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September 2013

Update on Heron and Pagoda Condo Office Hotel Development Project from 2007


  Heron and PagodaBack in 2007/2008 a project called the Heron and Pagoda Towers (original rendering at right) was set to be developed on the lot right across the street from the Westin and just east of Escala on 5th Avenue between Stewart St and Virginia St. It was planned as 2 large towers containing condos, a hotel, office space and ground floor retail. The land for the block-long development was purchased for $30 million in 2007.

Obviously, the market took a dive after this project was planned and the project was put on hold like many others in the Seattle area. The lots were foreclosed upon and the surface lot section at the south end of the block on the corner of 5th Avenue and Stewart St just sold for $16.75 million to Stanford Hotels Corp. So, it appears that, at least for now, the Icon Grill will remain in its location at the north end of this block and a hotel will be built on the south end of this block. Heron and Pagoda is officially dead it seems.

Escala owners will be happy to hear that the remaining lots to the north end of that site will not be built on at this time, or as a part of this current proposed hotel development, keeping their views to the east intact. However, those facing south and those on the south end of the east side of Escala will be affected by the future construction and their outlook will likely change.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

Condo Review - Trace North and Trace Lofts in Captiol Hill

Trace North and Trace Lofts in Capitol Hill
1414 12th Ave
and 1408 12th Ave

Trace North 2Trace Lofts 5

Trace North and Trace Lofts are located on 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill, which is the heart of the Pike Pine corridor. Trace North was built new in 2007 and Trace Lofts was converted from an old sewing machine warehouse into loft style condos.  Some of the old warehouse equipment, doors, and plaques are used at art throughout the condo building and bring back some of the charm of yesteryear. The two buildings have very different vibes with North being more modern and the Lofts having an old world vibe with exposed timbers and brick and tall ceilings.

The stats:

  • 142 units – 100 in Trace North and 42 in Trace Lofts
  • There are studio, open 1 bedroom, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom units
  • Built in 2007
  • Both buildings are 6 stories
  • All have 1 parking space but only some have storage
  • 7 one bedroom units have sold in the last 6 months ranging in price from $320,000 to $373,000; at the time of this post 1 one bedroom unit is pending at a list price of $319,950 and 1 studio is active at a list price of $249,975
  • HOA dues include: garbage, common area maintenance, master insurance policy, earthquake insurance
  • Amenities: Community roof deck with BBQs and seating areas

Continue reading "Condo Review - Trace North and Trace Lofts in Captiol Hill" »

Washington Ranked #3 in the Country for Biggest Drop in Foreclosure Starts

HouseLooks like our Seattle condo market can’t depend on bank owned properties for any help with our low inventory situation any time soon.  With Washington ranking high on the list of states that have seen the largest drop in the number of foreclosure starts,  it seems to be another indicator that condo/home owners are seeing improvement in their homes’ values and an increase in their ability to either afford their homes or sell them without needing to walk away and foreclose.  There was once thought to be a large shadow market of bank owned properties that would eventually come to the market as banks started to liquidate those distressed assets.  However, that’s been a subject of conversation for over 2-3 years now and with Washington ranking #3 in the nation for a drop in the number of foreclosures, I’m not sure if this “shadow market” will really ever show up if it hasn’t already.

This recent article in USA Today shows several states seeing the number of foreclosures drastically dropping compared to last year.  Washington’s foreclosure starts decreased by 64% compared to August of last year with the number of people actually in foreclosure dropping by 40%. 

Additionally, other factors mentioned in the article, Washington saw unemployment fall by 1.4% between July 2011 and July 2012, tied for the fifth-best improvement in the country, and home prices also increased by nearly 10% in 2012, which was the 11th-largest increase in the country.

Keep in mind these are very broad based statistics and this article isn’t specific to condos only in Seattle but I thought it was a good one to give an editorial on as it seems to give more general background on where things are and where they might be trending.  Always nice to be near the top of the list when it’s good news, right?

Click to see the full article. 

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.

Seattle Condo Summer 2013 Update

As we wrap up summer and head into our fall real estate market, it's a good time to look back at how our condo market did over the summer months and see where the numbers fall in the areas we regularly track.  In this update we are also adding a new area at the request of several readers who asked us to also report on the Ballard /Fremont/ Phinney/ Wallingford neighborhoods.  This is known as area 705 within in our MLS. 

