Top 5 Ways to Shoot Your Leavenworth Condo Project in the Foot
1. Price it high
You are not the first builder or developer to build condos in Leavenworth. Lots of price data exists, the closer you pay attention to that data, the quicker your project will sell. You’re right “no one has built 10,000 square foot uber – condos made of gold” in Leavenworth, but that doesn’t make it a viable niche.
2. Shun local real estate agents
Real estate agents tend to sell a majority of homes and condominiums. Most serious out of town buyers (and most Leavenworth buyers are from out of the area) are using a real estate agent to help them purchase a home.
Which agents sell homes in Leavenworth? No surprise, agents who work in Leavenworth. Despite 75% or more of the buyers being from the Puget Sound area, only a tiny fraction of homes sold are by out of area agents.
If you choose not to use an agent to list your condos, local agents will not sell them. It’s too much work and the tools that could be promoting your condos are promoting someone else’s. (MLS and related search engines)
3. Office Exclusive Listing
This is a takeoff on number 2. An “office exclusive” listing is one where a real estate company lists a property but does not cooperate with other brokers or place the listing on the MLS. In the Seattle area this practice is forbidden among members of the NWMLS. It is allowed in Leavenworth.
Again, if your home or condo is not on the MLS, it is INVISIBLE. In fact, if your home is listed with a Seattle area agent, it’s also INVISIBLE. Real estate agents and buyers use tools that let them see the most active listings. This tool in Leavenworth is the NCW MLS.
Here’s a sad story I have heard about two different projects in Leavenworth. An agent in my office (Windermere in Leavenworth) calls another real estate office (this happened at two different companies) and asked them for more info about a condo project they had. It hadn’t started construction yet, but the agent claimed that all were sold out. To date NOT ONE UNIT has closed.
In the other example, an agent called for info and was told that this other project was sold out as well. She suggested that the agent create a waiting list in case some of the transactions happened to fall through. Only 50% of that condo development has sold at this point.
Office exclusives are about greed. Greedy people starve in the end.
4. Location, location, location
Have you heard this before? Downtown Leavenworth is good, close to recreational amenities is good. The real key in Leavenworth is the ability to use the condo as a nightly rental. For the most part, this is a function of location. In Leavenworth, condominiums zoned for Commercial Use can be rented out as vacation rentals, condos zoned for Multi-Family Residential cannot be rented out nightly. At least one project in Leavenworth is going to learn this lesson the hard way.
Two current Leavenworth condo projects made it hard on themselves and lost valuable time on market. They were zoned for Commercial Use, but created covenants (CCRs) that prohibited nightly rentals. This was a big hole to dig out of, and though the CCRs are gone, I think they missed their time in the spotlight. (See number 5.)
Condo buyers are looking for good value, but they are also looking for the hottest coolest thing around. Days on Market probably matter more to condo buyers than other folks buying Leavenworth real estate. If a condo has been on the market for 180 days buyers assume it has problems.
The typical Leavenworth condo project has missed out on the hype that comes with a new project. How did they miss out? Office exclusives, For Sale By Owner, Restrictive Covenants, etc, etc.
New condo projects should have lots of hype. Throw a big party and invite everyone. Make it easy for agents to show and sell your property. Buyers can’t get excited if their agents aren’t excited.
6. Dismiss the Internet as a Fad
I know the article says top 5 reasons, but I’m all about adding value. Today you get 6.
Over 80% of home buyers use the Internet to search for homes. This number is higher among the affluent. It’s also safe to assume that the number is higher than the national average in high tech Seattle and among vacation buyers looking for property 2+ hours from home.
I know you want to spend money on newspaper ads and glossy magazine spreads, but the web sells homes. I know you want an agent to do 8 open houses a week, but the web sells homes.
Build a great website. Use lots of photos, use virtual tours or video, have floor plans and prices available. Use SEO to make sure that you come up on the top of the list for Google and the other search engines. Most projects in town can’t be found on the Internet for their own name, much less “Leavenworth Condos” or “Leavenworth Condos For Sale”.
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