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April 2009

Rollin Update

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Vulcan has announced that Rollin will be officially converted into an apartment building.  With only 25% presale, they were unable to meet Fannie Mae's new requirement of 70% pre-sale.  Matt has more here.

One thing that comes to mind is requiring the high pre-sale threshold of 70% makes a lot of sense long term (it used to be 51%).  

The question I have is: is that the right thing to implement when the market is still trying to find it's footing? I wonder if it would have been better to ratchet the more stringent requirements up over a couple of years in line with the market recovery.

It's only a bear market if you're downsizing...

One of the mathematical realities is that when real estate prices have come down like they have here, you can often take advantage.  Here are some of the key drivers and some gotchas.

  • This only works if you can find a buyer for your current place.
  • This only applies if you want to move up to a higher value property.  If you're just cashing out or downsizing, this math won't apply (or in the case of downsizers, would be reversed in a bad way).
  • If you can find a buyer for your current place, but you're one of the bears who thinks prices will come down much more in the near future, it would still make sense to wait.     

Continue reading "It's only a bear market if you're downsizing..." »

Seattle Condo News: Backing Out of a Purchase

Seattle Times Article  

A client of mine sent this news article today that I thought is worth mentioning.  <Thanks Harold!>  It doesn't come as a surprise given the bubble's bursting last year to hear about some buyers backing out from new condo projects currently on the market.  From the condo projects I have reviewed over the years, I'm hearing of backouts of anywhere between 10%-15%. Of course some of those happened even when the market was doing well.  So in this slow market, how are these condos holding up? 

Here are some highlights from the article:

  • At Olive 8, 180 of the 227 condos were presold, almost all by early 2007.  20% of those buyers have expressed concern about getting financing to close, and the developer is trying to help them.
  • Fifteen Twenty-one presold 138 of its 143 units.  37 of those buyers have backed out.  75 units have already closed.
  • Escala have sold 30% of their 270 homes. The developer hasn't heard from any buyers who want to back out.
  • Vulcan Real Estate has pushed back the start of closings on its nearly finished Rollin Street Flats project (due to the new Fannie Mae guideline), where only one-quarter of the units have been sold.  Vulcan recently dropped prices on eight of the 133 units in its 19-story, almost-done Enso project, where about 60 percent of the condos are under contract.


Here is another related article written by an Olive 8 buyer.

Related posts:

Fifteen Twenty One Tour
Fifteen Twenty One Opening Ceremony
Escala Hard Hat Tour
Escala Update
Olive 8 Hard Hat Tour
Olive 8 Update- Price Guarantee

Rollin Hard Hat Tour

744 Harvard Condo

Studio Meng Strazzara has designed another upscale condo project in the Harvard Belmont Landmark district.  This time it's a boutique style 4-unit home on 744 Harvard Ave E.  The architect's other prominent projects in the same neighborhood include the completed Harvard Estate and the currently under construction Harvard and Highland Condo.

(Photos courtesy from 744 Harvard Condo, archived at Seattle Condo Review Gallery)

744 Harvard Condois a 3-story concrete and steel building with two homes on the 1st level (with shared foyer entry), one on the 2nd level, and the last one is a huge penthouse unit with a large outdoor terrace. Both bigger units have private elevator access.  It's worth noting that even though the structure is concrete and steel, I was able to hear footsteps (high heels) from people walking on the 3rd floor when I was touring the second floor.

#101     1 BR + Den/ 1.5 BA         1,180 square feet     $  625,950 (New price $589,950)

#102     1 BR/ 1.5 BA                     920 square feet     $  799,950 (New price $749,950)

#200     3 BR/ 2.5 BA                  2,251 square feet     $1,850,000

#300     3 BR/2.5 BA                   2,091 square feet     $1,950,000

Continue reading "744 Harvard Condo" »

SCR Reader Feedback on state of the Seattle Condo Market

As of now, there were about 200 votes in the poll I posted about 10 days ago.

Here are the biggest takeaways based on my read of the results:


  • The bulls and bears were split evenly.  Half of the voters believed we've already hit bottom or will have by the end of 2009. The other half feel we will still see prices decline in 2010 and beyond.      
  • No one expects a return to days of double digit growth.  Almost half believe when we do hit bottom, pricing will remain flat.  The other half believe we'll see steady annual price appreciation in the low to mid single digit percentages.  

Continue reading "SCR Reader Feedback on state of the Seattle Condo Market" »

Escala Hard Hat Tour

I managed to take a hard hat tour of Escala yesterday.  We started the tour from the restaurants and proceeded to the lobby.  There will be two restaurants on both sides of the lobby.  It hasn't been determined what restaurants will be going into those spaces but we will probably find out in a few months.  The structure has reached its full height but construction is still ongoing for the interior.  They are expecting completion around this summer and first move-in in November.

As we went through the lobby, we saw the stairs that lead up to Club Cielo.  Residents will be greeted by a concierge stationed right below the stairs.  The fitness center is on the north end of the building.  Fitness equipment will be lined up along the windows and residents can get some city view while working out.  The indoor resistance pools (a rare treat for Seattle) and hot tub area will be separated by glass windows from the fitness center. 

Continue reading "Escala Hard Hat Tour" »

Madison Tower / Hotel 1000

Madison Tower CondosMadison Tower/ Hotel 1000 was Seattle's first hotel/condo project completed in 2006.  Fourty-seven homes sit above the Hotel from the 15th level to 24th floors.  The building is located between Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market on the corner of 1st Ave and Madison St and occupies a quarter block.

There are five homes on each floor with the exception of the penthouse.  The 00 and 01 floor plans are west facing and offer the most optimum water views. 

00 Floor plan         Two bedroom 1980-3,010 sqft.       NW 

01 Floor Plan         Two bedroom 1,562-3,740 sqf.       SW   

02 Floor plan         Two bedroom 1,444 sqft.               SE 

03 Floor Plan         One bedroom 805 sqft.                   E

04 floor plan          One bedroom  877 sqft.                 NE

Click here for the floor plans.

Continue reading "Madison Tower / Hotel 1000" »

When will we hit bottom? How will the recovery look when it happens?

More and more economists in the national media are predicting the bottom for the US real estate market overall at the end of the year. 

What do you think lies ahead for the Seattle condo market?  My intuition says bottom at end of the Fall and slow, gradual, not too exciting "normal" growth over the next few years. 

Cast your votes below and you'll see what the other readers think as well.


Zandi "very confident" we'll hit bottom for end of 2009

Zandi sketched out his "timeline to recovery," which sounds fairly optimistic. The stock market bottomed out in the first three months of 2009, he believes. (He'd originally expected this to happen last November; instead it was in March.) Home prices should reach their lowest point by the end of the year. ("I feel very confident about this.") The fiscal-stimulus program should start to work by this summer. Unemployment will peak in the second quarter of 2010. And economic expansion should begin again in the fall of 2010. "My point is, things can turn pretty quickly," Zandi said, chuckling. "How's that for a happy ending?" 

Zandi is considered a professional, FWIW ;-)

March 2009 Seattle Condo Market Stats


March 2009 Statistics (SCR) 
The March statistics are out.  Are they looking as sunny as the weather we have been getting the last few days?  Here is a quick look:

Months of inventory
Months of inventory for March was 11.6 (i.e., it would take 11.6 months to sell all of the current inventory at the present purchasing volume).  This is an improvement from the previous month at 13 months but still higher than a year ago which was a much more brisk 6.4. 

Pending sales
Pending sales continue to remain 44% lower than same period last year and a modest improvement of 3% higher than previous month.  

Continue reading "March 2009 Seattle Condo Market Stats" »