Chisago County has several townhome developments but very few condominiums. I’ve sold many condominiums to Chisago County residents in the downtown St Paul and Minneapolis markets. There is an appeal, to some, to leave their small town or lake home and live in an urban environment where the “action” is and there is less yard and exterior maintenance.

  Up until a few years ago, the downtown condo market was dominated by young single professionals and couples, but now it is dominated by baby boomers, because of the affordability index.

  In the early 2000’s there were a lot of condo buildings constructed, but during the market crash of 2008, many of them went into foreclosure because the financing rules changed causing lenders to deny loans for partially sold condo buildings.

  Prices plummeted and buying a condo was cheaper than buying a house, which hurt the single-family home market in the first-tier suburbs. Then the federal government implemented a requirement for a 30-year reserve study for all condominium developments, to project future repairs. Prior to that the developers were selling new condos with low association dues and the new requirement caused assessments and higher monthly dues.

  As the market recovered, condo prices escalated. New condos weren’t being built due to the lack of financing and only new apartments were being built, creating a seller’s market. As the condo prices increased, so did the property taxes and the association dues. It is not uncommon for a $300,000 one bedroom, one bath condo to have association dues and taxes equal over a thousand dollars per month

  The median price of condos sold in 2018 with 2-bedrooms, 2 baths, and at least 1 parking stall in St Paul was $383,000 and in Minneapolis it was $445,000. In Chisago County the median price of the waterfront homes sold in 2018 was $370,000 with an average of 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.

  Because of the increased prices in the downtown condo market, younger people have a difficult time affording them are opting for purchasing single family homes or renting. 

  When buying a condo, it is important work with an experienced condo agent, to review the financials and the association meeting minutes, in addition to the rules and regulations, to determine if the building is a sound investment for you.  

Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.