Previous month:
March 2008
Next month:
May 2008

April 2008

Stadium Lofts Update

Stadium_lofts_2 The redesign of Stadium Lofts is causing the project to take longer to complete.  The developer, Nitze-Stagen, and preservation group, Historic Seattle, had initially proposed the stadium Lofts project to be a two-story building. The new plans calls for four additional stories with 70-80 lofts and flat above retail space. This will bring the condo height to approximately 100 feet. A new developer, Maria Barrientos, will be leading the project, although Nitze-Stagen and Historic Seattle will remain involved.

They are currently getting final approval from the city for the new design. One of the major focus areas of the redesign will be to provide parking for more of the homes by rearranging and/or eliminating some of the first floor units. A focus group will be held in May to get a better idea of what sort of finish packages and design elements they will use going forward. The sales center is likely to open either late 2008 or early 2009. Based on the current schedule, the building will be ready early to mid 2010.

Previous Posts:

Stadium Lofts
Stadium Lofts update
Stadium Lofts- Coming soon


The Danielle

The_danielle_3The Danielle will be the latest addition to the Ballard neighborhood (5803 24th Ave NW).  The building is designed by award winning Seattle architect, Roger Newell and it is only a couple blocks away from Noma.  Prices for these 31 homes start from the $200,000's to $900,000's.  Interiors of the homes will feature the following:

  • Granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, tall windows and smart-home wiring
  • Radiant floors in kitchen and master bathroom
  • Advanced security system
  • Walk in closets 
  • Large decks, patios or terraces
  • Amenities such as roof top deck

The condo is slated for completion in 2009 with sales beginning in fall 2008.

Condos in the same neighborhood: Noma, Canal Station and Hjarta.


The Marlborough Update

Marlborough_photos_two_imagesAfter rolling out Queen's Court, the Pittsburgh, Nord and Betsy Ross, Live Historic launched their 5th conversion projects, the Marlborough yesterday.  This time the project is on First Hill.

Earlier yesterday before the launch party, workers were busy cleaning up the place and finishing last minute touch ups to the lobby while stagers were prepping the model units.  The vintage charms were evident from the Marlborough seals on the lobby windows, old school mail boxes, crown molding, original french doors, coffered ceilings, and arched windows.

According to Ben Rankin, Principal of Pioneer Property Group, a handful of the units are sold and they are retaining the rest of the inventory for the launch party. The building has been extensively remodeled including new wiring, plumbing, electrical, refinishing of hardwood floors, and replicating of some of the vintage details.  The main envelope work includes the new roof, windows, and cleaning and repairing of the terra cotta carvings.

Continue reading "The Marlborough Update" »

Conversions and Rental Market Report

Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisor has reported on the rental market for King County and Seattle for March 2008. Here are some interesting highlights from their report.


  1. In March, 4.1 percent of King County apartments and 3.1 percent of those in Seattle were vacant, only up a smidgen from March 2007 when vacancies were at 3.9 percent in the county and 2.8 percent in Seattle and still less than half of the 2003 vacancy rates.
  2. One big reason vacancies have started increasing is that the housing slump has dramatically slowed down new conversions of apartments into condominiums.
  3. 2006 conversion bonanza: conversions hitting the market went from 900 in 2003 to 1,800 in 2004; 3,600 in 2005 and more than 6,000 in 2006 -- fueled the drop in the vacancy rate during those years. But conversions fell to 2,800 last year (subtracting 1,200 units that started to convert, then reverted to rentals) and just 168 units have converted or are scheduled to convert so far this year.
  4. Conversions in the past three years outpaced new development by a total of 5,400 units.
  5. Apartment rents averaged $1,026 in King County and $1,071 in Seattle in March 2008, up about 8.5 percent in both cases from March 2007.

Overall, this is good news for condo owners who are already renting out their units or considering renting them out in the near future.  For renters, it appears that while rents won't be going down anytime soon, they are not likely to be continuing to increase as much as they did last year.


Live Historic Launch Party - The Marlborough

The_marlborough_houseLive Historic will be throwing a launch party for their latest conversion, The Marlborough on First Hill (1224 Boren Ave) tomorrow from 5.30pm to 9.00pm. The 13-story building is designed by London-born architect Bertram Dudley Stuart and will feature 83 homes with studio, one bedroom and two bedroom floor plans priced from $225,000 to $1,165,000. More information coming up. Stay tuned.


The Standoff Continues as Sellers Refuse to Roll

Here's a good article in the Seattle Times describing "sticky pricing" and the fact that Seattle sellers are largely refusing to make giant price reductions -- even as most buyers refuse to pay 2007 prices. 

