When writing a blog one must be knowledgeable about their subject material. The blogger must also put themselves out there when offering opinions and realize that they will not always be right. I often try to share my opinions on pricing and will be the first to admit when I am wrong. This would be the case regarding a comment I made in a post a few weeks ago. Just to clarify things, I was wrong on my guarantee, not my opinion of the price! At that time a new penthouse came on the market for $3,250,000. My comment was that this unit was way overpriced and I “guaranteed” we would see some price adjustments. Well we did not! And in fact, the unit is now pending.
After I made this comment, I checked with some friends in the business as to what they thought the pricing should be. Almost every one of them was thinking the same thing…or very close to it. The first comment was that it was Benson Tower, which is not really comparable to Portland’s nicer buildings such as The Cosmopolitan, The Metropolitan or The Casey, to name a few. Not one of those agents believed that it was worth more than $1000 per square foot. (about $2,600,00) let alone the $1257 per square foot listing price. For one, the neighborhood does not justify the pricing. It is not The Pearl District which always gets a bit of a premium. Second, that area of downtown has deteriorated the last few years. While this unit does feature fantastic outdoor space, the living room area is very small. One of the other issues that I also feel is important is the quality of the other units in a building. No other $1,000,000 + units have sold in the Benson Tower. Last week a 26th floor unit came on the market at $1,400,000, possibly trying to ride the high priced coattails of the penthouse. I believe this unit should be priced below two of the units for sale at The Henry that are larger and priced below $1,300,000. The point here is that it is easier to get a higher price when you have other units that support the upper end of the market.
Overpricing a unit can have negative effects on it’s sale. In the case of the penthouse priced at $3,250,000, I believe that the buyer may not have been educated enough on the Portland penthouse and luxury condo market. It is possible that the agent does not understand this area of the market as well. While we don’t know the offer was on this unit, what we do know is that if the buyer paid anything over $1000 per square foot…he or she paid way too much! There is absolutely no way any unit at Benson Tower should have pricing anywhere near some of the premier buildings in town. Remember, this is a building where the finishes are far below those of other buildings and you have to haul your garbage down the elevator. Not an ideal situation for someone that is spending $3,000,000! There are many top floor penthouses in town that deserve a premium price to others…this is not one of them!
This posting helps emphasize the importance of working with a specialist. You may have heard me say this before but it is very important. If you are buying farmland in Dundee or a waterfront home in Lake Oswego, it is important to deal with an agent who understands that market. While every agent will probably tell you they understand every market, the truth is, unless you are in it every day, it is difficult to do so. I believe that the days of a real estate agent trying to be all things to all people in all areas are gone. An agent who takes the time to learn a specific area of the market will be far more valuable to a buyer or seller and the example used above helps prove that fact.
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties. Brad works with luxury condo buyers and sellers in Downtown Portland, South Waterfront and The Pearl District. If you are looking to buy or sell…work with a pro!
Just like many days, I start my day at Starbucks getting a cup of coffee and checking emails. Yesterday, while in Starbucks trying to warm up, I was speaking on the phone with a client about the current condo market. A very nice lady sitting next to me had heard a few things I was saying to my client and when I got off my phone she had many questions for me. No matter where you go, people always seem to like to talk real estate! This person, who I will call Sue, had many questions but the one she seemed to have the most interest in where my thoughts on the new Cosmopolitan. I did start the conversation with her explaining that I have discussed this project many times here on my blog, and it has not always been favorable. She explained to me that she was one of buyers that have now pushed the project to 88% sold. But she was insistent that I give her my honest opinion…so I did! I did start the conversation saying it was a nice building that I believe residents will enjoy for sometime. She asked me about the pricing and I explained to her my take on the pricing. When I explained that I thought it was fairly overpriced she agreed with me and then went on to explain why she bought. The current unit she was in had it’s views blocked by a new building and she wanted something with a view. She said she had been waiting for a view unit to come on the market but got tired of waiting. This is why she said she decided to pay a higher price than she felt comfortable with. I believe this is the exact situation that most of the Cosmopolitan buyers ran into. They wanted something in a nicer building and nothing was coming on the market! They did not have many options and decided to pay a higher price instead of waiting. After discussing the pricing of the building, Sue then asked me what I thought about the building. Being a future owner, I wanted to be somewhat polite and gave her somewhat of a sugar coated answer. She saw right through my answers, looked me in the eyes and said “What do you really think?” So, I told her!
