Now is the time of year that buyers begin to hunt for condos and lofts in Portland’s Pearl District, Downtown and South Waterfront. When looking at these properties, please be aware of the importance of price per square foot. Most important, and I have said this before, the price per square foot can vary dramatically based on where the unit is located in the building! I often deal with agents who mostly work in the suburbs, presenting offers on listings based on price per square foot. Trouble is these units were far inferior to the one I had listed. You cannot compare a 12th floor unit with views of Mt. Hood or the West Hills to a 3rd floor unit that is looking into an apartment building. It is also difficult to compare a unit with a deck with city views to a unit that is ground floor with no outdoor living space and less security.
I specialize in condos because I want to be an expert in what I do. Today, too many agents try to be all things to all people. In the end, they become experts at nothing because you cannot understand every part of the city and the nuances of every area. If you are looking for a home in Alameda, I am not your guy! There are agents in that area who know the market very well. Why as a buyer, would you use an agent from who does not understand the delicate balance of pricing based on the difference of just a couple of blocks?
The same can be said of the condominium market. Why work with a buyer’s agent that does not understand the nuances of the condominium market or the pricing of this market? As a buyer, it does not cost you more to work with a specialist. The truth is, it pays! As for someone who is selling their condo, it becomes even more important to work with a specialist. Last year, I spoke to a seller who was told by a competing agent ( who works for a company that does a ton of marketing on TV, stating they can save their clients thousands of dollars) that they could sell their condo for 5% higher than the Zillow “Zestimate”. Problem was that the Zestimate was extremely low for this property, which is not unusual. ( Zillow has an even tougher time with comparables in the condo market than Redfin or agents from the suburbs.) Had that person only priced their condo 5% higher than Zillow’s Zestimate, it would have cost them many thousands of dollars. In addition, the same agent, whose company says it can save you money on commissions, could have cost that same client thousands of dollars because of the lack of experience.
In addition to correctly pricing a unit, sellers should consider this one thing: I am in the condo market EVERYDAY marketing to condo buyers EVERYDAY. Every week I speak with folks walking by my office on 11th Avenue who are up from the Bay area looking for a place to buy. This presents a huge marketing advantage. I have said this before, a typical agent cannot go from marketing homes in Lake Oswego one day and then flip a switch and fill up their pipeline with condo buyers overnight. It just does not work this way.
And for that same agent to understand condo pricing overnight? It does not happen.
Please visit my new website at LuxuryCondosofPortland.com. See some great aerial drone photography of many of downtown condo buildings! Just click on the Buildings page.
Recently, in my blog post you have read about my comments on the Cosmopolitan. You have heard me say that it is overpriced and that it has raised prices on many resale units that are hitting the market. One of those is the richly priced penthouse at the Elizabeth selling for a whopping $1000 a square foot ( and yet only 14 floors above the ground!. At least for $1000 a foot at the Cosmopolitan you are getting a 26th floor view that helps jusify it’s pricing in comparison…sort of! In the land of overpriced units, I wanted to touch on one listing that I think is underpriced! That’s right, I said underpriced in this market. This unit is one of the iconic brownstone like townhomes on 11th. The one that I like is the double unit #633 and #637 priced at only…$2,975,000! Now I know this is still a pretty big number but lets look at the numbers.
#633 Is a double unit offering 3,888 sq. ft. ( and for you Asian buyers, that 888 is a pretty good sign, right!) With this much square feet and priced at $2,975,000, the price per square feet is only $765! This is $304 a sq. ft less than the Casey penthouse priced at $3,499,000 and $235 a sq. ft less than the Elizabeth penthouse priced at $3,299,000. Add the Cosmopolitan into the mix and you have an absolute steal! The one thing I will say about the double unit townhome priced at $2,975,000 is that none of the other units mentioned, Cosmopolitan included will have better finishes! Hands down, this Jeffrey Lamb designed unit is far superior with substantial custom work throughout! The money spent on the unique and high quality custom finishes, including iron, stone, glass, stainless steel and a 2.5 ton travertine clad swinging door is something you are not likely to see anywhere else. Now some of you may be saying that the other units are higher up and have views. Well let me tell you this, I get a fair amount of buyers that do not like being high up in a high rise and do not put value on that. Some of these same people put more value on space. I also tend to put much value on quality, something your not going to get in a new high rise unless you do your own custom finishes. If you were to do that at the Cosmopolitan, you will be talking $1500 a sq. ft.
