Homes for Under a Million

The Seattle real estate market continues to be one of the hot topics in the nation.  As prices rise and inventory remains low, many first-time home buyers are in bidding wars for their dream home (or close to their dream home). Queen Anne has become Seattle’s first neighborhood to have a median home price of $1 million dollars and Capitol Hill is not far behind at $890,000. Condominium sales are also struggling with inventory, down 24 percent from a year ago. The median sales price for condos last month was $328,675, which is an increase of 9.6 percent from a year ago. Some think there is no chance of finding a home under a million dollars, but here are some for you to consider!

3030 80th Ave SE, Mercer Island

Available for $499,950

20012 27th Dr SE, Bothell

Available for $700,000

2721 1st Ave, Belltown

Available for $309,000

3116 164th St SW, Lynnwood

Available for $255,000

Ewing and Clark is Seattle’s oldest real estate company. Our agents are experts in the market and have been for many years. Contact us today and we can make the home buying process feel like a breeze.

Seattle Rents: High, But Not Highest In Washington State

It’s not a news flash that the real estate scene in Seattle has exploded in recent years. The Emerald City has gone from a town most people outside the state only associated with coffee and flannel, to the tech capital of the US (save for our friends in Silicon Valley). As home to some of the biggest tech names in the world and a booming job market to match, it’s fair to say there’s might not be enough housing to meet demand. Or, at least to meet demand AND your budget.

High rises, apartment buildings and condos are going up all over the city, and soon, our beloved skyline will be dotted with more and more buildings and towers, making the Seattle of just 10 years-ago look almost unfamiliar.

Seattle has recently made headlines as one of the most expensive places to live, get this, in the world. That’s right, recent data has placed Seattle’s rent rates at 5th highest in the nation and, supposedly 9th highest in the world! However, San Francisco and New York still dwarf us, tying for number one most expensive, world-wide.

Those of us who are Seattle Natives know that the average rental rate in Seattle has increased fairly dramatically in the last few years, but it’s interesting to note that, while Seattle’s rents have been on the rise, they don’t quite top the list of highest rents in the state.

According to recent data from Apartment List, Seattle ranks at number 5 in the state for highest rents, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at about $1,650.

Surprisingly, Mercer Island tops the list of cities in Washington for highest rents. A one-bedroom on Mercer Island goes for an average of a whopping $1,890 per month. No one said Island living was cheap, I suppose.

Filling in the gaps between number 1 and number 5 on the list are Bellevue at number 2 with an average of $1,860 per month for a one-bedroom (not a whole lot lower than their neighboring Island), Redmond at number 3 with an average of about $1,690 monthly rent for a one bedroom and Kirkland at number 4 with an average monthly rent of $1,660 for a one-bedroom.

Seattle and the Eastside are not the only places in Washington with rising rent rates. Tacoma tops the list nation-wide for fastest growing rent with a year-over-year growth rate of 7.7 percent. Seattle comes close, but not close enough to that figure with year-over-year rental rate growth at 5.3 percent.

Staggering growth aside, Tacoma is still a bargain in the rental market compared to Seattle, with a one-bedroom in Tacoma going for an average of $1,000 per month. For those of you keeping score, that’s a savings of $650 compared to Seattle.

But, proving that some things really don’t change, the cheapest places to live in the Evergreen State are still East of the Cascade Mountains. You can get a one-bedroom for only $600 per month in Walla Walla and it’s not much pricier in the State’s second largest city, Spokane, at around $630 per month.

What a difference a mountain range makes…

Weyerhaeuser: Woodsy Urban

Weyerhaeuser’s Lobby Area.  Photo: Anthony Bolante/Puget Sound Business Journal

Weyerhaeuser’s new headquarters has moved “out of the woods” and into the urban core, to paraphrase The New York Times. A number of large, local companies decided recently to move their suburban headquarters to the Seattle core, including Weyerhaeuser, in an attempt to attract new talent who might prefer the perks of a downtown lifestyle. Another reason Weyerhaeuser decided to move is their previous location, which they occupied for 45 years, was deemed too big. Last autumn, they moved most of their office (between 700-800 employees) from a sprawling 430-acre campus in Federal Way to a single, new building in downtown Seattle. Their 166,000 square foot building is adjacent to Occidental Park, a community in transition, in the Pioneer Square area which is 3 blocks from a transit hub.

