Townhome concerns…

A prior post talks about shared driveways in old Seattle neighborhoods and another post within the post talks about parking issues with townhomes. I’m waiting for the first lawsuits and haggling to start over these townhomes in the Seattle area that are “zero-lot line”. While I show them to clients as house and condo alternatives I do point out the issues with not having a home owner’s association with reserves. What happens in several years when the whole building needs painting or a new roof and only you have saved money for a rainy day and your other neighbor spends like there’s no tomorrow so he/she has no savings to help pay?

Who’s responsible if a leak starts on your neighbor’s section of the roof but the water travels and penetrates into the structure on your side?

What are the appropriate measures to take to handle complaints such as the parking issue? If there is an easement for each property owner to all the other owners and the easement states that blocking the shared space is not allowed to whom does the aggrieved party complain and what is the possible restitution to that person if the offending party doesn’t quit blocking the shared space?

Another scenario: What if your neighbor decides to paint their part of the building bright purple? Or perhaps they never paint at all and bring down the resale value of your home when you try to sell?

While these types of housing have been decent middle ground options for home buyers that can’t afford some of the single family homes, particularly new construction in the city, and provide an alternative to condo living there are some serious questions and concerns that most buyers haven’t considered. I’m just waiting for the rash of lawsuits that will likely happen when these properties are around their 10th and 20th years of age and they’re in need of major upkeep. My guess is that aggrieved neighbor will sue offending neighbor but maybe there will be a different kind of backlash. Anyone out there in RCG-land got any ideas or thoughts on the subject?

Light Fixers – Before and After

As a follow up to Ardell’s post about finding those homes where the owners just didn’t take the time, or have the money/energy to bring the home to retail condition, I’d like to share a few before and after photos. These two sets of photo are from light fixers my wife and I rehabbed last year (our first two, actually). We put about $15K total into each property, and each sold within a week of listing.


This first set of photos shows the before and after condition of the kitchen in a small rambler up in northeast Marysville. We used the existing cabinets, adding new pulls and hinges for a simple update. New paint, vinyl flooring, appliances and fixtures rounded out the upgrade.

This second set of photos shows how a little paint (and some nice staging) can go a long ways. This home is in Shoreline.



If we had chosen to do the work ourselves, we could have cut down total rehab costs to close to $10K. Now, on the other hand, as a preview for a future post on major rehabs, here’s a final before and after (total costs for this job in the $120K range). This one is on the market right now, but in the spirit of neutrality, I’m going to hold off on discussing this in detail until after it’s sold.