From my TeamIrene blog:
If you're shopping for new construction condominiums in Seattle in fall of 2009, here are a few things to keep in mind based on my recent experiences helping a condo buyer:
Expect large price drops for new Seattle condos and structure the offer accordingly.
You're not guaranteed the result you want, but even with the general uptick in the Seattle housing market that we're seeing right now the odds are still definitely in your favor.
Keep an ear out for 'things in the works'.
Developers are using condo auctions as a way to sell large quantities of inventory and set a trend for pricing of remaining units at the same time. Current examples are Gallery in Belltown, and Brix Condos in Capitol Hill (both links now go directly to the auction website.)
Remember functionality and re-sale criteria when shopping for Seattle condos!
Regardless of how cool or famous the condo designer is, people need space to store their clothes, cook a meal, and fit a king sized bed comfortably into the master bedroom. These are the major issues I hear about from buyers when they're deciding to not purchase a property.
My client and I did a massive tour of multiple units in five new Seattle condo buildings a couple of weeks ago, and out of all of the ones we saw (one-level, loft and brownstone styles) there were only four units total in two buildings that we thought were worth considering. Most of the rest ruled themselves out with a small master bedroom, and one highly touted building had a master closet the size of a broom closet, with a washer and dryer stuffed into it to boot.
I realize that you can get away with more funkiness in Seattle than you can on the Eastside, but as I told my client, if you buy a place like that you have to be OK with your future target market for re-sale being the itinerant artist who only needs space for a pair of pants and an easel in the master closet. (Rule out most couples, and even many singles.)
Home buyers typically have an eye for at least some of these things, but I've found that most of them still need someone to point out the things they don't notice that affect functionality and re-sale, and to back them up when they have a feeling that something isn't right but they think they might just be too picky - usually they're on target.
Walking out of well over a thousand homes for sale over the past 10 years and hearing exactly why my client will or won't buy it is the best training for coaching people on re-sale value that I can think of. You would think that building designers would be in tune to the same things, so it really surprises me to see new Seattle condo units with features that are deal-killers for many home buyers. Fortunately there are some good ones out there too - it just pays to be picky!