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
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I have recently received a few emails asking why I have not written anything about the new Vista North Pearl. The answer, I guess, is that nothing seems to be too exciting about the project. And, not that it matters, but I have not had to deal with nasty emails from the sales manager at Hoyt Properties, who did not like my opinions on the Cosmopolitan!
So, what are the differences in the two projects? Well let’s start with the Cosmopolitan. Contrary to what the sales manager said to me “I thought you hated this building!”, I NEVER said I did not like the project. What I DID say is that I did not like the pricing. (Great for the developer…not so great for the buyers). As it turned out, because of the low inventory levels at the time, they were able to capture those high prices. Again, the timing in the market was “perfect” for the developers. How about this time around with the Vista? Well, the market has changed and Hoyt will not have such an easy time selling units at excessive prices. As of the middle of last month, Vista had 95 units available (out of 153) or 38% of the units sold. Keep in mind, the Cosmopolitan was being marketed as the nicest condo building in town. Vista, from what everything I have heard, will be a notch below that of the Cosmopolitan in terms of finishes and the building as a whole.
Let’s start with the most popular corner, the SE corner, which was the first to sell out in the Cosmo. For comparison sake I will use units on the 14th floor. The Cosmo pricing for the SE corner on the 14th floor was $649 a square foot. The pricing for the Vista is 780. Now, a look at the NE corner 15th Floor (1517) in the Cosmopolitan was sold at $620 a square foot. The 15th floor unit at Vista (1506) is being offered at $750 a square foot. While the market eventually did catch up to the excessive prices at the Cosmopolitan, I don’t believe that the Vista prices should be selling at a premium like the Cosmopolitan. Units on the west side are pretty equally priced to that of the Cosmo.
Finally, let’s look at the penthouse units. At the Cosmopolitan, the range was from $950 a square foot to $1200 for the top floor 28th floor penthouses. For Vista, the range is $1052 to $1247. Let me repeat this one fact, the Cosmopolitan penthouses were being marketed as the best in the city in Portland’s most luxurious building! In addition, the top floor at the Vista it is only 21 stories. What is interesting here, if my memory serves me right, is that the units at the Cosmopolitan (floors 20 –28) were given a minimum premium of $88,000 per floor! At the time of this writing, I don’t believe that one of the six penthouse units at the Vista is pending. I cannot say that I am surprised. I would never pay anything close to what the penthouse units sold for at The Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan is a superior, more elegant building (pitched as the nicest in the city) and there is no way prices at the Vista should compare! Again, this is just my opinion… or maybe not just my opinion. Ask any of the residents at the Cosmopolitan above the 21st floor and see what they say?
I am sure I will continue to get the cold shoulder from the developers’ sales manager…but am I wrong? I don’t believe so. Let me be clear. This is not personal but simply my professional opinion. As someone who understands condo pricing, I write about what I believe to be true and it might not always match the opinions of others, and that is OK!
There are things I like about the Vista. If you read my blog about the Cosmopolitan, one of the negatives noted was that many of the units had a very high ratio of hall space to usable space (many units were 12-14%) This is not the case with the Vista. Almost all the units are in the 4-8% range with the exception of the D4 Plan, the 08 stack) as it came in about 13%. In this case, you have a unit that is 1435 square feet and the unit has about 194 square feet of hallway space.
The Vista floor plans also provide MUCH more space to walk around the end of your bed in the master bedroom, a problem in many of the units at The Cosmopolitan. Another highlight of the Vista is its large deck spaces.
All in, I believe the Vista will be a nice building. As for the prices? The market will, in the end, determine the final prices. As of now, the lower units seem a little high and the penthouse units, I believe, are way too high.
If you are looking to buy at the Vista or would also like to look at other buildings, I am a condominium specialist and would be happy to show you available units. If you are thinking about selling in the near future, I encourage you to go to http://www.LuxuryCondosofPortland.com/marketing and learn a little about our approach to selling your condo!
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist with LuxuryCondosofPortland.com and Pearl District Properties. He can be reached at 503-896-8856 or at email@example.com.
See aerial Drone footage of the Vista location within the Pearl District at http://www.VistaPortland.com
Brad Golik is a condominium specialist in downtowns Pearl District and South Waterfront. It does not cost you to work with a specialist…it pays!
The tallest condo building in the Pearl! Welcome to The Cosmopolitan. Breathtaking views are the highlight of the Pearl Districts newest condominium in the North end of the Pearl Distict.
Because I was short of time this week, I thought I would do a video post!