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December 2012
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February 2013

January 2013

2012 Seattle Condo Market in Review - The Year of Dwindling Inventory

As we start off 2013, every year in January we like to take a quick pause to take a look back and recap the major events, trends, and milestone from the previous year and for the heck of it, make some forecasts and predictions for the upcoming year.

Trends of 2012 and Events Worth Noting

We saw our condo market absorption rates increase and inventory dwindle to the point nearly all segments of our Seattle condo market were leaning toward a seller’s market with less than three months of inventory. 

Multiple offers returned but interestingly enough we did not see a sharp incline in pricing. This is likely due to buyers who were much more conservative and resistant to overpaying in light of the recent market crash. This could also be due to more stringent appraisal review practices by lenders, which many applaud.

2200 Condominiums in South Lake Union reached the largest construction defect settlement in state history with its developer for $26 million dollars.

We saw the return of investor buyers. An increase in all cash purchases seemed to indicate investors gained confidence in spending again.

Many newer condominium buildings entered litigation with their developers in accordance with the Washington State Condominium Act’s construction warranty time frames. This further limited available condo units on the market because units that are for sale in buildings with pending litigation have a very hard time obtaining buyer financing.

Continue reading "2012 Seattle Condo Market in Review - The Year of Dwindling Inventory " »

Client Question of the Week: I want to sell, but don’t know if I’ll find anything to buy

This email directly from a new client of ours speaks to a very common question and concern we are hearing regarding the Seattle condo market.

“Hey Marco, I'm still on the fence, but am leaning towards staying put until later this year. The lack of inventory is a concern, as I don't want to be 'homeless' for an extended period.”

Great question and valid concern “Mr. If I sell, will I find a new place?”

It’s no secret we don’t have a lot of inventory in Seattle condos right now.  This presents an opportunity and a challenge to those condo owners who would like to move up and sell their current condo and purchase something different.  In this client’s situation, he is a young professional that has some equity in his condo and would like to take advantage of lower mortgage rates and buy while prices are still affordable (compared to pre-recession prices). However, the concern is that with hardly any options on the market, can he find something he likes.

In general, my advice is have some confidence in the fact that new inventory will be coming on the market.  Many people are in the same situation, and if we can in affect, break the log jam of on the fence sellers, we will in turn, see more options for buyers to choose from.

We turn to a couple graphics from the stats and data team at Windermere to illustrate the inventory levels here in the area month over month from 2008-2009 and 2011-2012  (click on the images below to make them larger).Months Supply Map 12.08 to 12.09
                                                                     (Click to see larger image)
Months Supply Map 12.11 to 12.12

Continue reading "Client Question of the Week: I want to sell, but don’t know if I’ll find anything to buy" »

Fifteen Twenty-One - Downtown

1521 cropFifteen Twenty-One Condominiums released a press release on Friday to announce that they are 97% sold with only 4 developer units left to sell. According to the press release, 139 of the 143 developer owned units in the high rise have sold. They also indicate that 222 condos sold above $1 million in downtown Seattle since November of 2008, and that 122 of those have been in Fifteen Twenty-One. Those sales averaged $1.7 million or approximately $900 per square foot.

On the heels of this press release, we thought it would be a great time to update our Condo Review on this building.

The stats:

  • 143 units
  • 38 stories
  • Built in 2008
  • All units have 2 bedrooms and most have den spaces as well with 2 or 2.5 bathrooms
  • Range in size from 1644 to 2999 square feet
  • All have 1 or 2 parking spaces and some have more
  • 27 units sold in the last year ranging in price from $825,000 to $4,250,000
  • 4 developer owned units and 1 resale are available at the time of this article
  • Designed to LEED Silver standards
  • Amenities: Rooftop deck with outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, 24 hour concierge, building manager, business conference space, fitness center, yoga/pilates studio, playroom for children, bike storage, pet area, and optional wine room and work studios
  • HOA dues include: water, sewer, garbage, central hot water, earthquake insurance, cable TV, 24 hour concierge, master insurance policy, building manager

The pros:

  • Expansive water and/or city views from every unit
  • High-quality building amenities
  • Ultra luxury finishes
  • AC in every unit (important for high floor west facing units especially)
  • High speed elevators
  • Being on 2nd Avenue you are close to Pike Place Market, the retail and financial districts as well as Belltown’s amenities
  • Private Decks/Outdoor spaces are an innovative open and closable solarium sliding window

The cons:

  • 2nd Avenue is a busy street and can be noisy
  • Close by bars and night clubs can be an annoyance
  • Nothing available under $800,000 price mark
  • As it may be a pro above to some buyers, it’s also a con to others that the private decks/outdoor spaces on the units are not fully open like most traditional decks. They were designed more as solariums which can be opened and closed.   

