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Federal Reserve Confirms Purchase of MBS to Cease

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Finance, National

federal buildingAs predicted (Interest Rates of 5% May Never Be Seen Again! Here’s Why.), the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has confirmed that the program created to help repair economic recovery through the purchase of mortgage-backed securities will expire on March 31st.  Intentionally designed to drive down rates, current economic conditions have improved enough to where the need for such low rates is “no longer warranted.”

This has brought up an industry-wide push to all those who have been on the sidelines waiting for bottom to take advantage before rates inevitably go up.  However, rates are not expected to skyrocket.  Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Michael Barr, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “I’m not going to say there will be no effect on rates, but it should be an orderly transition.”

Expectations are that once rates begin to rise, we’ll see more market activity from hesitant buyers.  There are still a small number of buyers who believe it is possible for home prices and economic conditions to go even lower.  Therefore, with only the option to either buy or continue hestitating, rising rates could be the evidence that the market needs.

Here are some highlights from the press release issued by the FOMC:

  • Household spending is expanding at a moderate rate but remains constrained by a weak labor market, modest income growth, lower housing wealth and tight credit.
  • Business spending on equipment and software appears to be picking up, but structure investment is still contracting and employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls.
  • Firms have brought inventory stocks into better alignment with sales.
  • With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and with longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to be subdued for some time.

Here’s an interesting bonus read: Higher Mortgage Rates Mean More Buyers

King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for January 27th, 2010

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_01_27_10

Stroupe Scoop: Volume 9 Issue 11

January 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Watermark

click to view volume 9 issue 11

click to view: volume 9 issue 11

For the November Scoop, we featured the Watermark Tower (SeattleWatermark.com) as the Featured Building.  We did not feature any individual units for this issue.  Every November we feature the dates of holidays and national events.  In addition, we include dates for all the things that go on in our city.  Be sure to view this Scoop for dates and websites regarding Sporting Events, Runs/Walks, Annual Event and Cultural Festivals, Events and Parades, as well as Film and Music Festivals.

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

Hard Rock Cafe Installs More Pike Street Bling

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Lifestyle

Seattle Hard Rock Cafe will be opening very soon. A sign of that is yesterday’s mounting of the Fender guitar on the side of the building. Part of the plan of the Downtown Seattle Association is to enhance the Pike Street corridor which is the home of Pike Place Market, and Pacific Place Mall. The Hard Rock will light up the street for even more vibrant photos in the next few weeks, and certainly help with cleaning up the general area.

hard-rock-rendering

Seattle, the city that boasts one of the most diverse and influential alternative music scenes in the world, will be the site of the next U.S. Hard Rock Cafe. In addition to a state-of-the-art facility, the new Seattle Hard Rock Cafe will feature rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia from its world-famous collection, which includes items from many of Seattle’s most legendary musicians such as Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Alice in Chains, Heart, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Duff McKagan of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, and many more.

hard-rock-exter-inter
HARD ROCK INTERNATIONAL ROCKS ITS WAY TO THE “EMERALD CITY”

Stroupe Group Exclusive Websites for Buildings

We wanted to take a moment to share a beneficial service we provide for both buyers and sellers looking at downtown Seattle real estate.  Over the last couple of years, we have built a collection of websites for buildings downtown, and have many more in the hopper.  Our intention with these websites is to allow each unique address to convey its own personality online.

Every site we build for a condo building allows a visitor to:

  • View active units for sale,
  • View the past three years of sold history,
  • Sign up for instant email notifications of new listings,
  • Inquire about a particular unit’s value,
  • See a neighborhood map and WalkScore,
  • Look at a photo gallery of amenities, and
  • Get building management/concierge contact information.

In addition, whenever we have a seller that lists with the Stroupe Group, we integrate a customized page with professional photography.  All of our building websites also place at the top of all major search engines for maximum exposure, and we also use linking strategies to further secure placement.

Visit our current project: EscalaTower.com

Below is a list of other websites that are constantly being improved, and we would love to hear any suggestions on how we can make them better.

Sample Gallery

BelltownParc.com

BelltownParc.com

FifteenTwenty-One.com

FifteenTwenty-One.com

LiveAtTheVine.com

LiveAtTheVine.com

AvenueOneCondos.com

AvenueOneCondos.com

GalleryInBelltown.com

GalleryInBelltown.com

CristallaBuilding.com

CristallaBuilding.com

Everything is Changing at ESCALA

January 22, 2010 by  
Filed under ESCALA, Featured

We got wind of some big news happening over at ESCALA.  To begin with, the sales center is currently closed for approximately three weeks to discuss a new direction for the building.

Since all the statements below are still being considered and negotiated, there are no specifics in stone at this time.  However, the statements following are all the things that are being discussed.  Currently, everything is on the table.

First off, The Homeowner Dues (HOD) appear to be high and they are looking at ways to reduce them.  One way to address that would be to reevaluate the relationship between the Club Cielo and the condominium units.  There is a strong chance the club use will be separated from the condominiums.  We do not know details on how this will affect owner use, or what additional charges may be for use of the club.  If this is the direction taken, it would give owners the option to participate in the club, rather than the current structure which assumes membership.  This should be a savings for those who do not wish to be a member.  If this is indeed the direction that is taken, the question is how much of the club (if any) will be available to the owners without an additional fee.  According to our sources, ESCALA is very sensitive on making this work for buyers.  Therefore we would be surprised if the amenities were to not be included–such as the gym.  There are a lot of options for the team to discuss.  We think this will be very important to watch for before any decisions are made on moving forward.

