First time homebuyers and their grandparents

townhouse and condo – days on market

It doesn’t matter which indicator I look at, townhouses and condos are in demand in the metro area. Smaller affordable units are in demand for first-time homebuyers and for retirees.

The supply of condos in St. Paul is small but has remained fairly flat for the past couple of years. The number of homes for sale in St. Paul is slightly higher than it was at this time last year but still very low.

If I were a builder I know what I would build . . .

How many bedrooms does a loft have?

A Rossmor Loft – 500 North Robert street. Formerly a shoe factory

The loft is a common housing style in downtown St. Paul but they seem to confuse our MLS. Most lofts have no bedrooms. Most home buyers search for homes based partly on the number of beds and baths they have.

Lofts are flexible spaces and the bedroom is where ever you put the bed. If you put the bed by the window then the bedroom has an egress window.

The bedroom or bedrooms can be anywhere in the loft. Some people build platforms so that they have a kind of the second story for their bed and others build separate rooms and some buy dividers or storage units or curtains.

For some, the flexibility is too much. They reject the idea of living in a space that doesn’t have a defined sleeping space. It does take some imagination and creativity.

Artists lofts are lofts that are used as a space to live and work and usually have good lighting.

Many of the buildings in downtown St. Paul that have lofts in them were originally warehouses or factories. They have huge windows and exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Floors are sealed concrete. Often ductwork is exposed and some of the units have original hardware left over from when they were industrial buildings.

Decorating and living in a loft is about having less stuff and about using creative storage solutions. For example, a bookcase can serve as a room and a place for books. Hooks and shelves can take advantage of high ceilings and create verticle storage.

If you want to live in a loft consider the downtown St. Paul neighborhood. Prices range from just 100K to over a million.

Downtown real estate is slower

When putting a home on the market it is important to know what to expect. Real estate continues to sell briskly and some properties do get multiple offers the first day they are on the market.

Condos in downtown St. Paul do not sell as quickly as other types of real estate. That just means that sellers need to be prepared to have their unit on the market a little longer.

The “little longer” isn’t long at all. There are currently 48 condos on the market downtown and the median days on market is around 33 days. The units that are priced for over half a million sell at a slower rate and they always have.

Downtown St. Paul condo sales

High association dues?

Stacks_of_money

$460 dollars a month for association dues, you have to be kidding!  No, I am not kidding and it looks like a bargain to me, especially in an older building.

I took the dues for a condo in my own neighborhood that is about the same size and age as our home and compared the association dues to our monthly expenses.

The $460 monthly dues cover Heating, hazard insurance, water, sewer, refuse removal, lawn care, snow removal and exterior maintenance.   Our costs for a similar size home are $363 a month for heating, insurance, sewer, water and refuse removal, leaving $97 a month for exterior maintenance, snow removal, and lawn care.

I don’t even have to factor in the cost of lawn care and snow removal to see that the dues are a bargain.  Our exterior maintenance costs spread out over the length of time we have owned our home easily come out to more than $100 dollars a month.

If I factor in the cost of the roof repair we needed, the gutters we had to add to keep the basement dry, the siding we replaced, and the porch we had rebuilt the total monthly exterior maintenance costs for our home are easily more than $100 a month, without including  the cost of plants, landscaping work or the labor costs associated with lawn care and snow removal.  Not to mention the cost of owning and maintaining both a lawn mower and a snow blower.

There is an advantage to paying for exterior maintenance on a monthly basis.  When we need a major repair we need to come up with a major amount of cash all at one time.  Before buying a condo or townhouse, especially a unit in an older building make sure that the association has some reserves so that you don’t have to come up with a large sum of money for repairs.

When buying an older home or any home at all keep in mind that things wear out or even break and budget some reserves for emergency repairs.  Before deciding that association dues are too high compare look at what the dues are paying for.

Downtown Saint Paul continues to grow

The residential population of downtown St. Paul keeps growing. There were only about 4500 people living downtown in 2002 that grew to 6,604 in 2010 to 7,911 in 2014, that number is expected to skyrocket to 14,280 by 2020, an 80 percent jump. (According to the Metropolitan Council)

It seems like there are more people downtown on nights and weekends than there are during the workday. If you were to travel back to the 1980’s or 1990’s there were more businesses and people working downtown than there are today but not many residents.

Some of the things that make downtown fun are the parks, the Farmer’s market and the union depot and of course the ballpark and the Xcel center. It gets very crowded downtown when there is a hockey game.

Downtown is a wonderful place to live. It is the most walkable neighborhood in St. Paul. There is always something to do and lots of places to eat.

Housing consists of condos and apartments in all price ranges. In recent years there has been some building going on. Most of it has been apartments including some new luxury apartments.

The median price per square foot for a downtown condo is about $202. The median price per square foot of a Saint Paul home is $142. The median sale price in downtown St. Paul is lower the median sale price for the entire city.

The downtown Saint Paul housing market is a bit different from the rest of the city but is also experiencing a shortage of homes for sale. If you have been thinking about selling your condo now might be the time to do it.

There are currently 30 condos on the market ranging in price from $129,900 to 1.8 million. This year they have been selling in 45 days or less on average.

Median sale prices – St. Paul and downtown St. Paul

 

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.