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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Folks-

I'm researching the benefits of buying a slip in a condominium marina. The purpose is not to live aboard. It is to control my otherwise non-recoverable moorage expenses as I move up in size. I currently have a C&C 30 Mk II. Moorage in Seattle currently runs roughly $300/mo for something this size.

Eventually, I want something in the 40(ish) ft range. As we all know, moorage becomes exponentially more expensive as you move up in size.

I would appreciate any comments on plusses, minuses, and things to watch out for.

Interestingly, I did a forum search and nothing on the subject came up. I'm kind of surprised at that.

Thanks,
Doug Powers
S/V Totoro
Seattle, WA
 

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I looked into buying a slip versus seasonal contracts and could not justify the expense over a 10 year period. Our season is only May to October if stretched, so it depends on many factors.

Are you permanent or may you possibly relocate? Companies are still helping with the selling of homes if you are a valued employee, but boat slips are another issue. The market is much more limited and even more dependent on the economy.

Taxes are a given as it is property....most likely valued at what you pay for it and not what the previous owner paid for it 5-10-or 20 years ago.

Assessments can be a big surprise. The association decides to put in a new breakwall or new docks...you all split the cost.

However, if you are staying in the area with no chance of moving, and know you like the location and people, there will probably not be a better time to buy then now. I would not do it as an investment any more than buy a boat for an investment.
 

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II would appreciate any comments on plusses, minuses, and things to watch out for.
I just started renting a slip in Gig Harbor for a 40 foot boat that I hope to own and have delivered this month. I started renting it now because there are not many slips in the area for a boat this size.

I'm renting a slip from a guy who bought a condo slip maybe 10 years ago. He now lives in Texas, but is collecting 378/month from me now. At the time, I'm sure he felt it was a huge expense, but at this point, he is probably very happy to have it.

With the economy the way it is, you can probably buy a slip for less than you can for a long time. Moorage in Puget Sound is more readily available right now, but it is still a limited commodity.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Dave-

I have not made it to Gig Harbor. We have never been south of Vashon. I hear it's wonderful.

Since you're local..... I'm looking at the Semiahmoo resort in Blaine. We live in Seattle now and have been leaning to an eventual relo to Bellingham 10 - 15 yrs in the future. Yes, we're a bit anal about plannning! Our professional situations don't make a relo possible now.

right now you can get a 44 ft slip for less than $30k. That's the asking price so, obviously, negotiable. There are several slips ranging from 34 ft ($19k) to 50 ft ($80ish). I think one could get some great deals right now as some slips have been listed for quite some time. I'm not clear on the condo fees. That could be a deal-breaker. I have owned sailboats consistently for over 20 years and, barring circumstances beyond my control, that's not likely to change.

Much like the decision to buy or rent a home, it all comes down to cashflow. We're headed to Vancouver for a wedding at the end of August. I'm going to stop by and check it out. I like the idea of 32 NM to Ganges or Friday Harbor!

I think, also a big consideration will be the popularity of the Marina. I wouldn't move our boat there immediately. We have a pretty good deal here. Rather, I would rent it out for now.

Thanks to everyone for their points so far.
 

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Since you're local..... I'm looking at the Semiahmoo resort in Blaine. We live in Seattle now and have been leaning to an eventual relo to Bellingham 10 - 15 yrs in the future. Yes, we're a bit anal about plannning! Our professional situations don't make a relo possible now.
My wife and I have considered buying a condo in Bellingham just because we like it so much up there. Blaine would be a great place to have a boat since it is so close to some very nice cruising grounds. I do like the Sound Sound though as it is close to me and there are lots of places for weekend trips.

I'd pencil out the costs and see. Initially, it will more expensive to purchase, but over time you may find that it is cheaper to own. Down here, it is about $9.00 a foot for moorage (slips for those not in the PNW). A lot on whether you can pay cash for the slip or have to borrow for it and what the condo fees are. However, $30k for a 45ft slip sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Dave
 

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I only wish I could buy a slip, in So. Cal. there are no slips for sale and I have watched my slip fees raised almost every year. I am now paying $14.00 a foot and was paying $9.00 a foot in 2000. There are morings but it is hard to beat a slip after a rough sail as the sun sets on you. Buy Buy Buy. I wish I could.
Brad
 

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Watch out for property taxes...
And maintenance and capital repair/replacement assessments! Sometimes these are quite sizable. Ensure you read the CC&R's carefully and that you do understand what you are reading.

If rentals are permitted, in theory one could buy an overlarge slip that might be needed at a future time and then lease it and use the lease proceeds to cover the monthly carrying costs of the larger slip and some of the costs of renting a smaller slip. Since the "rental" would be a business, you would be able to deduct the operating expenses (i.e. maintnenance and capital assessments), taxes; and, interest on any financing you might use and come out roughly even or even slightly ahead.

FWIW...
 

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at first i thought you were crazy, i looked at a 30' slip on lake union and they wanted 250k. i figured i'd have to stay there something like 70 years before it made sense over renting at shilshole marina. but 20-30k in belingham? that sounds awesome!
 

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at first i thought you were crazy, i looked at a 30' slip on lake union and they wanted 250k. i figured i'd have to stay there something like 70 years before it made sense over renting at shilshole marina. but 20-30k in belingham? that sounds awesome!
The problem is that it isn't in Bellingham, but at Semiahmoo near Blaine. While the marina is in Drayton Harbor, you are right on the Strait of Georgia. While this is convenient to the San Juans, it can be pretty exposed with some pretty rough weather.
 