In this market you will not hear me make many comments about a unit being underpriced but in my opinion, this one is! When it first came on the market it got an offer in several days and that offer fell through. I don’t believe this unit should stay on the market long at this price. If you are a person that is not interested in a view and prefers a more neighborhood feel, this may be the right place for you. If you are in the market for one of the Pearl Districts finest homes with some of the finest finishes, give me a call today and we can set up a tour of this unique place.
The answer is YES! Many times throughout the year I will see condos come on the market that may not be priced correctly. Most of the times it is because the agent does not know the condominium markets well and do not know how to price them correctly. Sometimes they over price them, sometimes they under price them…and create good buys for a buyer! This weekend. An example of this happened. It was at a very high price point, but still a good buy for the new owners! Last week I wrote about a couple of new listings that were coming to market. One was one of the beautiful townhomes on 11th. It was the combined unit that I thought would be priced at about $3,200,000 to $3,500,000 ( I believe I said low to mid 3 Million range). The agent that got the listing is a well known luxury agent that is known for high end homes, not condos. The listing came on the market at a surprising sub $3,000,000 price ( $2,975,000). As I said, YES, buyer’s can find deals in this market! To me, this shows a good example of working with a specialist. While the above…not mentioned agent, has a decent reputation for higher end homes in the west hills, this agents expertise is not in the condo market. I am not sure why the owners selected the agent but I have my suspicions! Some agents will try to sell their companies “wide global reach” in a sales pitch to get a listing in the high end of the market. To me, this is a little bit of smoke and mirrors because of the internet. With the internet, an agent with a good bit of knowledge of marketing on the internet, can easily get their listing “worldwide”. Keep in mind, condo specialist market to condo buyer’s everyday and maintain a pipeline of qualified buyer’s. Sometimes local, sometimes international. The point I want to make here gets back to today’s topic: Finding deals in this market. As long as you have agents that do not fully understand the condo market, you will always be able to find a deal because those agents will not always understand how to price a unit. Many don’t understand the difference between being on the west side 3rd floor vs 13th floor on the east side. Some don’t understand the difference from having a protected view vs an unprotected view and many of the other issues that come into play when pricing condos. Bottom line if you don’t want to be one of those seller’s that is creating a great buying opportunity for a buyer, make sure you interview a condo specialist!
When people think of the Pearl District, often they think about living in one of the iconic town homes on 11th ( see last week’s blog post). Others think about a new shiny high rise like the new Cosmopolitan while others think about a cozy loft style condo in a building like Marshall Wells, Irving Street Lofts or Avenue Lofts. If you have been thinking about one of these loft style condos in the heart of the Pearl, now is your chance!
Coming to the market tomorrow will be a beautifully done penthouse loft at Marshall Wells. The owner of this spacious loft (2771 square feet) spared no expense in creating a wonderful living space in this historical building. From it’s designer kitchen to the beautiful chandeliers, this one is a “Must See”!
Priced at $1,399,000, it is reasonably priced in the low $500 sq. ft. area. (remember, this is entry level at the new Cosmopolitan). For those looking to downsize from a larger house, the 2771 square feet makes for an easier transition.
If you would like to see photos of this beautiful loft, please visit http://www.MarshallWellsLoft.com and click on the photo gallery button. When you are ready to take a look, give me a call at 503-896-8856
Brad Golik is a certified condominium specialist in Portland and works primarily in Portland’s Pearl District, South Waterfront and Downtown. If you are thinking about selling, Brad has simply one of the best condo marketing programs in Portland.
Brad is a founding member of http://www.Condo10.com
Last week I mentioned what I called the “Cosmopolitan Effect” and how it was raising the bar for resale properties around the Pearl. In that blog post I mentioned that one of the signature town homes on 11th, priced at $1,899,000, came onto the market…and went pending in 3 days! Well, the seller’s are not carrying their bags of money to the bank just yet! The deal fell out of escrow and it is now back on the market.
A little about the property… #617 11th is a spectacular property featuring 2,698 square feet of upscale living right in the heart of the Pearl. This home features 2 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, a library ( large enough to be 3rd bedroom) a spacious family/TV on the Mezzanine level, a large rooftop deck and a 2 car garage.