Weyerhaeuser Building in Pioneer Square.  Photo: Stuart Isett/The New York Times

Exterior of Weyerhaeuser Building.  Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

The exterior of the Weyerhaeuser building (220 Occidental Avenue South) is understated with quality details, and makes an effort to blend with the historic brick buildings that surround it.  An overhang and mason end walls align with the cornices of the historic buildings around the square, for an even line or flow from building-to-building. Also in keeping with its historic environment and Weyerhaeuser’s 116+ years in business, the bricks on the new building were placed by-hand, highly unusual these days, instead of a prefabricated sheet of bricks. The structure was developed by Urban Visions, who chose to work with architecture firm Mithun.

Weyerhaeuser lunch room with Elizabeth MacPherson, Mithun principal. Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

Weyerhaeuser produces wood products + land-related endeavors, and these materials are highlighted in their interior space, with the occasional burst of color (such as furniture). In the lobby, an employee’s photo of trees in a woods has been converted into a large digital wall mural. The ceilings, walls, tables, desks and other elements are often made from their own sustainable timber or made of natural materials. There’s quite a few windows for natural light. A rooftop garden. Studio SC’s large black and white wayfinding illustration of tree branches begins from an upper landing in the stairwell and works down floor-by-floor, ending with tree roots on a lower level. Even though this is a new building, a sense of history has been infused.

With the new building bordering the east side, Occidental Park is now enclosed on four sides and resembles a small, urban European plaza or Early American town square, especially during the summer. There’s seating available at the park, surrounded by hanging flowering baskets, older trees, and totem poles. Crime has dropped at the park by 2/3rds as of late July 2016, due to a very successful partnership between the Downtown Seattle Association and Seattle Parks & Recreation. As a result, a larger variety of people frequent the park because family-friendly events/activities, food trucks, games, and live music are now more commonplace. The re-invigoration of several downtown parks usually means an eventual rise in real estate values and a renewal of businesses in the vicinity. Weyerhaeuser, steeped in a long history with sustainable endeavors, is no stranger to renewal.

Occidental Park outside Weyerhaeuser headquarters.  Photo: Stuart Isett/The New York Times

Pioneer Square “Ruin” to Become Seattle’s Newest Boutique Hotel

metropole

Commonly dated to 1892, the Metropole Building in Pioneer Square is about to be transformed in the city’s newest boutique hotel.  The building’s finely proportioned façade, articulated in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, has been boarded up since a fire extensively damaged its interior in 2007.  While some restoration work was carried out inside the building following the fire, today, the Metropole resembles a ruin.

In 2015 Seneca ventures purchased the Metropole building for $4 million, planning to turn the dilapidated historical building into a boutique hotel with dining and retail space on its first floor. BuildingWork, a Seattle-based firm, has been hired to undertake the transformation. Matt Aalfs, the owner and principal of BuidlingWork, told the Daily Journal of Commerce that the hotel will have 36 guest rooms, about half of which will be “micro private rooms” geared towards single travelers and those on a budget. The micro rooms will be 120 square feet, but will have private, ensuite bathrooms.  Standard rooms at the hotel will be 220 square feet.

If the permitting process runs smoothly, construction could begin on the Metropole as early as September.  Before any work can begin though, the development team is seeking approval from the National Park Service in order to procure federal historic preservation tax credits, which will provie vital in the financing of the project.

Washington State Home Sales Soar Past Previous Highs

sold-sign2015 may have been an interesting year for many reasons, but in the world of Washington real estate, it sure felt like the good old days.

Not since the way-back-when of 2007 had so many homes and condominiums sold in the Evergreen State. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, 2015 saw a whopping 88,331 homes changed hands last year, about  14% more sales than in the previous year. Those who have done the math say that works out to about 75,975 single family homes and 12,356 condominiums, valued at  approximately $34 billion, about 23% more than the dollar volume sold the year before. Those impressive figures make 2015 one of the best years for Washington State real estate in recent memory.

