I Wish People Would Stop Disparaging Condos

Comments

1
Your mortgage might not go up willy nilly, but your association fees could. Or someone on the board could embezzle the money they were supposed to use to pay for a new roof- I've known condo owners who were forced to move out and pay rent on top of paying their mortgages while repairs were done, which took YEARS. Condo boards are a nightmare and I know they're a necessary evil but I hope to never be involved with one.
2
We have no tenant protections in Seatte, dood, and perhaps you've never heard of Columbia City Condos???????

http://www.yelp.com/biz/columbia-city-co…

I rented an apartment from this guy from 2012-2013. Easily the worst landlord I've ever had. The apartment flooded twice while I was there. And he only fixed the issue after multiple calls. He then made racist statements blaming the Asian-American neighbors above me, which I did not find super endearing.

. . . [cont. reading at site]

Another,

Mr. Haglund told me to "go f*ck myself" and hung up when I called to inquire about getting my deposit back. Classy.

Another,

NO ONE RENT FROM THIS GUY. Carl Haglund is a well known 'slum lord' in the South End of Seattle

And another,

UPDATE: Carl was so mad about my negative review, he is suing me for defamation. Literally suing
3
Hillpagan, how is this much different than HOAs? I live in a Co-op so it's a bit different but we still have a board and issues (one neighbor got a therapy dog for anxiety despite a no dogs allowed policy. I'm pissed about it because I don't want a bunch of goddamn dogs who are loud and needy in our building, but whatever).

I mean, I get that hell is other people but we only have so many options and condos aren't such a bad one.
4
there are parts that are problematic with this article, but i'm glad it was published. as with most things, the pervasive "condos=bad" discourse that dominates the conversation of seattle's urbanization is incredibly grey.
5
Condos are a great way to go. HOA fees can go up but they are under the control of the owners themselves. If you choose a place that is not loaded with amenities such as swimming pools, exercise rooms, spas and such the fees will be considerably low. Most condos have professional bonded property management so you don't have to worry about someone absconding with the buildings funds. With mortgage and HOA fees I pay just under $850 a month for about 625 square feet. Utilities average out to less than $100 per month. There are some hassles such as noise but overall not really any different than a private home.

Granted, I am single and retired so it is easier for me to live here as compared to a full family but it still makes sense if you live in an urban area. Condos, on the whole, do leave a much smaller environmental impact.

As to those who have had HOA board problems my answer would be to do this; get involved and participate.
6
There are still plenty of affordable single-family homes in Seattle close to the city's best transit, but to people like Kathleen Richards, Rainier Valley may as well be on Neptune.

And that, like condos, is just fine.
7
Everyone seems to forget that Condos are not the only way to buy an apartment. New York makes extensive use of co-ops. You don't technically own the apartment you live in. You own a share in the corporation that owns the building(s). That entitles you to live in Apartment X.

They are sometimes even "limited equity" (a friend of mine owns one of these in Chicago) where the price of the "share" is controlled to discourage speculation. He bought his in 1992 for $19,000. A huge one bedroom place near the L with lots of beautiful built ins. The building was probably built in about 1915.
8
I think the issue of HOAs (and townhomes sometimes have them as well) is being underplayed. The monthly cost is usually $300+. You don't have as much control as you might think and changing anything? Very difficult. Plus you have to be careful to watch what the ratio of owner-occupied to rental or you can have a lot of different neighbors (worse if someone tries to use their condo as an AirBnB.

There are good and bad things about all living conditions. And this city does need all kinds of housing situations but I think there's a middle ground to be found but we are finding you get cast as a "NIMBY" or a "density freak."
9
Westello - any condo or co-op that doesn't have restrictions on Air BnB type of rental isn't a condo or co-op worth purchasing.
10
My problem isn't with Condo's and apartments in and of themselves (we do need affordable, high density housing and it is more eco friendly) but with the types of condo's and apartments that are going up. It's not just the price tag, but rather that the new buildings appear to be populated overwhelmingly with studio/one-bedroom units. If we're going to build for the long term we need to address the fact that eventually a lot of people get married or otherwise pair off and some have families, and there is very little high density housing in the city for that.
11
Family condos are more suited to the townhouse style just due to their size. They could be multi storied (2-3 floors) that would take up a smaller square footage of the lot. They would also be able to have some sort of private yard space for children to play. There should be more of these available and I think that in the near future there will be. Single family townhouses having staggered common walls centered around a common courtyard area is the way to go for family urban density.
12
I've lived in condos, apartments, and townhouses before buying my single-family home.....I'd never go back. Shitty inconsiderate neighbors, shared walls to thin, repairs never made or done improperly, HOA boards stuffed with petty dictators...never again!

