The market is slowing down…and not just a little! This is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it is very healthy for the market and helps us avoid a big tumble in the market.
Here are a few interesting numbers that support what was just said….
Inventory: Inventory in the area I focus on, from Pacifica Tower just north of the Freemont Bridge to South of South Waterfront, inventory levels are up 21% since June 1st! That is a pretty big jump in such a short period.
Price reductions: Since July 1st, in the Pearl District, 40% of the listed condos reduced their price.
Days on Market: This one is a bit tricky. Days on market has gone up but one must look at this stat carefully. There is a recent trend that is happening more and more. In a practice that I do not believe in, agents will cancel a listing and then re-list it. It is an attempt to make a listing look “fresh” and show less days on the market to buyers. This is why we must look at Cumulative Days on Market. Now if an agent has it on the market for a month and then cancels and re-list it, the number will reflect those 30 days prior.
What this means in the marketplace? For buyer’s, there is not such an urgency to make a quick offer. Buyer’s are able to look around for the perfect place and have a much better foot to stand on at the negotiating table. For sellers, trying for a premium price may hurt you as your condo may stay on the market longer than it should and in the end it may sell for a lower amount than it would have if priced correctly.
An example of this is one I believe I have discussed on my blog. A little over 4 months ago I went to a Broker’s open house on a beautiful penthouse unit. At that time, the agent listed it for $3,550,000. The agent, knowing that I specialize with condos, asked for my opinion on price. I clearly remember my answer: “ I think it needs to be at $2,999,000 and I think it will sell a little below that.” Well today, after 2 price reductions, it is now priced at $2,995,000. But now, after 4.5 months on the market, you will probably get the sharks swimming around it ready to offer $2,600,000. (It has actually been on the market much longer with another agent that was priced even higher!) … again, this is where you need to look at cumulative days on the market!
Moving forward in this new market, correct pricing will be very important in the sale of your condo or loft!
A good part of real estate is sales and marketing! Most agents do not have a sales and marketing background. Brad Golik is a strong believer in the power of a good marketing program.
Any agent can continuously reduce pricing of a condo…and at some point, it will sell! Our goal is not to just sell a condo but to maximize the price for the seller and still sell in a reasonable amount of time. There are many agents out there that do little to no marketing for their listings because they believe it will sell on it’s own by just being in the MLS (see Redfin) Some think they can get away with only point and shoot photos and that is the extent of their “Marketing”. I am here to say that as things slow down an agent must get that listing in front of buyer’s and buyer’s agents as often as possible. I have seen many agents get fired because of their lack of advertising a listing… I have yet to see an agent fired because they did too much advertising! Now, doing a lot of advertising does not mean that is the best route. But when you combine a good quality campaign around a listing, feature it often in a classy, professional way, I believe the quality of the offers, not just the quantity of offers that come in will also be better!
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Total Property Resources and LuxuryCondosofPortland.com You can reach Brad at 503-896-8856 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brad Golik is a condo specialist with LuxuryCondosofPortland.com and Total Property Resources in the Pearl District. You can reach Brad at 503-896-8856 or at email@example.com
Yesterday morning I was at a coffee shop reviewing new condo listings that just came on the market. I noticed that the lady next to me was looking at my laptop watching what I was doing. After not too long, she asked me if I was a real estate agent. I said that I was…and then she unloaded with a recent experience she had had in buying a condo. The woman, whom I will call Jan, told me she had such a frustrating experience with the agent she had used. To make matters even worse, this agent also happened to be an agent that was referred to her by a friend of hers. As I dug a little deeper to how this agent was referred, it turns out the friend referred her because she was a very nice person! Now I have been in this business for almost 15 years and the one thing I can say is there are MANY nice people in the business. But, I can also say that many of these same people are not agents that I would hire knowing what I know! Jan told me that it was very frustrating during the searching period because this agent knew very little about the condominium market. She said she spent so much time walking around buildings looking for lockboxes…and this was her first clue that she did not deal with condominiums very often. The second thing that she said was frustrating was that whenever she asked her about the pricing of a condo they looked at, the standard answer was “It seems fairly priced!”
