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Condo Hunt
Old 08-19-2008, 10:49 PM   #1
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Condo Hunt

I decided I might begin to look for a condo. My first task is to find all the all-concrete highrise buildings downtown or 4 or 5 blocks from downtown. Found 2 nice ones today, very pretty neighborhood (nice mature trees, all the buildings have awnings) and a few blocks from hospital mega-complex. This gave me an idea- maybe I will look for a 2 bedroom and get a roomate from the pool of post-docs or resident physicians. My parents ran a nice and pretty much trouble free business renting rooms in several old houses to this type of tenant exclusively.

A 2 bedroom in this area would be a stretch for me, but not once I start drawing SS in a little over 2 years. And I might find that I really like the roomer thing, and just keep it up even when I wouldn't need to. Every June/July there are literally hundeds and maybe thousands of new upscale people coming in, and my parents found at least that they will pay up for something nice only 4 blocks away, since their time is so limited. Also a few short blocks to all the downtown banks and government offices, and a quick trolley ride to Amazon or Starbuck's HQ or a few blocks to express buses run by Microsoft or metro express buses to the Eastside. So my rental pool of high earning, educated people would be enormous, in an area where a dump studio rents for $1000+. Advertising would be a snap too.

I have pretty much decided that if I leave my apartment which is maybe 1.75 to 2 miles from downtown it will be to a place closer to the center. So I want to focus my search in that area. And if I want a roomate, I would have a much better pool of clean and sober people who wouldn't set off metal detectors with what is in their underpants.

The more I think about this, the more I like it. I had roomates for 10 years and always enjoyed it more than living alone.

I'll see what turns up.

Ha
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Realtor.com
Old 08-19-2008, 10:57 PM   #2
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Realtor.com

Try looking on realtor.com. You just put in your city - or zipcode, some certain other criteria and lots of times they have a ton of pictures so you can see the place without making the trip. At least it would give you an idea which you can get for your $. I am always checking out houses in my neighborhood that go on the market, so the realtor's don't have to say any more, 'Oh here comes a looky-loo."
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:16 PM   #3
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My brother has been looking for that type of building in Portland for many months. He just made an offer on a tiny studio in an older co-op.

Be sure to read the C C & Rs (constraints on renting), reserve study and last 2 year's HOA minutes.

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Old 08-20-2008, 12:09 AM   #4
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It's interesting to see how much people are looking at condos and apartments within walking or cycling distance of a majority of services. With the odds that gas will be even more costly in the not so distant future, it sure is a change from massive suburban sprawl.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:05 AM   #5
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if i don't gather courage enough to become a perpetual vagabond i might do similar. i was thinking either a 2/2 condo in north florida and renting a room which would give me funds for about 4-5 months in s.e. asia (or wherever) each year. or i could add a bath or two to my existing house and rent out two rooms here. i currently have two extra bedrooms (that i'd also expand) but only one bath now that i don't care to share.

i'd consider maybe a 2/1 condo if i knew i was going to be traveling for 1/2 the year but for full time living i think maybe a 2/2 would be more comfortable.

i like both the financial aspects and also the social ones. you don't just get a new friend but you get your new friend's friends too. in which case you better hope his or her friends are just as well educated & sober as you think your roomy will be. hopefully they will just have their own rx pads instead of crack pipes. some of the creepiest people i've met in life have been well educated & well funded so i don't think i'd judge by that.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:37 AM   #6
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I guess I'm just more private by nature, but while I could see owning a duplex and renting one side, taking in a complete stranger as a roommate in a 2 bedroom condo (not to mention your landlord role) would really give me pause.

Privacy, the hours they keep, quirks on both sides.. yikes, no thanks. But if it works for you best of luck. Medical trainees often have odd hours and aren't home much, like to catch up by sleeping days at times.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:46 AM   #7
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you don't just get a new friend but you get your new friend's friends too. in which case you better hope his or her friends are just as well educated & sober as you think your roomy will be.
And what are the odds of that?