Hell is other people and nothing underscores that like life in an apartment building with crap managers and crap neighbors.
13
Please stop calling every new, massive, over-priced apartment a "condo." For example, the building in the first picture is a new, massive, overpriced apartment building, not a fucking condominium.
14
So tired of Seattlietes bitching about "luxury condos" ruining Seattle. The vast majority of the construction that people are whining about are apartments, albeit they may be "luxury" and severely overpriced. The main difference in my eyes is at least condo owners are invested in both their building/community and their neighborhood, unlike renters who can move from one apartment to another just like their tech jobs!

Some numbers from a curbed Seattle article in 2014
"That's the 7,366 apartment units under construction on the left and the 4,414 apartment units approved on the right.

Not to be outdone, there's also some solid condominium construction in the works as well. 844 new condos are currently under construction in Seattle while an additional 499 are entitled and could begin construction in the near future."
15
Thank you for sharing! It's important to talk about this stuff and smaller is often way easier. Closer, simpler, faster is so much better. Wise choice.
16
Yeah, the haterhipster vocabulary is everything new is "condos" hen it's apartments. Words have meaning. Use them.
17
It's good to talk about the pros and cons of owning condos, townhomes, or single-family homes vs renting, but I always get nervous when writers then throw in something like " everyone should be able to afford a single family home if they want to" just makes me wonder if the reason this was such a shallow and useles article is because it's really a Trojan Horse.

I suspect the reason the author did such a poor job of defending condo life is that she was really trying to add one more brick to the wall being built by billionaire developers and Sovereign Wealth Fund managers who have bought up thousands of single-family houses in Seattle and want to develop the bejeezus out of them. That is the wall destroying Seattle's single-family neighborhoods.

It's ridiculous for her to suggest that every drug addict and minimum-wage slacker should be able to afford a single family home if they want, and I suspect that the author is well aware of that. She is just another underpaid corporate hack reiterating her masters' mantra that so effectively replaces thoughtful discourse.
20
Wanted to echo @1 as a condo owner - oh yes, those HOA fees can go up every year. My HOA fees are approaching 50% of my monthly mortgage.

But...for a first home it can't be beat when single family homes are out of range. MY ADVICE: find a real estate agent that ***owns a condo themselves***. My RE agent was the treasurer of her HOA, so she was able to look at how the HOA handled finances, and made sure I had months of HOA meeting minutes to read on units I was considering. I got lucky and bought a place with an HOA that was decently run.

USE A RE AGENT that OWNS A CONDO...and really understands the issues involved.
22
Interesting....so which developer and or condo advertiser paid for this puff piece, because this is excatly what it sounds like.
23
Amen to more condos and co-ops, which are the exact same thing, just one sounds fancier than the other. All my condo's legal paperwork all refers to the building as a "co-op apartment."

When I got priced out of my last apartment in the CD I tried desperately to find another apartment. Failing that, I started looking at buying single family homes... the elusive "affordable bungalow" that everyone seems to think is so easy to find. Surprise! None exist. No, not even in the Rainier Valley, which is not the bastion of affordability that all the armchair urban planners seem to think it is. Any bungalows with an "affordable" price either have the roof caving in, or are in the process of being torn down to be replaced with a new $1.2 million 4000 sqft single family house.

Which lead me to my current 2 bedroom condo. The mortgage company was way more willing to work with me than any Seattle landlord I'd ever dealt with, and didn't laugh me out the door when I told them my income (unlike every landlord of an "affordable" Seattle apartment I'd inquired about). My payments are locked in for 30 years. I can change anything I want inside my unit - and if I end up having a ton of kids, I could even buy the unit next door and tear down the wall between.

And as for the HOA, the horror stories about embezzlement and long-deferred maintenance surprises have been largely ended, thanks to recent state laws requiring regular professional outside audits of HOA books and 20-year maintenance plans. Olympia actually did something that worked! They just did it a decade ago...

Which is better? To pay a mortgage for 30 years or rent for 60?
24
Condo owners are investing in their community and committing to a neighborhood.

They are building personal equity rather than paying the wealthy apartment building corporations.

They also have the luxury of knowing they are not likely to be excited randomly, so they beautify their homes and commit to their neighborhoods.

Plus, condos provide urban density that is good for the earth. Single family home life is not sustainable in the long term.
25
I think that you run into HOA and fast rising dues problems in the large high riser type condos. The ones that are real expensive have residents who don't care so much if their monthly fees rise. People of more modest means should stick to smaller buildings. It's easier to get to know people and have more stable neighbors who have similar economic attitudes.