Realtors Seeing a Buyers Market for Condos

By: John Harris

According to the National Association of Realtors, the flourishing condominium market is no longer an advantage for sellers. It has become a buyer's market across the United States amidst declining sales and median prices. By year end June 2006, realtors have seen the supply of existing condos for sale increasing by almost two-thirds and sales falling by almost 15 percent across the nation. With investors making up about a third of condo ownership, it is expected that more condominiums will be put up for sale this year. According to the National Association of Home Builders, realtors also can expect an influx of new condo development over the next two years and increasing conversions of rental apartments to condos, adding to the over-availability in the condominium markets.

During the past real estate bubble, condos have appreciated at a faster rate than single-family homes, especially in high-cost metro markets with rapidly rising prices. Even last year ending June 2006, the national median price rose by nearly 14 percent. Realtors only expect an increase of three-to-four percent this year, as compared to six percent for single-family homes.

Currently, the national median price for a condo is $226,900, as compared to a single-family home at $231,500. This makes buying a condominium much more attractive, especially for empty nesters and young families. The realtor outlook for condo prices does vary by region. The Midwest is the best location with only a one-percent sales drop last year and a third of a percent drop in prices this is within the Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul markets. Realtors would expect smaller Midwestern cities to be even better.

Realtors in the western part of the U.S. saw the biggest hit in the condominium market. Sales there last year were down by 21 percent, and there was an 11 percent drop in prices.

For August in the San Diego, Carlsbad and San Marcos area, the median condo price was $373,800, as compared to last year's price during August of $387,100. Realtors saw August sales decrease by 3.4 percent, as compared to an increase of 5.5 percent last year at this time.

With the onslaught of retiring baby-boomers, the condo market may see an upswing during the next five-to-ten years. The downside for some markets is that the increasing amount of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, may change the migratory pattern towards safer weather states.

Sellers
A declining condo market does not mean an owner cannot sell at this time. Realtors advise sellers to price the unit appropriately more affordable condos still are selling well. Make it stand out over your competition by removing clutter and staging it well. Some sellers are throwing in amenities, such flat-screen televisions and state-of-the-art audio systems. Some are offering bonuses as incentives to the realtors who make the sales, motivating an increase in the number of showings. Realtors advise sellers to be prepared to negotiate with buyers and not to automatically turn down reasonable offers.

Buyers
Realtors see this as a good time to buy if you plan to own the property for at least three-to-five years. Realtors do advise that you look for condos that will hold their value over time for a better resale value. Look for units with a great view; close to downtown or shopping areas for lower gas usage; easy access to parking, public transportation, necessities and amenities; an elevator and spacious floor plans; garage parking in cold climates; and a doorman or concierge if in a luxury market. Realtors also advise that you take your time shopping for the right condominium. Visit the units you like more than once and drive a hard bargain.

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