Are Condo Association Fees Reasonable?

Teresa Boardman compares the costs of heating and routine maintenance of a home vs. condo and comes to the conclusion that association fees are not nearly as bad as they may seem when compared to the costs associated with home ownership:

Association Dues, are they really too high?

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.

I may be overstating her case, but she does raise and interesting exercise worth considering if you’re trying to decide whether a house or condo is more appropriate for your needs.

Of course, association fees may be going to other stuff like fitness centers, pools, and common rooms that you wouldn’t have to maintain in a home.

What I’d like to see as a follow-up from Teresa is some advice on how to determine whether association fees are reasonable for a given property.

View From the Carlyle’s 28th Floor



Minneapolis, originally uploaded by pfhyper.

Peter Fleck has some cool shots taken from the 28th floor of the newly opened Carlyle condominiums in downtown Minneapolis. This shot faces downstream with the lock and dam on the left, the Depot Mariott Courtyard on the right, and the RiverWest condos left of center.

Click on the photo to access other angles.

46th & 46th Condos on Craigslist

1 bed, 2 bath for $285,000:

BEAUTIFUL NEW CONDO – on the park! – MUST SELL

PROJECT NAME: 46 & 46
Unit: #206
Unit type: 1 bed/2 bath
Unit Size: 1012 sf
Price: $285,000
Incentives: 6 months paid association dues (SAVE ~ $250 per month!!!)

That seems like a tough sell when you could buy a single family home in the same neighborhood on 46th Ave for:

3 bed, 1bath, 1100 sq. ft.: $289,000
4 bed, 2 bath, 1600 sq. ft.: $284,000
3 bed, 2 bath, 998 sq. ft. in Nokomis on 46th Ave: $224,900

More info can be found on 46th & 46th here.

The Reserve Condo Development’s Devolution

Michael Tortorello has an update on The Reserve condo development that only half happened at 360 1st Street N.:

Housing bust as deconstructivist architecture – City Pages – The Blotter

Today, a squat blue trailer sits adjacent to the slab. Its overhang has broken off and the light fixtures have been stripped. A banner on the east face of the trailer advertises condos for sale in bold black, foot-high lettering. The phone number has been disconnected.

Shouldering the concrete slab now is the Magellan Development Group, of Chicago, Illinois. They’ve reconfigured the interior plan to accommodate 131 units, ostensibly downscaling the price-list in the process. But according to Brian D. Gordon, a Magellan v.p., no investors have committed to finish the building. And no units have been sold.

My Old Apartment is a Condo and Doesn’t Look Like a Dump

Deneen and I, (and later, The Other Mike and I when Ben moved to Tucson) used to live in an apartment at 3150 Excelsior Blvd in unit #204. While the location was great – walking distance to Whole Foods, two blocks from Lake Calhoun – it wasn’t the finest property in the Calhoun / Isles Neighborhood.

A couple years ago, it was converted to condos. Apparently, someone bought our converted unit and is now selling it on Craigslist.

It showed up in my Minneapolis condos RSS feed on Google Reader. For anyone who remembers that place, check out this photo of the kitchen:

3150 Excelsior Blvd

That’s one heck of a big change from the stinky cupboards caused by water dripping through the ceiling.

New appliances.

Hardwood floors rather than an old stained carpet.

The rooftop deck with rod iron tables sounds a bit different than the wobbly picnic table and sun-dyed lawn chairs of 2001.

46th & 46th Condos Update

From today’s LCC Insider:

46th & 46th Development Update
Longfellow Community Council hosted a meeting on February 22 to get an update from the developer of the 46th and 46th condo project. The project has been delayed by the slowdown in condo sales but the developer expects to re-start construction in June.

A major issue associated with the project has been the blocked sidewalks. The developer chose to pay for blocking the sidewalk during construction, but this created an unacceptable situation for residents who needed access to the sidewalk to safely use the 46th and 46th intersection. The developer made some changes that create safe walking areas for pedestrians along both 46th Street and 46th Avenue. There are some tweaks still needed, but over-all the area is much safer and accessible for pedestrians. (information reprinted from Ward 12 Update)

Aren’t there rules in place regarding a minimum percentage of sold units before development can start in order to prevent situations like this?

Previous post here.

Downtown Development vs. Riverfront Preservation

Downtown residents like the Cannon’s, anyone who uses W. River Road in downtown Minneapolis, and folks who support public parks and spaces may find this interesting. The land downstream from the 3rd Ave bridge along W. River Road has a development proposal for . . . get ready for it . . . condos.

Here’s a map of the location (pictured below). The area of the river is just above the lock. The tower near the bottom of the photo is the Riverwest Condos. The parking lot on the right of the photo is near the base of the Stone Arch Bridge.

Wave Development

There’s a lively debate on E-democracy about this.

The land is owned by the Minneapolis Parks, but is not particularly park-like today if your definition of a park is something suitable for some form of recreation. However, parks can also, of course, be undeveloped land.

If the land was to be developed, I’d like to see some form of pedestrian-friendly development, such as first-floor retail that’s accommodating to people enjoying the river, such as a coffee shop or bike shop with free air. The worst thing that could be done is building something that turns it’s back to the river like the post office does. I doubt that will happen since the river has been rediscovered as a jewel of the city.

Condo Buying Tips

Alex Stenback of Behind the Mortgage offers has some great condo buying tips for the Minneapolis market here:

How To: Pick the Right Condo

One question we’ve been getting a lot lately of goes something like this: “We want to buy a condo, but how do we know that we have picked the right condo project? “

I found the info on picking a building too large or small interesting. It makes sense that you’ll have a lot of competition when it comes time to sell a unit in a large building, and small building assessments could be shocking – kind of like home ownership.