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March 2011

Downtown Seattle Condo Blog Update

Escala new

Well, we are nearing the end of the first quarter, if you are wondering what is going on with Escala and Olive 8, here is a quick update.

Sales have been pretty consistent at Escala. Ever since the new sales team took over the project a year ago with some realistic price reductions, they have closed about 80 homes with an additional 15 pending for closing. Not bad for a year's effort.

What's interesting is that during my last tour, I had the chance to revisit their E floor plan. This home is facing west with really nice city and water views but it has a huge supporting column with a double sided fireplace in the middle of the living room. The sales team came up with a way to reduce the size of the column. What an improvement! The living space is more open and gives you better views. I thought that was a great idea giving buyer that option to reduce the column size. Check out the before and after pics below. 

Escala E floor plan before
Escala E floor plan after
(The drawings are for illustrative purposes only.) 

 E plans start at $1,089,000 on the east side of the building and $1,249,000 on the west side.


Olive 8 spring event 

Olive 8 announced  they have closed 17 sales since the new year.  They have also launched their spring event offering special financing from 1.5% (for a conforming 5 year ARMs, 2.8% APR). In addition, the developer will be covering the closing costs and credit the first year's home-owner dues and health-club membership fees if the purchase closes before May 31st.

Related posts:

Escala's New Pricing
Escala Scaling Prices Soon
Escala Update Dec 2009
Escala Hard Hat Tour 
Escala Update
Escala Update February 2007
Escala priority presale event
Escala: Cristalla's biggest competition

Olive 8 Reset Pricing?
Olive 8's Video & Reset Pricing
Olive 8's New Pricing 
Olive 8 Auction Results
Olive 8 & 5th and Madison Update
Olive 8 going Auction

FHA Increasing Mortgage Insurance Premium

FHA update picture

HUD is increasing the mortgage insurance premium per month by .25% for FHA loans starting April 18th.  If you're getting a $300,000 loan, the monthly payment could go up by $62. If you're a buyer and need FHA financing or a seller in a FHA approved condo, you may want to get the case number ordered before April 18th. The lender can update and order the case number in their system.  For seller in a FHA approved condo, even if the current buyer end up not buying the condo, the case number will stay with that property address, so any future buyer who wants to buy the property and needs FHA financing, they will be grandfathered with the better mortgage insurance premium before April 18th. 

Related posts:

FHA Update -Jan 2010
FHA Update -Dec 2009

Belltown Condos: Austin Bell

IMG_0807 IMG_0808

Austin Bell is a historic landmark located on one of the most vibrant blocks (2324 1s Ave) in Belltown. The building was constructed as a hotel in 1889 and was designed by noted architect, Elmer Fisher. It was named after William Bell's son, Austin. The hotel was almost destroyed by a fire in 1981 but the strong brick facade managed to survive. It was carefully restored from 1997-1999 by Murray Franklyn and Snell Partnership and turned into a condominium complex with a Starbucks on the street level. 
Floor plan & square footage               

23 Studio- 333-696 square feet           

16 One bedroom- 501-906 square feet

5 Two bedroom- 1,185-1,395 square feet

1 Three bedroom- 2,000 square feet

The lobby features wood columns with brick walls and pictures of the Austin Bell hotel in the early days. Out of the 45 units in the building, 12 of them are lofts boasting close to 20 foot ceilings. The majority of these homes are on the 2nd floor.  

Comparing Austin Bell and Pomeroy, they actually share some similarities. Both buildings use fob key entry for their lobby entrances as well as elevator, making it feel a little bit more secure than some other condos in Belltown. Both have limited amenities. In Pomeroy's case, it only has a huge common rooftop deck, probably one of the nicest in Belltown. As for Austin Bell, the rooftop deck is a little smaller but it has a central courtyard on the 2nd floor. Pomeroy has higher quality finishes and central air-conditioning but it does not have any lofts. Austin Bell has higher number of petite studios. They are small but well laid out and it's ideal for a first time home buyer or someone looking for an in city pied-a-terre.  

