which I'm sure I certainly will, there are a few thousands of condos near the core of Seattle!!!), feel free to leave a comment.  If you have a pet story to share about living in a condo, please do so. I'm sure many pet owners would love to hear your experiences.

Pet friendly and unfriendly Seattle condos.

Off leash parks.

-Wendy

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Tobira update

TobiracondosTobira’s preview event happened last weekend and they have since sold 8 units. This weekend will be their grand opening. If you are looking for something more affordable and close to downtown, it’s worth taking a look.

Previously known as the Empress apartment, Tobira was built in 2001 and has 7 stories with a total of 88 units. Floor plans include studios, one bedroom’s, one bedroom plus den’s and 2 bedroom’s. All of their studios are east facing looking out to a huge retaining wall or parking lot. If you are facing west, your unit has to be on the 5th level and above to get some city views. There is a low rise office building right across from Tobira blocking the view.

Standard package includes original white appliances, hardwood floors in the kitchen and entry and granite counter top in the kitchen.  If you prefer stainless steel, you will need to pay an additional $3,000 to upgrade them. The upgrade that I think is worth putting in is the Murphy bed for the studio. This will greatly enhance the living space in the unit.

The one bedroom plus den is a good floor plan. It is nicely layed out, reasonably priced and set back away from the road. The den area is as good as a 2nd bedroom. The only draw back is the master bedroom is smaller than the den. 3rd level east facing units have their own patio and a common area for residences. Price list.

Home buyers interested in this condo can put down a 1% good faith deposit (earnest money check) to purchase the unit. There is also a $4,000 buyer’s bonus if you are using their preferred lender. Overall, Tobira is an affordable condo with a convenient location.

Pros

- Proximity to downtown, International district and Pioneer Square

- Newer building

- Reasonable homeowner dues

Cons

- Studio doesn’t come with parking space (available for purchase for $15,000/space)

- Limited amenities

Exterior:                Good

Interior:               Average

Location:               Good

Value:                 Average

View:                Below average

Amenities:            Average 

Overall:               Average

Read previous post.

-Wendy

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Concord

Concord_1Located on the north end of Belltown and only two blocks away from the new Olympic Sculpture Park is the Concord condo. Built in 2000, Concord is a two tower 13 story building designed by Driscoll Architects, a local firm who also designed The Meridian on First Hill.

If you are in that neighborhood, it’s hard to miss Concord’s appealing outdoor water features on both side of the entrance. The exterior architectural design is very “Vancouver-ish” with lots of glass and sturdy concrete. Large windows can be seen from all sides of the building allowing a good amount of sunlight into most of the units.

Concord has a diverse selection of floor plans ranging from studios, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den, two bedroom and 7 penthouse suites. All units have access to decks or balconies with penthouse units having their own private roof deck.

Units feature high end finishes, granite slab countertops and stainless steel appliances. How could we not have any of these finishes nowadays? Overall, a solid high-end condo that, despite it’s numerous young competitors, has continued to prove itself over the years as one of the most desired condos in Seattle. 

Pros

- Comprehensive amenities and premium construction

- Proven track record with regards to high physical quality of the building as well as consistently strong resale market demand

- Walking distance to the Sculpture Park

- Higher floor westerly face units have unobstructed view of the Puget sounds

Cons

- Price per square feet is higher than most condos built around the same time.

- A bit further from Belltown core than other Belltown condos.

Exterior:          Very good

Interior:          Very good

Location:             Good

Value:                 Good

View:             Very good

Amenities:       Very good
   
Overall:           Very good

How does Concord compares to Bellora? Read more.

-Wendy

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Four Seasons update

Four_seasons_3Four Season's announced recently that they have sold several of their 36 private residence during the holidays. It is unknown exactly how many were sold. Units in this ultra high end hotel/condo start in the low $2M to as high as above $10M.

-Wendy

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Decatur update

Decatur_2Before heading for a client appointment, I had a chance to make a quick stop at the Decatur Grand Opening on Friday on Spring St and Boren Ave in First Hill. Decatur is a 13 story conversion condo with one bedroom and two bedroom floor plans.

A few model units were available for prospective buyers to view to get an idea of the finishes and layout. Finishes include hardwood floors (in entry and kitchen), stainless steel appliances, slab granite countertop in the kitchen, and a retro bathroom with pedestal sink.

Their largest one bedroom in the building is The Monroe floor plan (680-700 square feet). If you prefer space over view, I would check out this floor plan. Their only two bedroom floor plan is the 07 stack on the northwest corner of each level. Homeowner dues for their one bedroom’s range from low to high $200/month with two bedroom’s around $300/month. Sales of the units have already started during the grand opening. If you are interested in Decatur, expect a 30-60 day completion date for move in.  Price list.