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

The Braeburn - Capitol Hill


The Braeburn is a two building condominium community in the Pike Pine district of Capitol Hill. The buildings sit on E Pine Street between 14th and 15th and are close to a ton of great shops, services and restaurants in the Pike Pine corridor as well as Cal Anderson Park and not too far from the future Light Rail Station.

The stats:

  • 153 residential units (there are also 5 commercial units)
  • West building is 4 stories, East building is 7 stories
  • Built in 2005
  • Studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms
  • Range in size from 373 to 1149 square feet
  • All have 1 parking space and 1 storage unit
  • 9 units have sold in the last year ranging in price from $145,000 to $305,000 and consisting of studios and 1 bedrooms (no 2 bedrooms were sold last year)
  • As of today there are no active units and 5 pending units
  • HOA dues include: garbage, building maintenance, on-site manager, master building insurance, earthquake insurance
  • Amenities: guest suite, gym, party room, theater room, game room, yoga room, hobby room, 5 roof decks (some with views or BBQ), zen garden, pea patch

The pros:

  • Neighborhood location – close to a ton of restaurants, cafes, shops and services
  • A lot of building amenities to enjoy
  • Newer building with modern finishes
  • Every unit has parking and storage – pretty rare on The Hill
  • Many units have city views
  • Many units have walk-in closets – even the smaller square footage units
  • FHA Approved through 7/11/13

The cons:

  • No fireplaces
  • No gas cook tops or appliances
  • Several of the units do not have private decks and those that do are quite small
  • The only utility covered by HOA dues is garbage service

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



Seattle Condo Neighborhood Comparison

I recently looked at some current MLS data to see how different key Seattle condo neighborhoods compared at different price points.  

Below is the chart and some key takeaways from my point of view. Hope it's helpful and interesting to you!

    • Except for the >$800K segment, we are definitely in a sellers' market with only a few months of inventory for condos <$800k.


    • The $300-500K price point in Belltown/Downtown and entry level price points in Capitol Hill, et al. are the hot segments right now from a number of units sold point of view.


  • The one pro-buyer segment is the top end.  If you are a buyer and are looking for a condo >$800K in Belltown/Downtown, you've got almost 50 units to choose from and sellers bracing themselves to have the units be on the market for almost half a year so take your pick.  Everyone else in the <$800K segments will be more worried about finding a unit and real buyer competition.




















 (Data from NWMLS and are deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Co-op's are removed from the data. Sold listings refer to listings sold over the last 6 months. )

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

Client Question of the Week: Long Market Times for Condos in Newer Buildings?

2911_2nd_ave_01Client Question of the Week: “I'm considering selling in the new year but I am seeing long market times in some newer buildings and that concerns me, I thought things were picking up and getting better for condo sellers in Seattle?”

Dear Scared To Sell:

This is a common question these days, and it comes down to a condo unit's ability to be purchased and the risks associated with its purchase.  Condo ownership is a wonderful thing, but like any real estate purchase (house, townhome, land, floating home, etc.) there are risks to that investment. The newer buildings you are seeing with long market times likely are those in the middle of their warranty investigations or those in the various phases of litigation with their developers.

Unfortunately, this is common with new construction condominiums.  Due to the Washington Condominium Act, which was intended, I think, to protect the condo buyer in new construction, developers of new condo buildings have to provide a warranty for certain aspects of a building's construction against defects. Sounds like a great thing right? Well, since our condo buildings are built by humans, none of them are built perfectly. So things do come up that need to be repaired, replaced, fixed etc.  There are limits to how long an HOA can hold a builder/developer accountable for certain construction defects.  I'm not an attorney so my specific knowledge is limited to the exact terms of the state statute, but basically what this results in with nearly every new condo building in our city, is that something in a building will result in a dispute on whose role or responsibility it is to fix it.  If the HOA and the developer do not agree, a motion is filed by the HOA to protect their right to sue if they can't come to agreement.

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