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Old 05-23-2010, 12:58 PM   #21
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I just realized that with all of the recent construction in downtown Austin, it is easy to calculate the price-to-rent ratio for comparable properties in adjacent blocks... right next door. Unfortunately, my two closest comps are at either end of the overpriced/underpriced range.

Compared to another high rise next door I calculated a price to rent of 15 , based on
(rent - HOA)*12/floorspace
Compared to a low-rise also next door I get a ratio of 19.

All three buildings are less than 3 years old. All comparisons on 2bdrm, 2 bath units of similar floorspace. The two comps are in 100% apartment buildings. Both very nice, but the more expensive one is the super-trendy place in town, and priced accordingly.

And then there is Austin's punitive 2.2% property tax rate, which I didn't figure in to the price to rent ratio.

With 20% down and a 30 year mortgage, including HOA and property tax, the monthly cost for the condo would be about 10% cheaper than the expensive building and about 25% more expensive than the cheaper building.

Since there isn't an appropriate emoticon for my state of mind right now, I will just borrow an avatar
Maybe rent in the high rise next door for six months or a year while thinking about it? There are so many factors to consider, and a limited time in which to make your decision. I can relate to your reaction.
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:58 PM   #22
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That is very appealing to me, too, if their security is complete. Here, often it seems as though parking arrangements can be the "chink in the armor", so to speak. Secure parking seems to be the exception rather than the rule (here).
Since a garage door makes a large opening, someone can always slip in. But sometimes the only way out of the garage needs a residents personal fob. Other times it is the usual garage door opener, which can easily be stolen from a car.

Entry into the main building from the garage is usually blocked, without the residents fob (best) or a key.

One building I am interested in a vistor can only get access to a floor above the gound floor lobby by concierge action. Even residents can only get off the elevator or stairs on the floor of their units, or on the lobby floor where the gym and many of the other amenities are located. So this is pretty well locked down. A concierge is there 24x7.

Sounds like this might lock down extramarital affairs while DH or DW are away too, as this certainly will leave a trail. But I am not married, and I have come to really like security. Another building has it's own full time service staff and 24 hour security guard. Although this stuff can be fairly expensive, if the building is big enough it gets spread over many units and it is definitely valuable.

Ha
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:01 PM   #23
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But the idea of dealing with PITA HOA's, or sharing walls with loud neighbors who could make my life miserable with no possibility of escape is not really appealing. Plus there is the fact that you have to cede some control to the HOA. On top of everything, I have always dreamed of having my own private two car garage with automatic garage door opener and lots of space in it to park my car - - a suburban luxury that provides a nice level of security, convenience, and privacy, and that I haven't yet encountered and would love to experience. Frank thinks a private garage is appealing but for completely different reasons - - he likes the idea of having a large unimproved space to convert to workshops for his projects and hobbies. (Luckily we choose to live separately so this is no conflict for us).
Get that garage and then you'll also see how good they are at accumulating "stuff" and next you'll get to experience the dreaded "spring garage cleaning chore."

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Originally I thought condos might be OK but Frank was against them. But lately the "lock and leave" and "no mowing or snow shoveling" aspects have caused him to change his mind (not to mention the "possibly cheaper than a house" aspects). We are waffling.
Or the bushes need trimming, or the landscape areas need new mulch, or plumbing issues, or leaky roof, or exterior painting and the list goes on and on.

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Maybe the key to lowering other repair and maintenance costs is getting a very small, very new house.
Many friends thought they were going to go that route thinking they would be able to put some money away when downsizing. Most came to find out they actually needed to put more cash out and decided against it. Maybe this has changed now with our new & improved real estate market.

