Microsoft Adding Employees at the Bravern

Microsoft Bravern

Microsoft Bravern

Microsoft currently occupies 11 floors of the beautiful, new Bravern complex office towers in Bellevue, Washington – with over 250,000 square feet. The company will take over another 23 floors and 500,000 square feet during the summer of 2009. (from Seattle Times public reports)

If you are a Microsoft employee in the Bellevue area, the views from the cafeteria of the Bravern are not to be missed. People loved the Lincoln Square cafeteria for Microsoft employees – so much so that parking at the mall is no longer reimbursed. But the Bravern cafeteria views are 360 degrees of Wow! You can see all of Seattle, Lake Washington, and the Eastside.

Encourage your group to move to the Bravern, otherwise – it’s a great place for a lunch meeting.

Seattle’s Newspaper Stops the Presses.

The Seattle PI will stop publishing its paper edition and go to an entirely online edition.  Seattle is becoming a one newspaper town as of March 2009.  These plans were well known by the Hearst Company since December 2008 – but the actual closure of the print will hit our driveway with a thud not heard since the paperboy last fell down riding his bike in the rain.  The world is changing and the internet is taking over any industry that is driven by information.  While many of us love the feel of the newspaper in our hand – the economics are just not there anymore in a world gone digital.

It’s worth mentioning that smaller community newspapers like the Redmond Reporter seem to be thriving and growing with their focus on smaller communities and more micro localized advertisers.  With the free distribution model – circulation is higher as are advertising rates for highly targeted socio-economic neighborhoods.   Sounds a lot like Google Adwords but dropped right on my driveway.

Bellevue’s Bravern is Open for Microsoft Employees

The Bravern in Bellevue is now occupied as Microsoft office space. Now Microsoft employees can live, work, shop, and dine in the same building. The building quality and views are amazing!!!!

Microsoft folks: the cafeteria is even better views than Lincoln Square. Make sure to schedule a meeting here soon!!!

Real estate folks: condo demand is plunging as are prices. Is this a project destined to sit empty, or will it realize its “Neiman Marcus dreams…”?

Windermere Seattle Real Estate – A shocking story?

Seattle Condos
We’re not sure what really happened here, but some folks have had an incredibly bad and expensive relationship buying a home near Seattle (in Redmond Washington, near Microsoft’s headquarters). Their website details a disasterous renovation at the advice of their realtor. It’s worth a read – if only to be aware to be incredibly careful in dealing in both real estate and renovations around Seattle.

Washington State Convention Center – Seattle

Washington State Convention Center SeattleIf you are in downtown Seattle on business – there’s a good chance you are attending a conference at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. While it won’t likely result in condo shopping – your visit to the center can be a lot more fun if you know what they do, and don’t have available. Check out our new visitor guide to the Washington State Convention Center. The restrooms are easy to find – but there are some cool services that can make the trip a lot more fun.

Real Estate Industry Propoganda: Ridiculous.

Seattle Washington’s real estate market has been most immune from the bubble. But slowing transaction volumes are costing real estate agents money – whether the market is up or down. In yet another piece of self-serving propogranda – Seattle’s Windemere Real Estate CEO Geoff Wood publishes an advertorial advertisement in the February 24, 2008 issue of Pacific Northwest (Seattle Times Sunday magazine). We appreciate his contribution (on top of his firm’s other ads) to the Seattle Times advertising revenues to publish his own version of the world as he sees it. Here is some of his laughable advice:

Seattle Real Estate Homes

1.) Paragraph one assails the “media” for their “sky is falling” approach to real estate. The facts are that transaction volumes – even in Seattle – have dropped significantly – and real estate prices in Seattle have dropped too. Geoff knows that – and upcoming paragraphs give more clues. Remember – a real estate agent (or firm) makes money on homes changing hands. If fewer change hands (regardless of if prices go up or down) – commissions will go down. Geoff’s advice: “To gain perspective, we need to look past this subjective coverage and understand the realities of the housing market”.

2.) Paragraph two starts digging deep. Using the analogy of a casino gambler who goes up on their bets, and then goes down: did they win or lose? We find it interesting that a leading real estate firm is now using gambling as metaphor for real estate investing. Our advice – walk away from the blackjack table when you are up. Geoff reminds us that if we were lucky enough to “buy low” – we may still be up on our “bets”. Pity the fool (thanks Mr. T) who bought high in this market (ie last year).

3.) Paragraph three reinforces that most people haven’t lost money yet. Since they bought their homes a few years back – they likely made money. There is no facts or analysis of with realistic prices of today (and forecast for tomorrow) whether a buyer would be “up or down”.

4.) Later paragraphs emphasize real estate as a long term investment, and the average holding period of seven years. Just wait – your losses will go away… some day.

