Condo reform on hold – for now

A bill that would revise the Washington Condominium Act to create opportunities for developers to work with homeowners’ associations on fixing construction defects instead of facing lawsuits did not make it to the House floor last week. Seattle King County REALTORS®, Habitat for Humanity, the East King County Chambers Coalition, the Building Industry Association of Washington, and other developers and affordable housing advocates all supported the bipartisan bill.

Seattle King County REALTORS® President Shane Davies testified in support of the bill in front of the House Judiciary Committee in January, saying that condos are the crucial affordable inventory “missing piece” in the market for first-time homebuyers and other buyers looking for an alternative to single-family homeownership.

Rep. Tana Senn, who sponsored HB 2831, cited certain opposition in the Senate as the reason behind the bill’s downfall. The most vocal opponent in the Senate is Sen. Jamie Pedersen, who spoke out this week against the bill, saying he believes the issue lies with the Condo Act warranties and is not a liability problem.

“We’ve had multiple cycles of boom and bust in condo development since (1990), and it’s not the (Condo Act) warranties that are to blame,” said Sen. Pedersen, as reported in the Puget Sound Business Journal. “Ultimately, I think you need to fix the (Condo Act) warranties themselves,” he continued.

Despite the legislative roadblocks, Seattle King County REALTORS® are looking ahead and have already initiated a conversation with Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, who stated his support for the legislative efforts to address the lack of housing options for consumers. REALTORS® will continue to advocate for workable solutions and are hopeful that further bipartisan efforts in the next legislative session will prove successful.