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Or maybe we should look into patio homes. Something like Audrey's new house but without the RV amenities might work for us. Or maybe a 55+ high rise condo. I am so unsure.
There are some fourplex patio homes around here that are well done and have been quite successful. Designed so that seldom used areas in your home abut the frequently used areas in the neighbors home. It's a nice trade-off between convenience and privacy.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:08 PM   #24
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I have looked at condos in Mpls/St. Paul and am very disappointed in the monthly maintenance fees. If I bought a small house and paid someone to do all the things that are done for you in a condo I am still sure it would be far cheaper to have the single family home.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:12 PM   #25
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There are some fourplex patio homes around here that are well done and have been quite successful. Designed so that seldom used areas in your home abut the frequently used areas in the neighbors home. It's a nice trade-off between convenience and privacy.
Sounds nice. We have even thought of duplex patio homes (each with a two car garage) with Frank buying one side and me buying the other. I'll bring up that option with him again today, and see what he thinks. They wouldn't have the "lock and leave" and security aspects of a high rise, but they sound quieter to me.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:14 PM   #26
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Sounds nice. We have even thought of duplex patio homes (each with a two car garage) with Frank buying one side and me buying the other. I'll bring up that option with him again today, and see what he thinks. They wouldn't have the "lock and leave" and security aspects of a high rise, but they sound quieter to me.
A good high rise is like a tomb, basically quieter than a suburban home. You can find out about walls and floors, etc. Usually concrete.

Ha
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:20 PM   #27
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As a condo owner, my advise would be to not buy a condo. You may end up sharing a wall on all 4 sides.

"That would suck. How would you get in or out?"

Good point. I meant top, bottom, and 2 sides. Not surrounded

If you go with the type of place Ha is talking about then you probably eliminate most of the noise issues but the price will be much, much higher.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:22 PM   #28
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A good high rise is like a tomb, basically quieter than a suburban home. You can find out about walls and floors, etc. Usually concrete.

Ha
Wow! Thanks. I didn't know that. My only experience with multi-story buildings has been apartment living, and invariably the people above me would tromp loudly on the floor in the middle of the night. I remember one who would throw his big work boots on the floor in his bedroom (right above mine) at 2 AM and wake me up. The bass from his stereo nearly removed all of my fillings. Plus, I swear he gave his toddle billiard balls to bounce and roll around the kitchen floor (sounded like it, anyway). And then my last apartment (before this house) was awful because I thought (but was not sure) that the ear-splitting screaming coming through my bedroom walls from the next apartment might be part of a spousal abuse situation and was constantly conflicted about whether or not to report it. I had no facts but it was an uncomfortable situation.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:33 PM   #29
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The building we are looking at is like what Ha is describing. I believe the salesman said there is 9 inches of concrete between floors. Security is good too. Key-fob parking, key access elevators (only stop on your floor), and a dude in the lobby.

The big problem is cost and risk aversion. We have been ultra-conservative with our expenses, and that allowed us to sleep soundly during the market crash. If we bought into this building, we would still be within what most folks consider a SWR, but it would be a big change for us.

Time for a little soul searching, and spread-sheet grinding.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:54 PM   #30
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Time for a little soul searching, and spread-sheet grinding.
This is where I am too. Many of these are terrific, but they are a long way from cheap, though in my area dirt is so expensive that you do get a lot for your money in these vertical buildings compared to what the same money could buy you in a SFH.

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Old 05-23-2010, 02:07 PM   #31
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A good high rise is like a tomb, basically quieter than a suburban home. You can find out about walls and floors, etc. Usually concrete.

Ha
The condo we bought is an end unit so we only have people above us and on one side. Odds of having an inconsiderate neighbor are cut in half.

Our HOA is $410/mo and includes all common areas, water, sewage and garbage. Elevators and underground parking are all card key controlled. Each unit has a lockout storage space in the underground garage. On site management office open 10-12 hours per day and 24 hour doorman/security. Maid service is available for $19/day for up to four hours cleaning.
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:17 PM   #32
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Better still, buy a corner unit on the top floor; you will have only one proximate neighbour. Of course these are the most desirable suites and are usually more expensive.

Keep HOA fees down by buying in a building without a swimming pool, gym, etc.
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:21 PM   #33
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I believe the salesman said there is 9 inches of concrete between floors.
I guess you get what you pay for. My condo is only worth $40K and has thin wood floors/ceilings seperating units. My upstairs neighbor has a toddler that wakes me up every day running above my bedroom. With 9 inches of concrete I think that problem would be gone.

On the plus side, I should have my condo paid off next year at the age of 31 and never have debt again. That wouldn't be the case if I bought into a highrise.
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:28 PM   #34
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On the plus side, I should have my condo paid off next year at the age of 31 and never have debt again. That wouldn't be the case if I bought into a highrise.
That's excellent. Once it's paid off you can start setting that monthly housing payment aside and when you're ready to retire you'll be able to live pretty much wherever you want.
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:51 PM   #35
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I have looked at condos in Mpls/St. Paul and am very disappointed in the monthly maintenance fees. If I bought a small house and paid someone to do all the things that are done for you in a condo I am still sure it would be far cheaper to have the single family home.

