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GRDadof3

What do you consider affordable downtown living?

What price range do you consider affordable for downtown living?   86 members have voted

  1. 1. What price range do you think would be considered affordable and desirable downtown?

    • $130 - $145,000?
      34
    • $145 - $160,000?
      26
    • $160 - $185,000?
      14
    • Other
      12
  2. 2. How important is Renaissance Zone status in your decision?

    • Very important, can't afford a condo downtown without it
      11
    • Somewhat important, a nice bonus
      59
    • Not important, they expire in a few years anyway
      16
    • Other
      0

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22 posts in this topic

We read a lot about the need to have condos downtown that are "affordable". What do you consider to be affordable for a downtown or "very near downtown" condo?

Assume this pricing is for a 750 - 850 square foot condo, with association dues of $150 - $250/month.

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The idea of living in a condo in DT is a tempting idea. The artist in me finds Heartside a tempting draw. But condo prices right now seem prohibitive esp. for the amount of space that would meet our needs. I'd say 140,000-150,000 dollars for 1000 sq. ft./2 bedroom unit would be a huge hit for those that would desire urban living but can't afford it.

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From observation, I figure that the average homeowner has housing payments (mortgage, taxes, insurance, dues) that are about a third of their monthly gross income. For somebody working downtown, that will probably put their ideal monthly housing expenses in the $1500 range (monthly income of $4500). This makes the $145 - 160k range affordable. Married couples each earning a fair income will likely be willing to pay 1.5 to 2 times that price--say $225 - 300k.

Personally, I can't justify spending over $150k for a condo with less than 1000 sf. That's why I live in East Hills! However, I question whether or not it may be cheaper to live in one of the more expensive condos after $300+ gas bills in the winter.

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From observation, I figure that the average homeowner has housing payments (mortgage, taxes, insurance, dues) that are about a third of their monthly gross income. For somebody working downtown, that will probably put their ideal monthly housing expenses in the $1500 range (monthly income of $4500). This makes the $145 - 160k range affordable. Married couples each earning a fair income will likely be willing to pay 1.5 to 2 times that price--say $225 - 300k.

Personally, I can't justify spending over $150k for a condo with less than 1000 sf. That's why I live in East Hills! However, I question whether or not it may be cheaper to live in one of the more expensive condos after $300+ gas bills in the winter.

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I guess I don't see the prices as too high so much as the square footage as too low. If you could get 1,200 square feet for the middle range it would be quite affordable. It seems like prices go up exponentially as space increases. Once you get below a certain threshold I wouldn't buy a condo regardless of its affordability.

How many people here would actually buy a studio condo? I could see it in a more dense and expensive city like San Francisco, but I have a hard time seeing people wanting tiny spaces in Grand Rapids. Even if you'd be fine living in a studio I would avoid it because it seems like it would be a tough sell when you want to move out.

That said, I probably expect too much. Construction and land costs being what they are I'm not sure it's possible to get what I want at the price I'd want to pay.

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I think it's the definition of "affordable" that trips me up. You used a median income of $54,000 ($4,500 a month) as the example. Not many people make that! That might be the median household income for the state, but it most certainly is not the median per capita income for West Michigan, which is closer to $29,000 ($2,400 per month or so, according to GVSU's Community Research Institute)...and that's being generous by including the whole West Michigan area, not just GR proper.

One third of that is only $800 a month, less taxes and whatnot, which won't come anywhere close to covering the mortgage on a $150,000 studio condo...and I'm guessing that only single people, and a few rare couples, would buy an 850 square foot place. We couldn't hack it in a 900 square foot Chicago high-rise in our early years, and that was with no kids. Too tight of a space.

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Even the high range in the poll would be considered "affordable" if the square footage was increased somewhat. But I'd have to factor in the association fees as part of the total price. So it depends on the square footage and the association fees.

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and I'm guessing that only single people, and a few rare couples, would buy an 850 square foot place. We couldn't hack it in a 900 square foot Chicago high-rise in our early years, and that was with no kids. Too tight of a space.

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My big problem with downtown living is that as the head of a 4 person household (wife & 2 kids) the sizes of the condos downtown just won't work for us. Once you add that third bedroom, the prices SKYROCKET for anything downtown...

Now if it was just my wife and I, no kids, I would be ok with a 850-1,000 sq. ft. loft size wise... I lived in MUCH smaller than that when I was in college and had loads of extra space (maybe 600 sq. ft.)

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I think it's the definition of "affordable" that trips me up. You used a median income of $54,000 ($4,500 a month) as the example. Not many people make that! That might be the median household income for the state, but it most certainly is not the median per capita income for West Michigan, which is closer to $29,000 ($2,400 per month or so, according to GVSU's Community Research Institute)...and that's being generous by including the whole West Michigan area, not just GR proper.

One third of that is only $800 a month, less taxes and whatnot, which won't come anywhere close to covering the mortgage on a $150,000 studio condo...and I'm guessing that only single people, and a few rare couples, would buy an 850 square foot place. We couldn't hack it in a 900 square foot Chicago high-rise in our early years, and that was with no kids. Too tight of a space.