This is a very typical situation that I see all of the time in the Pearl District, South Waterfront and Downtown. Many buyers may get referred to an agent that a friend suggest…maybe an agent they had used or heard about out in the suburbs. The condo market is very different than dealing with homes out in Lake Oswego or Tigard. I have often written on the importance of working with a specialist. If I were selling a home in Lake Oswego, you can bet that I would want to use an agent that sells there often and knows the pricing and other aspects of selling in that area or at the very least, someone that is VERY good with marketing! Same goes with condos and lofts. I have often said to sellers that a typical agent cannot just flip on a switch and be great at marketing to condo buyers when 99.5% of their time they are marketing to buyers of suburban homes…in several different areas!
One of the reasons you hire an agent is for their expertise and knowledge, or at least it should be! An agent can be nice, but they also need to know what they are doing. Being nice is fine but when it comes to negotiating, that agent needs to be tough and always put their clients best interest first and not “cave” with another agent that is tougher with negotiating! When the time comes for a person to sell their condo, a condo specialist is even more important! Having an agent that is constantly marketing to condo buyers is important. Hiring an agent that spends most of their time marketing to buyers looking in Tigard, Gresham or Wilsonville may not be the best way to go…even if that agent is a very nice person!
Jan said the last straw was when she got to closing she was surprised that she had to pay a Move-in/Move-Out fee that was close to $400 and also was shocked to find out she had to pay a 1 time capital contribution fee equal to 2 months HOA fees… 2 things her agent never mentioned because she did not know about. (this is disclosed in the HOA documents) I felt bad for Jan but it is something I see all of the time.
Every week as I look at new listings, as I was doing in the coffee shop, I am amazed at the number of new listings that come on the market that are listed by agents that don’t deal with condominiums. The one thing that always amazes me is I never get a postcard or an email about their condo listing! As a condo specialist, I make sure that every agent that deals with condos and lofts gets a video about my new condo listing. Why? Because I know that the other agents that deal with condos often have their pipelines filled with CONDO buyers!
I enjoyed my conversation with Jan and in the process met a new friend over a cup of coffee! In time, hopefully Jan will refer me to a friend. But hopefully, it will not be because I am nice. Hopefully it will be because I am nice…with knowledge!
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with http://www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com and Total Property Resources in the Pearl District. You can reach Brad at 503-896-8856
One debate I often hear is whether a real estate agent should represent both sides of a transaction. The question lies on whom you represent. I have been in real estate for 13 years and have done transactions where I represented both sides. I have guidelines that I personally use when deciding whether or not I would feel comfortable in doing so. Here are the things I consider:
1) Is it a win-win situation for both parties? In other words, is the seller getting what they wanted or maybe a little bit more? Is the buyer happy with the price and it is reasonable?
2) Did the listing stay on the market long enough to give the sellers an indication of demand, or lack of?
3) Are there good comps that support the price that the buyer is paying? If not, and I am selling for a record price in the building, I would not touch dual agency with a 10-foot pole! This is where it gets very tricky. If I am a listing agent, and I am selling for a record price, and there are no comps that justify my pricing…I just hit a grand slam for my selling clients! If the buyer’s agent allowed their client to pay that amount, well let’s just say I don’t want to be THAT agent! Especially as a dual agent! NEVER! Now I will say there have been times where I represented clients that had so much money they just did not care about the price, they just wanted the condo. In that situation, you make sure that you document that conversation.
Regarding #3, this is where representation comes into play. As a dual agent whom do you represent? You should be representing buyer and seller equally. But how is this possible when you have a situation like above? If you are getting a record price for your sellers, and there are NO COMPS to support the price, how can you be the buyer’s agent and say “I did a good job for my clients”? The answer: You can’t!
If this same agent acted only as the buyer’s agent, you can bet that he would be hammering on the seller’s agent that the unit is at a record price and might be overpriced? Now, records are meant to be broken. So how much of a record price is it? Is it $10 to $30 a square foot more? That is reasonable. Is it $50 to $100 a sq. foot more? This is when you have real problems. For one, the property would most likely not appraise. But what if the buyer is paying cash and an appraisal is not required? Well then the buyer is really at risk. This is when they REALLY should have a separate agent. ( and for peace of mind, the cash buyer might still consider getting the property appraised).
