Equinox: What’s Included?

A concerned buyer has emailed in the following based on their experience with Equinox. It raises a number of good questions about what you can expect based on your purchase and sale and what you can’t. Do any other readers have similar stories to share?

I purchased a unit at Equinox Condos in Eastlake on the first day of sales back in March of 2007. In the weeks leading up to the purchase, I visited the sales center several times and dealt with two agents, who were the onsite sales team working for Windermere. I’ve run into some serious issues with the developer, Schnitzer Northwest. I have tried to find resolution to these issues by working amicably with the new sales team (still Windermere, but new staff) but without result.

On one occasion, I happened to stop by while the representative of the developer Schnitzer Northwest, was at the sales center. I introduced myself and commented how much I liked the location and looked forward to purchasing my first home. She asked me what I thought about the interior and I indicated that I had a few concerns, namely the color scheme choices and the bathroom fixtures. As some of you may know, Equinox had at that time a pretty spartan sales center and the bathroom vignette did not have (and still lacks) a toilet. The mock bathroom also had two sinks and a vertical cabinet tower extending from the counter to the ceiling. I asked if there was a toilet included with the unit, and she laughed and insisted there would be. Additionally, I specifically asked if the tower (see photo) was included as a standard amenity, and she said “Yes, it is.”

306791388 k5ww5 S Equinox: Whats Included?

Now, it appears that is no longer the case and buyers are asked to pay over $1000 for this “standard amenity”. The dual sink feature is only included with larger units, which I knew in advance and can certainly understand.

Another concern was that if a buyer chose one of the three kitchen color schemes, then they automatically got a certain bathroom color scheme and a certain flooring color scheme. I indicated that I wasn’t a fan of the choices and wanted to change the bathroom countertop and the floor tile with another color scheme. I was told that nothing was set in stone yet, and that while it was not an advertised benefit, it would definitely be possible to change some color options at no cost. I was happy to hear this, as I didn’t want to have to pay extra for changes nor did I want to close on the unit only to turn around and rip out the flooring and countertops to be switched.

The purchase & sale agreement was signed on the first day of sales, and life went on. In April 2008, buyers were notified by email that the color selection process would take place in May, and options would be made available at that time as well. Such options include premium wood flooring (the standard flooring is a bit thinner), premium appliances, and … whats this… Color Customization! Lo and behold, the developer had decided that the swapping of color schemes would now run $900+. Imagine my surprise when I called to inquire about this, and was assured all buyers wishing to swap the color choice (even though none of these materials have even been ordered up to this point) would have to pay this fee. I informed the sales team that I was told by both the developer and onsite agent at the time that it would not be at additional cost, and the developer representative responded to them that I was incorrect.

These are just a few of the issues I’ve had with double-talk and deception by Schnitzer Northwest. I’m curious if other readers/buyers have had similar experiences with Equinox. This business of “Its not in the contract, so its not included” leads me to wonder things like… Well, the contract also doesn’t say my unit will have a unit# posted on my front door, but I assumed that was included… and I also assumed that if someone looked you in the face at a sales center and said something was standard, it really was. Is this how Schnitzer does business? Have people had these issues at Gallery or Brix? I can’t believe the lack of integrity I’ve witnessed.

About Matt

Matt , Urbnlivn's publisher, has a love for lofts with industrial features and new construction condos that is only eclipsed by his passion for outdoor sports and urban living. Phrases such as “polished concrete” and “exposed brick” are music to his ears. You can also find Matt on Twitter or skiing.

  • The MD

    Concerned Buyer,

    Unfortunately, this is indeed the case with most all of Seattle’s representing agents (buyer and seller both). Double talk is the name of the game here in this city, and EVERYTHING must be in writing for anything to “stick.” Never have I witnessed such unprofessional representation in ANY large city in the U.S. Generally speaking, realtors in Seattle are lazy, non-committal, and frankly just poorly educated b.s.ers. Real estate practices in way of new condo purchasing here are sickening, disgusting, and unethical. I would recommend you reporting this incident to the Washington State Realtor’s Board for documentation purposes. Then I would continue the word-of-mouth approach you have taken to ensure all ill informed buyers are aware of the the tacky business tactics you have encountered with this firm.

    If you cannot tell already, I have encountered several of these kinds of situations you have encountered through the course of purchasing new construction condos here in Seattle. Reading your post infuriates me all over again and I completely empathize with you. My advise? Fight this one on the sake of principle and for the betterment of buyer representation in the future.

  • The MD

    Concerned Buyer,

    Unfortunately, this is indeed the case with most all of Seattle’s representing agents (buyer and seller both). Double talk is the name of the game here in this city, and EVERYTHING must be in writing for anything to “stick.” Never have I witnessed such unprofessional representation in ANY large city in the U.S. Generally speaking, realtors in Seattle are lazy, non-committal, and frankly just poorly educated b.s.ers. Real estate practices in way of new condo purchasing here are sickening, disgusting, and unethical. I would recommend you reporting this incident to the Washington State Realtor’s Board for documentation purposes. Then I would continue the word-of-mouth approach you have taken to ensure all ill informed buyers are aware of the the tacky business tactics you have encountered with this firm.