5.) The last paragraph speaks for itself. No real estate firm should ever forecast future prices, and any forecast of a future price of stocks or real estate should include numerous caveats. None here today — the exact quote is in bold:

“…And know that if you buy a home today, in seven years it will be worth a lot more…”

Pick up Sundays Seattle Times – the Sunday magazine could be a valuable gambling chip for you in seven years. Windeemere already knows your house will be worth more – and has put it in writing.

Geoff Wood at Windermere Seattle: Couldn’t be more wrong.

Seattle Real Estate

Geoff Wood’s letter in December’s Seattle Times newspaper attempted to give vague reassurance to Seattle real estate buyers on behalf of Windermere Real Estate that:

1.) The real estate market all over the U.S. is declining – but Seattle’s probably won’t.

2.) You need a full service agent (ie 6%+ on average) when you sell your home.

Geoff couldn’t be more wrong. Let’s look through his letter (actually a paid advertisement) – and assess the various points:

Paragraph 1: Geoff notes there is increasing concern (he calls it “discussion”) on the future of the real estate market. Perhaps he is referring to the countless friends you may have that have lost significant amounts of their savings from other parts of the United States. In our own personal case (Western U.S.) – we lost over 50% of equity on an upscale investment single family home, and had a decline in the value of our personal home of over $100,000.

“…it can be challenging to stay focused on what’s best for you and your family…” “…make decisions that reflect your needs and enhance your life…” Not sure what this vagueness means – but seems to be getting us primed to some propaganda to come.

Now Geoff begins to quote the former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (the widely dis-credited David Lereah) – who has now written a book. Mr. Lereah has come to the astounding conclusion that each local market has different economic dynamics. Ignored in this analysis are the general boom and then bust of the sub-prime mortgage market and no-documentation “liar” loans that made the real estate industry billions of dollars. The dry-up of this entry level and investment funding have significantly reduced demand for real estate across the country.

Geoff now begins to work the “Seattle is immune” argument extremely popular in this area. …”a national average…may not reflect what’s happening on your block…” On my block: The realtor who sold us our home was laid off – from a Windermere agency – less than 3 months after we bought our home. She was specifically laid off due to slowing market sales volume for real estate around Seattle.

It’s easy to “just keep believing”, but real facts don’t lie. We’ll continue to analyze this self-serving letter in future posts. What do you think — is Geoff’s finger in the dike of decline, or is all well on Queen Anne Hill and Snoqualmie Ridge?

In the meantime – numbers speak louder than words. Check out some simple stats on the Seattle real estate market.

If you love Cirque du Soleil, be in Seattle in 2008.

Cirque du Soleil will be returning to the Seattle area’s Redmond Marymoor park — right in the shadow of Microsoft HQ. Over 130,000 visitors enjoyed 53 performances in 2006. The 2008 run begins April 24th and you can get more info at Cirque du Soleil’s Seattle website.

Warning: Seattle Condo Prices are Rising Quickly.

When we page through a variety of urban condominiums around Seattle and the Eastside / Bellevue – prices are incredible. Here are some examples you should check out:

  Bravern Condos Bellevue

The Bravern – If you work at Microsoft – your office may be here soon. Microsoft is putting thousands of employees into this building upon completion, and your office may be just an elevator ride down for a price that starts in the $400k’s. You can occupy in late 2009 or early 2010 if you get in early.

Ava - Breaking ground in the heart of the retail district – including dining, outdoor pool, sky lounge, and day spa. Zing and Zen are promised starting at under $400k.
Gallery - Belltown living for artists or wannabe artists. Top grade appliances from Viking and Bosch; glass countertops and hardwood flooring. Starting at only the $300k’s at 2nd and Broad in Belltown.

Equinox at Eastlake – Right in the heart of Eastlake near the new streetcar to downtown. Starting UNDER $300k and you can occupy in 2009.

Escala at Midtown – Premier high-rise living in 2009 at the intersection of restaurants, shopping, art, and entertainment. Wine cave; valet service, and a five-star level private club are exclusive privileges at Escala.

1 Hotel and Residences – It’s a hotel, it’s a condo — it’s full-ownership hotel suites with full service hotel privileges. From 700-1,000 square feet – they’ll even rent them for you. Residences begin at one million dollars.

Blowing apart Seattle’s condo industry – now.

Seattle Condos  We’re here and we’re serious about reviewing condos in Seattle. The industry is on-fire and builders are going nuts. The rest of the United States is mired in a real estate recession — but Seattle is building straight up – as fast as it can.

We’re here to help you learn about the down-and-dirty on condos around Seattle and Bellevue and help you get the best deal. When the condo builders need to have a “convention” to promote their product – you might want to think twice. Thanks for taking a look and we hope you give us a chance with a subscription.