In general, pricing for all of Seattle condo sales is up on a year-over-year comparison to 2012 summer months.  Up 10% in June, 12% in July, and up 16% in August.  Again these are over last year's prices for each respective month.

Despite the pricing increases,  buyers still seem to be motivated to purchase and the numbers confirm this as we saw a consistent trend up for the number of closed condo sales throughout the Seattle condo market when comparing on a month-over-month basis throughout the summer.  On a year-over-year basis we saw June being somewhat flat (slight decrease below 2012) but July and August showed large increases in the number of closed condo sales over 2012 at 21% and 24% higher respectively.

With both prices as well as the number of sales increasing, one big factor that is  interesting is the number of new listings for buyers to choose from is not coming up that much. For the summer months, all three posted lower number of new listings over the same months last year.  21% less for June, July was 14% less, and August had 2% fewer new listings coming on the market over last year.  My guess for this is that many would-be sellers are still upside down on what they owe on their mortgage balances in relation to their condo values, but as prices continue to edge up, it will be interesting to see when this turning point of increasing inventory will start to kick in.  It is important to note , however, that month over month, the number of listings did trend up this summer from June through August, so perhaps that will continue.  We will see.

Diving into the stats for the specific neighborhoods, this summer we saw area 701 (Downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union) with the highest median prices with a blended average of the median prices coming in at  $418,000 and area 705 (Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford) at the lowest of the areas in this update that we track at $240,000 for the blended average of the median prices over the summer.  In the middle was area 390 (Cap Hill, Madison, Central) at $296,000 and Queen Anne/Magnolia (area 700) at $303,916 for the blended average of the summer month's median sales prices.  Just for comparison, city wide,  the blended average of June, July and August's median prices came in  $294,983 which was a 6% increase over the summer months of  2012.  

So no major surprises that prices are up and sales are up, but with inventory remaining somewhat flat we still have some interesting times ahead in the Seattle condo market.  Barring any major increases in interest rates, it seems to me that prices should still continue to inch up until we see more condo inventory coming to the market. 

Aug 2013 Market Update Chart_Page_1

Continue reading "Seattle Condo Summer 2013 Update" »

Insignia Condos Seattle - Finishes, Price Points and More

20130910_121307_resizedAfter attending the Insignia Seattle Broker Preview today we learned quite a bit about the upcoming project. Here are some of the highlights~

South Tower Pricing

1 Bedroom (floors 2-8)

1 bedroom and 1 bedroom + den, 1-2 bathrooms
737-1,181 square feet
Priced from low $400,000

1 Bedroom (floors 9-27)
1 bedroom and 1 bedroom + den, 1-2 bathrooms
773-792 square feet
Priced from high $400,000

2 Bedrooms (floors 2-8)
2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
1,009-1,596 square feet
Priced from low $600,000

2 Bedrooms (floors 9-27)
2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
1,003-1,523 square feet
Priced from low $700,000

2 Bedrooms (floors 28-40)
2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms + den, 2 to 2.5 bathrooms
1,003-2,311 square feet
Priced from high $800,000

Continue reading "Insignia Condos Seattle - Finishes, Price Points and More " »

Insignia Condos in Seattle Announce Their Preview Events

InsigniaThe marketing company for Insignia Seattle, a condo project coming out of the ground in Belltown, has been busy this week. The marketing folks at The Mark Co. out of San Fransisco will be handling the marketing of this new condo project and have sent out several email blasts this week announcing their preview events.

We will be attending the Broker events next week and will report back on what we learn. However, if you want a preview before they open their sales center doors on September 21st (the rumored opening date), that can be arranged as well. The events will provide an introduction to the building, tours of the model home and previews of the floor plans and interior finish palettes.

Also, the PSBJ published an article on Insignia yesterday, which was an interview with the CEO of The Mark Co. and we learned that the price points will range from the high $400,000 up to $2 million for homes ranging in size from 737  to 2,311 square feet. That puts the condo marketing prices at $677 to $865 a square foot. This would be comparable to Olive 8 and Fifteen Twenty-One's price per square foot numbers.

We are looking forward to seeing this new project and what is current and modern right now when it comes to building arcitecture and interior design.

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle downtown condos.