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!
We have recently been given a press release from Pryde + Johnson regarding another bulk buy sales strategy for LEED Silver (targeted) built Hjarta in Ballard and Florera in Greenlake – units will be sold at up to 35% off original pricing in an alternative to auctions.
“We’re meeting the market on price and are committed to selling through as condominiums,” said Curt Pryde, principal of Pryde + Johnson and developer of both Hjarta and Florera Condominiums. “Homebuyers will also benefit from our preferred selection, FHA financing (3.5% down payment), today’s low interest rates and other limited-time incentives such as Federal tax credits up to $8,000 (for purchases contracted before April 30, 2010).”
As we understand it, several dozen sales have been generated to date using the sales strategy at The Decatur and Eleven Eleven East Pike. Rather than slowly lowering prices over a longer period of time (which seems systemic at many projects), Realogics was able convince the developer and their lender to explore more dramatic cuts in hopes of garnering quicker sales. The block of sales also helps shore up FHA financing and unit appraisals. In theory, this establishes a stabilized market value for the remaining sales while resolves a common concern amongst “wait and see” buyers that prices will drop further after buying. Hjarta and Florera will be undergoing a similar strategy and should offer some great deals for those who take advantage.
Studios (578 – 598 sq. ft.) will start from $244,950
One bedrooms (614 – 921 sq. ft.) will start from $274,950
One bedroom plus dens (792 – 923 sq. ft.) will start from $314,950
Two bedrooms (1,037 – 1,447 sq. ft.) will start from $399,950
Two bedrooms plus den penthouses (1,331 – 1,578 sq. ft.) will start from $589,950
Three bedroom plus den penthouses (1,909 sq. ft.) will start from $799,950
Pryde + Johnson appears to be motivated to sell now so buyers can take advantage of the extended homebuyer tax credit, and today’s historically low rates. Since rates will soon begin to climb, and the homebuyer tax credit will soon expire, these are exceptional opportunities for buyers who are interested in living outside the urban core, but within one of two prime urban neighborhoods. The official sales release will begin on March 27 but you can preview in advance – open houses will be scheduled for each weekend or by appointment. March 27th is the same weekend as Escala reintroduces sales at price drops and 5th & Madison auctions their remaining inventory so it should be a marketplace as buyers hunt down bargains.
Disclaimer: These projects are listings of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty’s “special projects” division, which is affiliated but independent of the “resale” division co-founded by James Stroupe and Moira Holley.
We had the pleasure to speak with one Bob Rennie of Rennie Marketing regarding Club Cielo. Rennie Marketing has sold over $1 billion dollars’ worth of condos each year for the last eight years and counting. Mr. Rennie and the ESCALA partnership are working on the revamped project, and we were privileged to be updated on the latest news.
First off, Club Cielo is no longer! Let’s call the 25,000 sq/ft spa, gym, and wine cave… amenities. There are a few influencing factors in play. First, the public found the HOD too high. Second, there is a belief that a condo owner should not have to pay for services they don’t use. Third and perhaps the most important, lenders had difficulty in funding buyers. Club Cielo allowed membership from the outside, and this issue presented problems to lenders with ownership in the HOA without an actual condo ownership. Outside ownerships were discontinued.
The new arrangement now will be a user-based system. If an owner wants a massage, give a call to Columbia Hospitality and they will send someone to meet you in the spa. If you want to do a banquet, call and everything will be set up for you. All of the amenities are physically there, but not staffed full time. This will help HOD get much more in line with the new economy. So far, it’s working. HOD’s have been reduced from $0.79/sq. ft. to $0.58, with a goal of reaching $0.55.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “What are the new prices”? We understand that the new prices are still being ironed out and we hope to have them by the 19th. Not a definite date, but priority update subscribers at EscalaTower.com will be the first to find out.
After the prices are determined, the current buyers will be contacted first. I would assume that many will like the new prices. Obviously, many will still not close. It has been a long time for some of these buyers and life changes as years go by. The questions we do not know yet are if the buyers will be allowed to move into other units and the big questions of earnest money to buyers who do not wish to close. Personally, we hope Escala makes the decision to create goodwill in the city and creates a positive movement. Enso went to their buyers in contract and treated them properly. And now, look how well that project is going.
Escala’s new team is proving to be much more transparent and many of our interested buyers have a revitalized excitement for the project. In fact, Escala is turning out to be a good example of what it feels like to take a long deep breath of fresh air. Regardess whether or not you like the project, we think we can all agree that the success of Escala would be beneficial to the whole community.
We had an opportunity to visit ESCALA this week. There is so much to absorb as more details are being ironed out as ESCALA undergoes their three weeks of resetting for the current market. We had a quick (very quick) glance at the proposed pricing and it will be quite compelling. Again, with an asterisk, everything is still being worked out and prices have not been formalized. From what we can tell at this time, the pricing may be at least 30% under the previously published prices.
