Leavenworth Condos : The Future

One of my favorite posts in the past few years was entitled Top 5 Ways to Shoot Your Leavenworth Condo Project in the Foot. I wrote it in hopes that it would save some developers heartaches and headaches, but instead I watched as more folks ignored the lessons and decided to take their lessons from the school of hard knocks.

In 2009 I had the opportunity to represent the Cascade Crest Condos in downtown Leavenworth. It has been great fun to practice what I preach. Five months after we first listed the condos we have sold or have under contract 5 out of the 6 units.

200 Division Street #5

Allyson's reaction to our success with these units might flabbergast some local real estate agents. "We need more condo projects!"

"But Geordie, doesn't Leavenworth currently have YEARS of supply of unsold condos?" you gasp.

Indeed it does, but there is room for new condos in our market.

Here's what I think we need:

Patio homes: Basically a patio home is a duplex that functions as a condominium.  Maple Terrace in Wenatchee was the first project like this in the area. I think that 3 bedroom, 2 bath ramblers 1500-1700 sqaure feet with a garage on Ski Hill would sell like hot cakes. We have gotten a lot of visitors at our condo open houses looking for such a product.  These are more likely to be retirement buyers looking to downsize, but not interested in a 1000 square foot condo.


Lake Wenatchee Condos:
If you want a condo at Lake Wenatchee, Kahler Glen is the closest you'll get. There is room for condos in the area that aren't at the golf course.
Stevens Pass Condos: We get people asking about Stevens Pass condos all the time. They also search for this term on the web and end up here. If you made a decent product and kept it under $400,000 for a two bedroom I bet you could sell some condos.

3 Bedroom Condos: These sold out quickly at Icicle Village Resort / Aspen Suites. No 3 bedroom condos are available at Haus Wunderbar, The Boulders or Cascade Crest.

What do you think? Does Leavenworth need more condos?

(Want to search for condos currently on the market. Click here to Search for Leavenworth Condos )

Comments

Amanda- Creating affordable housing is a sticky wicket if ever there was one. Density and subsidies are probably the two biggest keywords here. Density allows builders to save on land costs so that home prices are lower. There are some great examples of high density communities but it takes a planning department and a community that are willing to work outside the box. Leavenworth has trouble even working within the box. Leavenworth has asinine rules about duplexes inside the city limits and in my experience the city planners hardly understand their own rules. I have a client who has a dilapidated multi-family property that they would like to replace but can't. City rules no longer allow multi-family at the same density. Leavenworth also has been stingy about providing water and making development easy within the city limits so builders go outside of town where land lots are bigger and land costs higher. Can't have an affordable house on a $200,000 lot. A few years ago the city was even considering lot aggregation. Own two lots next to each other? With lot aggregation the city makes them one lot and reduces the value of your property. I think the city would have gotten their pants sued off of them if they tried this. Subsidies can be in the form of waived fees or donated land or materials. To some extent this is the model the SHARE housing on Titus is using. The homeowners own the house, but not the land it sits on. In return for affordable housing they give up the possibility of appreciation. I don't think Leavenworth will see much in the way of affordable housing. The leadership in the city and the vocal residents who live in town have been very anti-growth and anti-density. Without density, forget affordability.

Geordie, you could really practice what you're preaching and develop and build them yourself! Opportunity is knocking! :)

Geordie, Awesome post. It's not often that you can have such an in-depth Before and After post. The answer is- you can't get anymore condos or patio homes for a long time. The FDIC is tired of bailing out troubled banks in Washington who funded too many development projects, so they won't let a bank finance such a project for the foreseeable future. The good news for people who own condos in Leavenworth is that as demand for condos grows, the supply of condos cannot, so Econ 101 says the prices will go up.

Received this email from a reader: Geordie, your assessment is spot on! We live in Mount Vernon and have most interest in a vacation property that allows us easy access to Stevens Pass. The extra drive down the mountain to Leavenworth is not as convenient, thus not as appealing as what you presented….Lake Wenatchee or better yet Stevens Pass. I have gathered that the leased land and environmentalist considerations make a Stevens Pass project a challenge….is that true? Lake Wenatchee area would be a great 2nd choice….gotta admit, I cringe every time I view a picture of the outdated and cheap cabinets in the Kahler Glen properties….let alone the HOA dues when I don’t even Golf!

Amanda and Thom - Thanks so much for your comments! Amanda - What do you envision as far as Leavenworth's housing needs go? I am constantly surprised by houses and condos that are affordable housing in Leavenworth that aren't quickly snapped up because lower bracket buyers are too picky. A two bedroom 1000 sqft condo was on the market for $129,000 this fall in Leavenworth - that's shocking to me. I think the bigger issue for families is wages. It's tough to raise a family or buy a house on a retail or restaurant wage. This is true almost everywhere and isn't unique to Leavenworth. I think we need to flaunt our fiber optic a little more and use it to bring more white collar jobs to town.

Brilliant! Now where's my Guinness? Seriously, Ski Hill is an obvious location for such a project. Make it green (solar assisted heating, cooling and power and you would have hit on your hands with those of us looking for lower impact living spaces. I'd also design them to have a look and feel of a village on the side of a hill. As for square footage, I'd like to see more options, ranging from 900 to 1800 sq feet. Designed for 4 season living with access to public transportation and you'd have the makings of a great mature adult community. (I have a hard time thinking about what retirement communities need to look like, having spent time on the Florida gulf coast I know what I don't like when I see it...) I agree, Leavenworth has room for more condos, please just avoid the ugly American suburban sprawl syndrome.