The pricing will be also be addressed.  Out of respect of the current buyers, we will not know what kind of price reductions will be determined until after that process is completed.  We expect to see a big marketing splash in February with new pricing better representing the current economy.

Also, exciting news from behind the scenes is that the entire sales team is new.  John L. Scott agent Erik Mehr from Team Builders will be taking over sales.  Erik has a great reputation for moving inventory quickly.  The marketing team will be headed by Bob Rennie from the very impressive Rennie Marketing firm.  We are very excited to see what this team comes up with.

In regards to financing, there is wording in the original Public Offering Statement (POS) that the owners have the ability to use a unit as a time share.  This caused difficulties in obtaining financing.  This is being removed from the POS. We’ve yet to hear anything about any preferred lenders or what limitations will be in regards to investment purchases.

Another thing that is in conversation is what the current buyer options are.  Earnest and upgrade money are being discussed.

Stay tuned to see what happens in three weeks.  We will be on top of this along the way and will be posting news as we get it.  If you want to be automatically updated on news about the ESCALA, please subscribe to our RSS feed.  For past information on the project review our past articles.

For other updates you can get via email, you can either subscribe to our blog posts to the right of this page, and/or receive instant email updates for new Escala listings as they reenter the market on the MLS.

One of Belltown’s Finest Restaurants Relocating to SLU

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Enso, Featured, Lifestyle, South Lake Union

If you’re a downtown resident, then you may have already heard about plans the Flying Fish restaurant has made in regards to moving to South Lake Union.  If you’re not from the area, The Flying Fish is probably one of Belltown’s last remaining fine dining restaurants.  In a recent article in the Seattle Times, chef Chris Keff explains her motivation to seek a new lease elsewhere.

That’s a far cry from what’s been happening in Belltown, Keff insists, where the bar scene has overtaken the dining scene and movement and closures continue unabated. (Recent deaths include Belltown Bistro and Cucina De-Ra, and several high-profile restaurant spaces remain on the market.) In Belltown, Keff says, “You’ve got a lot of small landlords who never get together to have any say in what happens around them. And before you know it, things have gone to hell”.

With Enso doing as well as it has, and with every visit to SLU seeming to always have a new discovery, the Flying Fish is expected to thrive at the modern built location.

night-at-the-roxburyAlthough South Lake Union has yet to fully develop, the neighborhood is certainly more than it used to be just a couple of years ago.  Although it’s still very quite at night, it shouldn’t be more than a few years away before SLU opens the first plant/lamp shop.  In the meantime, the Butabi brothers are planning on meeting with Mr. Zadir about opening only the coolest club in Belltown once the Flying Fish relocates to the Westlake/Terry building sometime around May.

King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for January 20th, 2010

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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Ruby Closing In on Finish Line with more than 70% Sold

January 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Ruby

ruby-model-openRuby has been making a strong push towards the finish line with recent price reductions.  The 52-unit Eastlake project is now 70% sold since opening in February 2009.  With less than 15 units remaining, all homes (1B/1B) are being offered for under $300k and range from 801 to 934 square feet.  Most units feature pretty nice views of Lake Union and Gas Works Park.  Some unique features about Ruby include their unique location on the east side of Lake Union and a green roof above the first floor’s street level retail space.  Speaking of which, the retail space has already been leased to a sushi restaurant, a wine and cheese store, insurance provider, cosmetic dentist, and naturalistic doctor–all of which have Seattle written all over it.

Ruby is open Sat-Wed, from 11AM to 6PM or by appointment. Project is FHA and VA approved.

Virtual Staging… Great Way to Sell, or Deceptive Marketing?

January 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Selling

A new trend is starting to emerge when it comes to selling vacant homes. There has been a lot of research suppporting the importance of “staging” (setting up a home with furniture and small touches to envision living there) and how it ensures a faster sale.  Technology itself is now attempting to provide another alternative to the cost of human real estate services through “virtual staging”.  The question that seems to be popping up on blogs touting about the benefits of virtual staging is, “Will the buyer feel deceived?”

One virtual staging site in particular claims the following as facts:

  • Staged homes sell for 6% more than vacant homes.
  • Vacant homes take twice as long to sell than staged homes.
  • Only 10% of homebuyers can visualize the potential of a home.

Staging is certainly a good idea when it comes to presenting a room’s intention to a potential buyer.  Staging businesses have been popping up everywhere since Barb Schwartz (once a WA state agent) started the program and created the Accredited Staging Professionals credential almost a decade ago.  For those who have found the real estate business to be different than what they expected, running a full-time business solely on servicing agents and FSBO’s in staging has become a respectable business.  At the same time, staging can even be an expensive business to run when considering that more furniture needs to be bought and/or put in storage.  Where is the cost absorbed?  Generally by the seller.  In many cases, when the potential cost to stage a home is presented to a seller as a way to get more interest at a property, many sellers would rather apply that money towards reducing the list price.

With virtual staging, sellers can now circumvent the cost for around $200.  Still yet to really find any feedback from those actually looking to buy, here’s what they would or would not see when looking at vacant properties.

Image of Vacant Property As Seen Online

Image of Vacant Property As Seen Online

Image of Property Virtually Staged As Seen Online

Image of Property Virtually Staged As Seen Online

Image of Property When Seen by in Real Life

Image of Property When Seen in Real Life

Does that virtual depiction make a difference when it comes down to choosing what to buy?  Builders have been doing it for years, and it does seem to be an effective way to save marketing dollars.  But the question remains, is it deceiving to lure a buyer into a property that appears to be staged when in fact it is not?

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