austin condo communities - how to compare

9 Replies | Austin, Texas

hi! I'm new to the area and looking to buy a condo for a family member. She works and can afford 1200-1500 rent (still trying to get full information on this :/) but needs regular family assistance with certain daily life stuff. I'm trying to look at properties from an investment point of view to avoid 1. bleeding money while she lives there, and 2. making some small profit after she moves out, probably within the next 5-10 years. 

I'm looking at lower priced condos under 200k and having some difficulties comparing them. The HOA fees seem consistently high and what they cover (at least based on MLS info) varies wildly. I'm also seeing properties on MLS that look great, seem to be in decent areas, but have been on the market for months with multiple price drops. In a market like Austin, this seems to be indicative of some kind of hidden issue or bad reputation? For some of these communities, I was able to find negative reviews online that made the reason for low prices apparent, but others still seem mysteriously not selling. For Example...

Can y'all recommend some resources for comparing condos in general? Or some places to find info about Austin condo communities outside of the usual review sites? I suspect the answer may be get a realtor who specializes in condos, but, I'd like to get my feet under me with some general information since I am new to the area and not in a huge rush. 

thanks for helping a newb out!

In general, if a condo is on the market for a long time, especially one that is less that $200K and in good shape (as this one looks like it is) it is because it is priced too high. And, although this unit is under $200K, it is also very small. There are only a limited number of buyers looking for a 2 bed, 1 bath condo.

I am not that familiar with the many, many condo regimes around Austin...but I can tell you that they are all different. In this case, I'm guessing the owner did some recent work and was trying recoup some of her/his money. The price on this one was just reduced to something that looks like it is about where it should be (it was listed at $199,500 until a week ago). There are no recent comparables, but the price/sf is the same as a similar size unit sold in 2015. HOA fees are pretty high...and I would find out what they cover during the option period.

Wish I could direct you to some better tools. www.austincondomaps.com gives you a good idea of where many condos are located and the price ranges. But there is really no detail as to condo fees and what they cover. 

Not sure how much help that was, but feel free to reach out if I can be of any assistance. Good luck!

Condos are a tough business in Austin because of their taxes/COA fees and insurance. Normally they are more expensive per month then same priced homes. 

What Mr Webber said is what rings true to me just as a simple owner, not investing. So many have high fee structure when I used to periodically look.

Another thing to consider is that many of these condo communities are above 50% investor ownership, which means you cannot get a warranty deed on the purchase. This removes the possibility of an FHA loan, which also removes the majority of your buyer pool at this price point. I recently faced this issue on a condo I owned (as an investment) out by the domain. On initial listing, we got something like 8 offers from FHA buyers. We didn't find out until a few weeks in that the buyer was unable to get FHA financing. It took a bit of time to find a buyer with conventional financing, and we ended up having to sell for a decent bit less than anticipated.

@Lexi Teifke What are the HOA fees and what do they cover? at the Tyndall. Looks great but outside my budget.

@Kris Wong Yes, several of the condos I looked into appeared to have both neglectful building management as well as investor-owners who have been neglecting their units and tenants. Seems difficult to screen for the lazy investor-owners in the absence of online reviews. People who won't keep up with pest control in a shared wall situation are my main concern. Tips welcomed!