This beautiful 28 story tower is the tallest condominium building in Portland’s Pearl District. To see available units in this building, call Brad Golik at 503-896-8856 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyday I bring up the Portland condo list to see any new listings, see if anything has gone pending and to see if old listings have expired or were canceled. Sometimes what I see just makes me shake my head in disbelief. No question, this is a pretty hot market and I do see people paying more than they might normally do. And, while I do not believe we are at a peak yet, it is certainly not a time to let my buyer’s grossly overpay for a property either. Today, a new penthouse came on the market. This is a penthouse at Atwater Place in South Waterfront. The price is $2,700,000 and it is priced at $1000 a sq. ft., the same as what you are seeing at the brand new Cosmopolitan on the Park. Except that at the Cosmo, $1000 gets you up to the 27th floor in a brand new building!
Awhile back I wrote about three penthouse units that were priced in the $3,000,000 range. The first was the 3.8M penthouse at the Cosmo, which I thought would be the first to sell ( it just went Pending again this week). The first one to sell was actually the penthouse at The Elizabeth that was priced at $2,995,000. I represented the buyer on the purchase. You might have read in my blog “Who says it’s a seller’s market?” about the great price my buyer got for that unit… $2,200,000 fully furnished. The third one, and it’s still on the market, is at The Casey and still priced at $3,249,000.
I mention these three units because all three tried to push the $1000 ft barrier. I mentioned I thought the Cosmo would be the first to sell for a few reasons. First, it is a brand new building and brand new buildings always get a premium. Also, at 3.8M this is a property where the buyer can afford to “overpay” and are ok in doing so in order to have “The Best”. The penthouse at the Elizabeth was actually the first to sell and it sold for under $700 a ft.
In mentioning these three units, it helps clarify the pricing on the new Atwater Place penthouse. For one, it is not a new building…so no premium here. 2nd, it is not in The Pearl District…again, no premium here! (While I do like South Waterfront, the Pearl always gets a premium!) Also, keep this in mind, Unit #2403, a NE corner penthouse at Meriwether just went pending at $1,675,000 (598 sq. ft.). It was slightly larger and on a higher floor! At $1000 a sq. ft. the Atwater penthouse is just priced high. Sure, being a penthouse with great river views does justify a high price. (It does have outstanding outdoor living space) Will it sell? Sometimes there will be just the right buyer that loves the place, and the buyers agent usually sells homes in the suburbs and does not understand if a unit is priced high or not. The answer… you never know!
Another listing that was recently brought to me that is not in the MLS is one of the iconic townhomes on 11th in The Pearl. Before I mention this one…I want to show you a few of the comps first. Two units, with 2698 sq. ft. recently sold. One for $1,850,000 the other for $1,900,000. A third sold ( 2 units combined with 3888 sq. ft) for $2,425,000 , or $623 a sq. ft. The third had many high end custom finishes and was designed by the exceptional designer, Jefferey Lamb. Ok, drum roll please…. The new listing , #621 which is 2698 sq. ft… is priced at $2,600,000! Are you kidding me? When I questioned the agents pricing, he mentioned that all three of the comps were going through substantial remodeling. Ok, lets use the combined unit that sold for $2,425,000. Let’s say the new buyer decides he wants to put in an additional $400,000 in remodeling. This would still put this unit at $726 a sq. ft. , or $237 a sq. ft. less than #621 which is at an absurd $963 a ft!
Now you know why I just have to shake my head sometimes in the mornings while looking at new listings!
My purpose of writing about some of these overpriced units is not to beat up on them, but only to help educate buyers so that they don’t overpay for a unit. If you are a buyer in the market for a Portland condo, I know this market inside and out, especially the high end of the market. I would love to help you find your next dream condo so please, give me a call and we can begin to turn your dream of owning a luxury Portland condominium, into a reality…for the right price!
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties. His area of focus is The Pearl District, South Waterfront and Downtown Portland. Brad is a founding member of Condo10 and an expert in internet marketing. You can reach him at 503-896-8856 or at email@example.com , www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com
Today I lost a listing for being honest! One thing you will always get from me is my honest opinion. Whether it is my opinions that I write about in my blog, or my opinions in what it takes to get a condo sold for top dollar. The key words here are “TOP DOLLAR”. You have heard me say many times that “Any agent can sell your condo…but at what price?” To get the highest price in the sale of a condo, I have a pretty good feel for things that need to be done to get that top dollar. First and foremost… top notch marketing! Yes, even in a hot seller’s market it is important.
