Updated: Building-by-Building Monthly Condo Fees

Condo fees fund the daily operations and maintenance of most condo buildings. They cover security, landscaping, cleaning of common area, common area energy use, maintenance, and other key building functions. In addition -- and this is very important -- a portion of condo fees are held by the building as reserves to fund major maintenance projects. On average, our research shows, condo unit owners can expect to pay $0.44 / SF / per month or $440 in monthly condo fees for a 1,000 SF unit.

An important thing to note is that condo fees are not fixed forever --- they rise over time. Some buildings -- such as the Five Fifty Five Condos and the Sabine -- have seen significant increases over the last year in the price per square foot rate charged. Since the last time we calculated fees, the average fee has increased from $0.41 to $0.44.

Looking at detailed MLS records on a broad range of units and through tips from buyers, we've calculated the rough fees for most of the major downtown condo buildings. The fees are universally calculated on a dollar-per-square foot basis that typically, but not always, remains constant throughout each building. Generally, condo fees are not higher for more expensive units, or units with more bedrooms, or units on higher floors compared to less desirable units of the same size in the same building.

The prices in new buildings that we have looked at are surprisingly varied -- they range from $0.31 / SF / Month to $0.62 / month -- an amazingly broad range.

Here is our updated list of condo fees by project:

Fee by Building - - - - - $ / SF / Month
Milago
.......................$0.31
Avenue Lofts
.................$0.33
360
..........................$0.36
The Shore
....................$0.37
Spring...................... $0.38
Barton Place
................ $0.38
Brazos Place
................ $0.40
Plaza Lofts..................$0.42
The Sabine
...................$0.45
Five Fifty Five Condos
.......$0.46
Austin City Lofts............$0.48
W Hotel & Residences
.........$0.60
Austonian.... . . . . . . . .$0.61
Four Seasons Residences
......$0.62
Average......................$0.44

389 of 736 Units Sold So Far in Spring, W, Austonian, and Four Seasons

There are four downtown buildings -- Spring, the Four Seasons Residences, the Austonian, and the W -- where you can still find new condo units (+ BartonPlace which is just across the lake). When these buildings are sold out, it will be a long time before new downtown Austin condo inventory appears.

Today, the Statesman reported previously unpublished data on current sales for the four remaining projects. What the developer-provided data shows is that 389 of 736 available units in these four new projects are currently sold or under contract. While this 53% sales rate means that there are still 347 mostly high-end units left to sell, the numbers do represent amazing progress for the downtown condo market.

During the last 12 months, 165 units were transacted on the MLS. In comparison, the 389 units sold through private sales represents more than 2x last year's complete downtown Austin condo sales volume. Since new unit sales in these four projects are not included in the MLS, it's been very difficult to gauge the full scope of downtown Austin condo sales, especially for units priced over $600,000. While very very few units priced over $1 million have sold on MLS, the average unit listing price for the four new buildings is greater than $1 million. What the new data shows is that sales have been relatively strong and likely accelerating as the project's neared completion.

Here is the developer-reported sales by project:

Spring: 158 / 247 (64%) units sold or under contract
W Residences: 84 / 159 (53%) units sold or under contract
Four Seasons: 77 / 148 (52%) units sold or under contract
Austonian: 70 / 178 (39%) units sold or under contract

With this new data, there are a few key observations: Read More...

WSJ: Shanghai or Austin, Who's Sexier?

The Wall Street Journal's China Daily published a very unscholarly analysis of two cities recently recognized for their sexiness in comparison to their national peers. In the U.S.A., Austin received top honors. In China, Shanghai was on top. Having just returned from Shanghai, it is an amazing place --- a super modern city of just under 20 million people. This may be the only time the two cities are compared in such an article!

Shanghai, China (Photo Copyright 2010 Paul J. D'Arcy)
Shanghai China Downtown 2010

Here is the "report" from the Wall Street Journal:

Tall buildings, big events, modernity: The characteristics of a sexy Chinese city.

Condom sales, birth rates, transmitted disease and toys: The determinants of a sexy U.S. city.

In unrelated surveys released this week, Shanghai was named China’s sexiest metropolis (in Chinese) while Austin, Texas was
crowned with that honor for the U.S. Read More...

La Vista on Lavaca: The New Intel Shell

It's official: the planned "Fondren Building" (AKA La Vista on Lavaca) -- a nine-story residential mixed-use tower consisting of 19 condominiums on the top four floors, a three-floor Executive Business Center, and first floor restaurant -- has been abandoned mid-construction by its new owners. As a result, a 9-story concrete shell now sits idle on Lavaca street near the capital.

According to the Austin Business Journal, the owners of the Fondren have filed for bankruptcy claiming 13.8 million in debts and $9.3 million in assets. In August, the partnership asked a judge for permission to sell the building to a New York investor for $8.4 million. Apparently, this deal has
fallen-through leaving the developers with few options for liquidation.



Complicating efforts to sell, the Austin Business Journal reports that "Travis County, which is owed $175,950 in unpaid property taxes, and Dallas-based Precept Builders Inc., which is owed $3.7 million, filed objections after the request to sell."

The 8-year-old project has had multiple owners and a sorted history. Read More...

Exclusive: 30 Month Milago Sales Analysis

Over the last 30 months, 344 downtown Austin condos sales have been recorded on the MLS. Of these sales, an amazing 52 have been in the Milago -- more sales than any other downtown Austin condo project (360 is #2). Of course, MLS statistics exclude sales that aren't listed on MLS -- including almost all sales by the developer. As a result, the MLS statistics provide a clear picture of resale units but not initial sales.

When looking at resale volumes and quantities, the 52 Milago sales provide an interesting picture of the downtown Austin condo market over the 30 months. During this period, Milago sales volumes have decelerated from 2.1 sales per month to 1.9 sales per month and prices have dropped from $322 / SF to $266 / SF. The price drop occurred almost entirely in 2009. Fortunately for owners, prices have been relatively stable going into 2010.

Milago Sales Analysis: Sales Velocity

Year

# Sold

Units / Month
Avg SF

2008

25

2.1
1041

Read the full analysis here:

Read More...