You can’t afford a house on Capitol Hill. How about a condominium?
From a sheer price standpoint, the Hill’s condos are more affordable than its houses. Of the 41 Capitol Hill condo’s listed on Redfin.com, the median price is $325,000, compared to a $1.1 million median price for single family houses in the same area. Most of the condos are clustered along Melrose’s condo-row and the western bank of Capitol Hill, which offer some of the best views in the neighborhood.
According to Condo broker James Stroupe’s numbers, there are 83 condos currently on the market in Capitol Hill that range from $84K to $4.7 million. However, 65 of those are pending. With no new condos coming on line, that means having cash on hand is king for condo shoppers. Stroupe tells CHS that a recent Capitol Hill condo sale only offers from cash buyers were even considered.
“We’re seeing more foreign (buyers),” Stroupe said, adding than many are first time home owners with lots of cash on hand from tech jobs, particularly at Amazon.
So far, there aren’t more condos coming into the market. It comes down to profit — there’s just more money to be made in apartments. Stroupe said in order for the condo market to bounce back, including new construction, apartment rents in the neighborhood have to stop their meteoric rise.
“Rents have to flatten out so there’s less incentive to build apartments,” said Stroupe, who is the co-founder and director of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Then the numbers work better for condos … developers need more incentives to build.”
Since apartment demand still appears to be outpacing new apartment construction, those searching for condos will find similar hurdles to getting in a new place: rising prices in a competitive market, which leaves many within the neighborhood few options to stay.
Seattle condos coming online peaked in 2007 — Stroupe said things still haven’t recovered since the recession. Part of the reason has to do with the warranty window, when developers and residents hash out upgrades and maintenance to the building, oftentimes through litigation. Most banks won’t lend to buyers interested in buildings under litigation. Fannie Mae-backed financing is out for those looking to refinance or buy in a building with outstanding lawsuit.
Brix, which opened on Broadway in 2009, was one of the last major condo projects to go up in Capitol Hill. Within a year after opening, the developers Schnitzer West put the 40 unsold units up for auction. As of today all the units are full, but don’t expect any new Schnitzer condos soon. According to a company representative, Schnitzer left the condo business after Brix and all those who specialized in multi-family development have left the company.
In other parts of the city, there are some signs that condo construction is making a comeback, albeit a timid one. For the time being, it seems there are few condos and even fewer condo deals on Capitol Hill.