Bellevue Towers see increased sales
By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
June 6, 2011 · Updated 2:41 PM
Bellevue's biggest residential development is starting to fill up.
A significant price cut and a change in ownership has led to a record-setting six months for Bellevue Towers, the two-building development that is the tallest in the city.
As of July 1, Bellevue Towers is expected to have 90 total sales, representing the buildings' most successful six month period since it opened in 2009.
New owners, led by Morgan Stanley, immediately slashed prices by 30 percent after taking over for the project's builder, Gerding Edlen Development.
"They knew once they took ownership they needed to have prices that met the market," said Patrick Clark, a principal at Realty Trust, a brokerage and marketing firm representing Bellevue Towers. "Prices that people would respond to."
And respond they did. When the new ownership took over, 118 units had been closed since the towers opened, and a total of 63 sales have closed since Jan. 1 with at least 22 more that should close by July, said Jeff Reynolds, founder of urbancondospaces.com.
The price cut dropped the average of $672 per square foot, down to $471 per square foot. Clark said the average has come at a price of $412 per square foot, which is at or below competitors' prices.
Cheaper prices and ownership stability aside, a third factor has helped Bellevue Towers and the housing market it in the area as a whole: consumer confidence.
The continuing recession zapped people's desire to spend money at all, let alone on a six or seven figure luxury condo. But analysts say people are starting to lose that reticence, and are again ready to make a big purchase.
"We're kind of like sheep in a certain way," Reynolds said. "When we see people purchasing and having confidence in buying, we tend to follow. That's opposed to what it was like the last three years, where fundamentally we had such a confidence problem we weren't even going out to a movie or dinner."
Does that mean the market is on its way up? Not necessarily, analysts say. Some believe things are coming back, while others say we have yet to hit the bottom. But that becomes less of an issue when buyers are more willing to spend.
And those willing to spend want new homes, Reynolds said. The market in Seattle for new units is limited, and the economic downturn has impacted developers' ability to construct new apartment or condo buildings.
"Considering it takes so long for a project to get built, and there's not any breaking ground, people aren't going to be able to buy new," Reynolds said.
Analysts said any upward trend will hit more popular clusters before leaking out to the suburbs. Reynolds said neighborhoods in Seattle such as Queen Anne and South Lake Union have remained hot during the recession. Downtown Bellevue has been a top destination for potential buyers as well.
"We're now in the pattern where you are going to notice bigger change closer to business and commerce that kind of flows out and takes awhile to get back to the suburbs," said Cherie Lang, an associate broker at Windermere Real Estate East group, and the leader of the downtown-centric Bellevue Block team.
Most of the buyers for Bellevue Towers and other nearby buildings are people from out of the area, moving in to be near one of the many employment centers in downtown Bellevue. Others, about five to seven, bought the units to rent them out, Reynolds said.
Some of the new buyers were already in Bellevue, but were waiting to sell their homes. Others come from around the region with an attraction to Bellevue's employment centers and high-end shopping options.
"The activity in the downtown Bellevue core has been a flight to quality," Reynolds said.Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at email@example.com or 425-453-4290.