Related post:


Joseph Arnold Lofts on Elliott and Cedar

Eric has a nice recap on the latest condo to apartment conversion (I still remember when it was always the other way around).  Basically, the Schuster group (of Mosler Lofts fame), has decided to cancel it's original plans to build a condo tower and will instead build a 12-story apartment on the corner of Elliott and Cedar.  Chalk up another one for the apartment bulls (or put it another way, condo sellers can breathe a bit easier that the glut isn't getting any worse).  Find out more on Eric's original article.

  Elliot and cedar arnold lofts 

Seattle Condo Market Update: February 2011

February 2011 Seattle Condo Market data is in.  Some quick highlights and charts below:

  • Pending sales were down from 175 in January to 165 this past February.  Furthermore, compared to February 2010, February 2011 had 21% fewer pending sales.
  • Listings were up slightly from January 2011.
  • Median prices were up for the second month, the highest median price in the last 6 months.

The biggest disappointment is probably the dip in pending sales and the biggest counterpoint is the strength in median prices.  I'll let readers draw their own conclusions based on the data.

Feb 2011 Market Update (Sales MOM)

Continue reading "Seattle Condo Market Update: February 2011" »

Gallery Auction Converts to "Buy Now" Event

The auction event for Gallery is cancelled for tomorrow. Accelerated Marketing Partners, the auction company, sent an email this morning informing all the registered buyers that they are switching the auction event to an one day "Buy Now" event. This one day sales event is not available to the public. It's only available to buyers who registered for their auction event. I suspect they didn't have enough bidders for a robust auction but that is just my spider sense talking.

Registered buyers can visit the sale office in Gallery tomorrow at 2.00pm for the "Buy now" event. Each buyer will be assigned a number. This is on a first come first serve basis. The event will start at 2.30pm. A representative will be working with the buyer on an one to one basis and they will reveal the set price for the particular home that they're interested. So, don't expect to see a board broadcasting prices for all the homes. If you wish to proceed with the purchase, both parties will go into a purchase and sale agreement. Read more details here.  

According to AMP, the set prices will be lower than the previous auction prices. Remember the last auction held on September 2009? Me neither so I looked it up and here is a list of prices for their first auction event. It does not include the final closed prices. The average price per square foot on the auctioned homes ranged from $267.59-$565.48, averaging around $430. I wonder how low they would go for their Buy Now event.  

Let say we use one unit as an example, #615 is available for purchase. We know that #715 ( Open One bedroom and one bathroom, 596 sq.ft) was sold during their first auction event. It auctioned for $310,000 and closed for $302,640. If the Buy Now price for #615 is 10% lower than #715 at $272,376, would that be a good buy? Let's use two sold comps as a comparison. 

1.) Cristalla #604 (One bedroom, one bathroom, 585 sqauare feet), a northeast corner home with city views sold for $260,000 on 11/29/2010. Even though Cristalla #604 is smaller and an older building, it's much nicer than Gallery and has an actual one bedroom and a better view. So at $272,376, Gallery #615 may not look attractive to me if I were a buyer. In other words, a 10% drop from the previous auction price is not enough to get me excited.

Let's take another comp.

2.) Mosler Lofts #603 (Open one bedroom, one bathroom, 585 square feet) has neighborhood views and was sold for $252,000 on 12/06/2010. Mosler Lofts and Gallery are both pretty new buildings. Even though Mosler Lofts #603 is slightly smaller, it has a better view than #615. So if Gallery #615 is priced at $272,376, it's still not a good buy. 

So, it seems to me that if they price Gallery #615 at 10% lower than their previous auction unit (#715), I wouldn't get too excited. However, if the price is 20%+ lower than the 2009 auction price for this particular home, the numbers start to look more attractive.

Related posts:

Gallery Close Out Auction Event
New Release from Brix & Gallery
Brix and Gallery Auction Events
More  Condo Auctions :Brix & Gallery
Seattle Condo Auction Roundup