I mentioned that I lost a listing for being honest. This condo would have been priced in the 1.4M range. This particular condo had amazing river and bridge views. However, the furnishings (many antiques) were not the type that would “Wow” a buyer when they walked in the door. In fact, I believe the opposite affect would take place. I have often said, in the higher end of the market, buyers want the “Wow” affect when they walk in the door. This was a unit that had potential for a huge “Wow” factor that, with staging, I believe would have captured a very good price for the seller’s… if marketed correctly.
Telling sellers what they want to hear to get a listing is nothing new in our industry. I see it happen all of the time with agents that “Buy Listings”… in other words, they tell the seller it is worth more than what another agent said what it was worth because they know the seller will choose the agent with the higher price. Then, the condo stays on the market because it is priced too high and then the agent eventually beats up the sellers to drop the price ( the price the other agent had honestly told the seller’s) Then, because the unit becomes stale, the lowball offers begin to come in. My point here…be careful of agents that tell you what you want to hear. You should be more open to an agent that is honest and not just telling you what you want to hear just to get the listing. The listing above, well I believe the listing above will net the seller’s about $100,000 less than what it could get by staging and using good marketing. This is a lot of money! I felt so strongly about it in this case that I offered to pay for the staging.
The sellers made the comment to me that these were expensive antiques. One thing I have learned in this business is that the cost of something really has no relevance as to how it adds to the value of something. I have seen wallpaper, for example, where an owner spent a fortune and thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world… but everybody else hated it! In the unit above, I truly believe the sellers would net close to 100k more by staging this unit. In addition, the staging will help buyers focus on the beautiful unit…and take their eyes away from the kitchen! Remember the wallpaper above? Well the owners of this unit painted over the cabinets (DIY) in an un- attractive color that shows the wood grain through the paint. They also ripped out beautiful slab granite and replaced it with a inferior artificial product (blue speckled ) that is just not at the level expected for buyers in a unit like this in a building like this.
In the end, the sellers went with an agent that agreed with them and said what they wanted to hear. As a seller, do you want the most that you can get in the sale of your condo… or do you want to work with an agent that is being nice and says what you want to hear? The sellers choose an agent with inferior marketing to what I offer… and the truth is on this unit, to get top dollar, they are going to need great marketing!
I believe an agent should be nice… and tell you what you NEED to hear!
So you’ve decided that you are ready to sell your condominium. The next step is deciding what real estate agent you should use to help you sell it. One thing I see happen over and over again are the seller’s using the same agent that helped them buy the unit originally. Is this a good or bad idea? You are thinking that when you bought the unit, the transaction was reasonably smooth so you want to use the same agent. Again, is this a good idea or bad? The answer… it depends!
The factors you should consider when selling your unit are very important because buying is very different than selling. One of the most important factors is whether or not the agent is a condominium specialist or not. Should you hire an agent that is not a condo specialist? My answer is NO! And the reason is simple… these agents just do not know the condo market! Most important, and this is a big one, their day to day marketing does NOT cater to condo buyers. As a condo specialist, my marketing is targeted to condo buyers EVERY SINGLE DAY! This is IMPORTANT! A typical agent can not just flip a switch and fill their pipeline with condo buyers. Typically, they spend one day in Beaverton and the next in Lake Oswego. It is very hard to be an expert in the entire city. Actually, it is impossible! That is why I specialize. So I can be the best that I can be and truly understand my market.
Knowing your market is very important for a listing agent. What I see often from agents that do not spend time with condos, is a lack of understanding of pricing. I will be honest, if you were looking to sell a house in the Alameda area of Portland… I am not your guy! Why? Because I don’t understand the market as well as someone that works that area. Pricing can be substantially different in that area by being 1 to 2 blocks off of certain streets. Same goes with condos. I get calls all of the time from “suburb” agents trying to pick my brain on pricing because they know I have done a lot of condos and know the market. Do I like to get these calls? Absolutely not! It is very frustrating to see a seller put their trust into an agent that does not understand the market. To make it even worse, I go crazy when I see that same agent get the listing and don’t use professional photos to market the condo! It happens EVERYDAY, and it is usually because the seller was comfortable with the agent when they bought the place. So is this the right agent to list and sell your condo? Definitely not.