Plus the maintenance fees just go up as the building ages .
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Old 05-23-2010, 03:18 PM   #36
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Plus the maintenance fees just go up as the building ages .
And maintenance expenses for your house go up as it ages as well.
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Old 05-23-2010, 03:20 PM   #37
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I have looked at condos in Mpls/St. Paul and am very disappointed in the monthly maintenance fees. If I bought a small house and paid someone to do all the things that are done for you in a condo I am still sure it would be far cheaper to have the single family home.
This is odd and counterintuitive. A highrise may have 100-200 units under one roof. It may have one HVAC system. The water pipes, electrical etc are more efficient. There is a small amount of landscaping spread over many units, rather than large amount over one. And all these services are bought by a big customer with market power. And if it is a well run building, some of those dues are going to replace all these expensive things, repaint, re-roof, etc., etc.

Homeowners usually just don't reserve for stuff like maintenance adn replacement, or they do a lot of work themsleves. But if you know a lot of old people, like at a church, you likely know one or more old men who have fallen off a roof or a ladder to their everlasting detriment.

How much would your own quality security system cost? Or a security staff? It really can't be done. One of my kids lives in a neighborhood of $1mln+ homes and his neighbors have frequent breakins or car prowls. He hasn't experienced this yet, but he is concerned.



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Old 05-23-2010, 03:52 PM   #38
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I was thinking on moving from a house to a condo to get rid of yard maintenance I no longer enjoy. What I found was that condo prices (for condos I liked) were not much different from single family house prices (for houses that I liked) which also meant annual taxes were comparable. On top of that, condos had HOA dues almost as high as the taxes, so my costs approximately double and my control of the work HOA does is minimal. I think for me it's more cost effective to hire a service for any maintenance I don't want to do.
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Old 05-23-2010, 05:02 PM   #39
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I always take garages for granted. Here in Phoenix, nearly all houses have a 2-car garage, and in fact a larger-than-median house, meaning 2500 sq.ft. and up, "has" to have a 3-car garage.

Regarding yard work, our front has always been a low-maintenance yard with trees and shrubs, and with gravel for ground cover. The backyard is mostly consumed by a good-sized pool. The side yard was the only grassy area, with a swingset for the kids when they were young. Two years ago, we decided to stop watering and let the grass die out. After digging up the sod ourselves (no need to go to a gym for exercise here), we haul in 15 tons of gravel to cover it up, except for some raised beds for growing veggie.

Who said a house requires yard work? At least this is true in the SW, where nothing grows unless you water it. Ah, that's an advantage that I did not appreciate.

I used to think of owing a condo in our older age, up somewhere in the Pacific NW, but after reading so much about problems with condos here, am no longer sure that it would work for us.
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Old 05-23-2010, 07:03 PM   #40
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Since a garage door makes a large opening, someone can always slip in. But sometimes the only way out of the garage needs a residents personal fob. Other times it is the usual garage door opener, which can easily be stolen from a car.

Entry into the main building from the garage is usually blocked, without the residents fob (best) or a key.

One building I am interested in a vistor can only get access to a floor above the gound floor lobby by concierge action. Even residents can only get off the elevator or stairs on the floor of their units, or on the lobby floor where the gym and many of the other amenities are located. So this is pretty well locked down. A concierge is there 24x7.

Sounds like this might lock down extramarital affairs while DH or DW are away too, as this certainly will leave a trail. But I am not married, and I have come to really like security. Another building has it's own full time service staff and 24 hour security guard. Although this stuff can be fairly expensive, if the building is big enough it gets spread over many units and it is definitely valuable.

Ha
Hmmm, I guess it would never occur to me to be that security conscious. Is this consequence of being single, in a large city, both, something else?

We live in the kind of neighborhood where you can see people's heads turn as a strange car rolls by and when one of the neighbors began having a late night gentleman caller the curtain twitchers were sure to alert one and all about the "night rider's" visits. I generally think I am pretty unlikely to have to worry about crime, especially with cops, firefighters and the mayor's relations in the cul-de-sac. But perhaps I am naive...
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