For those who might be selling their large suburban home, this could be the perfect transition to downsizing without giving up some of the space that is needed.
If you would like to tour this beautiful Pearl District town home, give me a call today and we can set up a tour of this amazing space!
As for the market in general, we are still battling with the lack of inventory. We have buyers in many upper end levels so if you own a condo in the Pearl, and are thinking in any way of selling, please give us a call today. For an instant assessment of your condo’s value, please visit http://www.PearlDistrictPrices.com
Pearl District prices are rising fast! To get the TRUE value of your condo instantly for FREE, go to:
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you have heard me discuss the pricing of The Cosmopolitan. Most of what I have said in the past blog post is that I have just felt the the pricing is way too high. Today what I want to talk about is the effects of this pricing.
Just short of a year ago, one of the iconic Pearl District brownstone style town homes along 11th sold for $1,390,000 or $515 a square foot. Now keep in mind these town homes don’t come on the market that often so the buyer of that unit did pay a premium to get it. Now fast forward almost a year later. The next door neighbor of this unit just put their home on the market. The square footage of the unit was an identical 2698 feet. These neighbors put their home on the market for $1,899,000 or $703 a square foot. Not only did they put their home on the market, they got 2 offers within the first 2 days it was on the market! A year ago it would have been thought that $703 a foot was insane for these units. What has changed things that makes these units jump 36% in under a year? I would call it “The Cosmopolitan Effect!” What do I mean by this? When the Cosmopolitan came to market, it brought unheard of prices for this area. Now with $700 a square foot being almost a starter unit at the Cosmo, and with prices reaching all the way up to $1,200 a square foot, $703 a sq. ft. for one of the Pearl Districts most recognized set of homes almost makes it seem under-priced! Why not pay $703 a sq. ft.? It’s only 58% of what they are trying to get at the Cosmopolitan!
Remember that buyer that “overpaid” or paid a premium of $1,390,000 for their town home? Well thanks to the developers at Hoyt Street Properties, they are laughing all the way to the bank with their 36% return!
Part of the high prices we are seeing is no doubt coming partially from our very low inventory. The other part, no question, is coming from the effects of the Cosmopolitan pricing, or as I like to call it, “The Cosmopolitan Effect!”
Today I sat at Starbucks with my tablet to do a little work. As I took a few calls and reviewed listings online, I noticed the person next to me taking an interest in my work. We struck up a conversation as she enjoyed hearing about real estate and what was happening in the current Portland condo market. One of her comments was, after listening to 1 or 2 of my phone calls, how important marketing was to me when it came to listings. She mentioned to me that agents she had used in the past did very little marketing and pretty much just posted her listing in the local MLS and waited for a buyer. This is not unusual as this is exactly what many agents do!
As she became more engaged and interested, I explained to her my “Laws of Probability”. What I mean by this is that the more marketing you do, and if you do it in the highest quality fashion, you will attract more quality buyers. The laws of probability show that if you have more people interested in something…the price usually goes up!
This person, I feel, became very educated today on what a person needs to do to capture a top price in the sale of their condo or home. She was pretty shocked when I showed her some new listings that came on the market the previous 2 weeks. What I showed her was that with half of those new listings, the listing agent did not use a professional photographer. In fact, a couple had photos that were so bad she felt bad for the owners trying to sell. I explained my philosophy on this subject… If an agent cant spend a couple hundred dollars to “show off” your home the best they can, they should not be in real estate. Good agents work hard for their clients and spend the money to “Market” their home. This is part of what they are getting paid a commission to do. If that agent is not spending money on quality photos then they probably won’t spend money on a video, quality print materials or internet marketing! It was interesting when she asked me why owners would hire agents like this? I told her sometimes they just hire the agent that helped them purchase the unit and often don’t know any better. I also told her that unfortunately, many sellers think like those agents. In other words they think they can just put it in the MLS and get it sold. While this may be true, it will sell eventually…but at what price? There is a reason that many advertisers try to put their product in the consumers best light, because they know those consumers will pay a higher price if they perceive that product to be better.
