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King5 video clip on ‘Condo Craze’

By May 22, 2006


The other day I spoke with King5 news about why I chose to buy a condo here in downtown Seattle. They ended up using a few clips in King 5 Up Front Condo Craze, a lengthy 20 minute clip. They also put my picture on their homepage :).

The story starts with a look at Bayview Tower, a 23 storey development, going up in Bellingham of all places. Prices start in the $300,000 and seems to be aimed at baby boomers (50% of units reserved in two days). This is a segway into the Seattle condo market and where they point out that there are 230 condo sales a month. Then they get me to talk about the urban life style.

…And of course of the twenty minutes of video that they shot they use the twenty second clip of me saying I live downtown so I have easy access to happy hours (see Drunk After Work) when it’s more than that. I live downtown so that I can walk. I can walk to the grocery store, to my favorite restaurants, to the hair dresser, to the stores and yes, to the bars. For three weeks I lived in Redmond and could not walk anywhere. Anything I wanted to do involved driving. While some may have expensive cars and enjoy that lifestyle, for me, given how utterly unsustainable cars are, the less I drive, the better and a downtown urban lifestyle enables that.

Next they bring in Suzanne Britsch, a real estate analyst to reinforce the point. They group buyers into three categories: young looking for the urban lifestyle, baby boomers looking to downsize with the headaches of a house, and investors. They also look at price points: $210 sq/ft for a single family home in King County home, $730 sq/ft for a condo in downtown Seattle and $410 sq/ft for a condo in downtown Bellevue. Next they look at some of the higher end developments downtown like the Four Seasons and the 2200.

But it’s not just fancy grocery stores and happy hours. What about the risk? But first they look at the madness around a development’s opening day in Bellevue and the auction style used by Madison Lofts. Their analyst says, demand will not outstrip supply, interest rates are still low compared to when they rose to 20% and the job market is rosy.

To discuss this further Robert talked to Leslie Williams of Williams Marketing and Todd Vogel of Allied Arts. Leslie re-iterates that supply isn’t keeping up with demand, and concedes that affordability is a problem and blames the cost of construction (I would have suspected the land values). Todd isn’t so bullish and wants to see the government have more sustainable development and the need for parks and schools, etc, so that it’s not just baby boomers and yuppies, but also middle income families with kids. They then look at the risk of owning single family vs. condo and will condos cannibalize the single family market, etc.

Next up it’s a look at Seattle garbage situation. I didn’t realize that our garbage was first shipped to Georgetown, compacted, and then shipped to a train and shipped to Oregon. Wow, that’s crazy.

Upfront also has a blog, The condo craze: Is a condo in your future?

Can’t help but wonder about the 26-year-old we interviewed, who’s buying his first condo. Fast forward 10 years from now, when he’s married with two kids, is he going to head into the suburbs looking for a good school and a lawn?

If I’m still in Seattle I won’t be heading to the suburbs. But affordability will definitely be a problem. Presumably a 4 person family is going to need something like 2000 square feet and at $710 sq/ft, $1.4 million is a lot for a condo to fit your family. But you can still get a downtown urban lifestyle without living in a condo. There are many 4 bedroom homes on Capital Hill where I’d gladly raise kids that are in the $500,000 price range. Or Queen Anne, or Eastlake, or First Hill, etc.

Update: I had posted a comment to Robert Mak’s blog Sunday night, but apparently they didn’t approve it? Very odd.

I own and manage Urban Living, a boutique Seattle and Bellevue real estate brokerage. I love lofts, floating homes, new construction, and mid-century moderns, but I will help you buy or sell just about anything!

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