Geordie: I just don't see why condos would appeal to young families with young noisy and active children. I knew a family that lived in a townhome on W Whitman St. They moved out to a single family residence after their 2nd baby was born. The reasons: not enough space for their growing family; they could not keep their children quiet enough to satisfy their neighbors; and there was not enough space for their children to play outside. Local wages to support living inside Leavenworth is certainly an issue. We were able to afford our home in the city because we negotiated a really good deal and we do not work in Leavenworth. Yep, we commute down to Wenatchee and E. Wenatchee. We love our fiber internet connection and the ability to listen to internet radio while we check our e-mail, social networking sites and do so much more. We constantly bugged the PUD until it came to our neighborhood. I cannot understand why the Chamber does not do more to promote the cheap power and great fiber we enjoy. (Of course I cannot understand why the Chamber works so hard to anger the downtown merchants either.) What do I want to see in my community? I want a wide range of homes, condos, apartments, etc. in a wide range of prices. I want to see more variety to businesses in Leavenworth. There needs to be more to our businesses than just retail & hostelry businesses. Our town needs parks in more areas, not just the clusters around the schools, highway and on the river. After we achieve all that, I firmly believe that we will be able to persuade not just the retiree population to settle in our area, but others as well. Amanda

Geordie and Amanda - I can fully appreciate Amanda's comment regarding affordable housing. I owned a home, for a short time, in Leavenworth several years ago. I had to leave Leavenworth due to our inability to maintain an income capable of covering our living expenses. However, this I believe was not due to the housing cost, but the level of wages in the valley for folks that are not of the higher end white collar professions. Geordie - Had I known Leavenworth has access to fiber optic trunks and or a backbone, I would have moved my high bandwidth dependent business to Leavenworth instead of staying close to I-90. How's that for an indictment against business marketing that you are paying for with chamber dues and or taxes. I would argue, a mix of housing options is needed, and condos can offer affordable living whereas homes of the same size often cost more and can cost more to maintain. I think we as Americans have been taught to believe we all must strive to attain the 3000 sq ft single family home in a residential development in the country. Problem is this dream requires more public services, higher taxes, and covers more precious land than we should be making available. Let's keep the development tight, small, environmentally sensitive, and create more open space for everyone to enjoy within our towns.

Dear G-d NO! No Geordie, Leavenworth does not need more condos. What we need is housing that appeals to a wide range of people, families and incomes. We need homes that will appeal to young families and to people that work in and its immediate environs. We need more parks north of the highway and west of Ski Hill. We need to do more to attract and keep young families to keep our schools and our town healthy. @amandahstaub

A variety of housing is always good for a healthy community. Interesting thoughts and observations. The idea of a patio home is something I've carried on about for a good while over the years, even before we had a glut of condominiums. In my estimation the ideal circumstance has been the idea of a smaller, stand alone homee on a parcel of land that allows for each homeowner to enjoy limited common space around their "home" where they could garden i.e. have a few flower beds to maintain individually thus allowing some sense of independance in housing wants. The common driveway/cul-de-dac would spider-web out to each individual's garage, likely contained within the foot print of the house. Now you have independance, economy, density and minimized exterior maintence required of each individual home owner. I first observed this sort of arrangement in Kirkland. The challenge we'd face with this sort of community is the snow storage/removal concern, outside of that, it's the way to go in my mind. The first Share housing project of the end of Prospect Streetcomes close to the idea.

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Allyson and Geordie Romer

Leavenworth real estate agents - Allyson and Geordie Romer

For over a decade, Allyson and Geordie have been serving clients in the Leavenworth-area real estate market. Together, they work tirelessly to stay on top of the regional market and present the most relevant opportunities to their clientele.

When not in the office, they can be found exploring the endless recreation opportunities of the area in all of its seasons.

 

Testimonials

 

Geordie provided excellent real estate representation! We appreciated his detailed knowledge of the market, his up front and honest approach, and his negotiation skills.
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Laura Anderson

 

 

As “west siders” looking for a getaway near Leavenworth, Geordie provided insight … his knowledge of design features important in a “snowy winter wonderland” was appreciated. Thanks Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  –
 

- Jean Stern

 

 

Geordie made this somewhat complicated transition easier for us…going above and beyond to help us work through issues that came up during the sale of our parents home. We appreciated his knowledge, attentiveness to details and his willing spirit.
Our family is grateful for Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Terry Foster

 

 

Geordie was great in every way. We have been looking in the Leavenworth area for some time, and Geordie was absolutely the best for local knowledge, history and depth on neighborhoods, developments and the local market trends. He was very quick to respond (even when he was on his vacation) and worked very diligently to get all of our questions answered in a very timely fashion. We would recommend him highly to anyone looking to buy or sell a home. Very friendly, and helped us navigate all of the local options before we made an offer on the property that we purchased. Thank you, Geordie!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Ryan Olsen

 

 

It was such a pleasure to work with Geordie and his wife, Allyson on our cabin purchase. They showed us a variety of locations, listened to what we wanted and helped us find the perfect match. Everything was smooth and not stressful, just relaxed and easy. We would definitely recommend Geordie and use him again if the need arises!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Cammie Schlosser

 

Moving to Leavenworth?

Are you looking for a cabin or a condo in Leavenworth that your family can use as a home base when climbing, skiing or hiking around Leavenworth or Lake Wenatchee?

Maybe you rent a house here and have decided to stay, surprised how a summer of rafting somehow turned into seven years.

Maybe it’s time to escape the hustle of the big city (and its rain) and move to Leavenworth with its four seasons.

Maybe you bought a condo years ago, don’t seem to use as much, and it’s time to sell.

Whatever your motivation, we are here to help. If you are buying a home, the best place to start is with our Homebuyer’s Guide to Leavenworth.