Condo Living in Ballard

Although I work for a real estate firm that has for years focused on condo community sales, I never could understand why someone, when faced with the choice between a condo or a house at the same price, would choose the condo and forgo having yard space.  I’m a yard person.  I need privacy.  I like neighbors, but I want more than just wall space between them and me. 

I was asked to look into pricing a small one-bedroom house in Ballard this week, 550 sq ft.  There’s not many of these kinds of houses – most are two or more bedrooms, so it is difficult to find comparable properties, although I did find a couple.  But I think if this house were listed, it wouldn’t compete with other houses in the area – it would compete with the condos.  So, as Ballard has gone through a condo boom over the past few years, I thought I’d dig a little deeper into the two main condo options around there (There are many re-sale options too from communities built not too long ago).

HJARTA – 1530 NW Market Street.

You may have seen this one for awhile now, it has been on the market for some time and sat through some of the stale times by leasing out a few homes for awhile.  Hjarta’s Web site advertises one-bedroom condos from $249,950 and two and three-bedroom condos from $434,900.  The building has a rooftop garden, community room, workout room and yoga room.  It’s also built with sustainability and the environment in mind, although I don’t see a “Built Green” or other official logo to certify it – It was constructed with many green materials, and focuses on air quality, water management, and energy management.

Danielle – 5803 24th Ave NW.

This community is fairly new to the market and has just 31 homes.  Homes start in the low to mid-$200s, and there is a rooftop deck and high-end finishes.

What was it that made Ballard hit the condo market so hard, while neighborhoods like Phinney Ridge and Greenlake hung back? (and yes, I know that Greenlake and Phinney have condos too – just not nearly as many, or as big).  Well, zoning regulations played a role in that – you can build higher and bigger in downtown Ballard than you can in most other north Seattle neighborhoods.  Another big factor was the walkabilty – gives Hjarta a 95/100 for instance, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise” as everything you need is within easy reach.  That’s one of the highest scores in all of Seattle, downtown included.  Hmm, maybe this condo concept isn’t so terrible after all.

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