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Posted on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

Switch from co-op to condos gives The Village new position in Ann Arbor housing market

By Paula Gardner

village exterior.jpg

An end-unit condo in The Village in Ann Arbor.

Robert Ramey | For

Buyers seeking a condominium in Ann Arbor can turn to one of the city’s vintage communities to find a new option on the market.

The Village - long-known as Pittsfield Village - completed the conversion of its 422 units from cooperative to condominium in late 2009.

Now owners and buyers will see the market set the price for the homes - which are again called Pittsfield Village after the transition.

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Hillary Ward of the Charles Reinhart Co. has several listings in the Village, where she also sold them when they were part of a cooperative.

Robert Ramey | For

“Over the next 18 months to 24 months, the Village is going to create its own value,” said Hilary Ward, a Realtor with the Charles Reinhart Co. who has several listings in the community.

The condo conversion effectively lifted a value cap by ending the co-op structure and giving unit shareholders who converted - representing about 75 percent of the homes - independence from the shared mortgage.

Prices for the homes as coops hovered between $50,000 and $75,000 in recent years, falling toward the lower end of that range as the national financial crisis effectively shut down nearly every avenue to finance a co-op purchase.

“You had very limited options,” Ward said, and many buyers in 2008 had to pay about 50 percent of the purchase price due to the complicated ownership structure.

Now, Ward said, “the main difference is the ability to secure financing.”

The Village

Location: Southeast Ann Arbor

Units: 422

Style: Tri-levels with either one or two bedrooms

Active listings: 22

List price range: $58,000 - $95,000

Sold in 2009: 16

Average price per square foot in 2009: $84

The Village was part of the city’s World War II-era building boom, constructed on 64 acres east of Platt Road between Washtenaw and Packard. The community surrounds Pittsfield Elementary School.

village interior.jpg

The interior of a Village condo, where all units have hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings. At left is the doorway into the kitchen. At right, the short staircase leads to the bedrooms and bath. The basement stairs are located off of the kitchen.

Robert Ramey | For

The property features one- and two-bedroom homes, each with basement and on-street parking. The units are clustered in small groups of about eight, and many are grouped close to the winding streets so the decks overlook part of the large backyard common areas.

It’s the kind of property that couldn’t be replicated today in the city due to land costs, said Realtor Claudella Jones, who also lives in the Village.

As the city built its commercial district along Washtenaw and Packard, the proximity to shopping and bus lines also adds value, she said.

“You can walk to shopping and walk to the park,” Jones said. “…These are excellent buys in Ann Arbor. Nobody can beat the location.”

But it’s also the community itself that makes it attractive, Jones said. The units have hardwood floors, high living room ceilings and lots of natural light - all of which appeal to today’s buyers. And the atmosphere encourages neighbors to get to know each other.

“There really is a sense of community there,” Ward said.

Despite that, the coop financing issues and the conversion, which took months to complete in 2009, stalled sales activity last year, Ward said. Some sellers pledged to pay the conversion costs for buyers, and some transactions closed after buyers rented the units until they could take possession as condo owners.

But now, as the properties can be listed for sale as condos, the market’s response to the Village will help set the value.

Some indications show prices may rise after climbing gradually by the end of 2009, Ward said.

Today, the highest-priced listing is $95,000. The lowest, a one-bedroom, is $59,000. Several of the current listings have seen small price reductions.

Because of the age of the property and the size of the units - they’re small, but Jones said the layout across three floors makes them seem more spacious - it’s hard to find comparable sales as benchmarks.

Ward said some other older condos - like Pattengill and Independence - come the closest, though their settings have less common area space.

Looking across the market, Colonial Square - also a former townhouse-style coop, located on Platt Road - has units for sale for less: the 2009 prices for 12 units selling ranged from $60,500 to $77,000. Today, units are listed from $45,000 to $54,000.

Just outside of the city, Cloverly Village in Pittsfield Township also has units listed for under $100,000. They are newer and larger - at about 1,300 square feet - but also in a more suburban location on Stone School Road.

Association fees in the Village - about $319 a month - are higher than some newer communities, but are less than the $389 in Colonial Square. Jones said the higher fees reflect extensive landscaping and also attentive maintenance.

Jones analyzed the community in late December, when 15 units were on the market and the average sale price per square foot had climbed from $70 to $92.

Even that $92 average denotes a sale price of about $76,000, making the Village among the most affordable condo communities in the city, Jones said.

As the spring market takes hold, Realtors are watching the condo market rebound. So far in 2010, the condo market is up about 6 percent over 2009.

Yet condo prices across the market fell in 2009, making the housing style among the most affordable options on the market.



Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 3:24 p.m.

This a huge and wonderful change for The Village for sure. I own there and it is a fabulous community of people and now has the opportunity to be even better with the return of unit sales. @ scooter: a slight correction to what Hillary put out there. You may be hearing that the maintenance fees are nearly $400 for two bedrooms but that fee is more like $380 and was approved previously for mini-cooperative units. This was a mistake that has been corrected by a new board of directors. If you buy a unit, it would be (or become) a condo and would be a member of the condo association and would be charged a maintenance fee in the range Hilary quoted. What she didn't mention is this new board of directors. They have taken a new approach to governance and a HUGE change in attitude toward the residents (and our pocketbooks).They are holding fees down and have taken a more proactive stance in terms of contract bidding requirements. There has even been a start to that long-over due discussion about getting ALL of the units insulated. Right now, just over 100 units of the 422 have been. It takes about $2000 to an end unit.


Fri, Mar 12, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

Several years ago there was actually a waiting list to get in and two-bedroom unis were selling in the $80,000s, (even with needing co-op financing). I guess it just depends on when you were looking. These are great places.

Hillary Ward

Thu, Mar 11, 2010 : 5:59 p.m.

The association fees range between $250-$330 monthly and still are very comprehensive. The fees compare similarly with other condo communities that offer less acreage, and fewer amenities, not to mention lack of on site maintenance. In the 20+ years since the community became an owner run property there has never been a special assessment for capital improvements. Many communities with higher fees have additional assessments for capital improvements. Also the unit that is priced at $95K is not typical of units for sale in the community, that particular unit has had $30k or more invested in recent improvements (as well as additional insulation, an improvement many owners have made) and it really is spectacular! Most 2 bedroom units range between $65k and $78K.

scooter dog

Thu, Mar 11, 2010 : 3:58 p.m.

Last I heard they also had a $400.00 plus per month maintenance fee for ea unit.Not sure if this still applies.With the vaulted ceilings in the living/dinning areas there is almost zero insulation in the ceiling.I lived in them growing up 65 yrs ago,WOW,can't believe their asking upwards of 90k for them.Top price a few yrs ago was 60k and they went begging then and that was when you could get a loan.I thought property values went down 30-40%,not here.