Keller Williams Greater Seattle, Ben Kakimoto, Seattle Condo Agent

Moda Apartments

Just received confirmation from one of the principals behind the Moda Condominium project in Belltown. The project, which will be completed in just a few months, will in fact be converted to apartments.

Moda received quite a bit of attention when it first came on the market as most of the units sold out during the first weekend of pre-sales. Though, recently, a number of those early adopter opted out as the finished product was smaller than they anticipated and those homes were small to begin with. (Update: according to a comment from buyer, the letter that Moda sent out indicated that many people had backed out.)

Terrible news for those who wanted an affordable option for downtown homeownership. Fortunately, this could be a boon for Marselle (near the Seattle Center) which anticipates price points to begin at a lower price-per-square foot than Moda.

Update 8/13: Seattle PI got around to it…interesting comment here:

“The market and the financing conditions for condominiums have really taken a drastic turn,” said developer G. David Hoy, head of HMI Real Estate Inc. “The vast majority of (Moda’s) buyers decided not to proceed with the purchase of their unit.”

Some buyers found they could no longer get a loan, particularly for second homes or investment units, while others just got cold feet, Hoy said. “Because the vast majority have bailed out on us, we have no choice now but to turn it into a rental.”

Update 9/8:
Moda units have hit the Seattlerentals.com website, and they’re incredibly pricey.

If you’re looking to experience Belltown living, there are better rental deals with rental condo units.

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About the Author

About the Author: Ben Kakimoto is a Seattle condo and urban real estate marketing & listing specialist. Contact Ben to learn more about the Seattle condo and loft real estate market or about buying or selling a Seattle area condo. Find Ben on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. .

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There Are 21 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Joe says:

    This is going on a lot with Boston apartments. There was a condominum project called Harborview in the Charlestown navyyard in Boston that went apartment — as well as another called the Avenir, which Archstone properties took over. I guess its a good idea, make some money and then wait to sell at the right time.

  2. AS says:

    I thought this project was supposed to be sold out?

  3. monte says:

    i wondering if anyone else is upset as i was when i found out they rescind the offer to convert as i was ready to move in. I’ve already purchased some new furniture and got rid of my older and larger furniture in preparation for hte move. not very happy here,considering litigating. Please contact me at montchou@hotmail.com if interested

  4. Jon says:

    Monte,

    You’re probably better off considering they are converting the units to apartments. This tells me they either overspent during the construction to the point where it became almost a loss in the building (therefore, creating a builder that doesn’t have deep pockets to fix things down the road) or they were lying about how many units they sold (which you don’t want to move into a vacant building). Financing is extremely tough, and even though they said they didn’t want investors, my guess is that a few more people than they realized were investors as well.

    Either way, you are better off just forgetting Moda ever exsisted and find a condo in another building downtown… helping soak up some excess inventory, and creating a stronger market as a whole.

    Buildings to think about, depending on your budget: Belltown Court, Royal Crest, Alexandria, Veer Lofts (South Lake Union), and Carrara (Lower Queen Anne).

    Jon

  5. kent says:

    Monte,

    Check your Purchase Sale Agreement closely. They almost always give the developer an out if enough units are not sold. Jon is right, you are better off not being in a mostly empty building. This project looks like it was really mis-managed. How do you miss so badly on sq ft? Based on units sold, it looks like Rollins Flats may be next to convert.

  6. Grace says:

    Hi, I am a condo owner, but I am now actually looking for an apartment to rent. Does anyone have any information on pricing/availability of Moda or any similar condo to apartment conversions?

    Thx!

  7. Ben_Kakimoto says:

    Grace – per info from a DJC article today, Moda has not yet set rental prices. The only other condo-to-apartment that is currently leasing is Axis (formerly Expo62). You can view pricing here.

    The next condo-to-apartments to be completed will be Landes on First Hill, which will be leasing by the end of the year.

  8. Jen says:

    Monte, Jon, Kent –

    I don’t know if you guys are aware, but the housing market is really slow. It isn’t about the developer making mistakes, or not having deep enough pockets; it is about buyers who can no longer qualify for loans, banks that can’t afford to support housing loans, current owners who no longer have the equity in their 1st homes to act as collateral for the 2nds, and the new homeowner who is afraid of market downturns.

    This is the downside of the pre-sale; any buyer who wasn’t 100% ready (as you, Monte clearly were), will take the slightest reason to back out of the sale.