If you have read my blog for any length of time, you have probably heard me say “Any agent can sell your place…but at what price?” This is so true. I am a firm believer that good marketing makes a difference. It works for NIKE, Coca Cola, and Johnson & Johnson. Why do they continue marketing like they do? Because it works! Buyer’s are willing to pay more for something that is presented in a nicer way. Same can be done in real estate. If you can make a sub par listing look better than it is, you will get more people through the door. If a lazy or cheap agent does not pay for professional photos, the chances are the condo will not look as good as it could and it will lead to less people coming through the doors to look at it and in turn, the seller will get lower offers.
Now let’s say that original agent also does a fair amount of condos. All I need to say here is look at the previous paragraph! Marketing matters!
When you decide that you are ready to sell your condominium, one of your biggest decisions should be who you will hire to sell your condo. You do have many options of real estate agents to hire so how do you know how to select the right one? From the very start, you would be very smart to eliminate agents whose major portion of their business are homes out in the suburbs. Why eliminate these agents? It’s simple…they just DO NOT know the condo market well enough. They do not know the intricacies of selling condominiums and they really do not understand the pricing of most units. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard these “Suburban” agents tell me “Well unit #??? Sold for $500 a square foot so that is why we are priced here!” What they just don’t understand is the difference in pricing throughout the building. Was it on the 3rd floor or the 10th floor.? Was it looking south or east to Mt. Hood? Is there potential for a building to go up in front of the unit? Is daylight blocked by another building? These are just some of the many issues that contribute to pricing a unit. You cannot just say that because one unit sold for $425 a sq. ft, that another one will.
This lack of knowledge often leads to units being under-priced, or more often, over-priced. The big problem when agents overprice a unit is that it becomes stale on the market, goes through several price reductions and then in the end, sells for less than what it should have sold for if it were priced right.
To me, the biggest reason not to hire a “Suburban” agent in my opinion, is the lack of consistent marketing everyday to condo buyer’s. As a condo specialist, my marketing is directed 24/7 toward condominium buyers. I am consistently filling my pipeline with potential buyers of condominiums. A suburban agent is in Lake Oswego one day, Beaverton the next marketing to people looking to buy a home, not a condo. I will say this, if you are looking for an agent to sell your $2,000,000 home in Lake Oswego, I should probably not be your first choice. I am not a specialist in that area. I am a specialist with condos! You should strongly consider this when selling your condo!
The other important issue to look at, and I think this is a big one, is how good that agent is at marketing. A good way to check on this is to see how good of a job they do at marketing themselves! If that agent has no true branding, or has sub par pictures on their website…if they have one, or is hard to find, this should tell you something. Most agents will not spend a lot of money on listings and I believe this is a huge mistake! Many, many agents don’t even spend the money for professional photos. Here is something I saw recently that was so funny. (but sad for the owners trying to sell) On a listing, an agent stated that you really need to come by and see the condo because the pictures do not do it justice! Are you kidding me? That is the job of the agent to do beautiful, stunning photos that draw people to come view the condo! This is the very minimum an agent should be doing. See an example of one of my listings here: http://www.PacificaTowerCondo.com
Now you know part of the reasons for hiring a condo specialist, now I want to touch on another point. I have seen many people use the agents that were the on-site agents that sold the building when it was brand new. I advise caution if you are thinking of going this route and here is why… Yes they were very nice when you worked with them before (remember, they were trying to sell you something!) While many on-site agents are in fact, very nice, most of them have limited experience in the resale markets. I mentioned above the importance of spending money on listings to make them stand out. Most of these agents have always spent the developers money to sell units, not their own!
There are many other things I believe to be important that a specialist can offer. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email and I would be happy to sit down and discuss things with you.
