Condos - the Kids Just Love Them

By: Brian Enright

What is it about cities that continues to draw the best and brightest? Since time began, the choice of where to live has been driven primarily by the search for food. People settled near rivers and bays where fishing was good, in landscapes abundant with vegetation, natural shelter and intrinsic beauty. They favored water and good vantage points. They built relationships and trade, shelter and security. They shared resources.

Not much has changed. Today, people continue to be drawn to our major urban centers for their abundance - culturally, socially and economically. Though you'll be hard pressed to find any wild antelope, the hunting's particularly good right now in the form of jobs. Our modern cities hold vast amounts of wealth in the form of information, technology, art and novelty making them magnets for young people looking for an opportunity to tap in. But where are they living?

IT'S ALL ABOUT LOCATION

As the population swells and available land is gobbled up, the younger generation is finding that even with great jobs, they've been effectively priced out of the urban housing market. Many first time home buyers will make compromises, accept the idea of commuting and start looking outside of the city. But for most first time home buyers without children, it's all about location and lifestyle. The idea of fleeing to distant suburbs and outlying areas just to own property is simply too boring to mention. Mowing lawns on Saturdays? I think not. Your average young professional just wants a piece of the pie and a place to call home.

Well if they're not still living with their parents or renting, they're buying condominiums. According to the 2005 American Housing Survey (AHS), about 27 percent of all condo owners in the US are under 35 years old and 43 percent have incomes under $35K.

Not surprisingly, in a 2007 survey of condo owners released by the NAHB, a whopping 86 percent of those under 35 purchased a condo as their first home and more of them bought in the inner city than any other age group. The survey also revealed that price and location was the top-rated priority among all condominium buyers in the last two years. Certainly, there's no cheaper way to buy a home close to the action when you want to live in an area where real estate is at a prime.

Condos aren't just the low-rent version of buying a home though. In places like Seattle, the urban condominium market continues to grow - with appreciation rates out pacing those of single family homes in 2006. Condominiums provide a low maintenance option similar to renting while affording the luxury of owning real estate in busy metropolitan area. In the right location, they also provide access to a wide range of jobs, social networks and economic opportunities that typically appeal to those starting their careers.

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