(Photos from Nyhus Communications, LLC.)
Four Seasons's open house took place on last Thursday. I was curious if the completed project would really live up to the Four Seasons brand and whopping price tags so I decided to check out their open house. I drove up to the entrance and was greeted by courteous hotel staff dressed in finely pressed Four Seasons attire ready to park the car, open the front doors, and provide you with the courtesy they would any hotel guest.
The hotel itself has a modern, civilized, warm and northwestern feel to it. Lobby walls are covered with limestone and volcanic basalt stone with fossils. Tastfully done but not flashy. The hotel also hosts the Art Restaurant and Lounge (which is led by the aptly named Seattle chef, Kerry Sear who was most recently running Cascadia). On this particular night, the lounge was busy and full of well-heeled clientele.
By the way, if you are thinking of pampering yourself or have a out of town guest visiting in the future, the room rates range from $365/night to $5,000/night for the president suite. Average hotel room size is well over 525 square feet. 16 different pieces of art from Seattle Art Museum have been reproduced for these hotel rooms.
Ok, back to the condo offering. The open house was held in unit #1101, an approximately 4,000 square foot home. Almost floor-to-ceilings windows line two sides of the living room. Views of the Puget Sound can be seen from the entryway. The Sound views were incredible.
Four Seasons has a U-shaped layout. It seems to me that the architect tried to have efficient placements of windows to optimize as much view they can get from each home. On the one hand, this is providing homebuyers with what they are looking for, views. At the same time, it gives homeowners less privacy since everyone can actually look into everyone else's homes. I would imagine that homebuyers considering this building would appreciate a little bit more privacy. I suppose you can go with the light curtain approach and draw them when you really want the view and aren't concerned about nosey neighbors.
Homeowner dues for these 36 homes are approximately $1/sqft. Again, not exactly your typical price point. For those dues, you get access to the outdoor pool (overlooking the sound), spa, fitness center, real business center, condo concierge, valet parking, room service, and other goodies. There are 10 remaining units available with prices ranging from $2M to $16M. The sales center suggests a price increase is planned within the next two weeks — possibly by as high as 3%. Granted, Four Seasons buyers aren't exactly hard up for cash but a price increase in light of the global crisis does seem kind of odd.
Neverthless, the hotel does live up to its reputation. Everything about this building seems to scream quality and service, which is probably one of the biggest reasons for anyone considering this property.
$5K/night. Lol, that’s hilarious. And a price increase in this market. Generally, one would think the people who have this kind of cash would be smart enough to laugh at this. No?
I think the building is really well done, unlike some of their neighbors, like 1521.
It will be interesting to see how their strategy works out. At some point, sellers have to draw the line and not sucumb to a downward price pressure.
LT, you stated “at some point, sellers have to draw the line and not succumb to a downward price pressure.”
Are you implying The Four Seasons SHOULD increase prices, when the building is already at an average of $2,000+/square foot? Or, are you speaking to the market in general?
Sometimes, sellers don’t have the option or choice of NOT succumbing to market conditions. By definition, that’s what makes it a “market.” A market is good for sellers at times and its not so good for sellers at times.
There are several peripheral pressures on sellers to offload their properties such as 1. A bank “calling” a developer’s loan 2. Carrying costs of the development are eating up all potential profits 3. Seller’s cash flow may be in the negative and they have no option but to sell, even if at a loss 4. The market simply will not bare the prices sellers are asking 5. Access to capital for buyers is EXTREMELY rare and limited, and therefore today’s asking prices cannot be met, even if buyers are willing to pay it 7. The developments are simply overpriced in the first place, 8. ETC ETC ETC ETC
By reading the simplicity of your take on the market, it sounds like you must be closely connected to the condo market in some fashion.
Just as you say sellers must draw the line at some point, as do buyers, and clearly they are no longer willing to pay the prices being asked, hence it being a free market. There is MUCH too MUCH inventory for buyers to pick from, meaning sellers have to be competitive. Unfortunately for sellers, the market downturn is really just beginning in Seattle, and is well understood it will last for quite some time in the future.
If I were a marketer/realtor/broker, I would be focusing FAR more on representing the buyers in this market than representing the sellers. Believe me, you’re going to get much farther and continue to earn a living with this strategy…
Buyers are in no rush. Condo’s in this price range (>$1000 sq ft) tend to sit empty for years e.g the Millenium tower condo which has never been lived in since built in 2001.
I’m betting the lack of privacy Wendy pointed out is causing people to think twice about buying at 4 Seasons. At Easter I was told there was only one condo left for sale, and now there are ten?