In a further sign of a market turnaround, Northwest Multiple Listing Service has released data showing that 23 luxury condominiums, priced at over $1 million, have closed during the first three months of 2011! This compares with only 13 sales in for the same period in 2010. Better yet, another 13 multimillion-dollar homes are currently pending. This will provide a strong lead-in for second quarter, and it’s a powerful indication that a luxury home sales trend is firmly in place– and accelerating.
Why now? More market liquidity because contingent homebuyers are successfully selling their homes, enabling them to now buy a condo. Mortgage financing has loosened up over the past year for qualified buyers. The economic outlook is improving, and so is buyer confidence. Seattle enjoyed a number of huge commercial real estate transactions in 1Q11, and job opportunities are resurging.
Those are all good reasons, of course, but more telling was the shift in momentum when November 2010’s Washington State Ballot Measure I-1098, which would have imposed a state income tax, took a pounding at the polls. We heard from a number of buyers, primarily from outside Washington, whose decision to purchase a multimillion-dollar home was contingent on the outcome of that vote. Not having a state income tax is an influence which may have been flying under the radar for some time, but it is now proving to be a real dealmaker in deciding to buy a Washington State property. Out-of-state buyers are snapping up homes for business, pleasure, or both. Baby-boomers are booming here too. Retirees are either looking to downsize to condominiums, or to spend time in multiple homes in different states. All in all, prospective buyers are getting more savvy about investing in Washington State– no income taxes, sharpened prices and a lock-and-leave lifestyle.
And the good news keeps coming. The Washington State Department of Licensing reported a 25% increase in drivers license registrations as of February 2011, compared with 2010 (based on a rolling 12-month period). One-third of 11,237 new state residents relocated to King County. And, thanks to the 2010 U.S. Census, Washington State grew enough over the last decade to snag another congressional seat, plus another vote in the Electoral College.
No high-rise condominium project has broken ground in Seattle since 2007. That’s when the housing market peaked, and a global credit crunch either deferred or canceled dozens of projects. It’s safe to say that Seattle was saved from overbuilding!
We now find that the majority of the most premier, view-oriented units have been quietly absorbed. Inventories at the most preferred properties are finite and prices are firming up. There’s a flight to quality, and sales occur where the value is present. Some examples:
• Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, a tower averaging nearly $2 million per unit, is 77% sold with seven new sales pending during the past 45 days alone.
• Olive 8 has sold 18 homes since the New Year, with only a few of the coveted northwest corner units remaining.
• Escala has effectively sold out of its larger west-facing plans.
• Fifty homes have either closed or sold at Bellevue Towers since the beginning of this year.
• Harvard & Highland, which opened in November 2009, have closed 22 of their 38 homes, with five pending.
• 200 West Highland, which went on the market in November 2010, is down to only two homes out of an original number of 17.
Currently, 65 condominiums priced at over $1 million are on the market in King County. There are all kinds of wonderful places for sale, and we’re in the know about which ones can best fit your lifestyle. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us work on the perfect home for YOU!
It’s been one of the hottest rumors around and now sources have confirmed that developer Schnitzer West is converting The Bravern’s second tower in downtown Bellevue from condominiums to luxury apartments. Its North Tower is 33 stories high and will have 211 apartments available. Units range from 600 to over 2,000 square feet, and rents will start at $1,550.
Schnitzer acknowledged that while the North Tower received conditional mortgage financing approval through Fannie Mae and FHA, sales demand simply wasn’t there. All purchase agreements have been terminated, and earnest money deposits are being returned. The Bravern’s first residential complex, its South Tower, also started out as luxury condominium building. Lack of demand caused Schnitzer to convert it to apartments in April 2010. Also 33 stories high, 65 percent of its 236 apartments are currently leased.
