Strict Condo-building Laws… Can REALTORS Change Them?

In my area, there are many young, hip techies who work for one of the large tech companies that call the Seattle area home.  These people want new, updated, gadget-full homes, but don’t necessarily want a large home or yard.  Condominiums are what they are looking for, and new ones at that; but, I literally have nothing to show them in our area.

Within the last 10 years, the condominium building laws have become so stringent that builders are guaranteed to be sued, and builders are finding it isn’t worth the litigation costs, so they build apartment buildings instead.

The REALTOR association is working hard to change those laws so that builders will want to take on condominium projects again.  This article from nwrealtor.com discusses this push:

Condo work moves forward after inertia-building year

Condos that open homeownership options to buyers are a much-needed missing piece of inventory in our market. Due to Washington’s laws around constructing them, however, they’re just not being built.

The good news is that the condo ball is rolling – and picking up speed. REALTORS® have plans to keep fighting for condo law reform to create more inventory and bring our market back into balance.

Washington REALTORS® Government Affairs Director Nathan Gorton and CEO Steve Francks stopped by our Government Affairs Committee meeting earlier this month to share these exciting updates on the Association’s refreshed efforts to create laws that support condo construction and ownership.

Francks took a few moments to impress the significance of this issue upon the committee. “This is a hugely important issue at the state level,” said Francks. “And on a personal note, I am concerned that my kids aren’t going to be willing or able to move back up here and fulfill the American dream of homeownership.”

Between now and January 2019, expect to see several initiatives move forward, including the forging of new relationships with legislators in leadership roles for support and the creation of a coalition of REALTORS®, attorneys, and insurers. Optimistic about the coalition’s potential, Gorton highlighted how REALTORS® are uniquely positioned to advocate for these changes because of their perspective. “REALTORS® can see all sides of this because our interests include both increasing supply with new construction and protecting consumers,” said Gorton.

For REALTORS® that want to get off the sidelines and help, Gorton provided clear action steps.

  • Talk to your legislators about the lack of affordable homeownership options in your district.
  • Compile stories about clients who should be homeowners but can’t make it work in this market – and send them our way. “All of you have stories about clients who should be homeowners but aren’t because they can’t afford anything. Share those stories,” said Gorton.
  • Write letters to the editor about affordable homeownership challenges.
  • Invite a legislator to tour your office and use that opportunity to talk with them face-to-face about the challenges your clients are facing.

REALTORS® can’t succeed in their business without homes to sell. Seattle King County REALTORS® will continue to keep you in the loop on our efforts to close the condo gap in our market.

Still not convinced that we have a serious supply issue, and that more condos would help? The Seattle Times recently began a column explaining what’s going on with our housing market. Read the first post here.

Posted on May 27, 2018 at 8:33 pm
Annie Hyatt | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,