2200 (along with Cosmopolitan and Madison Tower) was one of the first pre-sale new construction projects to hit the scene after the Cristalla (pre-sold in 2003; completed in 2005). When Cristalla was completed it was the first new construction project to have been completed in Belltown since the Bellora in 2003 and buyers were excited to get into something new and shiny. The market was booming and everyone was trying to buy. Oh the good ole days.
When closings began in 2005 Cristalla, owners were being approached to sell their condos for much over their purchase price (I know, because it happened to me!). This created the expectation that if you purchased a new condo, you could turn around and sell it immediately for a hefty profit. Investors jumped on the chance to make a quick buck and were a large percentage of those who bought at 2200 in pre-sale. Unfortunately, by the time 2200 purchases began to close in 2006 and into 2007, the market had started to cool and buyers were wise to the ‘flipping’ that investors were doing in buildings such as Cristalla and they were not having it. So, when the investors went to sell off their units right away, there were not enough takers. As a result, many of these units then became rentals and still are rentals. Other condo owners who needed to sell walked away and foreclosed or short sold, which affected the condo values.
This unfortunate market timing led to the high amount of listings in the building and the high number of short sales and foreclosures. Of course, some non-investors also short sold or foreclosed on their units as well and the market did take a dive so not all of this is on the shoulders of the inventors but the timing of both the pre-sale phase and the closings definitely affected the impression of the building as well as the pricing and the rental numbers.
Does this mean the building is a bad building or people shouldn’t buy there? We don’t think so. The location is excellent. The amenities are great and the building interiors are well appointed and modern. It does suffer from financing pit falls though. With the large percentage of commercial space, it can be a challenge to get the big banks to lend on it. This is something the Board is working on with Fannie Mae but only time will tell what will happen with that. There are great local banks that have helped buyers purchase over the past few years. Umpqua, Washington Federal and Sterling to name a few have been brought to our attention with helping with refinances and purchase loans in 2200.
Price range: $200,000 for a studio up to over a million (based on sold prices over the past 2 years)
Layouts: Studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 2 story lofts
Pros: Location in the burgeoning South Lake Union, amenities, convenient resident drop off and driveway (no alley driving needed), several retail stores including a Whole Foods on site, price points are currently great when compared to other newer constructed condo projects, pet friendly
Cons: Lending can be a challenge with the percentage of commercial space, high rental ratio (under Fannie Mae guidelines but still high), no swimming pool, party room does not have a full kitchen, monthly HOA dues are high, current warranty investigation work may provide a challenge for financing temporarily as well
Final thoughts: 2200 Westlake, despite its rocky beginnings, can be a great choice for someone as long as they get fully educated on the building but want to enjoy a growing and thriving neighborhood.
By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle Condos exclusively for buyers and sellers.