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Wow, I'm reading these numbers like $9 or $14/foot and my eyes are bugging out... are these per month, per season, or per year? I'm paying $168/foot for the summer season and $40/foot for the winter season! I wish I could buy a 40 foot slip for $30k, it would pay for itself in about 4 years.
 

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Wow, I'm reading these numbers like $9 or $14/foot and my eyes are bugging out... are these per month, per season, or per year? I'm paying $168/foot for the summer season and $40/foot for the winter season! I wish I could buy a 40 foot slip for $30k, it would pay for itself in about 4 years.
Remember that in the PNW, we only have one season, wet. So $9.00/ft is per month, all year round.
 

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rmeador said:
Wow, I'm reading these numbers like $9 or $14/foot and my eyes are bugging out... are these per month, per season, or per year?
In the Tampa Bay area that would be the price per month. On top of that you would add taxes, charges for water and electric, and a live-aboard fee (if you live aboard).

So, does your $168/foot for the summer season cover the WHOLE season? Or is that a monthly fee for the duration of the summer season?
 

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The $168/foot is for the entire summer season, which is 6 months. It includes water and electricity. There is an extra $90/month liveaboard fee at my marina in the summer. The winter fee of $40/foot is for the entire winter, includes water (always available at the slip year round) but not electricity (because many liveaboards use space heaters they meter electric separately), and there is no liveaboard fee in the winter.
 

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I don't understand why "Condo Slips" are so expensive. On my local mountain lake (Big Bear) they go for $40k+/year plus $400/year association fees.

I can rent a mooring buoy for $700/year (seven month season). If I bought a Condo Slip for $40k, it wouldn't pay for itself compared to renting for 133 years!
 

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casioqv, you're forgetting the slip itself is an asset. If you can buy it today for $40k, you can probably sell it later for more, in which case your net cost is even less than the $400/yr association fee. If, as in the current economy, prices are actually lower when you sell it, if you're not loosing too much money you're potentially still ahead of the $700/yr rent price. Plus you get a slip in stead of a mooring, which has value to some people.
 

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casioqv, you're forgetting the slip itself is an asset.
I realize that, but the association fee is a total loss, and it's more than half the price of renting.

With a regular house or condo the prices are such that a normal monthly rent amount will fully purchase the house in 15-30 years, while the buyer is still potentially alive.

With these dock-ominium slips priced so high relative to renting, you can never come out ahead until you sell it- and then only if you're lucky and it's retained it's value. If the place has become less popular/mis-managed/poorly maintained/etc. it could potentially lose all it's value.

It's hard to imagine any scenario where you wouldn't have greater profit potential and less risk renting the slip, and choosing a better investment for the money you would have spent to purchase one.
 

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A few years back, I bought a 50-foot covered moorage in a condo slip on the southwest shore of Lake Washington, in Seattle (Parkshore Marina). Monthly condo dues are about $100 (versus over $500 to rent a covered 50-foot slip elsewhere). Plus, the slip has appreciated enough since 2005 that if I sold it, I'd recoup all my condo dues paid to date, plus make a nice little profit.

My feeling is that if you can find a condo slip to buy, do it (at least for the Pacific Northwest). How many new marinas are opening each year? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get all the permits to build a marina? It took the developers of the Elliott Bay Marina over 20 years; and environmental laws, rules and regulations have only gotten harsher since that was finished. In 2003, there was a severe storm and the City of Seattle marina at Rainier Beach was severely damaged; the City didn't rebuild it but tore it out and made a salmon preserve. That took about 70 moorages off the market, and you can bet it will happen again at other marinas that suffer major damage (think boathouse fires - they let them rebuild the Seattle Yacht Club docks, but that may not happen again).

Things to be careful about - as one poster noted, read and understand the condo CCR's - Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. Also find out if there are any underlying contingencies that could result in your losing your slip. For example, the Duwamish Yacht Club slips are subject to a contingent sale contract under which the Delta Marine shipyard, just upriver, can execute a right to purchase the entire marina some time in the 2020's. I don't know the details, and whether they'll have to pay market value to each slip owner, but it scares me enough to keep me from buying there. And as you get closer to the buyout trigger date, I think prices will go down and down.

Also, the Newport Shores Marina in Bellevue, although you "buy" the slip, you actually buy some sort of funky 75-year license to use that originated in 1978 - meaning you lose your slip in 2053. As you get closer and closer to that date, you lose resale value. Also, ownership at Newport Shores requires that you join the Newport Shores Yacht Club, with a $2,000 initiation fee and monthly dues of $50.

Another thing to be sure of is that any marina you buy in owns the land under the docks - some rent it from the Washington Department of Natural Resources - and you could get kicked out if the DNR decides not to renew a lease, for whatever politically-popular environmental reason.

As to Semiahmoo, I'd be very careful if that marina's on tribal land. You won't own anything, except a license to use or a lease. For example, the community of Shelter Bay, near LaConner, is on the Swinomish Reservation. The homeowners own their homes, but the land below is subject to a master lease that expires in 2044. If not renewed, the lease provides that the homeowners may remove (but not destroy) their homes, but the land reverts to the tribe at that time. I don't know whether Semiahmoo is on tribal land (I've seen references that it's "traditional Lummi land" and further references that the Upper Skagit Tribe has invested in the development, but I don't know if the land can be held in fee-simple.

In sum, I know I've been happy owning my slip, and think that it was a good investment. Another possibility to consider, if it's within the realm of reason, is buying a waterfront house with a dock. Given what's happened recently with real estate prices, this may be an viable alternative.
 

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Location, location, location....There is a good reason it's cheap. Have had friends out there, far from most things you's want in a community.
 
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