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Engineers to Begin Surveying 300 Buildings as Precaution to Viaduct Tunnel Boring

July 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Downtown (MLS Area 701), Featured

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has already begun pre-construction work for the underground viaduct this month, and will now be doing surveys on an approximate 300 buildings to avoid any adverse affects during construction. During this time, above-ground conditions will also be noted for assisting the contractor to design the tunnel-boring machine.

The surveys will be used to determine how much settlement or horizontal movement could occur during the construction of the tunnel, then used to recommend assessments to prevent damage. Apparently WSDOT will be drafting reports over the next several weeks, but final proposals are not scheduled to be issued until next March. Engineers will be meeting with building managers to get information about the building, then taking visual surveys, notes, and taking photos. Therefore, there will more than likely be no disturbances.

There’s still a couple years before the boring machine begins to drill. WSDOT doesn’t expect boring to start until 2012 where they will start near the stadiums, then exit north of the Battery Street Tunnel by 2013. Here’s an animated video of what the new viaduct will be like as if you were driving north, then there’s a flyover of Alaskan Way coming back South:

We imagine that the biggest concern is if the tunnel boring machine will cause any damage to buildings. The best response WSDOT has at this time is that they will be “taking precautions to mitigate [the] potential impacts.” There are also concerns about settlement. However, Seattle has already had successful ground excavations and there’s some familiarity with the soil.

The ground conditions along the proposed tunnel route include soft soils at the tunnel’s southern entrance, then hard and dense glacier-deposited soils for the remainder of the alignment and at the north entrance. Numerous tunnel projects in Seattle, such as the BNSF rail tunnel and Metro’s transit tunnel, have successfully excavated ground conditions similar to those anticipated for the SR 99 bored tunnel.

WSDOT has also provided an interactive Google Map that shows the location and schedule for each geotechnical drilling.

View Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program in a larger map

Marselle: A Building of Some Distinction

July 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Belltown, Featured, Marselle

marselle_neSince July 18th, a new downtown condominium project named Marselle has received three offers (two mutually accepted), and their first buyer will be moving in September 1st. The most popular floorplan will more than likely be the 1 bedroom with den which varies between 832 to 854 square feet for as low as approximately $420/square foot.

Overall, the homes are your typical new construction units with slab granite countertops, hardwood floors, and stainless steel appliances. Other than Marselle’s competitive price point, there are some additional unique features we thought deserved some recognition.

The first thing that stood out was how great the rooftop deck was. The sales agent challenged that it’s the only rooftop deck offering a top to bottom view of the Space Needle, but the deck also has four separate common areas for chairs, tables, and BBQ’s. One area in particular had what the agent liked to refer to as a “doggy pad”.

The reason the rooftop deck at Marselle can be referred to as having distinctive areas is because of the 2nd story of 10 penthouse townhomes. Townhomes have their own sliding glass doors offering access to the rooftop deck from the dens, and one in particular is already plumbed for a jacuzzi (which they’ll throw in with a full-price offer).

Contact us to check it out!

Stroupe Scoop: June 2009 Sales Stats, Featured Building, & Featured Listing

scoop_06_09This month we have featured the Jackson Square Building as the building of the Month.  We also have a new featured 1 bedroom plus den at The Parc and a beautiful 1 bedroom plus den at The Pomeroy.

Be sure to receive the Scoop when it first comes up by subscribing!

Transparency in the Mortgage Industry

July 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Finance, National

99SkyThe mortgage industry is now being forced to take part in a positive new trend as we close out the new millennium’s first decade–transparency.  There’s no arguing that businesses which have modeled after this behavior have not only forced upon themselves the additional responsibility of maintaining a higher level of integrity, but have also shown to do more business.  Imagine that!  Some of the changes that are being proposed is to explain “fine print” in “plain English” so that the American home buyer can actually understand what they’re signing.  Hidden fees that pay a broker for selling a higher-cost loan are also looking at being banned.   Considering that competition may have been one of the industry’s ultimate self-inflicted causes for its own fall, competition will also likely diminish, since those that cannot make the procedural changes will be forced out of business.

The days of “creative lending” may thankfully also be a term of the past.  Those proposing new lending standards are suggesting borrowers first be offered a “plain vanilla” mortgage.  If a borrower is to be offered anything other than the likely 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (among other basic loans), people will be required to opt into them along with being warned that they are doing something unusual.

Bottom line is that lawmakers are working to prevent another mortgage crisis from happening again by making the process more understandable.  We suspect that the $8,000 tax credit will not be extended since it seems to have definitely increased buyer activity during a recession.  However, as the end of the year creeps upon us, there will be more of a need for buyers to remain educated on qualifying for a mortgage.  Here is a list of useful websites the Seattle Times put together:

Bankrate.com

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/green/mtg/mort1a.asp
Good primer on different types of mortgage borrowing.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/looking/
Features guidelines and tips for securing a mortgage.

Home Loan Learning Center

http://www.homeloanlearningcenter.com/MortgageBasics.htm
Discusses a range of borrowing topics, including qualifying for a mortgage and mortgage types.

