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Seattle Times: Staking their claim

By October 23, 2006


This weekend the Seattle Times has a lengthy article on Getting the right floor plans, amenities and views by buying a presale. The most interesting bit for the new condo pre-sale shopper is the discussion of the differences between reservations and earnest money deposits. Some other choice quotes:

About 90 percent of condominiums at 2200, a mixed-use development in Seattle, sold before the sales center was open for business, said Julie McAvoy, sales director.

“It’s almost rendering sales centers a thing of the past,” said Dean Jones, president of Realogics, a Seattle-based marketing firm for condominiums and mixed-use buildings.

Ugh, I think it’s irresponsible and reprehensible that condo developers engage in this practice. For instance I couldn’t believe that Brix was accepting reservations the minute they opened their doors. The same goes for the development where I bought, the Meritage. They’re trying to create a frenzy where buyers are rushed to buy without really understanding what they’re buying. I think a customer friendly practice is to open your sales center for a month prior to reservations or sales beginning, build demand, and then put the units on sale. Give us a chance to absorb your floorplans, location, finishes. Don’t rush us to make a decision after camping out for four hours and then only briefly looking at things as we rush to find a sales associate.

The reservation stage, a more forgiving first step, allows developers to gauge interest in a project while it gives buyers a chance to select one of their top choices of units once the presale begins.

Translation: The reservation stage allows developers to gauge interest of a particular unit or unit type or floor so that they can raise prices before buyers sign a purchase agreement. As customers we need to stop playing into their hands with this one!

“As a homebuyer, you can be your own architect,” said Realogics’ Jones.

Customization may range from choosing among several themes to fully personalizing the unit, with the latter more common among penthouses.

That’s bullshit. A $15,000 car has more customization options than condos under $1 million. I hate that condo developers idea’s of customization is to choose between two or three color pallets. I can’t help but think how much money they are leaving on the table by not enabling customers to actually customize their units.

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