    If the developer didn’t have deep enough pockets, they wouldn’t be able to hold the property as apartments – they would have to have a fire sale for the property itself.

  9. kent says:

    Good points Jen. And I realize the market is slow, but it still seems like the developer caused some of his own undoing. When a complex sells out in a weekend as was reported, you can’t do better than that. Then to provide a beautiful escape clause to buyers by not getting the square footage right is something I have not seen before. And waiting until the closing process starts without disclosing these discrepancies is inexcusable. Seem like they were hoping no one would notice. Backing out of a sale and getting deposits back was made way too easy by the developer. While I think you are right about some buyers not qualifying for loans, it seemed like there were many others ready to close.

  10. Maryellen says:

    All good points, however I also think something fishy is up..this was all to easy.. sell out 3 days, loop hole with sqrft..40 units on market at last min.. then they were not available for sale the next week, told they sold out again…I’m wondering if this was an opportunity for asmart investor to use others time and money for 2 years to complete project, then bait and switch at the end for investiment group. to get easy financing, and get around the city growth planning codes…

  11. Grace says:

    Thank you, Ben! Very Helpful.

  12. Robert says:

    Does anyone know when they will set the prices for Moda Apartments?

  13. Ben_Kakimoto says:

    Updated the post with Moda rental prices. Ouch.
    Thanks Ashley.

  14. Robert says:

    thats’ crazy!

  15. annonymous says:

    Don’t waste your time or money, Moda is way overpriced and built very cheaply. The building is still new but so dirty it looks like an old motel. Things are falling apart already such as nails coming out of the walls. No screens on the windows, sliding glass door locks do not work, and have not been fixed despite multiple reports to the management. ETC, ETC, ETC

    like I said, do not waste your time or money!

  16. Tyrone says:

    Not sure why people are so quick to point the finger at the construction management side of things.

    I was actually positioned to purchase a unit but of course that fell through when they converted to appartments.

    Here’s a quick and dirty summary.
    – Quickly Sold – When the units were initially sold, they sold so quickly because they were priced so well compared to comparable units, new or existing construction. Buyer driven demand.
    – Sq Footage – the square footage of the building was determined based on the drawings for the site before construction broke ground, which means the City of Seattle can walk in at any time and tell you to alter something in order to get permits for the next phase of construction. It is just how it is.
    – Market Colapse – Okay, the units sold in 3 days so we know the demand is there. The market colapse meant there is more stringent requirements on buyers by the banks in order to qualify for financing. This is not the developer. This is not something on the part of the buyers who did anything wrong. It is the economic environment as things ‘really’ are.
    – conversion to condos – who wants to live in an 80% empty building even if you do own a condo unit. This is rediculous. The sheer economics of it is plain and simple, money in vs. money out must be in balance. In order to maintain the building, ammenities, etc. they would have to do something in order to keep the building well maintained.

    I looked at the models for an appartment the other day and am considering moving in.

    Not quite sure what the person in the above comment meant by ‘run-down’.
    The furnishings in the units are quite nice. Brand new marble counter tops, matching stainless steel appliances and they have a nice roof top deck with BBQ; wet bar; outdoor fire place and an off-leash pet area (who knew that possible). They also have 24 hour security.

    I’ll likely sign depending on whether work requires me to relocate within the next year or not.

    Pretty nice building.

  17. annonymous-resident says:

    I agree with the post two up on the run down nature of the complex. The management has let the building go in the past 8 months it has been open. once you move in you too will notice where corners were cut and dollars saved to turn this place over as fast as possible. Management has been notified of all the problems from multiple residents, yet they overlook them all and turn a blind eye.

    Security is not 24 hours, there is in fact no security except a response unit that works for multiple buildings in the Belltown area.

  18. Frank says:

    A lot of condo buildings in Boston are converting into apartments too. The same thing with other major cities. I heard in San Diego there are 1200 condos all new just sitting there in downtown san diego alone. I also read an article on Boston Apartments saying many of the new condo developments are planning on going condo just for now. I bet things will pick up soon and definitely start selling again.

  19. Sally says:

    This is going on everywhere now. My guess is it will continue to go on until the market picks up. A lot of condo owners obviously dont want to sit empty. I read on Back Bay Apartments there were about 5-6 condo buildings that went straight to apartment buildings, which will built capital under sales pick up.

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