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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.

Although 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


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?

King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for January 13th, 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


Interest Rates of 5% May Never Be Seen Again! Here’s Why.

January 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying, Featured, Finance, MARKET TRENDS, National

Interest rates are speculated to begin heading in the opposite direction come springtime.  As part of the economic plan to stimulate the market, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing mortgage-backed securities in order to manipulate demand.  Since early 2009, the Feds have bought an approximate $1.25 trillion in securities, and Fed spending is set to expire on March 31st.  Unlike the Tax Credit extension real estate professionals crossed their fingers for, the Feds have already slowed down on spending, suggesting they will in fact cease securities purchasing.  This should result in opening the market to investors demanding higher rates due to higher perceived risk.  With that being the case, it’s likely that rates will never be seen at 5% again.

Lenders (preferred) are advising people to take advantage of these low rates before spring when they are expected to begin climbing to an estimated 5.5%.  Spring is also the busiest season of the year for buying real estate, so getting in on a low rate and low price is certainly a wise idea.  Rates should continue to rise at a fairly slow rate after that, then cap around 5.75%.

Bullish About 2010? Matrix Drums Up Half by the 12th Day

January 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Downtown (MLS Area 701), Featured, Selling

We are curious to see how the downtown market is starting off for 2010. Since the beginning of the year, a high number has come up for new listings.  However, almost half of the 57 (-3) units is just Williams and MCM hacking into the MLS to update their new company’s name.

Unfortunately many are still left feeling bad for being responsible while not losing a tremendous amount of net worth in home value.  Buyers are snatching up the flipped floorplan of the same unit next door for sometimes half the price.

Economists are still throwing dust in the wind to predict what the market is going to be like for 2010, but there certainly are not as many running for cover.  The argument today seems to be mostly focused on opinions regarding Escala’s lobby.

At any rate, here’s what’s hitting the market for the beginnng of 2010 and at what price… (*does not include pendings or price adjustments)

Alexandria – 0B/1B, 450 Sq. Ft. $174,950
Bellora – 0B/1B, 516 Sq. Ft. $189,000
Marselle – 0B/1B, 376 Sq. Ft. $199,990
Marselle – 0B/1B, 556 Sq. Ft. $214,990
Matae – 0B/1B, 452 Sq. Ft. $219,000
Marselle – 0B/1B, 562 Sq. Ft. $219,000
Marselle – 1B/1B, 744 Sq. Ft. $249,000
Marselle – 1B/1B, 781 Sq. Ft. $259,990
Marselle – 1B/1.5B, 836 Sq. Ft. $259,990
Marselle – 1B/1.5B, 836 Sq. Ft. $259,990
Marselle – 1B/1.5B, 842 Sq. Ft. $264,990
Marselle – 1B/1B, 781 Sq. Ft. $269,990
Marselle – 1B/1B, 706 Sq. Ft. $269,990
Veer Lofts – 1B/1B, 703 Sq. Ft. $274,500
Veer Lofts – 1B/1B, 640 Sq. Ft. $282,500
Concord – 0B/1B, 580 Sq. Ft. $285,000
Marselle – 1B/1.5B, 846 Sq. Ft. $299,990
Marselle – 1B/1B, 956 Sq. Ft. $299,990
Cosmopolitan – 1B/1B, n/a Sq. Ft. $300,000
Arbor Place – 1B/1B, 675 Sq. Ft. $315,000
Marselle – 1B/1B, 956 Sq. Ft. $324,990
Belltown Lofts – 1B/1B, 889 Sq. Ft. $349,000
Veer Lofts – 1B/1.5B, 810 Sq. Ft. $349,500
Klee – 1B/1B, 721 Sq. Ft. $355,000
Vine – 1B/1.5B, 1022 Sq. Ft. $375,000
Marselle – 2B/2B, 1217 Sq. Ft. $279,000
Marselle – 2B/2B, 1058 Sq. Ft. $389,990
Marselle – 2B/2B, 1251 Sq. Ft. $399,990
Veer Lofts – 1B/1.5B, 909 Sq. Ft. $409,500
Trio – 1B/1B, n/a Sq. Ft. $414,950
Veer Lofts – 1B/1.5B, 1005 Sq. Ft. $429,500
Royal Crest – 2B/1.75B, 1323 Sq. Ft. $439,950
Cosmopolitan – 2B/2B, 1186 Sq. Ft. $446,738
Parc – 1B/1B, 775 Sq. Ft. $465,000
Market Court – 1B/1.5B, 1015 Sq. Ft. $469,000
Florentine – 1B/1.75B, 1437 Sq. Ft. $484,950
Post Mews – 1B/1B, 1913 Sq. Ft. $499,900
Merrill Place – 1B/1.5B, 1271 Sq. Ft. $544,000
Waterfront Landings – 2B/1.75B, 1116 Sq. Ft. $549,000
Bay Vista Tower – 2B/2B, 1371 Sq. Ft. $585,000
Cosmopolitan – 2B/2B, 1316 Sq. Ft. $695,000
Cosmopolitan – 2B/1.75B, 1324 Sq. Ft. $695,000
One Pacific Tower – 2B/2B, 1523 Sq. Ft. $695,000
Enso – 2B/2B, 1129 Sq. Ft. $715,000
Continental Place – 1B/1B, 842 Sq. Ft. $750,000
Market Place North – 1B/1.5B, 1288 Sq. Ft. $879,000
One Pacific Tower – 2B/2B, 1523 Sq. Ft. $1,000,000
Enso – 2B/2.5B, 1556 Sq. Ft. $1,025,000
1521 Second – 2B/1.75B, 1968 Sq. Ft. $1,125,000
1521 Second – 2B/1.75B, 1644 Sq. Ft. $1,125,000
Enso – 2B/2B, 1892 Sq. Ft. $1,295,000
Madison Tower – 3B/2.5B, 3010 Sq. Ft. $4,995,000

King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for December 23rd, 2009

December 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Downtown (MLS Area 701), Weekly Sales Ratios

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


King County Weekly Condo Sales Ratios for December 16th, 2009

December 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Downtown (MLS Area 701), Weekly Sales Ratios

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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