In multiple-offer situations, if an agent is representing both sides, he or she better make sure that their buyer’s client is the best offer! If it is, the listing agent and the seller are making the final decision as to which offer to select. In this situation, there is no problems in representing both.
So bottom line: If both parties are happy and well educated on pricing, and there are good comps to support the purchase and sale, there are no problems.
On the flip side. If there is a big difference in price from the comps, especially if it is a record price in the building for the seller or huge discount for a buyer. This is when you need two agents fighting it out for their client’s best interest. I would never do dual agency in this situation!
Brad Golik is a luxury condo specialist with LuxuryCondosofPortland.com and Pearl District Properties in Portland, OR. You can reach him at one of his websites including http://www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com and www.PortlandPenthouse.com or by calling him at 503-896-8856
Upcoming Penthouse listings
A short time ago I wrote about the possibility of a $6 million penthouse listing that might be coming on the market. The owner loves the unit and is waffling a little whether he should sell it or not. As of this time, the owner is still undecided so I will post more as I hear. If you are looking for a full-floor penthouse in this price range, contact me and I can fill you in on the details.
Today I am writing about another penthouse that will be coming on the market soon. I was originally interviewed to list the property but unfortunately, the owners did not like the numbers I explained to them . I will say, I am usually right more often than wrong on pricing a condo and for this unit, I feel my numbers were very accurate as I have sold 7 of the last 14 units in the building. Of more importance, I sold the unit directly below this unit less than a year ago. The floor plans are identical! The one coming to market is a penthouse unit, so you would pick up about 12 inches of ceiling height. The unit I listed sold was for $1.1 million, and sold for over asking price. The $525 per square foot sales price tied a record of another unit in the building I had sold. For the penthouse listing, I told the owners I was going to push for another record price for the building and gave them my number. They were not satisfied with the number and thought the number should be MUCH higher! Their reasoning was not unusual from what I hear from others…they thought their unit was much better than the unit I sold below theirs and they also thought their unit was way better than another unit that sold in the building for $1.35 million.
From an agents (and a buyers) standpoint, the $1.35 million unit had better river and bridge views. In addition, it had 650 square feet more, and it had a third bedroom. Yet the sellers of this penthouse thought theirs was better and the price should correspond to their thinking. Now the owners did have a couple upgrades in this unit that the others did not. Let’s look at these. The TV was hidden behind a mirror and appeared with the touch of a button…kind of cool in a James Bond kind of way. Another upgrade was a white wood-like tile floor that the sellers really liked. The problem here is that I believe that 90% of potential buyers would rip up the tile and replace with something else, so it’s not really an upgrade. So what are the true values of these “upgrades”? The James Bond hidden TV was probably $3,000 to $5,000. Other than these two things, the unit was essentially the same as the unit that I sold below for $1.1 million. What is the extra 12 inches of ceiling height worth to someone? $50,000? So now we have a premium of $55,000. I told the owners I could sell it for around $1,200,000, maybe a little more. That’s an additional 5% over the number of $1,1550,000. It was not enough!
Now, because I don’t have the listing, I would love to find the buyer because I do love the unit and it’s views, (the photo above is views from the unit) but, at the right price for my client! I am not sure what price the listing agent will come out with, but I know it will be high. As your buyers agent, I will fight to get you a good price on this unit. If you are looking for a beautiful penthouse with amazing views, (The above photos are the views from this unit!) this could be the one! But, only at the right price. I will work to negotiate a good price for you and I know this building better than anyone. If we can’t get you that price, walk away!
If you are looking for a great penthouse unit in Portland, give me a call at 503-896-8856
Brad Golik is a luxury condominium specialist at Pearl District Properties and LuxuryCondosofPortland.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 503-896-8856.
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.
Today I am listing a beautiful penthouse at Pacifica Tower! Enjoy floor to ceiling windows in this corner unit. One of the best floor plans available at Pacifica Tower. Located in the NW corner of the building, this unit offers panoramic views of the Willamette River, Portland’s West Hills and the twinkling city lights. This home features two very large bedrooms and two decks!
If you are in the market for a condo in this price range, give me a call to set up a private showing of this fantastic penthouse.
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties with a focus on the high end of the market. If you are looking to buy or sell, call Brad at 503-896-8856.
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