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You're defining affordable condos in the terms of people who already own condos. Sailor was looking at it from the general population.

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I gotcha.

I definitely agree that new condos should be priced no higher than the $150's. Look at Fox Lofts: nearly sold out within a couple of months with prices in the $130's. I don't know how many more $200k condos we can support in the foreseeable future. From a developer's standpoint, I wouldn't consider a new project unless I could price entry-level units in the low-mid 100's.

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I gotcha.

I definitely agree that new condos should be priced no higher than the $150's. Look at Fox Lofts: nearly sold out within a couple of months with prices in the $130's. I don't know how many more $200k condos we can support in the foreseeable future. From a developer's standpoint, I wouldn't consider a new project unless I could price entry-level units in the low-mid 100's.

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If Grand Rapids had a very good mass transit system that rivaled that of a European City (may not happen for a very long time to come but the proposed Monroe street car line is a start) we could remove the expense of automobile ownership and replace it with the monthly cost of using the mass transit system. That would free up more income to afford a more generously sized condo unit. That's another reason Mass Transit in US cities needs to be revived.

My Figures:

Monthly Car Payment: $200/mo.

Full Coverage Insurance: $150/mo.

Monthly fuel costs( current fuel prices): $150/mo.

Upkeep: $50/ mo.

Total cost for owning 1 car: $550/mo.

Put that up to two cars which a family usually has and we have $1100/mo.

Now lets talk about mass transit:

Let's assume it costs $40 for a monthly pass.

For a family of four, that would be $120 month.

$1100/mo. for two cars vs. $120 month for mass transit. Thats a $980 dollar savings. Hmmm. If my common sense figures are right, it's no wander that billions of dollars of development have a habit of springing up along mass transit lines in cities like Portland.

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I voted for the middle 145-160 bracket. That though is based on condo's I've looked at downtown and what I would pay for those. I would want at least 1200 sq ft because I work from home and so does my boyfriend and we like our space. We looked at a 1300 sq foot townhouse style condo at Union Square and fell in love. It was a whopping $299,900 though plus the $225/mo in association fees. We couldn't justify paying so much! The housing market in general is about to collapse in my opinion because prices don't match income levels. There was a great article on CNN money about this a couple weeks ago. I wouldn't have paid more than $225,000 and it looks like no one else will either, it's still for sale. It's a beauty though...

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We couldn't justify paying so much! The housing market in general is about to collapse in my opinion because prices don't match income levels.

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After condo shopping in Madison, the price ranges in the poll are a breath of fresh air. The condo's I was looking at in Madison are 220 for 1 bedroom, and 270+ for a 1 bedroom + den. That was the cheapest decent condo I could find.

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After condo shopping in Madison, the price ranges in the poll are a breath of fresh air. The condo's I was looking at in Madison are 220 for 1 bedroom, and 270+ for a 1 bedroom + den. That was the cheapest decent condo I could find.

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I think affordability is very important. But, I also think that many young professionals who want to live downtown want to rent. If locations were available, I would be renting a nice place in the core of downtown right now. But there wasn't anything like that available during my last move and my wife and I decided that we'll start a family soon so we better move to a place with enough space for a kid. So we bought a place just outside of GR. Others may be in different situations that are causing them not to buy in downtown... Some of my friends are thinking about going back to school, others are likely to get a new job soon that may, or may not, be in GR. It seems to me that we need more apartments that are suited to the young married couple or upwardly mobile professional. I thought the condos in the Fox building on Monroe Center would sell fast, but I've been proven wrong. I wonder how fast they'd go if they were available for rent?

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I think affordability is very important. But, I also think that many young professionals who want to live downtown want to rent. If locations were available, I would be renting a nice place in the core of downtown right now. But there wasn't anything like that available during my last move and my wife and I decided that we'll start a family soon so we better move to a place with enough space for a kid. So we bought a place just outside of GR. Others may be in different situations that are causing them not to buy in downtown... Some of my friends are thinking about going back to school, others are likely to get a new job soon that may, or may not, be in GR. It seems to me that we need more apartments that are suited to the young married couple or upwardly mobile professional. I thought the condos in the Fox building on Monroe Center would sell fast, but I've been proven wrong. I wonder how fast they'd go if they were available for rent?

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personally I feel condo prices downtown are absolutely ridiculous. It seems there are some people in this town that think GR is a bigger city than it is and can somehow, for some reason demand higher prices. What these people forget is that, there is no infrastructure to support downtown living. There are no corner grocery stores, no cinemas, no everyday shopping, etc.

$500K for a 2100sqft condo? Sure, it has some nicer amenities, but come on, give me a break. You can get the same thing in much bigger cities with much better urban living situations.

Someone in GR needs a reality check

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I ahve a condo downtown, and I think it's worth it. I get to walk to work, walk my dog in Heritage Hill, Rosa Parks Circle and all the other area parks, and I am close to the bars and restaurants downtown. Granted, I'm glad I don't have to sell in the next year, knock on wood! I think, especially in this economy, a developer would be smart to put in some nice apartments for young professionals to add to the downtown mix of people.

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