Given the choice of taking in a roommate or going back to work, I think I might have to go with living on the street.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:38 AM   #8
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Not a bad idea, Ha. Just make sure you are OK with the restrictions and hassles that come with condo life. I also would never, ever buy another condo that involved anyone living over my head (don't ask, but it ended with us choosing to move rather than buying a shotgun).

As for your concerns about what it costs: ain't none of us getting any younger, and there are no pockets in a shroud, amigo.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:49 AM   #9
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I decided I might begin to look for a condo. My first task is to find all the all-concrete highrise buildings downtown or 4 or 5 blocks from downtown. Found 2 nice ones today, very pretty neighborhood (nice mature trees, all the buildings have awnings) and a few blocks from hospital mega-complex. This gave me an idea- maybe I will look for a 2 bedroom and get a roomate from the pool of post-docs or resident physicians. My parents ran a nice and pretty much trouble free business renting rooms in several old houses to this type of tenant exclusively.

A 2 bedroom in this area would be a stretch for me, but not once I start drawing SS in a little over 2 years. And I might find that I really like the roomer thing, and just keep it up even when I wouldn't need to.
Just out of curiousity, why are you thinking of buying a condo instead of renting? In the past you have seemed pretty content with your present situation.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:59 AM   #10
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Maybe get a feel for how realistic this is. Test the market.

I think the general trend with everyone (including residents/trainees in the medical profession) is to want to pay up a bit for privacy and convenience. This usually equals a place of their own. Times and opinions/attitudes may have changed over the last 20-30 years. Even when I was in college a short 10 years ago, it seemed like college students were okay sharing bedrooms (dorm style) in a rental apartment to save money. Now, that is almost unheard of, and even many college dorms are going to single rooms these days (that's where the market is headed at least).

Another important consideration, which may be a good or bad thing for you, is the potential for getting a roommate from a foreign culture that eats pungent or stinky food or has different standards of hygiene and comportment than you do. This is particularly likely (in my experience) in the grad/post grad/resident market, if you look at the nationalities of the folks working these positions. Of course you can legally discriminate against anyone who you are rooming with, as long as you don't advertise it, so you can use your judgment as to who you pick as a roommate.

Just my two cents, although it does sound like an appealing way to get a number of things you want (nicer bigger place in a better area with some social interaction).
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:20 PM   #11
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Given the choice of taking in a roommate or going back to work, I think I might have to go with living on the street.
i've a cousin and a friend who both think i'm insane to consider renting out a room. but then, i also just sent in application to circumnavigate with a couple of guys in a 40 ft boat. suddenly that 2/2 apartment with a roommate is looking awfully spacious.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:37 PM   #12
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Ha,
Good luck in your condo search. Just some pointers:

There was a comment about looking at a reserve analysis. The recent legislation in Washington regarding condo reserves was passed as a result of the high rise buildings you are considering. The monthly assessments were insufficient to cover long-term upkeep, so owners were socked with assessments in the 5-6 figure range -- payable immediately.

While the law is new, you generally won't be shown a reserve analysis until you plunk down the earnest money. And even then, there is a disclaimer statement suggesting the analysis is only an estimate. Great law, huh?

So, as you approach the financial part of your buying, what has worked for me in the past is to ask to see the association budget, the annual financial statement, AND the CC&R's before signing the earnest money agreement. At least you'll know what you are in for. The seller may be able just to lend you their copies. They have to pay the association a fee for the 'official' version, and most are reluctant to do that until the buyer is qualified and they are well down the road to closing (i.e., you've plunked down the money and made an offer, been to the bank and been approved, etc).

In my case, the reserves looked a little light to me when I moved in, but the building was relatively new. When we got ready to paint, there was an assessment, but it wasn't large and the neighbors here were firm that they didn't want to go through that again, so we voted a raise in the monthly assessment. That was a relatively easy and painless (so to speak) agreement -- but then there are only 8 neighbors, so less negotiating to do.

Anyway, find yourself a real estate agent you can work with as you start your search. They'll be worth every penny the buyer pays them in commission when you close the deal!

