I’m excited about my condominium open house in Alterra – it is directly above my office with wonderful views of Lake Union!
This condominium has two bedrooms and two full baths. It is on the top floor of the building with unobstructed views of Lake Union. The upper floor of the building is fully air conditioned which was a great relief on an eighty degree day in August.
This unit has only had one owner since the building was built in 1999 and has been very well kept up – even the beige plush carpeting is spotless.
The Alterra currently has a 74% owner-occupied to rented ratio.
South Lake Union is a buzzing culture thanks to Paul Allen, Amazon, the Gates Foundation and many other high-tech and bio-tech firms!
Each condominium building has it’s own culture and amenities, and if you are like one of my clients, you may be looking for one that is not only dog friendly but has a dog walking and bathing area.
I previewed a condominium in the Olive 8 (a dog friendly building) which just came on the market. It is a one bedroom, one bath and is in a tower of ten which have views of the Puget Sound. It is on the same floor as the dog walking area and deck – so no more wandering down to the street level when one gets home at eleven o’clock! The Olive 8 is a bit of walk to South Lake Union but the downtown Trolly is just a few blocks away.
The Enso is a very popular building as well – a bit more expensive and in demand. It is located in the Denny Triangle right across the street from Whole Foods – if you are like me, you will be wandering across the street to the hot bar when you are busy, or picking up groceries for the gourmet dinner you will be cooking that night.
The Enso is dog friendly – I was previewing one condo and passed a professional dog walker with two Labradoodles going up the elevator – it doesn’t have a dog walking area but it seems this dog walker has a lot of clients in the building.
Ballard Place is a fair ways from South Lake Union but it is an easy commute by bus or bike. I bring it up as it is dog friendly, has a concierge during working hours and a beautiful roof deck with Pea Patch containers for gardening. It also has an area for bike and kayak storage.
Many buildings will have a dedicated storage closet for each unit and dedicated parking spots, although there is a trend towards new buildings with no parking at all. This concept cites the trend for walking, biking or bussing as a commuting alternative.
It is important to do your “due diligence” and look at the CC and R’s (as we call them – convenants, conditions and restrictions). These will spell out all the rules and some of them are very important.
For example, each building will have a rule concerning rentals – this is called the “rental cap”. While some buildings allow no rentals (a bonus for some), others have no “cap” – any and all units can be rented. Sometimes there may be a waiting period before a new owner can rent. There can be a minimum lease period, screening of the tenant and a need to inform the management.
An HOA can put forth a change to the CC&R’s and rental cap but it would need to be approved by the ownership. It doesn’t mean they could enact one in the future but it would require a vote and approval by the ownership. This process and the percentages needed will be spelled out in the resale certificate/CC&R’s.
Other important items to note are the reserves, any special assessments and the strength of the HOA (home owners association).
Each building will have monthly dues – sometimes these are based on the square footage of the condominium. These dues will cover various things but usually cover water, sewer, garbage, earthquake insurance, common area maintenance and sometimes cover WiFi, basic cable and other amenities.
Dues that are not immediately used for the above are put into the reserves and saved for large expenditures such as painting the building. If there are not enough reserves for a big project, the HOA might ask for a special assessment for the project.
The strength of the HOA refers to a few different situations – it could refer to the amount of money in the reserves or the amount of involvement by the board. Some HOA’s are sticklers about following the rules and others are very loose – this can also change with the board.
Condominiums are not the only entities that have an HOA – many houseboats are “fee simple” and the dock will have an HOA (while others are often cooperatives). Housing developments can also have an HOA (and may or may not allow rentals).