Buyer beware, your agent might not understand downtown parking

River Park Lofts
River Park Lofts – a parking spot is often included

One of the benefits of working with a real estate agent who has experience with downtown condos is that we know a lot about the parking situation and what questions to ask. Some condos come with a parking space and some do not. Some of the parking is in ramps and some of it is outside in parking lots.

If a parking comes with the unit ask to see it. Make sure that the number of the parking spot is in writing. It is also a good idea to check and see if the owner of the condo you are buying actually owns the parking space being sold with the unit. In some buildings, the parking spots will have a number and a separate tax ID number.

Some condo owners park in surface lots that are not owned by the condo association. They have a contract with the company that manages the lot.

I can think of at least one building that had a parking lot. The land is still there but it isn’t a parking lot anymore. I mention this because unless a condo owner owns the parking space there really are no guarantees of a parking spot.

The condo documents that condo buyers are given ten days to review before committing to purchase a condo contain a wealth of information about the unit and the parking situation. Buyers should always ask questions and never make assumptions about parking. Agents working with downtown condo buyers should always verify any information they receive about parking.

Today I saw a comment in the “agent remarks” of a downtown condo listing stating that the current owner has a one year contract for parking.  The comment doesn’t mean much because usually, those spaces are not transferable, and sometimes there is a waiting list which means that the buyer of the condo might not be able to use the space.

There are real estate agents who have a kind of “buyer beware” mentality. Buyers should do some research on parking before purchasing a condo. If the plan is to lease a space in a ramp or surface lot contact the lot or ramp directly.

urban legend of no pets allowed

Dogs allowed

Did you know that you can live in a downtown condo and have a dog? Most if not all condo buildings have pet restrictions but most will allow a dog or even two. Cats are allowed too.

In some of the buildings, there are height and weight restrictions. Smaller dogs are allowed and large ones are not.

Ask about pet restrictions before making an offer on a condo. After making an offer that is accepted by the seller, buyers have ten days to review rules. Pet restrictions will be in writing.

There are condo associations that do not allow pets at all. I know of one building where residents can have one goldfish and another where the only pet restriction is that birds are not allowed.

There are numerous places downtown to walk dogs and even a small off-leash dog park up against CHS field. Mears Park has “pet areas”. Lowertown is pretty close to the river with the parkland and trails.

I pretty much know the pet rules for every downtown building which saves a little time.

Bike path in downtown St. Paul

bike path
Bikeway running north and south along Jackson street as viewed from the skyway

I have used the new bike path in downtown St. Paul a couple of times, it is a joy to ride.  It is part of the Capital City Bikeway. The design is beautiful and it is safer than the street. I can’t wait until there are some East/West bike paths.

The bike lane along Jackson will connect to the Gateway Trail which goes all the way out to Stillwater. According to Visit Saint Paul  St. Paul is not only bike friendly but one of the most bike-friendly cities.

I am often asked about biking by people who are moving into the area or who are choosing a neighborhood to buy a house in.

There is a lot of biking going on in the downtown area, even though it is still a dangerous place to ride.  I think my inner thrill seeker makes me do it. 🙂

Downtown Condos take longer to sell

The downtown condo market has mostly recovered from the housing market crash and great recession. Distressed condos were bought by investors who rented them out. I have sold a few condos that were owned by investors and are now owner occupied. There is a lot more downtown than there was during the recession, especially more luxury rentals.

It takes longer to sell a condo in St. Paul than it does to sell other types of homes. An average of 40 days to sell a condo anywhere is the city,  vs. 25 days to sell a fee standing type single family home and  it takes an average of 44 days to sell a downtown condo.

months supply
Months supply of condos

There is a 3.4 month supply of condos on the market downtown. The average sale price is around $211k. Right now there are 57 units on the market which is about the same as September 2016.

People who do not know downtown should tour several condo buildings before deciding where to live.

Housing for all

Couple walking

An older but probably not elderly couple walk by the construction site where apartments are being built. The advertising on the sign in front shows a young man on a bike and lists some amenities including yoga and fitness center and bike storage.

The apartments are “smart” and there will be a rooftop terrance grill and lounge too. I work with young people and older people who are interested in living in Lowertown and most are attracted to the area, and the buildings in it by the same amenities.

Right now it seems like we need more housing of every type. Affordability is also important as rents remain high and wages remain fairly flat.