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The high life

By February 4, 2007

1521, 5th and Madison, Cristalla, Harvard and Highland, Olive 8

The Pacific Northwest magazine had a length article about downtown living this Sunday, Uptown Downtown: Close to everything and luxe, too, it’s the new condo life. Interestingly they take a look at who these urbanites are:

Of those purchasing high-rise condos for more than $500,000, half list themselves as professionals, while nearly 60 percent earn incomes of $250,000 or more, according to Williams Marketing, which markets and sells many of the high-profile downtown projects on behalf of developers.

The biggest number — 38 percent — moved from another downtown location, while 18 percent moved here from another state.

Surprisingly, baby boomers make up just a third of the downtown market, while the rest is everyone from 20-something tech workers to single, married and divorced professionals. Buyers include TV producers, Microsofties, doctors, dentists, attorneys, restaurateurs, CPAs, brokers and Starbucks executives.

Another new niche: Younger buyers who get help from their parents, whether it’s through a down payment or an outright buy, says president Leslie Williams of Williams Marketing.

With 6,700 units scheduled to be built before 2010 just how many people in Seattle are making the $250,000+ a year in order to be able to afford all these $750,000+ condos?

There’s another interesting quote in the article about the rising cost of construction:

THE QUESTION today is how many more people can afford to live in this increasingly exclusive backyard?

Builders say prices have risen because of strong demand for steel from China and drywall from the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Rising oil prices have shoved up the costs to transport materials and power construction equipment.

At Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue, project costs have risen roughly 40 percent since April 2005, says William Justen, who manages the Samis real-estate portfolio, which includes the historical Washington Shoe and Collins Buildings in Pioneer Square. “When construction costs go up, you test what the market will bear,” he says. “Fortunately, the market has been good. The selling prices have protected us from escalating construction costs.”

The second much shorter article looks at the downsizing trend and one couple who moved into Harvard and Highland, Room For What Matters: In a Capitol Hill condo, downsizing offers freedom to play:

WHERE DO THEY come from — all the people moving to new condominiums and the many refurbished older apartment buildings where rentals have morphed into owner-purchased units? The sale of single-family residences all over town offers a clue. And Ken and Alberta Weinberg are one couple whose experience “downsizing” from 3,000 to 1,600 square feet reflects the trend.

Trust the Seattle Times to be bullish on real estate :).