Bethesda Condos: Location, Location, Location WITHIN a Location
I remember when “location within a location” became relevant again. I can even remember the first time I said it. I was showing several high end Bethesda condos in the same development a over 4 years ago. It was mid 2006, a year removed from the madness of 2nd quarter 2005 (some of you remember that time; when you had to write a contingent free offer, escalate tens of thousands of dollars above asking price, and give away your first born child for a chance at getting that home :- ).
So, back to showing the condos: brand new, well laid out, and nice finishes…..all around one of the better developments in the Bethesda area. But the market had slowed a bit, my client knew it (I made sure he did!), and the developer knew it too. So when it was time to decide on two very similar units on different tiers of the building at relatively comparable price-points, my client turned to me and asked:
“Which one do you think?”.
Because it wasn’t an investment property or anything my client was planning on moving out of for the foreseeable future, I suggested he choose the one that felt most like home.
“But which one has more value?”, he insisted.
It was by no means a roll your eyes kind of question. I told him if he was happy with both, he should buy the top floor unit with the western exposure. It was $30K more than a similar unit facing east towards a busy road. The question of “value” became synonymous with “marketability” and that’s where we discussed the concept of the Bethesda Condo Micro Markets. That is, we were past the point where the market demanded a “take what you can get mentality”. On the contrary, in this new real estate environment, there was a time to analyze values on much smaller scales. It wasn’t just the price per square foot, instead it was a combination of a lot of small things…not the least of which was the location within the building that would make for a more sale-able unit in the future.
There are many downtown Bethesda condo units but very few with un-obstructed, western exposures. There are many other examples of micro-markets and most have to do with demographics, supply, and demand… just a little Econ 101. For example, there’s a crying need in Bethesda for larger condo units or homes designed with one-story living in mind.
The picture to the left is from The Residences at The Four Seasons (Kona…not Washington DC!). But looking at this picture reminded me of my client — and reminded me to kindly remind everyone that even in a market of “bargains”, it’s important to continue to analyze the micro-market. It’s not just the building, it’s not just the street and it’s certainly not just the price…instead, it’s combination of all the little pieces that make up value in our daily lives….like a sunset!
**Oh, in case you were wondering, my client ended up going with the unit with the Western exposures.