I told her that early on in the design process the developer had called on many of the top condo agents to give some feedback on the project and to make suggestions as to what they thought our clients would like, which at the time I thought was a smart thing to do. There were some very good suggestions that agents made, most were not implemented. For example, large decks. This is something all condo buyers would like to have. The final build out is nearing the end and one thing I will say, VERY small decks for a majority of the owners! Other simple things were suggested. One of my suggestions, which I had seen in buildings in Seattle and Denver, was a small area on the Mezzanine level where owners could take their dogs for a walk, and do their business. This so that owners don’t have to go down to street level and worry about safety later at night. Again, it didn’t happen. Other agents had suggested a better variety of cabinetry. While Pedini is nice, it’s not for everyone. So instead of variety, the future owners were offered super contemporary with a choice of light, medium and dark! This was something Sue said she struggled with. To me, it did not seem that the developers listened to the agents much. While I was hoping for something very special, to me it is just like The Metropolitan, just a little taller. Now don’t get me wrong, I love The Metropolitan! In fact, architecturally, I like the exterior look of The Metropolitan much more. But for the prices being paid, I was hoping for more. For something pretty special. For these $800 to $1200 a square foot prices, I was hoping for a building with more amenities like those in the Insignia in Seattle, Lumina in San Francisco , Bellevue Towers in Bellevue,WA. Or Spire in Denver. ( http://www.insigniabybosa.com/#/tour , http://luminasf.com/amenities/ ,
http://bellevuetowers.com/#building , http://www.spiredenver.com/amenities/ )
Now, some of these nice amenities come with a price, higher HOA fees. Part of the problem with most of our buildings is that we do not build high enough. While 28 stories at The Cosmopolitan is a good start, it is still not enough to spread the cost of amenities like those at the above mentioned buildings. When you have a building that is closer to 40 stories, it is much easier to spread the cost among more owners. When I toured Spire in Denver, CO (41 stories), I was blown away by the fantastic amenities…and then I was really blown away when I saw the owners were paying about half of what typical owners in Portland’s nicer buildings were paying for their HOA fees. While there are many people that are opposed to building higher, it is what makes the most sense if people want nicer amenities and also keeping their monthly cost lower. Imagine if you will, in the location of the current Centennial Mills, a beautiful waterfront condo building much like that of Bellevue towers. Two 40 story towers that offer the most amazing views, and to be right on the river! Sit on your large deck and take in views of Mt. Hood and the Willamette River. Between the two towers, you have a spacious, park like mezzanine level where you sit by an outdoor fire sipping wine and watching ships pass by! In the summer months, you join your neighbors at the outdoor theatre to watch movies. Perhaps you are a little more active and wish to go swim laps in the indoor pool and then relax afterward in the steam room or sauna.
Ok, back to reality! Big, usable decks would have been a good start!
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with Pearl District Properties. If you would like to tour some of Portland’s luxury condominium buildings, call Brad at 503-896-8856 or visit http://www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com
Yesterday I went and toured a number of new listings in the Pearl. One of them was one that I had mentioned in a previous blog post, a penthouse listing in The Elizabeth. When I wrote about it the first day it came on the market, my comments were that it was way overpriced. This may have been a little premature now that I have seen it in person! At the time, I was basing it on the fact that it is a NW corner, not a SE or NE corner. The deck while reasonably spacious, looks into, not over 937. It is in The Elizabeth, not The Metropolitan, The Casey or the new Cosmopolitan. And finally, when I looked at the pictures of the unit, which were/are terrible, they did nothing to suggest that this was a $3, 299,000 listing! More on the photos later.
After viewing the unit I am changing my price opinion, if anybody cares. On a scale of priced right, fairly overpriced to way overpriced, I am adjusting my opinion to fairly overpriced from way overpriced. Why the change? When you walk into this unit it is stunning! You get something that the unprofessional photos don’t give you, a little bit of the WOW factor. This is a big reason you may have heard me talk over and over about great pictures. The agents current photos do absolutely nothing in terms of me saying “Wow, I have to see this place!”
