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Old 03-28-08, 10:03 AM   #1
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Apartments -> Condos

The apartment complex we've been living in for the past 5 years may be in the process of being sold. I've heard rumors of it being sold for condos. We're not looking to buy a condo, so we may have to move. It's kind of a shame because this place is walking distance to many places for us and takes cats.

This area has been having a bit of a real estate boom, so I guess people are trying to cash in. There is a butt-ugly condo complex being built nearby and they are going for $150k.

What I was wondering was how feasable it is to turn these apartments into condos. There are three buildings in the complex with 4-20 units in each building. My building has 4 units. All the units in my building share a large water heater and (I think) a furnace. Can condos share like that? If not, it seems like it would be a lot of trouble to outfit each unit with their own. These units also share a washer/dryer in the garage. Each unit has it's own electric meter. Utilities are included except the electric. Most of these apartments are around 800sq ft., 1 or two bedrooms.

Also, most of the windows need to be replaced, they are single pane and drafty. The roof and swamp coolers were replaced within the last few years.

I don't know anything about building codes or condos, but I'm just curious as to why a buyer for the complex might be thinking condos.
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Old 03-28-08, 10:42 AM   #2
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We live in conversion in Seattle.

Rentals are lucrative, but, also risky. In addition to possible damage to the unit from neglect, drug dealing/making, etc, there's no guarantee that you'll have renters.

For a while in Seattle, when interest rates were at their lowest, everyone was trying to buy houses. The result was, for a short while, there was a rental glut---renters had their choice and could negotiate prices.

That's when these conversions started. Dump properties that don't have full renters. [edit:] And, dump properties that have full renters. The conversions are really just cheap (-ly done) make-overs. Nothing structurally significant is usually done. It's all about fixing up appearances. Put in granite counter tops and stainless appliances, you can mark up the price significantly.

Let's say the apartment/condo sells at $300K (typical going price for a 1-2 bedroom, 1 bath conversion), and there are 10-15 units in the building. That's a lot of cash at the end of the day, even after subtracting the costs for the remodel.

Why not new? In Seattle, when we were looking, the new condos were muuuch more expensive, even though on average they had less square feet. And, there's no guarantee that new is better. In fact, older is better many times---it's proven itself over a bit of time. There's more than one story of a contractor declaring "bankruptcy" and can't be sued for damages of bad workmanship, when you know the funds from the sale are somewhere in the Bahamas.

Houses? Houses in Seattle proper are going for $550-$700K.
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