Condo conversion: The sales pitch


The marketing website is now up for Strata, the condo conversion (first mentioned here in June) formerly known as the Graham Street Apartments, at Cali/Graham north of Morgan Junction. Always fascinating to take a look at how these sites market the buildings and the neighborhood — in this case, the page about “the location” pitches The Junction (mentioning Elliott Bay and Uptown) rather than much-closer Morgan Junction; “the building” is described as “Northwest Contemporary” (though built in 1987); the page about “the design” mentions “tidy modern landscaped spaces for ground floor homes” (we’ve noticed fences going up on the Cali side of the building). The home page describes Strata as “priced within reach”; prices aren’t on the site right now but the promotional e-mail announcing the website says “from the low 200s.”

13 Replies to "Condo conversion: The sales pitch"

  • Graham Street Resident October 9, 2007 (11:29 am)

    What the marketing website doesn’t say is that the smallest condos about 500 square feet are starting off at about $230K and that the ground level is prone to flooding because they site below street level. I’ve visited the site many times over the last couple of months and I am definitely underwhelmed by the “improvements” and “upgrades”. I’m pretty sure that the majority of these condos will sit on the market because the market for single-family homes and condos has begun to soften.

  • evan October 9, 2007 (1:07 pm)

    It’s completely “Northwest Contemporary” if by “northwest contemporary” you mean “used to be apartments.”

  • Sue October 9, 2007 (2:29 pm)

    I’m dying to see what they say about their sister property, West Ridge Park, where I used to live. I know the theme of that one is supposed to be “Urban Farmhouse” and my “insider price” for the 2 bedroom, 1-1/2 bath townhome with garage (1,000 sq. feet) was $292,000 with a beautiful view of Chief Sealth’s schoolyard.

  • A.A. October 9, 2007 (3:01 pm)

    Sue, you must have been near me- I used to live in 38E or E38 (I can’t remember the correct # but it was in the very back SW corner of the complex up against the park and closest to the high school)

    As for Graham St, I bet they’re also not disclosing that they had to shim the building because it was off-level prior to sale. Since it’s changed hands after they did this, I don’t think it has to be disclosed. But I can tell you I wouldn’t want to be in there in an earthquake…
    (information from a friend and former resident who lived there when the work was done)

  • Sarah October 9, 2007 (3:33 pm)

    GSR, were you living there at the time of the sale? I can’t believe the prices they’re asking, and I’ll be shocked if they sell them within a year. For our North-facing, ground-floor, 640 sq ft 1-bedroom they were asking $240,000 (though we could purchase for the discounted $220,000!) It’s a ridiculous price, and yes, ours was one of the units that flooded last winter. They didn’t get the water cleaned up until nearly a week later, and all they did was shampoo the carpets. No checking for mold, even after we saw some popping up around the previously flooded areas. Ridiculous!
    I love how they describe it on that website – ample closet space, etc. Especially that waste-of-space “coat closet,” we were never able to utilize that awkward triangular shape very well. Then they’re also taking away a closet to install the washer/drier… so really you’re left with one closet. One that’s closer to a “reach-in” than “walk-in.” :(

  • Kayleigh October 9, 2007 (3:57 pm)

    I’m a little concerned about some of these apartment conversions. I mean, granite countertops are lovely, but I’d prefer that the electrical, plumbing, roofing, siding, etc. be upgraded first, ya know? Maybe that stuff was done with “Strata”, but when I was condo shopping, that wasn’t the case with some of the conversions I looked at.

    And the word “strata” makes me hungry for something with eggs and cheese.

  • Sue October 9, 2007 (3:57 pm)

    A.A., yes, I was in 36, so right near you. When they first announced then for sale and gave out the offers, the first thing I did was to leave an anonymous note for the people in a nearby townhouse (34B, I think) that was gutted by fire before they moved in – along with DPD website proof that there was fire restoration. I didn’t want somebody to buy it and not know since I’m sure they wouldn’t have disclosed it since it was after management changed hands. What I find particularly amusing about West Ridge Park is how many condo conversion inspections they are failing: And why was that again that I should buy that apartment?

  • Sue October 9, 2007 (4:01 pm)

    Kayleigh, I can’t speak for Strata, but for Gables (West Ridge Park), we were told that NO plumbing or electrical work would be done and we were buying those as is (which is disconcerting, especially when our fuses kept going out and the fuse box hummed when the washer was on). They were going to do the siding and the roof (only becuase they had to), but the inspection report said that they were not going to do any structural work inside the walls, just the siding and roof. The only other work they were doing is painting, new rugs, new vinyl flooring, new kitchen cabinets and appliances, doors, and new bathroom cabinets (no replacement toilets or tub – and considering the bathtub sank when you stood in it – I assumed it was from rot underneath – I’m not surprised they’re leaving tubs, so they don’t have to fix what’s wrong underneath.) And what a lot of people don’t realize is that when you buy a conversion, the only thing they need to give you a warranty on is the new stuff they put in. So they’ll warranty the cheap wood cabinets they put in your kitchen, but they won’t warranty that you won’t fall through the floor. And considering how the floor sank in our particular unit, I figure it’s only a matter of time.

  • Kayleigh October 10, 2007 (4:36 am)

    Sue, that’s downright scary. I’m sure some of the conversions were well-built to start with, but I far too many of them aren’t. It was enough to make me scamper back to my rental.

    I looked at so many Ikea kitchen cabinets in condos…and honestly, I’d rather have a 70s-era kitchen that I can either live with or re-do myself someday.

    Do they think condo buyers are too stupid to want something that lasts?

  • Sue October 10, 2007 (8:16 am)

    Kayleigh, I think they’re banking on the fact that condo buyers are people who are desperate to own a home, and if this is what’s in their price range (since it’s cheaper than buying a house), then they’ll put up with whatever it is. (Then again, with all the subprime mortgage problems and people who admit they didn’t understand what they got into with their mortgage, maybe they *are* hoping they’re all stupid or ill-informed.) Personally, I’d rather go to my grave as a renter than pay those prices for that; I don’t expect perfection, but I do expect something worth spending my money on. That isn’t it.

  • Kayleigh October 10, 2007 (9:12 am)

    Thanks, Sue. I totally agree.

    I’m a native and would hate to leave Seattle, but I wonder sometimes if I should just continue to rent and save/invest my money…then move to another part of the country and pay cash for a house when I’m looking to retire.

    Here’s hoping the housing bubble does do a small “correction” here so I don’t have to.

  • Rick October 12, 2007 (2:32 pm)

    If you buy a “conversion” unit that the new owners”converters?” haven’t replaced/upgraded ie wiring,plumbing,appliances,etc. it’s now yours to deal with. BEaWARE.

  • Sue October 13, 2007 (5:27 pm)

    you’re so right, Rick – that’s one of many reasons we didn’t buy. I was really shocked at how many people (who lived there) thought it was a good deal, and then when I asked what they thought about the inspection report details, they admitted they hadn’t read it. That’s one huge mistake. Amazing that more people will research the quality of a product like a vacuum cleaner, but don’t look into the home they’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for.

Sorry, comment time is over.