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Old 08-20-2008, 07:49 PM   #13
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I don't want to hijack Ha's thread with a long discussion of HOAs. There are some other threads on that issue/problem. But I would urge you to go to a HOA meeting, if you can, before purchasing a condo. In addition to the financial documents, you can look at meeting minutes. But you will get more of a sense of the issues in a community by going to a meeting and listening/talking to people.

Being part of a HOA is very different than I thought it would be. In my community, some owners bought in order to make a profit. They made a big ruckus when the board tried to raise fees to an amount that would be comparable to other developments and that would take care of current and future needs.

Those owners have all sold, taken their profits and left. Those who are left are now dealing with deferred maintenance. Fees will have to go up. If they don't go up to a reasonable amount by spring, I'm out of here. I don't want to deal with assessments, which are really a black mark on a community for future buyers.
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Old 08-20-2008, 07:54 PM   #14
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These comments make me realize how little prepared I am for this because I really know nothing.

Ha
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:15 PM   #15
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These comments make me realize how little prepared I am for this because I really know nothing.

Ha
Well, I would expect that you would learn a lot of this in the process of looking for a condo. I know that in searching for my present home (the first I have ever purchased on my own) I learned a tremendous amount about the process as well as real estate and construction in general. Take your time - - it is learning by the total immersion method.
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Old 08-21-2008, 12:13 AM   #16
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These comments make me realize how little prepared I am for this because I really know nothing.

Ha
Don't feel bad, I'm in the same boat. I hope we're at least rowing in the same direction.
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:36 AM   #17
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ha.. it sounds like more condos are still coming on line in Seattle.. so tread carefully:
http://seattlebubble.com/blog/2008/0...re-the-buyers/

of course, you may have a better understanding of the particular area that interests you, and apartments with good transportation connections will likely be even more desireable in the future. There's a forum at the above link where you might send out some feelers or pick up more info.
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Old 08-21-2008, 11:04 AM   #18
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but then, i also just sent in application to circumnavigate with a couple of guys in a 40 ft boat.
Bum,
Give us some details man: What kind of a boat? How long? What route?
I guess unless your house sells, if you get accepted we will not see you a lot on this board, just in ports. (If the house sells probably you can afford Iridium or Globalstar or Thuraya or maybe even Immarsat for keeping touch with us )
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Old 08-21-2008, 01:05 PM   #19
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These comments make me realize how little prepared I am for this because I really know nothing.

Ha
Ha - you have lots of time to learn and make a decision as there will be plenty of condos on the Seattle market in the years to come. My GM lived in the family home for many years after she was widowed. She rented rooms to students going to nearby Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and met people from all over the world. It really seemed to keep her engaged with life.

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Old 08-21-2008, 05:17 PM   #20
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What kind of a boat? How long? What route?
I guess unless your house sells, if you get accepted we will not see you a lot on this board, just in ports.
ya, also would need someone to check on house & take care of any problems. i'm not happy about leaving a house in hurricaneville while i'd be gallivanting around the world.

as to this one, don't know much about it, supposedly a custom cutter. i'm not holding out hope for the position. i've got two major aspects working against me: homobophia on str8 boats and vanity on gay ones. my feeling is that this was two older gay guys looking for some young stud but thought i'd take a chance. haven't heard back and i'm not surprised.

having lost my boat-crazed partner and later my best friend who was planning to sail with me, the odds of finding a third at this age are really slim. it gets pretty discouraging putting my hand up for these crew opportunities when i know i've hardly a chance in hell. but stranger things have happened.

my point in posting though was to note how spoiled we can be about our personal space allotments. in college i lived two to a room and four to a bath; in summer camp i lived 10 to a cabin; growing up at home i had my own room. for a while we were two adults, me as a teen and a 70-lb dog in a boat. now i'm one person in a three bedroom house which is a little obscene. i've planted a jungle around the house to minimize my footprint but i suspect most people in the world would marvel at the luxury of the square footage per person here. it's probably a little wasteful but so very american.
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