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Originally published May 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Page modified May 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM

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Bellevue condo developers take two opposite approaches

One of downtown Bellevue's biggest new condo projects cut prices sharply, but the other won't discount to sell the many remaining units.

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Downtown Bellevue's two biggest new condo projects couldn't be approaching the market more differently.

After lenders led by Morgan Stanley took back struggling Bellevue Towers at the end of 2010, they slashed prices deeply to jump-start sluggish sales. In the two years after the project debuted, only about 20 percent of the condos had sold.

The strategy worked: The 539-unit complex was the Seattle area's top-selling condominium last year, with 130 sales. Buyers have purchased an additional 45 condos so far in 2012, according to county records, bringing Bellevue Towers to about 55 percent sold.

"The opportunity to purchase a home for 40 percent or more off the peak continues to be attractive to many buyers," Patrick Clark, who heads Bellevue Towers' sales team, said recently. "Prospective buyers recognize that we are meeting the market."

At nearby Washington Square, in contrast, just four sales have been recorded in 2012. Altogether, developer Wasatch Group has sold nearly two-thirds of the project's 379 condos — but 80 percent of those sales came in 2008 and 2009.

Washington Square hasn't cut prices as much as its competitors have, Wasatch Vice President Mike Nielson acknowledges: "We simply don't believe in that approach, nor do we need to sell at the same pace ... .

"We feel a deep commitment to protect the value of Washington Square for each of our buyers."

Two of Washington Square's four sales so far this year were for $1.5 million and $1.26 million.

At Bellevue Towers, more than half of 2012's 45 sales so far were for less than $500,000, and just four went for more than $1 million.

— Eric Pryne

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