Now the reality of the pricing. While this unit is stunning when you walk in, part of the wow factor comes from some of the owners furnishings and their sense of style, which is very nice! But, once you take away all of the beautiful furnishings, it would be hard for anyone to walk in and envision a $3,000,000 price tag. (which is $300,000 less then asking) At $3,000,000, you are looking at $909 a square foot. $900 a square foot puts you on about the 24th floor of the new Cosmopolitan. The 14th floor at the Cosmopolitan comes in around $650 a square foot. Now obviously, you would not price the Elizabeth penthouse in the $650 a square foot range because it is a penthouse, so there is a premium to factor in. Now, rumor has it that the seller’s of the The Elizabeth penthouse are selling because they bought two units to combine on the 23rd floor of the Cosmopolitan, which sells for about $850 a square foot! So, they were willing to pay more to be on a higher floor? Why do you pay more to be on a higher floor? The two biggest reasons are that you get better views and the second is that the chances of your views getting blocked by a new building are much lower. The chances of getting your views blocked at The Elizabeth at some point in time are very real because it is only on the 14th floor. Does it deserve a price per square foot of $1,000? No way! Does it deserve $850? If I am the buyers agent, I would be pushing for something in the $800 to $850 range in today’s market.
If I were the listing agent and trying to maximize my clients value, I would be giving them the very best marketing available so that they could try to achieve a premium price over the true market value! This starts with GREAT PHOTOS and great marketing that give the listing the wow factor before a buyer ever walks in the door. Photos that make the buyer say “Wow, I have to see this place!”
If you would like to view this penthouse unit or any other unit, call Brad Golik today to set up a tour. Brad is a condo specialist doing business in the Pearl District, Downtown and South Waterfront. If you are thinking about listing your condominium, call Brad and see why he believes that great marketing can play a big roll in the price you get when you sell your Portland condominium!
This week there were two new penthouse condos that came on the market. One was priced at $1,995,000 and the other at $2,200,000. Yesterday I toured the unit with the higher price. The agent is pushing the fact that it was named “Top 10 penthouses to die for” on MSN Real Estate… I however, was not as impressed. Let’s start with what is right with this beautiful unit. The architectural elements throughout this penthouse were very nice. Warm woods on the floors and ceiling gave a cozy feeling to the unit. But when paying over $2,000,000, cozy is maybe not the feeling I would want! Having three bedrooms and three parking spaces is a nice plus. The finishes in the bathrooms and kitchen were very nice. Now with what I did not like about this unit. I felt somewhat cramped in this 2,239 square foot unit. The main living area seemed very tight to me. While the kitchen was nice, it featured GE Monogram appliances instead of the typical higher end Sub Zero and Wolf appliances we are accustomed to seeing in this price point. The biggest disappointment was the outdoor living area. While the deck was a spacious 800+ square feet, it faces west directly into the 405 freeway noise! The freeway is only one block away. In addition, this is a mid rise building, and while yes it is a penthouse, you still have the neighbors next door at Avenue Lofts and Irving Street Lofts looking down onto your deck so not much privacy. At $2,200,000, my expectations in this price would be something more like the PH3 that sold at the Metropolitan last year for $2,240,000. That penthouse had 3,245 square feet and a massive deck that was pretty much on top of the world with total privacy in one of Portland’s most desirable buildings!
The other unit that came on the market was priced at $1,995,000 and away from the freeways in the heart of the Pearl District. Slightly larger with 2,550 square feet, this unit just lives much larger. While the deck space is smaller than the other penthouse, it still has plenty of space with 628 square feet with 3 mountain views and a much quieter location so that you would actually use your deck! This unit is in one of my favorite loft style buildings… The Elizabeth!
If you would like to tour either of these Portland penthouse units or any other luxury condominiums in Portland, give me a call and we can set up a tour and take a look at some of Portland’s most beautiful condominiums. If you are looking to buy a condo in Portland, OR., why not work with Portland’s condo specialist!
Brad Golik 503-896-8856