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Inside a Fast Sale on Capitol Hill

By April 10, 2013

Capitol Hill, Townhouses

It’s one thing to see the stats about the recovering Seattle housing market, it’s another to learn the details of a specific listing. On a Sunday last month, friends of mine posted on Facebook that they had just listed their Capitol Hill townhouse and were holding an open house. By Tuesday, the house had gone pending, and for above the list price.

1101 E Harrison St.

1101 E Harrison St.

I asked them and their agent to share some details, to let us in on the mini frenzy that is again taking hold in parts of the local real estate market. They agreed.

First, here are the specifics: the townhouse on the corner of 11th Ave and Harrison St. features two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms in 1,540 sq. ft. There is also an expansive private patio. List price:$574,800.

Fenced off, private patio

Fenced off, private patio

Almost immediately, the central location, outdoor space, and competitive list price ($373 per sq. ft.) put the house on agents’ radar. “We had showings within 30 minutes of listing,” said Michael Griffin, one of Seattle’s most active agents with Windermere.

An offer also came in that first day. A day later, Griffin scheduled an open house.

Open kitchen and living room

“We had moved out to have the place unoccupied for heavy foot traffic,” said one of the homeowners. “It was a blur. There were a lot of people in one day, like 50 or so.”

Four more offers came in. Four of the offers were financed, one was all cash. (It is in this kind of environment where you start to understand why a seller on Capitol Hill is looking for 39% appreciation after one year.)

“All of the offers were over list price. Some had escalator clauses for significantly over the list price,” said Griffin. Interestingly, the sellers decided not to go with the highest-priced offer, choosing the “strongest” offer instead.

“With a financed offer that is significantly above list price, there is the concern that 20 days down the road the appraisal will come back short and then the contract could potentially fall apart,” said Griffin.

The deal is still pending so Griffin can’t share the winning offer. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the final sales price is above $400 per sq. ft.

I asked the owners, who wish to remain anonymous, if they had second thoughts about asking for more money. One of them said, “there were times we thought the price should have been higher but we did price comparisons with other places in the area and felt comfortable with our decision.”


He also shared that having attended the open house, he learned that “if there are buyers who show up willing to do pre-inspections, you better be prepared to walk away or be aggressive with one’s offer.”

Griffin said the quick sale didn’t necessarily surprise him because “there has been a dynamic shift from just six to 12 months ago. A year ago, a seller would be happy to receive one offer. Today, a well-priced, well-presented home will receive multiple offers. I think buyers have realized that the market has turned and have confidence in their home’s value. Sellers have also realized the shift in demand, and are releasing their homes for sale.”

Still, Griffin said pricing the unit correctly and having professional photography and careful staging do make a difference.

Do you have an interesting sales experience to share? Email us.