We at the Stroupe Group couldn’t be more excited for buyers that have that have expressed interest in ESCALA. From what we’ve gathered, an approximate 200 units will be priced under $500 per square foot and sure to draw a lot of attention from all buyers interested in downtown.
If you are a regular reader of our post, you know we do not get overly excited with marketing news coming from projects. Their job is to create “hype” to encourage movement in a project. We do our best to see the project regardless of the marketing. That being said, if these prices at ESCALA are indeed what we expect, this is a great opportunity for a buyer looking for an exceptional product at a very attractive price. Think of what buildings are ESCALA’s competition and what the price per square foot are in those buildings. We cannot speak for the motivation for this drastic discount but we cannot wait to see how the public responds.
With such compelling prices, it may be likely that ESCALA will get a lot of attention over the next couple of months as the marketing for the building steps up. Expect a BIG media splash soon.
We are currently working to get some images of the project and perhaps the exceptional furnished models. They were also installing the chandelier over the concierge desk. That should be fun to see.
We have an appointment on Monday morning where we expect to have significantly more information. Perhaps some established prices too. Be sure to register on our new website for ESCALA at EscalaTower.com where you can view floor plans, sign up for listing updates, and get more details on the building overall. We will also be sending out pricing updates and pictures as we receive them to those who have registered.
January 25, 2010 by James
Filed under 1521, 2200Westlake, 81 Vine, ArborPlace, AvenueOne, BayVista, Bellora, Cosmopolitan, Cristalla, ESCALA, Featured, Gallery, Marketing, Meridian, Newmark Tower, Parc, Pomeroy, Seattle Heights, The Vine, WFP
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.
- 81 Vine Lofts
- 2200 Westlake
- Arbor Place Tower
- Avenue One
- Bay Vista Tower
- Bellora Building
- Fifteen Twenty-One
- Meridian Tower
- Newmark Tower
- Seattle Heights
- Tavona Condos
- The Cosmopolitan
- The Parc
- The Vine
- Watermark Tower
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.
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.
President and CEO of Realogics, Dean Jones, is announcing their recent acquisition of Windermere “OnSite” brokerage assets, which has been responsible for over 1,000 presales during the condo boom in downtown Seattle and Bellevue.
“An independent brokerage provides us flexibility to explore all opportunities while ensuring both continuity and the highest level of professionalism for our developer clients, the real estate community and the homebuyers for which we serve,” said Dean Jones, President and CEO of Realogics, Inc. “Realogics will now expand its offering beyond new construction to provide a broader spectrum of marketing and real estate services under one roof.”
Jones also announced that Sam Cunningham, prior Vice President of Windermere Builder Services, will be appointed as Designated Broker.
“We recognize the approaching dearth of new construction projects in the supply pipeline – so this acquisition is well timed for us”, said Pat Grimm, a co-owner of Windermere OnSite and the designated broker (and sole owner) of Windermere Real Estate / Capitol Hill, Inc. “Realogics is an exceptional marketing and sales enterprise and they are well positioned to manage their brokerage operations moving forward.”
Through personal experience with our clients, Jones and Cunningham have done a superior job in handling our clients’ needs throughout the transaction process, and we are excited to see a company like Realogics joining the team of boutique brokers in Downtown Seattle. In the meantime, OnSite will retain their builder-oriented franchise agreement with Windermere Real Estate. Realogics has listed both Fifteen Twenty-One Second and The Parc, and helped Windermere Onsite assign agents to seller’s in-house sales teams at Escala, Gallery, Equinox and Bravern Signature Residences. Realogics will also continue its relationship as a marketing partner with both Escala and The Bravern. The firm also launched an updated website.
Our photos didn’t turn out as fantastic as we had hoped, but we were able to just get a few of the South-facing 2 bedroom + den condo on the 20th floor.
We’ve placed them on an image of the floorplan so you can get an idea on what the unit is starting to look like:
Here are a few other noteworthy pics of a West-facing 2 bedroom unit:
Homes at Escala are just downright spectacular! Everything from finishes, to floorplans, to views, and location is something to boast about. The project is coming together very well and we’re excited to have a sneak peek for you. Here are some 10th floor pics:
Every unit not only offered a spacious floorplan, but an eye popping view as well.
Even from the Southwest corner, which lacks the sight of the Space Needle and Puget Sound, the open city view has been selling quite well.
Back to the popular 2 bedroom floorplan on the Northeastern corner…
As you can see, with a view of the Needle, door to large patio, fireplace, large windows, and space for a king size bed, leaving for the office in the morning won’t be that easy–but then again, it could also be the best way to end the day.
Unfortunately, lights had yet to be installed in the bathrooms, so we were unable to get a quality shot. Therefore, we’ll have to jump forward to where residents will enjoy breakfast and dinner.
And how about that 2nd bedroom, office, or guest room…
The patio photo above really does it no justice. The space is fairly large, but the sun had already placed its noon position, so we stepped out a quite a bit to snap this one.
Western views from 10th floor 1 bedrooms.
We’ll be posting 20th story 2 bedrooms tomorrow. Here’s one of the floorplans.