    If you cannot tell already, I have encountered several of these kinds of situations you have encountered through the course of purchasing new construction condos here in Seattle. Reading your post infuriates me all over again and I completely empathize with you. My advise? Fight this one on the sake of principle and for the betterment of buyer representation in the future.

  • The MD

    P.S. If it makes you feel any better, here’s my take on the realtors of Seattle – Think “Used Car Sales Person,” less the 9th-grade education. For the women relators, add in overly injected lips and horribly placed breast implants, sometimes a facelift or six, too-glossy of a manicure, and a general blank look in their eyes. For the men, add in a cheap Men’s Wearhouse suit, scruffy loafers, a bit of a beer gut, red nose, and a general blank look in their eyes. Yeah, now you get the picture. These are the people behind our contracts. These are the contracts for what is typically the largest purchase in any one person’s life. Frightening? Oh yeah…

  • The MD

    P.S. If it makes you feel any better, here’s my take on the realtors of Seattle – Think “Used Car Sales Person,” less the 9th-grade education. For the women relators, add in overly injected lips and horribly placed breast implants, sometimes a facelift or six, too-glossy of a manicure, and a general blank look in their eyes. For the men, add in a cheap Men’s Wearhouse suit, scruffy loafers, a bit of a beer gut, red nose, and a general blank look in their eyes. Yeah, now you get the picture. These are the people behind our contracts. These are the contracts for what is typically the largest purchase in any one person’s life. Frightening? Oh yeah…

  • The MD

    Also, remember it takes like 12 weeks TOPS to become a realtor and receive a license. So, obviously it isn’t rocket science and has a tendency to attract the shallow end of the gene pool when it comes to intelligence.

  • The MD

    Also, remember it takes like 12 weeks TOPS to become a realtor and receive a license. So, obviously it isn’t rocket science and has a tendency to attract the shallow end of the gene pool when it comes to intelligence.

  • http://blog.seliger.com Jake

    “EVERYTHING must be in writing for anything to ‘stick.’ ”

    This is my impression: if it’s not in writing, it might as well not exist. Anything any representative tells you has to be at the very least in e-mail and ideally in your purchase contract — if it’s not, or if the contract leaves weasel room for changes, you’re at the mercy of the developer.

  • http://blog.seliger.com Jake

    “EVERYTHING must be in writing for anything to ‘stick.’ ”

    This is my impression: if it’s not in writing, it might as well not exist. Anything any representative tells you has to be at the very least in e-mail and ideally in your purchase contract — if it’s not, or if the contract leaves weasel room for changes, you’re at the mercy of the developer.

  • Foster

    With the market now a bit softer than before, its disappointing to see this building taking such shady practices. Ugh.

  • Foster

    With the market now a bit softer than before, its disappointing to see this building taking such shady practices. Ugh.

  • uptown

    If it ain’t in writing, don’t expect to get it.

    Also, it’s usually cheaper to do your own upgrades, even for things like carpet and wood floors. I know it doesn’t make sense, but check prices before you go through the “selection process”, as they will give you only a limited time to make the selection. I was told this by a friend, didn’t believe it, and then found out the hard way that it is cheaper to rip out the standard carpeting and have your own installed; rather than pay for the “upgrade”.

  • uptown

    If it ain’t in writing, don’t expect to get it.

    Also, it’s usually cheaper to do your own upgrades, even for things like carpet and wood floors. I know it doesn’t make sense, but check prices before you go through the “selection process”, as they will give you only a limited time to make the selection. I was told this by a friend, didn’t believe it, and then found out the hard way that it is cheaper to rip out the standard carpeting and have your own installed; rather than pay for the “upgrade”.

  • cosi

    Although mostly satisfied with our purchase experience at Brix, I must admit the ‘upgrade’ process was pretty much the same as you describe for Equinox.

    This being our first time purchasing a to-be-built property, we just assumed all the surprise fees, hidden costs and weird decor choice restrictions (why can’t we choose the light colored cabinets to go with our light hardwood floors?) were just the way things are with new construction condos. We were surprised we even had to pay an upgrade fee to have water stubbed to the refrigerator for an icemaker). And on top of all, there suddenly appeared a whopping “Administration fee” – which seems to go up exponentially the more upgrades you purchase.
    And of course this all must be paid immediately up front.

    Again, not a huge problem or deal-breaker for us, but in retrospect I wish the upgrade process had been communicated better from the beginning.

    Williams Marketing could save themselves a lot of customer grief if they would schedule a very detailed “Upgrade Seminar” listing upfront all costs and fees well before upgrade selections are due.

  • cosi

    Although mostly satisfied with our purchase experience at Brix, I must admit the ‘upgrade’ process was pretty much the same as you describe for Equinox.

