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September 2018

Avenue Bellevue Mixed-Use Condo & Hotel Project Redesigned

Avenue Bellevue Mixed-Use Condo and Hotel Project in SeattleAt 10300 NE 8th St in Bellevue just north of Bellevue Square Mall, a two-tower condominium and hotel project will be built and will be called Avenue Bellevue.

The project will contain 251 luxury hotel rooms, a retail podium and 330 condominium residences. One tower will contain a mix of hotel rooms and residences and the second tower will have all condominiums.

Rendering by Weber Thompson

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


Westbank's Skyscraper at 2000 3rd Ave Will Be Condos Called First Light

Westbank's skyscraper at 2000 3rd Ave in Seattle will be new condos called First LightThe 500 foot skyscraper planned for 2000 3rd Ave will be built as condominiums according to the project developer, Westbank of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The lot is currently a surface parking lot and a sales center pavilion is being constructed on the site at this time.

Some of the buildings proposed highlights:

  • 459 condominium units
  • Cantilevered rooftop swimming pool
  • Podium will have retail space
  • 6 floors of office space
  • 38 floors of residences
  • 3 floors of amenity space
  • Will be a luxury project

We will know more about this project once Marco returns from his trip this week to Vancouver to meet with the development and sales team and learn more about the developer, the architect and this new building, which will be called First Light.

Rendering from James KM Cheng Architects and MG2

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


Fannie Mae Changes Lending Guidelines for Condos

Fannie Mae recently changed their condominium lending guidelines. These changes were meant to simplify policies and increase underwriting flexibility.

Here is a list of some of the most beneficial changes:

  • Waive the single-entity ownership percentage requirement when the purchase transaction will result in a reduction in the single-entity ownership concentration Fannie Mae Changes Lending Guidelines for Condos, Affecting Seattle Condo Buyers
  • Not include units held by non-profits, affordable housing programs, or institutions of higher education in the percentage of single entity ownership calculation
  • Allow single-entity ownership in projects with 21 or more units to increase to 20%, up from 10%
  • Increase allowable commercial space to 35% of the projects total square footage, up from 25%
  • Exempt commercially owned or operated parking spaces from the project’s commercial space calculations
  • Allow a new condo project to be reviewed as an “established” project if requirements are met
  • Condo properties approved by FHA's HUD Review and Approval Process (HRAP) will only require a limited review
  • Waive project review requirements on smaller properties (two to four unit condo projects)

These updated guidelines better reflect current trends in condo development and provide additional flexibility for condominium lending reviews. The loosened requirements permit many condominium buildings which previously did not meet lending review criteria to qualify for conventional financing, creating additional inventory for home shoppers and a simplified financing process.

Specifically in Seattle, the commercial space percentage limits and calculation changes will be helpful for condo communities such as 2200 Westlake, Enso and Tribeca.

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


The Shift from Building Apartments to Building Condos

The Seattle Shift from Building Apartments to Building CondosThere have been several recent announcements about new condominium buildings being constructed in Seattle. For the last few years, the only residential developments being built in Seattle were apartments, minus a few outliers like Insignia and Gridiron, but we are starting to see a flood of new condominium projects hitting the scene again.
 
Why the switch from apartments to condos? Well, we think it is due to apartment buildings not being as profitable as they once were. Major investment groups who were once willing to buy apartment buildings at high price/unit price tags are not as bullish right due to the softening of the rental market. That softening is likely due to an oversupply of apartments entering the market, around 6600 rental units are coming just to the South Lake Union neighborhood by 2019. It is now more profitable to build and sell condos. Developers are very market driven so they will make these decisions based on what is happening right now in the apartment and condo markets, but it seems to us that they don’t put onus on the future market conditions that their developments might cause. For instance, if we had built a mix of condos and apartments over the last few years perhaps we wouldn’t have an apartment building glut right now and be starved for condos, we might just have balance. Instead it appears that their decisions are reactionary, if apartments are profitable then they build a ton of apartments, flood the market, the apartment market softens, then they switch to building condos and so forth and so on. Perhaps someday we will see a balance of what is being built, helping both the rental and real estate markets stay more stable over time.

Here are some recent articles on new and upcoming condo projects around Seattle:
2nd Avenue Condos in Downtown  
South Lake Union Condos
403 13th Condos in Capitol Hill
The Neighborhood Collection Condos in Capitol Hill & Wallingford
Spire Condos in Belltown
Solis Condos on Capitol Hill
Emerald Condos in Downtown
Condos in Bellevue

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