Home Mortgage Calculator

http://www.home-mortgage-calculator.net/how-much-should-i-borrow.asp
Provides insights on how much to borrow for a mortgage.

Mortgage Info Center

http://mortgageinfocenter.com/tips/default.asp
Offers dozens of mortgage-borrowing tips over five pages.

Cynthia Johnson named Club Cielo Membership Director

July 27, 2009 by  
Filed under ESCALA, Featured

cynthia-johnson-club-cieloJohn Midby, principal of LEXAS Company, has announced Seattle designer, entrepreneur and business leader Cynthia Johnson as Membership Director for Club Cielo at ESCALA.

Johnson joins the ESCALA team after a successful career as an entrepreneur, having owned or partnered in a number of successful businesses specializing in home and office design and furnishings.  Most recently, she was an owner and partner of London Flat, a home furnishings design studio, and the owner of Cynthia Johnson Designs, a residential and commercial design company.  Previously she worked with Barclay Dean Interiors as Business Development Coordinator.  Other design companies she has owned include Cynthia Johnson Incorporated and Hunt Johnson Elsworth.

Johnson will be focusing on cultivating the membership group, and promoting the unique concept that Club Cielo will be bringing to Seattle for the 1st time in 20 years.  Midby feels that Johnson will be a valuable asset, considering her deep local relationships and entrpreneurial background.  The club will also bring unique business opportunities to its members, and we’re sure that Cynthia Johnson will be a key element in facilitating Club Cielo’s vision.

King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for July 22nd, 2009

Condo Only, NWMLS Area 701 (Belltown & Downtown Seattle)

Active Listings and Pending Sales by NWMLS Area 701

Active Listings and Pending Sales by NWMLS Area 701

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Waiting for a Bell to Call Market Bottom? Cramer Rings it For You

July 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, National

Cramer: Remember, it’s easy to miss a bottom if you aren’t paying attention to the signs.


Dramatic Market Shift in Black & White

July 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Puget Sound Region, Weekly Sales Ratios

Ok, so it’s really shown in green (buyer’s market), yellow (balanced market) and red (seller’s market) color crayon. But, as you can see below, approximately one year ago the market was an extreme buyer’s market, based on the same statistics we post weekly for just the downtown market. Three months ago a trend started to emerge. Today, we’re seeing much more of a balance, and even some red which represents a seller’s market. Granted, the economy still has some improvements to make. However, the stats show that the window of opportunity appears to be closing. This however is not a sign that prices will skyrocket any time soon, but more of a sign that the market is simply stabilizing.

Color coding in the image below is based off of absorption rate statistics. The Absorption Rate is the ability of the real estate market to absorb or sell all of the houses for sale in a given amount of time. For example, if 10 homes are sold every month and there are 100 homes for sale, it will take 10 months to sell all of the homes currently for sale. If there are 240 homes for sale, the absorption rate will be 24 months (if there are 10 homes being sold a month). A sellers market is considered 0-3 months, a balanced market is 3-6 months, and a buyers market is over 6 months. The rate of absorption is ever changing, but is a great indication of market trends that we track. The trend is obvious at this time, and the window for buyers is closing. If you want more information, or a personal consultation, we have a great reputation for helping our clients make the best decision based on their individual situation. Contact us.

market_stats_yearly

Bay Vista, Market Court, and The Ellington’s HOAs are a Selling Point!

July 17, 2009 by  
Filed under BayVista, Ellington, Market Court

condo_hoa_trioNobody likes hearing that there’s going to be a special assessment they will have to start paying.  An unfortunate circumstance can always be understood, but when lack of upkeep and maintenance causes an unexpected dent in everybody’s bank account, it can cause you to lose sleep at night. 

Over the last year or so, we’ve been able to instill more confidence in our perceived value of three downtown condo buildings just because their Homeowner’s Associations have made proactive decisions to improve their property, rather than waiting for what could have been an improvement to be a maintenance issue.

Last year, Market Court made the decision to replace the buildings windows and siding, since it originally wasn’t done to their standards to begin with.  In March 2009, Bay Vista Tower informed us that they were renovating their amenity floor and should be finished in the next week or two. 

The Ellington is also now on that list of downtown addresses that has an HOA an interested buyer can feel good about. Between now and through October, you may see they’re replacing some of the building’s sealant, doing pressure washing, and even doing some painting here and there.  It may not be a breaking news story, but as Realtors it’s one of those little things we pay attention to for our clients.  It’s easy for buyers to sometimes be sold on a project boasting about their granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, but a solid HOA will serve you the best in the long run.

King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for July 15th, 2009

Condo Only, NWMLS Area 701 (Belltown & Downtown Seattle)

Active Listings and Pending Sales by NWMLS Area 701

Active Listings and Pending Sales by NWMLS Area 701

odds_07_15_09

Weekly sales continue to be strong.  Both King County & Eastside sales increased over last week as noted in the chart below.

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