Looking for a condo?

Houses don’t stay on the market for very long these days but condos stay on the market twice as long especially if they are in downtown St. Paul. We have seen this trend before. It is a cycle but the good news is those downtown condos are selling more quickly than they did during the last cycle.

Owners of single-family homes that are not condos can expect an offer or two the first week on the market.  For downtown condos, it may take more than a month. I can’t remember a time when downtown condos were selling faster than other types of housing in St. Paul. They have always taken longer to sell. Downtown has been quiet this year because of the pandemic but that is slowly changing now that more people are getting vaccinated.

This might be the perfect opportunity for those who plan in downsizing from a house to a condo.

 

Chart
Houses – median cumulative days on market
down town St. Paul condos

Downtown is a buyers market

graph
months supply of houses for sale

In most of St. Paul, we are experiencing a strong seller’s market. There is less than a two-month supply of housing which means it would take about a month and a half to sell all of the houses on the market. At the same time, downtown St. Paul is experiencing a buyers market. It is a weak buyers market but it is possible to buy a downtown condo after it has been on the market for several days without having to compete with a dozen other buyers.

Prices in the downtown area have been stable. Historically the housing market downtown has been out of step with the rest of the city. During the pandemic, some of the things that make downtown attractive went away. The sporting events and concerts stopped and the restaurants that stayed opened offered curbside pick-up instead of in-door dining.

It will be interesting to see what it all looks like by next year. Right now about a third of the homes on the market in St. Paul are downtown with prices ranging between $93,000 and $900,000

Downtown St. Paul condos November 2020

The housing market in downtown St. Paul has always been a kind of separate real estate market. In most of the city there is less than a two-month supply of homes for sale but in downtown St. Paul there is a seven month supply.

Selling a downtown condo takes two to three times longer tha it takes to sell a single family house in St. Paul. Prices tend to be more stable downtown than they are in other neighborhoods.

Right now downtown has 16% of the invenotry of homes for sale in the city with 100 condos to choose from with a price range of 90K to 900K.  For people who have homes to sell and who would like to buy downtown now is the time to do so. Median condo prices were right around 200K last month as compared with 240K overall for the city.

 

view
view from a River Park Loft

Condo document and due diligence

Loft – Market House in downtown St. Paul

People who buy condos and townhouses get to review condo documents for ten days before they make a final decision on their purchase. It is a state law in Minnesota and it is called the ten-day recission period.

The ten-day recision period starts after the buyer has received all of the documents.

I am familiar with the condo rules for many condo associations. I am surprised by how often buyers do not read most of the documents. They miss the surprises and the occasional gotcha.

The buyer has the contact information for someone in the association who can answer questions. It isn’t a good idea for real estate agents to answer questions about the documents. I have had clients get advice from their attorney.

Reading and understanding condominium documents are part of the buyer’s due diligence. Condo associations have to show their budgets and current financial status and if there are any pending lawsuits against them.

Condo rules can include rental and pet restrictions and parking rules. I know of one association that prohibits all pets except for goldfish and one that allows all pers except birds.

There are rules about the placement of potted plants and sometimes rules about garage doors that have to be kept closed. Some condo associations have tons of rules and others have few.

Do your own homework and read everything before making a final commitment.

Pro tip – There is one local management company that is the reason why I would not live in some of the condo buildings. I think it is always a good idea to talk to the representative from the management company and directly to someone on the board of directors for the association.

You don’t have to be here to sell

The snowbirds don’t seem to be returning to Minnesota like they usually do this time of year. They may be staying where they are for now.

It is possible to sell your condo, townhouse or St.Paul home without leaving your winter home. We have worked with homeowners we have never met and there are services that will pack up a house and movers who will move it.  I have has success with selling furnished homes too.

All paperwork is handled electronically and there isn’t any need to have a computer with special software or any computer at all.

There are people who are buying real estate right now. So far they are getting approved for loans and we have had several closings take place post-COVID-19 epidemic.

There is still a shortage of homes for sale especially in St. Paul. It is hard to predict what the real estate market will be like in the next year. So far prices are up from a year ago.

A Rossmor Loft

Tasteful furnishings

Ramsey Hill Condo

Over the years I have worked with many clients who have “good taste”, yet I can only think of a few instances where tasteful the furnishings in a home helped make it more saleable.

The furnishings that appeal to one generation may not appeal to another. There are some classic pieces of furniture that have a universal appeal, they are smaller more versatile pieces like chairs, end tables or must-have furnishings like kitchen or dining room tables.

Sometimes removing the furnishings actually helps sell the home especially if it is a smaller home. Staging also helps make homes look more appealing but staging is sometimes misunderstood. It isn’t about filling a home with furniture. It is more about using a few items to show how the space could be used or decorated.

The condo in the picture sold quickly and the owner sold some of the furnishings with it. It was staged by taking some of the furniture out and rearranging what was left and adding some lighting. Rugs were removed and so were family photos.

Less is usually more and having no furniture is better than having the wrong furniture.