Some people look at the price of housing much like stocks – if they go down enough, then at some point they have to be a great value to buy. Today we are looking at The Cloud 9 Sky Flats at 5601 Smetana Drive, Lake Minnetonka Communities, 55343.
The Cloud 9 a 165 unit conversion from an office building into a condominium that was turned over from the developer in 2005. Conversion from an office building is a little uncommon in itself (though not unheard of) and brings with it some baggage – including in this case windows that don’t open, a lack of balconies, floor plans not originally designed for residence, and large lot based parking among other factors.
Zillow shows four units currently for sale in the complex. Most attractive to purchasers are the unit prices which average at $152/sqf. This is around 50% of the cost of the units from only a few years ago (2006 peak). Half off a condominium seems like a good price on its own, but the condominium has several other issues that may mean the price is appropriate, and not at a discount.
First off, multiple individuals have been charged with mortgage fraud cash back scheme on over 40 of the units sold in The Cloud 9 during 2006 through 2008. These fraudulent sales both artificially inflated the price of the units, and then assisted in the price collapse as more than 80% of those sales went into foreclosure.
Second, the condominium appears to have a maximum rental limit of 20% of the total units – of which that number has been met. Current owners will have difficulty renting until other units stop, and investors are blocked from buying because they are unable to rent the unit.
Third, three of the four units are priced above the Zillow Zestimate on average by 7%, indicating that compared to the surrounding area, the units may still be overpriced. The fourth is 15% above the Zestimate, but has been on the market for 304 days, and may have been set when prices could have been higher.
Fourth, Re/Max Results show 43 active listings in the building (remember, in a condominium of 165 units) – or more than 1/4 of the units are available for purchase. If you buy into The Cloud 9, there will still be one quarter of your neighbours trying to sell, and as such actively pushing the value of you condominium down.
I always indicate that when buying housing, you should always buy what you think best suits your life, in a price that you can afford – with some financial room in case of unexpected costs or job loss. Outside of that, little matters if you are buying a home, including the current price unless you hope to flip or sell in only a few years.
If the question is if The Cloud 9 represents a good deal – it might be, but not if you base that decision compared to its price 5 years ago. There are enough issues to show that the price was artificially inflated, that the excitement over an office conversion (with all the related baggage) has worn off, there are current bylaws which encourage downward pressure on the price of units, and more than 1/4 of the owners want to abandon and sell out from the building (raising the question of why).
Importantly, for a building with so many foreclosures – at least 1/3 historically – and so many currently on the market, you should look at the financial statements of the corporation closely. Check to see if the foreclosures or current sellers have led to the condominium carrying a deficit because of a lack of paid condominium fees. If there is a deficit, new owners will at some time have to pay for that deficit, so make sure the price of the condominium reflects a discount for any deficit carried by the condominium, and you have enough cash if the condominium issues a special assessment or raises monthly contributions.