The last time this state saw real estate figures like that was in 2007, before the bubble burst and sent the country into what is not-so-affectionately known as The Great Recession. Even in 2007, the figures only added up to about 82,197 sales valued at $32.3 billion, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Furthermore, despite a ‘lower inventory’, so to speak, prices and number of sales continue to grow. In King County, the median home price was $480,000 and more than 26,600 homes sold. Compare that to a median price of  $440,000 and 26,600 homes sold, in 2014 and you’ll notice a jump of close to 10%. Snohomish and Pierce counties can top those figures with growth figures for both median home price and number of homes sold over last year at nearly 16.80% ($355,000, up from $326,360 with 11,303 homes sold) and 17.39% ($249,950, up from 230,000 with more than 13,200 homes sold) respectively.

Overall, region-wide, the growth was about 8.8% from 2014, with a median price for single family homes and condominiums at about  $310,000, up from $285,000  last year.

Numbers like this are a positive and encouraging sign for the state of the  real estate market and the country’s economy as a whole. Let’s just hope nothing comes along and tries to ‘burst our bubble’ this time.

Seattle Condos Appreciating Faster Than Homes

Madison Tower cropped

Featured condo – 1000 1st Ave., Unit 2202, Seattle, 98104

Condominium property values were some of the hardest hit after the housing crash, with the typical condo in the U.S. losing a third of its value. But according to a recent Zillow survey, condos are finally making a long-awaited comeback and are appreciating more quickly than single-family homes in many U.S. markets, including Seattle’s.

According to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), the median sales price for a condo in Seattle in October was $368,000, up 23 percent over the year, compared to an 8 percent price increase for single-family homes. Condos in many neighborhoods within the city saw much higher rates of appreciation. Prices increased by 55 percent in Southeast Seattle (Columbia City, Rainier Valley, Seward Park), and by 45 percent in both Beacon Hill and the Ballard/Green Lake/Phinney Ridge area. Prices for condos in Seattle’s most expensive market, comprising Downtown and Belltown, rose by 34 percent over the year to a median of $539,000, and Queen Anne condo prices are the highest in a decade.

The condo market may be especially attractive to first-time home buyers, who are largely being priced out of Seattle’s expensive single-family market. Condos are often more affordable and lower maintenance, and many offer the urban lifestyle that young professionals are increasingly attracted to. Seattle’s condo market is also suffering from a lack of inventory with only 1.18 months’ worth of supply available (compared to the 4-6 months’ worth that is generally considered a ‘balanced’ market) which could be another factor helping drive price increases. Currently, there are 107 condos on the market in Downtown Seattle, ranging from $209,900 for a 447-square-foot unit at Vine and Western, to $9,990,000 for the 6,758-square-foot full-floor penthouse at the Madison Tower.

Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell wrote in the survey summary that, “Over the past few years, buying a condo hasn’t always been considered an investment on par with buying a single-family home. Clearly, the most recent data indicate that notion may be due for a second look.”

If you are curious how much your condo might be worth, please do not hesitate to contact one of our real estate agents!

4-Star SLS Hotel Graces Seattle

seattle nowOriginated in Los Angeles, the SLS Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel owned by Hollywood tycoon, Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of the SBE Entertainment Group. Dubbed as the “King of the Night”, Nazarian is responsible for some of the hottest clubs (Create, Greystone Manor, Emerson, Hyde, MyHouse), restaurants (Katsuya, The Bazaar, XIV) and hotels (the SLS Hotels in Beverly Hills, South Beach, and Las Vegas). Creating his very own hotel empire, he has set his sights on expanding the luxury hotel chain to the Bahamas, Philadelphia, four properties in China, two locations in New York and lastly, but most importantly, the SLS Hotel will be coming to Seattle in Spring 2016.

