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September 2007

August 2007

Belmont Lofts Update

5 out of 42 units in Belmont lofts have already sold even before their VIP event. The Capitol Hill apartment conversion is currently going through replacement of new siding which is estimated to complete in December. Developed by a Portland company, this would be their first conversion project in Seattle.

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A few observations from the viewing tour:

  • The most interesting floor plans are the lofts units on the top floors. The ceiling heights are at least 12 feet tall. My favorite would be the 07 series with one bedroom off the living room and a loft level that can be comfortably used as a 2nd bedroom or office. The nice thing about this unit is that it has taller windows.
  • The units seem to have slightly higher end finishes than most of the conversion that I've seen. The raised sinks in the bathrooms seem to be the trend nowadays. Marble countertops are used in the bathroom instead of the granite that you would typically see in conversions. Luckily, the countertop granite has smooth edges instead of sharp corners -- I'm not a big fan of sharp cornered countertops.
  • The building seems to have a mix of different layouts for their floor plans. The kitchen could be right next to living area or separated from it. You'll probably find a few floor plans that have good bedroom sizes but the living room area is a little narrow to work with.

Continue reading "Belmont Lofts Update" »

18,000 Square Foot Downtown Supermarket Announced

With all the new residents embracing urban living in downtown Seattle, most will be very pleased to hear about a new supermarket slotted for 3rd and Union.  Not only will the store be within walking distance for many condo residents (especially the lucky dogs at 1521 and Four Seasons), it will also offer delivery service for the entire Seattle core condo zone.

Igasupermarket_3Read the full article in the PI here.  Some interesting tidbits:

  • Lease is signed
  • It'll be a Kress IGA Supermarket
  • 18,000 Square feet
  • No parking (walk in and delivery)
  • 40% of the space will be for pre-prepared foods, hot food tables, salad bars, etc.

-About Wendy

Bagley Lofts Wins Design Award

Ss_mu_bagleycornerWeber + Thompson, the architect and interior designer for Bagley Lofts in Wallingford recently won the International Making Cities Livable award for this project.  W+T was able to turn this challenging site into a successful loft project in Wallingford. The project was awarded for a few reasons:                                                        

  • Strong intergration of the project's commercial and residential components.
  • Successful parking solution and finely detailed facades.
  • The project design appropriately reflects the scale shift between adjacent structures.

Kitchen_2The condo was completed in 2006 with 43 lofts units and 3,300 square feet of retail space. Homes at Bagley Lofts range in size from 740 to 1,400 square feet. There are three types of units: studios, or standard loft homes; one-bedrooms, which consist of a loft with a separate alcove for a bed or an office; and two-bedrooms, which have a separate bedroom in addition to the loft space. The interior features concrete floors, tall ceilings and warehouse-style windows. Folks appear to really like living there; currently, there are no resale units on the market.

Some other W+T work also include 1521, 2200 Westlake and Cristalla.

-About Wendy

Trace Lofts walk through

I just did a walk through with one of my clients for their purchase in Trace Lofts. They are closing in a few weeks' time. If you have visited the sale center, you probably remember that only pieces of finishes were presented. No model unit for Trace Lofts was available except for Trace North.

The unit turned out better than I expected and was a pleasant surprise for my clients and me. The finishes weren't the typical slab countertop or high-end cabinetry system; however, when everything is put together, everything goes very well with the fir wood flooring and exposed beams. One of the highlights is the heavy salvage door installed in the bedroom, adding an edgy urban touch to the unit.

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So far, 70% of the Trace Loft units are sold. 20 out of their 35 released units in Trace North are also under contract. Comparing the two buildlings' finishes, I would much prefer Trace Lofts given they are more interesting and more lofty feel.

Previous posts:

Trace Lofts preview event
Trace Lofts coming soon

-About Wendy

Mortgage Meltdown?

ImagesA month ago, American Home Mortgage, one of the nation's top 50 mortgage companies stopped funding loans leaving some homebuyers unpleasantly surprised at their closing appointments. Countrywide recently announced that they will be eliminating around 500 jobs nationwide as they try to ride out the liquidity shortage. Yesterday's news reported that Capitol One is shutting down their mortgage division GreenPoint which specializes in Jumbo loans (loan that are above $417,000).

So what is going on with the mortgage/lending industry? Is the sky falling? Should we all sell immediately and start renting? As a homebuyer, what should you know and prepare for? I had the chance to talk to Rick Davis, Mortgage Banker with First Horizon to get his insights and point of view:

1.) So what started this whole volatility in the lending/mortgage industry?