As most SCR readers know, I happen to believe that we are more likely to be in a balanced market by the end of this year than an all-out buyers' market.  In fact, it seems to me that the biggest factor will be if the rest of the country's economic jitters drag Seattle down since the local fundamentals (job growth, interstate immigration, foreign investment / weak dollar, baby boomer downsizing, etc.) bode well for demand keeping up with the supply.

Of course, I suppose I'd be retired in the south of France if predicting prices were easy and can see why others feel prices will drop further.  There certainly is no shortgage of lively discussion -- if you didn't see it, check out a recent SCR reader exchange here.   


Elektra- Does your condo building come with VRUs?


Exterior_2In recent news, owners at Elektra condominiums are getting upset over VRUs (Vacational Rental Units) in their building which they believe violate the city's zoning law and have enlisted the city help.  Even though VRUs are mentioned in the Elektra ownership agreement, the Department of Planning and Development's (DPD) position is that the city codes override anything in the owners' contract.  Now, VRU owners are appealing the DPD's decision.  A decision will be made by DPD in a few months.

Personally, I think it's reasonable for owners to rent their property for longer periods like 6 months to a year.  However, if the units become a high turn-around accommodation for non-residents, it changes the dynamic of the condo.  I can totally understand Elektra owners' concerns.  I would prefer to know who my neighbors are instead of meeting random people in the elevator all the time.

More about Elektra Condominiums:

Elektra is one of the older high-rise condominiums in downtown Seattle (1400 Hubbell Place).  Built in the late 1950's, the building comprises 200 units with studio, one bedroom and two bedroom floor plans.  Studios start at a little over 300 square feet, one bedrooms range from 400's-900 square feet and two bedrooms are from 660 to as high as 1,400 square feet for the penthouse units.  One bedroom's start in the low $200,000's and two bedroom's start in the low $300,000's.  Due to its accessible price point and location, this building is one of the top choices for first-time home buyers and investors.  However, the unattractive part for this building is the the exterior and interior common areas.  They look dated and apartment like.

Related post:

Elektra Update


Seattle Condo Market update

Spring is here so let's see how the numbers are looking.  For the month of March, inventory remains high in Seattle at 52.43% compared to same time last year.  Year-over-year pending sales dropped 27.76%. In fact, from January to March 08, we have seen a consistent drop in closed sales over the same time last year.  However, in March, median price for Seattle condos increased by 4.11%. 


Days on market remains longer than same time last year for all the neighborhoods.  Months of inventory in Belltown/downtown has recovered from early this year.  In January, Feburary and March, the months inventory has been shrinking from 14, to 8.3 to 7.6.  It looks like we are moving from a buyers' market gradually to a balanced market in Belltown/downtown.  Kudos to those buyers who picked up great deals in January.


Summary: More property is on the market and staying on the market longer than last year; however, sellers are not slashing prices nearly as much as some had expected.  Most homebuyers are taking a little bit longer to decide on their purchase knowing that there is not as much urgency.  Sellers on the other hand are still holding on to the prices they believe their condos ought to command and in some cases are making a symbolic reductions in the price but rarely more than 10%.  For the sellers who can wait, they are opting to rent out their condo to capitalize on the strong rental market.

Flashback: I was curious how many readers were right about their prediction on the market for March 08 compared to Fall 2007?  22% of SCR voters were right that the market will perform the same in March (~5% change in median price) compared to September 07 but sell at a slower rate.  About half of the poll takers incorrectly predicted in October that the pricing in the spring would drop by up to 30%.


Montage Update



Montage condominiums replaces the site of a parking lot and is a new addition close to the Pike/Pine corridor. The sales center is set to open in a few weeks' with prices for their units still in the tweaking stages. Here is a summary of my thoughts after taking a sneak preview tour yesterday.

  1. Well laid out floor plan- Master suite in most of their floor plans, good amount of storage space in the units. Dens are a little on the smaller side. I would probably call it an office nook instead of a den.
  2. Generous amounts of outdoor space. All of them come with either a terrace or deck. Approximately 127-375 square feet.
  3. Large windows. Even for units facing east, you still get a good amount of light. They even have windows in the hallway which is kind of nice for a smaller condo building. 
  4. Attention to small details such as inline on-demand hot water from the sink, recessed lights in the kitchen, solid doors, dual flush toilets, gas cooking, and fireplace.
  5. If you are in the market for a two bedroom, I would check out #503. Great layout with 2 decks and neighborhood views.


Looking at the exterior, there is nothing striking about the curb appeal but the building has a lot to offer such as interior details and proximity to the Pike/Pine corridor.