Behind the SLS masterpiece stands a trifecta of men, comprised of owner Sam Nazarian, French-designer Philippe Starck, and James Beard Award-winning chef, José Andrés. These men operate at such a level excellence that joining forces in creating a hotel brand known for its style, luxury, and service, was clearly a no-brainer. They have already established quite the reputation, which is why it’ll be interesting to see what they feel the SLS Seattle should encompass in order to capture the hearts of the notoriously cold Pacific Northwesterners.

Philippe Starck, excited about the expansion to the Emerald City, feels Seattle is “a city of science and city of nature,” he told Marc Stiles in an interview for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Monday through Friday, people “create the future in science and on the weekends they hug trees.” As much of a generalization that is, he isn’t entirely off. Seattle effortlessly sits pretty between these two worlds. A hub for information and technology companies like Amazon, Google, and F5 Networks, Seattle also attracts outdoors enthusiasts to its gorgeous mountainous terrain and acres of uncharted territory.

Just as Seattle has become the mecca for hikers and tech-geeks alike, the 44-story Fifth + Columbia tower offers a seemingly contradictory exterior design – a 44-story contemporary silhouette is paired alongside a church sanctuary.  The structural collaboration has promise to effortlessly settle into a city that doesn’t overlook its history in exchange for progress. The First United Methodist Church which was sold with the property, will remain the same on the exterior as an ode to its important history, whereas the interior of the church will be re-purposed as a restaurant, ballroom and conference center for the SLS Hotel.

To Starck, “the most interesting thing is not the [high rise]. It is not the church. It is the mix of both,” which is so much of what Seattle is – a mix of contradictions that supports one another as if they are the same. For Starck, there isn’t a standardized formula he applies to every hotel he designs. Rather, he looks at each new location individually and focuses on creating an environment where people “will be at their best, will be uplifted, will be more sexy, more intelligent, more creative, more sparkling, more in love.”  Who isn’t on board for feeling smart, sexy and in love? Can we move in?

Going beyond the design of the four-star hotel, the SLS Seattle will offer 30,000 square feet of a José Andrés dining concept is sure to flood your mouth with flavor. Los Angeles Times’ food critic, S. Irene Virbila, described the food experience at The Bazaar, Andrés’ restaurant in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, as, “Fellini-esque, a gastronomical circus, a flirtation with the flavors and soul of Spain.” She continued, “Los Angeles has never seen anything remotely like this exciting restaurant,” and she was right. Six years after Virbila’s bold words, a simple “Best Restaurants in Los Angeles” google search will come up with pages of lists all with The Bazaar still sitting at the top. So the question is, is Seattle’s foodie culture ready for José Andrés?

With the magnifying glass hovering over the Pacific Northwest, there is no question Seattle is emerging as one of the nation’s hot spots. Running with the cool-kids can come at a cost; for growing cities that generally means tearing down the old in exchange for the shiny and new. Fortunately masterminds, Nazarian, Starck, and Andrés saw the beauty in the conflicting architecture of an old church, a new skyscraper and wanted to incorporate a piece of Seattle’s history into its trendsetting future. A trend hopefully Seattleites can jump on board with.

 

For more information about the SLS Hotel Seattle

 

 

No Horsing Around – Union Stables Restored

TUNE, architecture firm Weinstein A+U, and joint owner of the building, general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis will take up the ole’ nine to five in arguably one of the coolest workspaces in Seattle. Once housing over 300 horses, employees of TUNE, Weinstein A+U, and Lewis will be the first human tenants to move into the building.

An ode to Seattle’s pioneering days, the landmark building was used as a livery stable, housing horses used for deliveries and to pull streetcars. Once considered the most modern building west of the Mississippi, the building has seen fires, earthquakes and was the scene of a major Prohibition raid back in 1923.

Paying respects to the building’s rich history, Lewis persevered and reused 127,000 board feet of lumber and milled old beams from the original building turning them into flooring and other materials. Additionally he reused every single road brick, as road brick is no longer available. Timber chewed and rubbed on by the horses can be seen throughout the build, as well as a large V-shaped hay cart which will be hung in the lobby of the building as “a nice little reminder of what the building was like..,” Dave Rauma, Lewis senior project manager said, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Offering exposed beams, bike storage, and a green roof on part of the building, the renovation hits a sweet balance in paying homage to the past while setting an energy conscious precedent for the future. Going beyond the boundaries of the building, thinking of our carbon footprint, Lewis anticipates the green roof to be certified LEED gold, and hopes to outfit his office at the highest LEED certification, LEED platinum. It seems this waterfront building has jumped leaps and bounds ahead of its time and is quickly becoming more legendary than its historic past. With the tone set, let’s hope to see some legendary business for the companies settling in.