The real estate and mortgage industries have been partying for 5 years, and now it's time for the hangover. The pendulum has swung from one extreme to another. After making aggressive loans to marginally qualified buyers, we're now trying to restore some sanity to the lending process. The unfortunate fact is that things will likely get worse before they get better.

The secondary market has gone away for many types of loans, putting a shock wave through the industry and creating the "Liquidity Crisis." This crisis has forced the mortgage industry to retreat back to the old ways of doing things-full documentation loans with strict guidelines.

2.) What can buyers expect when they are applying for a loan?

The loan application process has not changed, but the levels of documentation required have become more stringent for almost every loan program. Buyers should expect to work with an experienced, professional lender who is capable and equipped to interpret the market for them, and discuss how it impacts their particular situation.

With loan guidelines changing weekly, buyers should expect to have an in depth discussion with their lender about their loan program and qualifications: Is their approval for a program that has been changing (e.g. stated income, interest only or 100% financing)? What is their time-line for buying a condo and what is the likelihood that their loan approval may change during that time frame? Begin with a strategy and plan not just for your home loan, but for your home buying process as well.

Continue reading "Mortgage Meltdown?" »

Seattle Condo Market Update

The numbers are in from the Northwest Multiple Listing service. In July, we saw major increases in inventory as well as significant increases in closed sales for most areas.  Queen Anne, Lake Union and Magnolia had a 18% dip in closed sales versus the same time last year - this followed a strong month in June 2007 with an increase of 23.33% of closed sale compared to June 2006 for Queen Anne.


As for Belltown and the downtown area, there has been consistently higher closed sales (ranging from 39.47% to 157.69%) for the last 3 months compared to same periods last year.  Nevertheless, active listings are increasing at a major clip with July inventory more than double last years while sales were up about 50%.  Over the next four months, we will start seeing major spikes in closed sales as new construction for projects like the Parc (Sep), Mosler Lofts (Sep), Trio (Nov), and 5th and Madison (Oct) come online.

Continue reading "Seattle Condo Market Update" »

Seattle Condo News

Smith_towerThe Smith Tower just got approval from the Pioneer Square Preservation board. The developer will continue to work with Seattle's Department of Planning and Development as well as the Landmarks Board and Pioneer Square Preservation Board on proposed architectural changes. Read more.

Another update -- this time in West Seattle.  While Ballard neighborhood has been getting building permits issued by the Seattle Department of Planning and Development for new resident units, Dupre and Scott has reported that there has been 412 apartment to condo conversions occuring over the last 18 months in West Seattle. Close to 1,000 permits for new residential units have also been issued in this neighborhood. Read more.

-About Wendy

Condo Investments - Not for the Faint of Heart

A lot of my clients are experienced investors. However, I also work with first-time investors as well. For those folks who aren't planning on using their new property as a primary residence and haven't bought and sold investment properties before, there are some things I generally go over before we even consider touring the first unit: 

  • Buying a property for zero down and renting it out expecting you'll make a monthly income after dues, taxes, and expenses is highly unlikely to happen. Perhaps you can find a really under priced dated unit and are able to do the renovations yourself but in general, investors experience short term losses and reap their profits in the medium to long term at selling time. 
  • Especially if it's primarily an investment property, buying a pricey unit today that is in a hot building may not leave a lot of head room for appreciation a few years out. Consider units that are attractively priced and/or in areas that are still developing (and priced accordingly).
  • Run the numbers. Make sure you whip out your Excel and see what your monthly costs, taxes, and expected resale value will be to see if the figures pencil out. If the numbers don't work out on paper, they probably won't in real life either.

Hope this helps!

-About Wendy

Open House Sat & Sun - Come say hello

I've been getting lots of questions about the different projects in Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.

If you'd like to chat in person about the market in general or specific projects you're curious about, I'll be hosting open houses in Eastlake and Queen Anne this weekend. If you are in the neighborhood, feel free to pop by to say hello and I'll be happy to give you the inside scoop.

Saturday (08/11) 1-4PM Eastlake View Condo
Sunday (08/12) 1-4PM loft in Queen Anne

-About Wendy


CameoFinally, we are hearing some news from the Cameo folks. The condo which  started marketing more than a year ago is going to have their sneak preview event in November. Floor plans, features, and pricing will be available during the event.

When : November 2, 2007 (Event postponed)

Time : 11.00am-6.00pm

Where: Cameo Sale Center (14th Ave and Pine St)

Related Posts:

Cameo VIP Event Postponed
Cameo- coming soon

-About Wendy