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties. You can find him at http://www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com or by giving him a call at 503-896-8856
As we start the new year, one thing remains the same…low inventory! As new listings come on the market, those searching for a new place to live will want to react fairly quickly as there are more buyers than there are condos for sale! If you are looking to sell, not a bad time to push price a little! Last night I went to an open house at The Waterfront Pearl. The listing was a beautiful 8th floor unit with sweeping views of the Willamette River. Stand at the windows in your living room and you feel like you are on top of the river! This unit, priced at $989,000, featured 1729 sf. As I viewed the condo, my first thought was that I wish I had a client with me as I felt it might be under priced at only $572 a sq. ft. While this building is not The Cosmopolitan or The Metropolitan and it will not command the same prices, I do believe this unit could get closer to the $636 per sq, ft. range which puts It closer to the $1,100,000 price tag. Compare this to 2 units left at Cosmopolitan. One is 1643 sq. ft. and priced at $1,559,000 ($953 sq. ft.). The other is 1363 sq. ft and priced at $1,197,000( $878 sq. ft.). Both of these units are on the 25th floor at the Cosmopolitan. While the Waterfront Pearl unit is not on the 25th floor and does not have 25th floor type views, It does have gorgeous river views and people rarely get tired of looking at the river traffic below your windows. To me it is kind of a wash in terms of views. So then, you have to ask yourself, are 25th floor views worth an extra $300 to $371 a sq. ft.? If you were to see the river views from the Waterfront Pearl unit, I believe your answer would be “No way!” . Those views were pretty stunning!
If you are looking to sell your condominium in the near future, be aware of current inventory levels…this is so important. While comps will give you a good starting point, placing your condo in a side by side comparison with every condo in the price range is more important! Right now, for example, there are only 9 condos in the $900,000 to $1,100,000 price range and not 1 of those units competes well with the new Waterfront Pearl listing mentioned above! Does this strategy of pushing the price work? You bet it does! You may have to also sell the appraiser on your pricing, but a good agent should be able to justify his pricing. Another example of this strategy is the Cosmopolitan! The prices they attained happened for 1 reason and 1 reason only… no to low inventory!
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties. You can call him for a free market analysis at 503-896-8856. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
** If you would like to view this new listing at Waterfront Pearl, give Brad a call (but you better hurry!)
Pearl District prices are rising fast! To get the TRUE value of your condo instantly for FREE, go to:
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?
Since my first post about the Cosmopolitan I have gotten many calls and emails from people to discuss the Cosmopolitan and the pricing. What is interesting is that a number of buyers are trying to justify the pricing with comments such as…but it will be new and have all new appliances! Here is what I often tell them. “If you want new appliances, by a resale condo in a nice building like The Metropolitan, put $30,000 to $50,000 into a nice kitchen remodel and you will still be way ahead of the game compared to paying extremely excessive prices at the Cosmopolitan!”
Since my last update on the Cosmopolitan… not much has changed.
If you can recall my first post where I wrote about the euphoria of the new project and the normal sales of a new project when the developer sold 33 units during the grand opening. A couple weeks later I said the total sales were at 36 (December 11th). As of today, sales at the Cosmopolitan are at 40. From our last writing they have sold an additional 3 of the 1 bedroom garden units. These were units that were selling in the high $300,000 to the $400,000 range. (also priced in the $550 to $575 per sq. foot range. ) Most of the units that sold during the euphoric grand opening period were the smaller 2 bedroom units on the NE corner which sold out units #717 to #1817. The price range for these units was $769,500 to $918,000. The price per sq. ft for these units went from $575 to an excessive $680 for unit #1817. In my opinion, units #717 to #1317 in the $575 to $600 range is not unreasonable… still high, but not totally out of line. . 70% of the original units sold in the grand opening were in the $550 to $620 price per sq. ft. range. The low hanging fruit is now gone!
I am still sticking to my belief that this project is way overpriced! They have sold very few of the 1 bedroom units other than the popular Garden units. They still have not sold anything above the 21st floor with one exception, unit #2315, priced at $1,773,000 (crazy $1,000 per sq. ft!) I am still a little baffled as to why 8 to 9 buyers paid between $800 to $1000 a sq. ft. Again, was it the excitement of a new building,? Was it that they did not have representation from an outside broker to explain to them the severity of the high price per square foot they were paying? While it is certainly not my intention to bash this project, because I was as excited about it as anyone, the fact is that it is just very much overpriced. I believe it everyone’s right to make a reasonable profit from their hard work. But when I see excessive numbers in several areas that benefit the developer beyond a normal number, that is when I have a problem. Overcharging buyers by a considerable amount over the current market, again, the developer can pocket additional excessive profits. What happens to those buyers who are buying a unit for $650 to $1200 a square foot, and then realize a year after they move in they need to sell their unit for whatever reason. These buyers will be hammered in the resale market! Why? Because they paid $650 to $1200 a square foot in a market that should be $450 to $850!