Pros

- Nicely layout units

- Newer systems (electrical, plumbing and roof)

- Proximity to downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill

Cons

- Units do not come with parking and storage (Parking available for purchase for $35,000 and storage available for $3,500)

- Narrow kitchen

- No washer or dryers in units (communal laundry room)

- Limited amenities

Exterior:         Average

Interior:          Good

Location:         Good

Value:            Average

View:              Good

Amenities:    Average
   
Overall:         Average

Overall, a decent building with great night views. If you work downtown and don’t own a car, this condo will be a very good match.

- Wendy

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CNN predicts Seattle property market appreciates slightly in 2007

Cnn_news_1Interesting article in CNN on US regional real estate markets shows Seattle is one of the brighter spots in the nation.  Specifically, they predict a small gain (2.8%) in 2007 and flat growth in 2008.  This is the kind of news both home owners and buyers are probably relieved to see.

In fact, the Pacific Northwest is the only region on the West coast with appreciating prices.  California and Arizona are more clearly favoring buyers with dropping prices.

Click here for info on other regions.

-Wendy

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Trace Lofts update

Trace_lofts_2 Trace Lofts preview event took place yesterday and it felt more like a party than a preview event. One prospective home buyer commented that he liked the set up and another was thankful there wasn’t a lot of hard selling.

The first three levels of Trace Lofts is the original structure of the building. The developer has added two additional levels of homes with set back from the original structure.

Douglas fir flooring, reclaimed (recycled) from old buildings will be used in Trace living spaces. Other finishes include bamboo, basalt stone, terrazo and recycled vinyl. Each unit comes with parking and storage. Homeowner dues has not been determined at this point of time but expect them to be in line with other condo projects on the market.

Units will feature exposed brick and beams with ceiling heights starting from under 9 feet to over 10 feet.  Penthouse homes will have some ceiling heights up to 13 feet. Floor plans include open lofts, open one bedroom, one bedroom and two bedrooms. All floor plans will be available online on their website today. The only amenity in the building is a roof top garden. A mid-century Manhattan lounge will occupy one of the retail spaces.

Recent news article on Pike/Pine corridor.

The death of Pike/Pine corridor

Condos soon will replace a bit of Capitol Hill counterculture

When I asked  Edward Krigsman, President and CEO of ek Real Estate Group, how he thinks Trace lofts will impact the local businesses and the overall character of the Pike/Pine Corridor, he responded with the following:

“The Pike/Pine corridor is a unique area, similar in our opinion to the Pearl District in Portland or Yaletown in Vancouver, BC.  It is filled with eclectic businesses and hangouts, with beautiful old buildings next to teardowns and parking lots crying out for redevelopment as the City becomes more dense. The neighborhood is now experiencing an urban rebirth, and we saw Trace as an opportunity to add an interesting piece to the character of the Pike/Pine corridor.  The Trace Lofts project began with the premise that the handsome corner building had always been an iconic entry point into the neighborhood which was crucial to preserve.

Our developer collaborated closely with other key players in the neighborhood to plan for a mixed-use design that would enhance this highly textured environment.  This is particularly true with respect to the street-level retail spaces, which are critical for people to maintain their connection to an area.  Just as Trace Lofts is not displacing any residents, it also does not displace any current businesses.  In fact, our project is adding additional retail space to the area. The developer is working on filling the retail spaces with small, locally owned retailers offering unique products and services with a mix of daytime and nighttime uses.  The first of these is the Gun Club bar currently being built in Trace by Michael Klebeck, creator of Seattle’s beloved Top Pot Doughnuts and Sun Liquors.  We are also encouraging potential retailers to create distinct design elements in their façade, including customizing their own storefronts and signage. 

One of our main objectives for the project is to ensure that the character of the block and its surrounding neighborhood (including 12th and Madison and Pike/Pine) remains intact, strengthening the community and culture that already exists. This is the primary reason we took the path of refurbishing an existing historic building and utilizing an adjacent unused lot to create new living and retail spaces. With the addition of new retailers and residences, we believe Trace Lofts will have a very positive impact on both the retail community and overall character of Pike/Pine.”

Review not available at this moment, please check back in the summer : ).

Trace Lofts previous post and Reservation.

-Wendy

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Olympic Sculpture Park Grand Opening

Olympic_sculpture_park_3The long awaited Olympic Sculpture Park is finally having their grand opening on January 20th and 21st.  The Parc condominiums will be hosting an Open House in conjunction to this opening.

One of the selling points for living in Belltown is the proximity to the Sculpture Park.  Of all the condos, the folks at Concord are probably the biggest beneficiaries since they're a stones throw away and also get some more protection for their west facing Sound views.

-Wendy

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