If I get a listing and put it in the MLS with average photos and no additional marketing will it sell? Yes, eventually it will, but I don’t believe that I would have done everything possible to get my clients the highest price for their unit. I believe it is my job to spend the money necessary to promote that condo the very best that I can and make it stand out so that buyers perceive this to be the best unit available and are more comfortable in paying a higher price.
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties.
Find him at http://www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com 503-896-8856
When I first started writing in a blog I searched out some experts to see what they said in terms of building a good base of readers. Here is what they said: “To grow a blog and add readership the most important thing you can do is be truthful and honest in your writing. When you do this you will gain a following of people that will trust what you have to say and come to you for solid advice.”
With this in mind, I have always tried to be honest in my comments. This does not always please everyone. But the truth is that you will NEVER please everyone. Recently I got a letter from the sales manager of the Cosmopolitan, a new high rise condo project in the Pearl District. This was a pretty nasty email that voiced her displeasure with my comments on the Cosmopolitan project. In her email she stated that a couple of my comments were rude. Let me address this. First, I have never made a negative comment on the project itself other than the pricing of the units. I happen to love the project and feel it is needed.
What she may be alluding to is the “fact” that I was not happy that the developer was requiring buyers to be pre-approved through a specific lender at Wells Fargo. I mentioned that ( and they fail to mention) this lender happened to be the husband of this sales manager. I don’t believe this was rude on my part, only trying to disclose to the general public something that I believe they should have disclosed upfront.
Now back to business! Here is the latest update on the Cosmopolitan ( and for what it is worth, I have had many request for these continued updates). Currently the building is 33% sold. Not much of a change from my last post. In my last post I mentioned that there were 46 units sold, today they are at 49 units sold. In other words, only 16 units have sold since after the grand opening. As mentioned before, there is still only 1 unit above the 21st floor that sold for a whopping 900 a sq. ft. I was told that 2 of the junior penthouse units went pending…those sales have not happened and all of the junior penthouse and penthouse units are still available ( for those of you inclined to pay an astronomical $969 to $1,641 a square foot price.)
As I mentioned before, with most of the low hanging fruit taken…ie. Units that were priced closest to reality to the market, sales I believe, will become harder to come by for the developer. With a current absorbtion rate that could slow down even more, I believe it could take the developer 18 months to 2 years to sell out this project. With that said, I don’t believe the developer can afford to do this and in my opinion, as stated before, I believe they will be forced to drop the prices on this beautiful new high rise. Part of the reason that they have had the sales they have had at this point I believe is because of the low inventory in our market. Some buyers do not want to wait for new resale units to come to market. Keep in mind, the Cosmopolitan will not be completed until mid 2016 so the inventory levels we are seeing now can change dramatically over that period of time.
And while the high prices at the Cosmopolitan may help sellers get a higher price when selling their condo in this current market, buyers will still be better off buying resale and updating after their purchase. With sellers seeing this effect on pricing, it might push them to put their condo on the market sooner than later. If this happens, it could help with the low inventory situation we are now seeing. For buyer’s, the excitement of living in a new beautiful building like the Cosmopolitan can be pretty tempting. Again going back to the fact that in 2014, the top 30 condos priced at $1,000,000 and higher averaged a price per square foot of $579. These were the “Best of the Best” in Portland. Do you think it is prudent to pay amounts at the Cosmopolitan that are $200 to $1000 a square foot higher?
For those of you who might be thinking it’s a good time to sell your Portland condominium…you are right! Inventory levels are at historically low levels right now. Yes, the sellers are back in control over the market currently. If you think you want to sell, the best thing you have going for you right now is the low inventory levels we have currently. You will be able to push your price a little and capture a bit of a premium because of the low inventory levels. If you are a buyer, you need to react quickly when you find a condo on the market you like because if you hesitate, you could lose out.
With that said, I believe buyers are being a little smarter this time around and not chasing deals with excessive multiple offer situations. In other words they are being much more patient. While they might not get the unit they want, this time around they are willing to wait for the right one to come along without getting into a bidding situation.
What about the new Cosmopolitan? Well you have heard us talking about the prices at the Cosmopolitan a bit. The prices they are asking will actually give sellers a window of opportunity to push the price a little as well. If the Cosmopolitan is asking $800 a square foot for a unit, it is a little easier for a seller to push their price from $590 a square foot to $610.
Stay tuned for our latest Cosmopolitan update…coming soon!