What is my hope on this project? While I personally never wish bad on anyone, I do hope that sales remain as slow as they have been and maybe get worse. This will force the developer to drop their prices to REASONABLE numbers so that buyers don’t get punished when they become sellers in 2-5 years! In addition, my hope is that they will also go back to everyone that has made a purchase and additionally drop their prices as well. Again, I said the low hanging fruit is gone for the most part and sales will only get tougher for the developer moving forward as they try to sell a ton of units in the $700 to $1200 sq. ft. price range.
Buyers…ask yourself this one question. Should you be paying more for a condo than a similar project in Seattle? And remember, this project in Seattle is only 60% sold after a year and a half and has the benefit of Amazon as a nearby job force to support it! In addition Seattle is just priced much higher than Portland in general!
I am adding the graphic below again because I believe it tells a story pretty well!
If you still have an interest in making a purchase at the Cosmopolitan, please give me a call and we can discuss what may be the best values within the building because there are some units that have better value than others. Call Brad Golik at 503-896-8856.
In my last post I expressed my opinion on the pricing of the new 28 story condominium, Cosmopolitan on the Park. The feedback I have gotten back has mainly been very supportive of my article with a majority of people totally agreeing with my thoughts. Not all agreed with me though. One undisclosed comment ( perhaps someone with the development company?) thought that Portland was ready to support these prices. One even went as far as to say that they thought I might have an ax to grind with the developer. This could not be further from the truth. As an agent that specializes with condominiums, I was as excited as anyone for this new project to rise from the ground! With low inventory levels, the idea of having a new project to sell was just what I needed! I cannot sell something that I don’t believe in or something that I view as a financial risk to my clients. I may have some clients that might still make an offer but at least they will be going into it with a good idea of the market risk involved.
With that said, let’s just jump to the facts. To date in 2014, 35 condos have been sold in the $1,000,000+ price range. Now remember, these are the best of the best in the Portland condo market. The average price per square foot of these 35 sold units was $579. Only 4 of the 35 units sold above the $700 a sq. ft. level. Two of these were at The Casey, one was a penthouse unit at The Gregory and the other was a penthouse at The Henry.
Now to do our best to compare apples to apples we will take the average price per square foot of only the 2+ bedroom units at the Cosmopolitan because that is the case with our top 35. The average price per square foot of all the 2 bedroom units at the Cosmopolitan…. Drum roll please, $739 a square foot! That is $160 a square foot higher than the best of the best. Now keep in mind, a penthouse unit will often carry a higher price per square foot than typical units and a good portion of our top 35 units were penthouses and still the average was only $579!
The fact is that I just believe this project is overpriced for the Portland market and I believe the above numbers supports my beliefs. The real estate industry is really supported by comps and the numbers above, and market demand, do not justify the prices being asked. One person suggested because they were not paying buyers agents enough that my opinion was somewhat skewed. While the developer is paying substantially lower than the project I mentioned last week in Seattle as well as the hot new twin towers project, Lumina in San Francisco, sales credit has nothing to do with my opinion. What it does have to do with, in my opinion, is the greed factor. Cutting back to what they pay the agents that have helped them with past projects, and charging over-market prices to condo buyers is a win-win situation for the developer! Many years ago I interviewed the CEO of what was at that time the largest real estate company in the world. What he said to me still remains in my mind today. He said “The best real estate transaction is one in which everyone wins!” In this current situation…only the developer wins… that is until they need to reduce prices to get the project done!
Since our last blog post last week there have only been 3 additional sales at the Cosmopolitan, now with a total of 36 sales. These 3 units were 1 bedroom Garden level units priced in the $400,000 range.
If you have questions about the Cosmopolitan or would like to look at some of Portland’s other great condos, give me a call at 503-896-8856 and we can set up a tour or just discuss opportunities in the Portland condo market.
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist and can be found at www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com