WELCOME TO PRICE POINT, our newest real estate column (totally not inspired by some nameless HGTV show) that looks at two very different homes with very similar prices. This week, we’re setting our sights on $600,000. With that budget, would you choose the West Seattle rambler or the downtown condo?
Home 1: An adorable West Seattle abode with room to grow
Just inside the city limits in Arbor Heights, this three-bedroom house has more space than it lets on. The place has had a lot of love over the years, making it a little more amenity-rich than other 1940s homes around it, including an addition with a large bedroom and en-suite bath. The cozy living room lets the sun in via skylight. A 670-square-foot basement (perhaps the home’s original footprint?) adds a third bathroom, plenty of utility space, and even more room to grow.
The extra space in the basement helps, but the house still does a remarkable job with the 900 square feet upstairs. The two smaller bedrooms (including one very cute-sized one) sit down a hallway with a full bath. The kitchen feels big for the space and style it's working with, and bridges to a tiled mudroom by the back door. The backyard itself has a large parking pad that connects to the next street over, giving the place kind of a second front door, plus a shed and tons of space to spread out.
There's no ideal West Seattle car-commuting situation right now, but it’s just off Roxbury, so it’s not too deep inside the "island." The proximity to Roxbury gives it nice transit access, too, with the C Line, 120, and 21 all within a few blocks.
Listing Fast Facts
List price: $592,000
Location: Arbor Heights/10012 31st Ave SW
Size: 900 square feet (plus a 670-square-foot basement) on 5,850 square feet
Year built: 1942
Listing agent: Aaron Rysemus, Windermere
Home 2: A downtown condo with 19th-floor views
Soaring above Fifth and Madison, this one-bedroom corner unit in a LEED Gold building is an early example of the modern aesthetic now omnipresent in brand-new condo construction. The efficient, open-concept design features a small but window-lined living room, a kitchen, and an island with enough space to be a dining table on one side and counter space on the other. Though tidy, the layout still makes room for a dreamy walk-in closet. The 10.5-foot ceilings keep things feeling airy in the small space, while the bedroom has its own big windows and custom built-ins.
Its city view stretches southward through glossy high-rises to the Pac Med building in Beacon Hill. (If you’re looking for a water view you’re gonna have to shell out a few more dollars.)
It has all the amenities you would expect from a downtown tower, including a lounge, a gym, a dog run, a guest suite for visitors, and a greenery-lined outdoor space with barbecues and those water views. The appliances are significantly fancier. It even has private parking. That cuts both ways, though: The HOA dues are no joke.
The location is really the biggest thing to write about. In this corner of downtown, you’re right next to the library and just a couple of blocks from theaters. First Hill is a few blocks uphill. Transit to pretty much anywhere is plentiful. And while there are a bunch of hotels around, it’s not an especially touristy spot—it’s a quick jaunt to Pike Place Market when you need it, but you’re not elbowing out-of-towners to get to your front door.
The place has had one owner since it was built in 2008, which is a good sign. Back then, it sold for $525,000. Different times.
Listing Fast Facts
List price: $625,000
Location: Downtown/909 Fifth Ave, Unit 1905
Size: 807 square feet
Year built: 2008
Listing agent: Vera Koch, Windermere
On paper, these homes are roughly the same size and price—but there are wild variations to consider in both. The house is significantly bigger if you include the basement, and a whopping $841 in monthly HOA dues hike up the cost of condo living considerably.
Assuming there are no immediate maintenance issues, it’ll almost certainly cost less to live in the house both in monthly expenses (assuming comparable mortgages) and general cost of living. But for some, the house may feel too far out of the way, or the siren call of central living might be too strong.
Overall, this comparison is about lifestyle. Do you want to tinker, plant a garden, maybe get a few chickens? You’ll never have space for anything other than light fix-its at the condo. If you prefer to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city and don’t want to be individually responsible for your roof, the house is just not going to cut it. Either way, you do you.