Union Stables Building

2200 Western Ave.

Seattle, WA 98121

Real Estate Steps into the 21st Century with Cloud Based Apps

Seattle, known as a progressive leader in information and technology, houses established companies and growing start-ups alike. As Amazon expands, Facebook moves in, and numerous start-ups take up stake in Seattle’s burgeoning technology hub, it is evident the commercial real estate industry, a sector some would say is lagging on the technological front,  is a major player in assisting these innovative companies set up shop.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, in 2014, high-tech tenants accounted for 45 percent of leasing activity in Seattle. That’s a good chuck of business coming from a client base who appreciates system innovation – it would be wise if the real estate sector jumped aboard the techie train and geared their marketing strategy towards their forward thinking client base.

That is exactly what co-founder of Hightower, Brandon Weber and Floored CEO, Dave Eisenberg are monopolizing on. Seattle based, Hightower, takes commercial leasing to that magical place everyone seems to love – the cloud. Allowing for full business execution in the palm of your hand, Hightower allows commercial owners and brokers to manage their entire portfolio, leasing documents, and collaborate with their leasing team all in real time. Joining forces with New York City based company, Floored, a fully interactive 3D visual tool for the real estate industry, Weber and Eisenberg have created a full-bodied leasing platform like no other.

“Tenants struggle to visualize how space might look, landlords spend billions of dollars on speculative space construction,” Brandon Weber, explained to Commercial Observer. “Floored greatly reduces this need by delivering a virtual tour experience showing the tenant exactly how their space will look once built out. We believe this can save Landlords billions in spec build out costs.”

Between Hightower’s mobile app technology and Floored’s 3D visual sophistication, brokers and building owners have the ability to virtually walk clients through available properties that provide such robust example of what the space could look like, that the platform is unmatched with anything else out there. What a refreshing game changer – but it is changing the game?

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Weber says Hightower is tracking more than 10,000 vacant office spaces, and that figure is growing 20 percent a month. Hoping to streamline his business for bi-coastal clients, Weber is excited at the prospect of assisting a Los Angeles tenant find property in New York via the Hightower application.

Thanks to new kids on the block, infusing life into the real estate industry, like Hightower and Floored, maybe some of the biggest names in the business will step into the 21st century.

Downtown Seattle Steadily Attracting New Residents

downtown condo1The Downtown Seattle Association held its state of downtown economic forum yesterday, and one of the major takeaways of their economic report was that the state of the downtown housing market is strong. Not only are increasing numbers of people calling downtown home – 16 percent of Seattle’s total population growth between 2010 and 2014 happened downtown – but more and more of them have families, with the number of children living downtown having increased by 17 percent since 2010. Overall, downtown residents tend to be younger, more well-educated, and more likely to live in a single-person household than the rest of Seattle as a whole.

Though only two condominium projects are currently under construction downtown, 3,089 residential units (the majority of which are apartments) are set to be in the construction phase in 2015, with 2,642 more in the works for 2016. Currently, the majority of apartment units downtown are small – an average of 638 square feet – but with the influx of families we could see a trend toward larger two- and three-bedroom units.

Overall, it’s going to cost you more on average to rent downtown compared to other areas of the city. Average rent downtown in 2014 was $1,904 per month, whereas the average for Seattle as a whole was significantly lower at $1,485 per month. Similarly, the median price for condos downtown stood at $409,500, a staggering 40 percent higher than the $292,500 median price for condos in the city of Seattle as a whole. Despite the relatively high prices, the vacancy rate remains under 4 percent. Visit the DSA website to read the economic report in its entirety.

If you are interested in renting or buying a home in Downtown Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today!