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In 2019, The Economist magazine named Seattle, Washington the fourth most livable city in the United States and the 36th most livable in the world. Factors influencing the rankings include culture, education, stability, health care and infrastructure. It’s also a condo-friendly city, but is a condominium a good investment for Seattle families?
Seattle prides itself on being a fit, healthy, fun city, equally attractive to young professionals, retirees, and growing families. Condominiums continue to be built in the region, and can be a good choice for some families seeking to invest in this popular city.
A condo (condominium) is an individually-owned private residence. It can resemble a luxury apartment in a high-rise, or be a townhouse located in a condominium development. Condo developments offer common areas and services.
When you buy a condo unit, you become a member of the condominium’s homeowners association, or HOA. You will be expected to pay monthly or annual dues, which pay for upkeep, repair, and restoration of the common areas; the common services; and insurance for the outside walls of the building. You’ll have to procure your own condominium owners insurance (similar to traditional homeowners insurance) for your condo itself.
There are many benefits to condo living in Seattle, WA. Everything outside your house is typically maintained by HOA in a condominium development, so you won’t have to deal with mowing a lawn or repairing fences. You have a good chance of getting access to a pool, gym and clubhouse as a condo unit owner, saving you hefty private club fees and making it convenient to workout or relax without leaving home.
The price tag for a nice condominium may be significantly lower than that of a single family residence, meaning you can enjoy a lower mortgage payment while growing your family. Private security can also make your insurance costs lower. Condominiums in Seattle tend to appreciate in value, making them a nice investment if you later plan to sell and move into a larger home.
If you are trying to raise a family and the condominium you select isn’t friendly to young children, you could be trapped in an awkward position. If the amenities aren’t geared towards family living, you may want to look elsewhere before investing in a palace that doesn’t have child-friendly options. Typically, if there are multiple warning signs posted about noise, no kid-oriented amenities, and most of the current residents are either older and retired or single business professionals, the condo might be a bad pick for family life.
Another factor to consider is the HOA, which is generally run by members elected by condo unit owners. Some HOAs end up run by a select few who can then impose their will on the majority, from unit aesthetics and functions to rises in HOA fees and decisions made about amenities based on potential for personal gain or due to personal preference. A badly run HOA can also misspend funds, leading to poor maintenance and a devaluation of the condominium property as a whole.
This is why many mortgage lenders request not only your own financial records, but demand to see the books for the condominium project as well. A badly run condominium is a poor investment, for you and for the mortgage lender. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), for example, publishes a list of approved projects and will not guarantee any condo loans in developments outside of this database.
Most Seattle neighborhoods are condo-friendly places. These areas are top picks according to recent growth.
Considered a prime neighborhood for child-rearing, West Seattle is a popular location thanks to its magnificent skyline vistas and ample waterfront area.
Even though it is adjacent to several popular neighborhoods at the core of the city, Beacon Hill is famous for its laid-back tempo and friendly vibe.
With excellent public transit links, a wide variety of restaurants, bars, bakeries and an array of boutiques, Columbia City offers a close-knit community of neighbors.
A neighborhood great for long relaxing walks to and from local shops and eateries, This University of Washington community is primarily populated by graduate students and professors.
Once considered a virtual wilderness, the Interbay neighborhood is growing fast, and the excellent bus system can get you into downtown very quickly.
Now undergoing gentrification, South Park is a historically Latino community that is well-known for local cohesiveness and a strong, family-oriented culture.
With light rail currently in the works, Lake City is yet another place where condos can flourish, making them another good pick for condominium investment.
Getting a mortgage loan for a condominium unit can require more documentation than financing for a single family home, and not all of the paperwork required will be yours. You could be a perfect home loan candidate, with a great credit score and a sizable down payment in hand. However, a poorly run HOA could kibosh your loan no matter how ready you are to move in.
Interest rate can be a little higher for a condominium mortgage if you get a FannieMae or FreddieMac. These popular mortgage investors charge a fee for condo loans that they do not levy for single-family residences, and may also require a larger down payment.
The Seattle housing market is a competitive one if you’re a buyer looking for a family-friendly condo to invest in. Be prepared to play a waiting game and do a lot of research before you find the right condo. Trust your lender to tell you if a condominium’s future isn’t that bright, and do due diligence on ones that pass muster to ensure they have the amenities your family will need.
Get preapproved for a mortgage before getting in too deep. Once you find the right condo, you’ll want to move quickly, and a preapproved loan goes a long way towards making sellers take you seriously. Sammamish mortgage loan officers can guide you every step of the way.
At Sammamish Mortgage, we strive for a personalized experience for each mortgage applicant. That’s why we employ a full staff of experienced mortgage loan officers, transaction coordinators, processors, and funders.
Mortgage loan processing is all we do, so every member of our team is highly experienced. If your personal loan officer is out for the day, or it’s the weekend and you need to talk to someone about your loan, someone will be available to you.
Sammamish Mortgage has been in business since 1992, and has assisted many home buyers in the Pacific Northwest. If you are looking for mortgage financing in Washington State, we can help. Sammamish Mortgage offers mortgage programs in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Contact us if you have any mortgage-related questions or concerns. If you are ready to move forward, you can view rates, obtain a customized instant rate quote, or apply instantly directly from our website.
Condominium owners and buyers have previously been at a disadvantage when trying to use the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) support to get a home mortgage. Single-family homes could get better FHA mortgage deals than condominiums. In October 2019, this changes.
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