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February 2010
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March 2010

Escala's Open House

Escala had their broker's open house this last Thursday.  This highly anticipated event had a really good turn out.  Of course, given all the drama on SCR about Escala, I couldn't resist checking it out and sharing my thoughts.  This time round they even allowed pictures which I've included below so long as you understand they were snapped by me as I was on the tour and aren't professional photos.  The open house showcased eight model homes.  The interior design and furnishings of these homes were individually put together by five well established designers, Jeff Lamb, Dana Hamel, Polina Zaika, Richard Holliday, and Dixie Stark.


The tour started with the fitness center, followed by the spa with treatment rooms, and then we took the high speed elevator right up to view all the model units.

Continue reading "Escala's Open House" »


Who said Condos need to feel like...condos

Nice pics in a recent Seattle Times article of a really elegant and warm condo interior in Madison Park.  It's a good example of a downsizing for folks who are accustomed to the space and home-iness of a house but want the convenience and amenities of a condo.  Of course, this assumes you've got the budget to make that transition without making many compromises but as you can see from these pics, it can be done ;-)

Condo living room
 

Full Article

-Wendy


Trouble with your Condo board?

Stumbled upon an article on dealing with a condo board which disappoints.  

Nothing earth shattering in the article but the suggestion to think long and hard about picking a new management company makes a lot of sense in my opinion. A great management company can help the board make the right calls and stay on track.  A bad one just makes a so-so board even worse.

Here's the full article.

-Wendy


Volta (Alex) in Belltown

Volta Condos 

Alex Condo in Belltown has been renamed Volta and will be ready for occupancy in July 2010.  The 34 home boutique condo features 27 one bedroom's and 6 two bedroom's and 1 live/work loft.  Penthouses are sold as a shell.  There are two color selections (Slate and Cognac) for the interior finishes.  No model home is available for viewing but the sales center will be opened in April 2010.

One Bedroom $299,950-$750,000

Two bedroom $485,000-$675,000

Penthouses $995,000-$1,095,000 

Here are a couple of my observations during the tour:

1.) The building seems pretty solid with good sound insulation.  Apparently, they're using a high performance double glazed window system with two panes of laminated glass, four glass layers in total.

2.) The only homes that come with a terrace are on the fourth and penthouse level.

3.) The condo is built on a slope so homes on the first floor are literally on the street level (you see street cars from your windows). 

4.) In a couple of the 01 and 02 floor plans, there is a stand alone bath tub which I thought was kind of interesting and unique from other condos.

5.) Penthouses have a skylight to the rooftop deck with a stairway leading out to the private terrace.  That was pretty neat.

6.) The floor to ceiling windows are great but I wish they have more operable windows.

There are only 29 parking spaces available in the building so if you need a spot, they cost $25,000 each.  Storage is at $5,000.  Homeowners dues are at 44 cents per square foot.  The only amenity is the roof top deck. 

Aesthetically, Volta blends really well with the neighborhood buildings.  It seems pretty solid.  Most of the floor plans are well laid out.  You will probably have to make some trade off on a couple of the homes (eg. bigger bathroom but smaller closet).  Volta is quite similar to Pomeroy in some ways.  Not all homes come with outdoor space (balcony/terrace) and amenities are limited.  It's suitable for someone who does not need amenities and prefers a low maintenance building.  If you're an Escala type buyer, this building may not appeal to you.  Interior work is still ongoing for Volta so it's hard to see how the whole finished package will come together.  Stay tuned for more updates in July!

Related posts:

Condo Update
Alex Condos Update

-Wendy


Hjarta & Florera Condos Reintroduced through Bulk Sales

Picture 001 Copy of IMG_0814 
 
Pryde + Johnson had announced that they are reintroducing condo sales within two partially leased buildings, Hjarta in Ballard and Florera in Green Lake.  As part of a bulk sale approach, the homes will be discounted up to 35% off original list prices.  The inventory will be released for sale on March 27.  Twelve homes will be available for sale at Florera and eighteen homes from Hjarta will be available as well.

Studios (578 – 598 sq. ft.) will start from
$244,950

1 bedrooms (614 – 921 sq. ft.) will start from $274,950

1 bedroom + dens (792 – 923 sq. ft.) will start from $314,950

2 bedrooms (1,037 – 1,447 sq. ft.) will start from $399,950

2 bedrooms + den penthouses (1,331 – 1,578 sq. ft.) will start from $589,950

3 bedroom + den penthouses (1,909 sq. ft.) will start from $799,950

Read more here.

As you may recall, the bulk sale approach was first marketed by Realogics, Inc. for Eleven Eleven East Pike (Capitol Hill) and The Decatur (First Hill).  This approach seemed to work very well for those two projects.  Realogics Sotheby's international Realty, independently owned and operated by Realogics, Inc will be handling the bulk sale.  

Related posts:

Bulk Buy Update
Bulk Buy Project Offers Classes
Eleven Eleven East Pike
Decatur is back

-Wendy


Four Seasons Private Residences Facing Liens

The Seattle Times reported that the Four Seasons Hotel/Condo is facing $34 Million in liens filed by contractors who worked on the project.  It's not unusual for new projects with lower sales to face liens flied by their contractors who are awaiting payment.  Nevertheless, it is unfortunate such a prestigious brand like Four Seasons Private Residences is associated with liens.

 

John Oppenheimer, managing partner of project owner Seattle Hotel Group (SHG), would not address the Four Seasons' finances.

Large, complex projects such as the Four Seasons all have issues that get resolved at the end of the project," he said in an e-mail. The liens "address some of these issues and are in the process of being resolved," he added, declining further comment.

Full article here.

-Wendy


Pending Sales Up 50% in February

February numbers are in and they're looking very encouraging.

Pending Sales

Last month, pending sales were 51.08% higher than a year ago with 210 condos under contract.  This is the 2nd highest month for pending sales since October 2009 with pending sales at 272.  In October 2009, the tax credit was supposed to expire in November 2009 and we saw a surge in pending sales.  With the new tax credit extension expiring in April 30, I'm not surprised to see another surge in pending sales for last month.

Closed Sales

As for closed sales, we had 116 condos sold.  This is 18.4% higher than February 2009 though 8% lower than previous month.  For the last 5 consecutive months, we saw closed sales exceeding same period year over year.

Median Price

Median price also shows a modest increase of 6.02% versus same time last year. This is the 2nd positive increase in median price since October 2009 due to the tax credit.

Month of Inventory

Months of inventory based on closed sales are at 11.25 which suggests it is still a buyer's market in Seattle. However, if we look at months inventory based on pending sales (those under contract but not closed yet), it's actually at a much lower level of 6.21, a balanced market.  If the numbers continue to hold up for the next few months, we're most probably going to see prices stabilizing and possibly a small single digit appreciation by end of the year.

Inventory

Total active listings are at 1,306 in February, only 1.87% higher than a year ago and ~8.8% higher than last month. Belltown/ Downtown and Ballard/ Green Lake are the two areas experiencing lower inventory than a year ago by -10.13% and -22.71% respectively.  

Summary

After several months of solid performance, the market data shows our Seattle condo recovery is well under way.  

Related post:

February Seattle Condo Market Update

-Wendy