Friday, January 21, 2011

Size Matters

Size Matters

Looked at a townhome in an awesome Plymouth location in Wayzata Schools. It backed a wetland. The neighborhood was primarily single family. It was well priced, a bank owned.

I emailed the listing agent “Can you please send me the contact info for the property manager for the H O A?”

And she responded “Can I get back to you in a week or so?”

“What's the problem?”

The problem was the H O A had been run by the woman whose unit had been foreclosed upon! No one knew who was in charge of this 18 unit HOA.

An agent's mom was in an H O A for one building of 6 units. A big storm damaged the roof. While mom wanted to fix the roof, her neighbor's wanted to pocket the insurance money.

When you buy into an H O A and the unit has unpaid dues, the H O A can't require the new owner to pay the old dues. They can go after the deadbeats, and the bank is responsible to pay the dues for the period they own the unit, but banks can be deadbeats too. But you are paying those dues in future dues increases to cover uncollected dues. Money has to come from somewhere.

Say there are 3 deadbeat owners in the H O A. If there are only 6 units, that's 50% of the budget! With the 18 unit one in Plymouth, that's 17%. In the 90 unit development I'm buying into in Chanhassen, that 3%.

After 6 months of aggresively looking for a townhome to purchase as a rental property, I finally found one that I'm not looking for reasons to walk away.

Chanhassen is an excellent market. The average sales price for all homes sold in 2010 was $371,972, up 3.7% from 2009. I looked at a couple older units in a Chanhassen neighborhood with a good location, but bad vibes. And a subdivision farther west I won't even look at because there are too many rentals and the rents are too low. But this one meets or exceeds my long list of criteria.

Location: Next to downtown Chanhassan, at the northeast corner of Highway 5 and Powers Blvd. Its walking distance to Target, Byerlys, Cub--all with better than typical architecture. Chanhassan elementary school is close by in the highly rated Chaska Schools. And its is across the street from the Temple of Eck campus, 174 acres with 2 miles of walking trails and Lake Ann, open to the public. Which is next to Lake Ann Park, with a swimming beach and boat rental.

The home has 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a huge balcony and a walkout basement to a patio. Those who are familiar with the area tell me that Oak Ponds has a good reputation. And the property manager is really terrific.

My hope, with the 3 bedrooms and proximity to Chanhassan Elementary School, is to attract a familiy that will be a long term tenant. The property manager told me there are a lot of kid and dogs. The 3rd bath with shower is also unique, as a prior owner had added it in the finished walkout basement. With the exception of some brand new townhomes (which are typically too costly to cash flow as rentals) , if you can find a 3 bedroom townhome, there is typically only one bathtub. Having grown up in a house with 5 of us, 3 girls, and one bathroom (unless you count the ½ bath in the cold basement with the spiders and pillbugs that no one wanted to use), I'm reluctant to buy a three bedroom without a second shower.

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