The Bravern isn’t the only complex experiencing slow sales. Units in two other downtown Bellevue high-rise condo projects aren’t doing big business either. However, the Bellevue apartment scene is a different picture. Demand for in-town living is increasing across the Seattle area, causing rents to rise and vacancies to shrink. In addition to The Bravern, Schnitzer converted its 204-unit Equinox condo complex in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood to apartments in 2009. At least four recently built Seattle projects have converted from condominiums to apartments.
Why is this a silver lining for the Bellevue condo community? Conversions to apartments means more inventory is off the table, further solidifying its condo market. And, Schnitzer sees its actions as a temporary situation. Its press release states that “…a structural shift has occurred in residential demand from owned to rental housing. Over time, we expect the pendulum to shift back to more normalized market conditions and The Bravern Residences will be positioned to capture ownership demand when market conditions warrant.”
We can’t emphasize enough how good a time it is to buy. With apartments approaching historical highs, plus home pricing and interest rates at historical lows, maybe it’s time to take a second look at sticking your rent money into an investment, and a place, to call your own. Contact us at this link and let’s get you started!
Although the Eastside isn’t our primary focus, condos and high-rise towers are. Therefore, we couldn’t help but to share these impressive photos of Bellevue Tower we received from Nyhus. Even though nobody from our team was able to make it, an Account Executive with Nyhus provided us with a couple of highlights from the event.
More than 40 people attended the topping out event yesterday, including buyers, Mayor Degginger and members of the development team.
When our guests arrived at the 43rd floor, Scott Eaton, Principal with Gerding Edlen Development, developer of Bellevue Towers, thanked everyone for coming. In his welcome, Eaton recognized the development team for their leadership in bringing this project to life and he thanked the future residents in attendance, who he said are the early adopters of a new lifestyle option–living in downtown Bellevue. It is a lifestyle Eaton predicted will only become more popular as downtown Bellevue continues to grow. Eaton said Eastside community leaders showed they had great vision when they recognized the opportunity to create a great residential neighborhood, expanding upon the city’s success in focusing on office and retail uses for so many years. He talked about the comprehensive, community visioning process for downtown a few years ago, which led to the establishment of an entertainment district well as zoning changes allowing for ambitious, creative new developments, all of which is furthering Bellevue’s emergence as a real city.
Eaton then introduced Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger, who he thanked for helping to steward Bellevue’s success. Mayor Degginger talked about the excitement that is being generated by all the development happening in Bellevue, and he credited Bellevue Towers’ future homeowners for being a part of the city’s downtown transformation.
Then, on a signal from Eaton, the north tower crane operator flew in the final bucket of concrete, which the project team released into the forms for the final slab on the top floor and glasses were raised for a champagne toast. Many guests lingered; taking in the view, chatting with their neighbors and members of the project team, and signing their names in the fresh concrete. Following the topping out ceremony, guests were treated to a special tour to see interior finishes going into some of the units that will be ready for occupancy in November 2008.
…guests gathering on the top floor of the South Tower for the event.
…bucket of concrete being flown in by the north tower crane operator.
Gerding Edlen Development Principal Scott Eaton recognizing the development team and thanking the future Bellevue Towers homeowners, who he called the early adopters of a new lifestyle option, that of living in downtown Bellevue, which he predicted would only grow in popularity as Bellevue grows.
Mayor Grant Degginger making a short speech about the bright future for downtown Bellevue, which continues to attract investment, jobs and residents, making it a thriving city.
Bellevue Towers will be home to 540 eco-luxury residences, a Purple Café and Wine Bar and other restaurants. Other amenities include a 25,000 square foot urban garden, a private screening room, a large dining room with terrace and kitchen, a fitness center, a spa and sun deck, and a library and great room that open to an expansive outdoor terrace and fireplace. Additionally, each building will have its own 24-hour concierge service. Bellevue Towers is seeking LEED Gold certification for environmental sustainability and is the tallest residential-only development in the region. It is also the only local project to be developed by the national leader in green buildings, Gerding Edlen Development. More information is available online at www.BellevueTowers.com.