How To Buy A Condo; Pick The Right Window.

There are number of different strategies you can use when buying your condo.  I think the most important would be to really evaluate why you are purchasing the unit in the first place.  Is it for the view, the amenities, the location or the design?  Regardless of what drives you to purchase, it is important to understand that when you remove emotion and add strategy you are securing a investment that will give you returns for the life of your ownership.  Take a step back and evaluate the conditions.  Let me provide an example.

When clients ask me about view properties, I get to the issue right away.  Your view will never be protected without the developers purchase of “air rights”.  The best Seattle example is the purchase of air rights for Cristalla.  Murray Franklin and Williams Marketing negotiated the purchase of air rights to protect all the west facing views.  In doing so, it added value to the project and led to a very successful sellout.

When air rights are not purchased, this is what happens (see Cosmopolitan).  You will see clearly that the building built wider and taller than the Cosmopolitan completely dwarfed the residential condos and blocked all west facing views.


My advice to buyers in regards to view is to “pick the right window”.  Here are the five steps to make sure you avoid making a mistake with view units:

1.  What floor are you on?

The floor can help you understand how you might be impacted in the future.  Meaning that if you purchased on the 18 floor and a 22 story building pops up directly in your view line, the 23-30th floors would have been a better option.  Assuming you follow step 2.

2.  Talk to the city and find out what the plans are for all surrounding parcels of land.

One of the biggest mistakes we make as homeowners is that we do not do our research.  The city planning office is a great resource.  Take a an hour out of your day and schedule the 15 minutes necessary to meet with the planner.  Ask questions!

3.  Pick a street view.

This one may seem simple.  It is.  When a condo project is built on a corner and has access to street views, you will have multiple units to choose from.  You can alleviate any future frustration of your views being blocked and overpaying for your unit.

4.  Could a view of the city be just as enjoyable as a water-view?

In Seattle, the most attractive views are west facing towards the water.  I can understand why.  However, if you unit was significantly less and you still get a city view, it might be well worth it.  For one, the city views at night are spectacular.  Two, if the surrounding environment is already developed, you can count on your views staying the same for years to come.

5.  Ask your professional.  Read a blog.

In the world of do-it-yourselfers, I think buying real estate is too important to not have a professional that is assisting you.  You can read a previous post of mine that gives my opinion in great detail (buyers agent?).  Condo blogs are a great resource.  I’d like to think that if you read enough of them, your condo IQ will grow immensely.

Resources:

Cristalla Condos
Cosmopolitan Condos

Seattle Condo Blogs:

The Seattle Condo Blog
UrbnLivn.com
Stroupe

I hope you found this post helpful.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

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