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November 2012

Client Question of the Week: Is the VA Loan Program Available for Condos?

1This week, new clients of mine wondered what their options were for a downtown condo that would qualify for the VA loan program. The Department of Veteran Affairs loan program is available to those military veterans and active duty personnel that have accumulated enough service time to be eligible for the favorable terms afforded by this loan program.  Benefits over conventional loan programs include market interest rates, reduced down payment requirements, no monthly mortgage insurance, as well as more flexibility with debt to income ratios and closing costs.

What’s the catch? Condominium buildings must go through the VA's condo project approval process.  Similar to the FHA approval process, an HOA would need to provide supporting documents verifying the eligibility of the condominium community as a whole.  No longer can an individual condo owner seek VA approval if they are either refinancing or selling their condo.  It's all or nothing.  VA looks at things such as overall financial health of the HOA, percentage of rental units, percentage of units that are delinquent on dues, and level of insurance protection, to name a few.  Currently, very few VA approved condominium buildings exist in the downtown core of Seattle.  Newer condo projects in the Downtown, Belltown, Midtown and South Lake Union area especially, lack this VA approval.  So it can be challenging for those wanting to use the VA loan program to find options in our already low inventory market.

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Insignia Towers Gets Second Construction Crane Installed

Crane 5Today crews are finishing erecting the second of two cranes that will be used to build the two 41 story condo towers, called Insignia Towers, in the Denny Triangle neighborhood.  It's amazing seeing how these brave workers crane the pieces into position hundreds of feet up in the air!  It takes a huge mobile crane to build and erect the onsite crane that will build the foundation and condo tower for the north building. Wild right!?

I plan to give periodic updates on the the construction process of Insignia to help illustrate how condo towers are built and constructed.   Plus I'm a sucker for big machinery, and the whole high-rise construction process myself.

As mentioned in our previous posts, the south tower will be built first and the developer has indicated they will start marketing them likely Summer or Fall of 2013, with the entire project taking a total of three years to complete.  It is not yet known exactly when they plan to release any pricing or start pre-sales but Wendy's last interview with them in August indicated they were likely at least 18 months away from that at that time.  That would roughly be early 2014.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle Condos exclusively for buyers and sellers

19th Avenue Lofts – Capitol Hill

1812_19th_ave_03Recently we have received requests to include other neighborhoods into our Seattle Condo stats and condo reviews that are outside of Downtown, Belltown, and Queen Anne. 

We will start on Capitol Hill this week at the 19th Avenue Lofts.  I think this is a forgotten building because of it’s off the beaten path location on the Hill.  But really, it is still very close and walkable to the 12th Ave District, Pike Pine Corridor as well as shops and eateries on 15th Ave. These cool hip lofts can be ideal if you want to be close to everything Capitol Hill has to offer, but not right in the middle of it. Built in 2004, and having only 45 units, it's also a good draw for those who prefer not to live in huge condo communities but it's large enough to give you plenty of neighbors to get to know and socialize with if that's your thing. The architecture and design are based on industrial spaces and work lofts and feature very minimalist interiors. Most units still have the original polished concrete floors, wood planked ceilings, exposed timbers and open kitchens.


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"By the time this is ready to sell, (Seattle) is going to be every bit as good of a market as San Francisco"

Nat Bosa CondosThat's what Nat Bosa shares as part of his rationale for the 41-story, twin tower, Insignia condo project currently under construction in the Denny Triange which will start marketing next summer.

Check out the BizJournal article summarizing some of Bosa's other remarks here.  Also, here's my own previous interview with Dennis Serraglio, head of sales and marketing for Insignia.


By Wendy Leung with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle Condos and Seattle Belltown Condos exclusively for buyers and sellers.