    This being our first time purchasing a to-be-built property, we just assumed all the surprise fees, hidden costs and weird decor choice restrictions (why can’t we choose the light colored cabinets to go with our light hardwood floors?) were just the way things are with new construction condos. We were surprised we even had to pay an upgrade fee to have water stubbed to the refrigerator for an icemaker). And on top of all, there suddenly appeared a whopping “Administration fee” – which seems to go up exponentially the more upgrades you purchase.
    And of course this all must be paid immediately up front.

    Again, not a huge problem or deal-breaker for us, but in retrospect I wish the upgrade process had been communicated better from the beginning.

    Williams Marketing could save themselves a lot of customer grief if they would schedule a very detailed “Upgrade Seminar” listing upfront all costs and fees well before upgrade selections are due.

  • Jim

    Despite the negative comments posted regarding realtors, there are some very savvy, educated and customer service focused agents out there. Whenever you are dealing with a new construction project, you should interview and hire (at no cost to you by the way) a good agent to represent you in the purchase…using the on-site agents regardless of whom they are employed by is always a bad plan. Their loyalty must be to the seller (or developer in this case). A good buyers agent would have been there with you each time you visited the model and after the discussions you had with the developer’s rep, would have included a Form 34 addendum stating that the bathroom choices/amenities (spelled out exactly) would be included in the original purchase price…this addendum would have been signed by the seller/developer in order to have mutual acceptance. Regardless of whatever new policies they developed in future (and they always do!)…you would have been protected and would have received the requested items, or a credit at closing if they for some reason could not deliver on them. Dual agency is almost always a bad policy especially for buyers. Sorry this has happened, but hope readers who are interested in any new projects will take this to heart.

  • Jim

    Despite the negative comments posted regarding realtors, there are some very savvy, educated and customer service focused agents out there. Whenever you are dealing with a new construction project, you should interview and hire (at no cost to you by the way) a good agent to represent you in the purchase…using the on-site agents regardless of whom they are employed by is always a bad plan. Their loyalty must be to the seller (or developer in this case). A good buyers agent would have been there with you each time you visited the model and after the discussions you had with the developer’s rep, would have included a Form 34 addendum stating that the bathroom choices/amenities (spelled out exactly) would be included in the original purchase price…this addendum would have been signed by the seller/developer in order to have mutual acceptance. Regardless of whatever new policies they developed in future (and they always do!)…you would have been protected and would have received the requested items, or a credit at closing if they for some reason could not deliver on them. Dual agency is almost always a bad policy especially for buyers. Sorry this has happened, but hope readers who are interested in any new projects will take this to heart.

  • Adam

    I see how the reader can feel taken advantage of. It is a sickening feeling that people in my city get treated this way. As someone born and raised in the Seattle area, I feel queasy that developers take advantage of my new neighbors like the author of this article. On a positive note people can vent on sites like this and we all will be better off avoiding real estate agents like those at Windermere and the developer’s representative. I like the golden rule here. They will get treated the same way they are treating others.

  • Adam

    I see how the reader can feel taken advantage of. It is a sickening feeling that people in my city get treated this way. As someone born and raised in the Seattle area, I feel queasy that developers take advantage of my new neighbors like the author of this article. On a positive note people can vent on sites like this and we all will be better off avoiding real estate agents like those at Windermere and the developer’s representative. I like the golden rule here. They will get treated the same way they are treating others.

  • Guest

    I’ve been in construction management for years. Whether you are building something for yourself, or buying from a builder, everything must be in writing.

    Don’t be so naive.

    And, if you want a safe first time investment, do not buy new construction. It is always top, top dollar. Buy something that is a few years or more old. Plus, you get to look into the facts about the Homeowners Board, which with a builder developer, you don’t have one yet.

    New is risky in my opinion.

  • mike mcc

    I’ve been in construction management for years. Whether you are building something for yourself, or buying from a builder, everything must be in writing.

    Don’t be so naive.

    And, if you want a safe first time investment, do not buy new construction. It is always top, top dollar. Buy something that is a few years or more old. Plus, you get to look into the facts about the Homeowners Board, which with a builder developer, you don’t have one yet.

    New is risky in my opinion.

  • Guest

    MD, you might want to learn to spell before you make fun of others.

  • mike mcc

    MD, you might want to learn to spell before you make fun of others.

  • jo

    Eh, the agents at marketing companies aren’t real estate agents, they are sales people. They’ll say anything to get you to sign that piece of paper.

    I’ve had similar things pulled on me and don’t have anyone but to blame but myself.

    I hate to look at them with the same suspicion I do a car salesman (most of them are really nice people), but that’s what you need to do to protect yourself.

    Get. It. In. Writing.

  • jo

    Eh, the agents at marketing companies aren’t real estate agents, they are sales people. They’ll say anything to get you to sign that piece of paper.

    I’ve had similar things pulled on me and don’t have anyone but to blame but myself.

    I hate to look at them with the same suspicion I do a car salesman (most of them are really nice people), but that’s what you need to do to protect yourself.

    Get. It. In. Writing.

  • newbuyer

    bossman,

    Is there any word on what is happening with Equinox? Just curious.

  • newbuyer

    bossman,

    Is there any word on what is happening with Equinox? Just curious.