In the commercial and residential real estate investment market condo conversions have become a controversial topic. Many experts say there are still profits to be made with condo conversions, while others assert that condo conversions are high risk and potentially lead to big losses. According to a January 16th, 2007 article in the New York Times, Buyers Scarce, Many Condos Are for Rent, written by Vikas Bajaj, “Since the middle of 2006, the frenzied condominium market here and in several other big cities like Las Vegas, Miami and Boston has collapsed.” “Once roaring sales have slowed to a trickle, sparse inventory has mushroomed into a glut and soaring prices have flattened out and started falling,” Bajaj continues, “In many cities, banks have significantly scaled back loans to condominium builders. Some have demanded that developers sell half or more of the units in a building before even beginning construction.”
Many condo conversion projects have reverted back to apartments due to slow sales. Often referred to as “repartments”, these projects leave large holes in the pockets of investors who didn’t do their homework before construction began. Although condo conversions are high risk, if an investor thinks carefully, completes research on the local region and investigates the potential buyers most prominent in the market profits can still be made.
Real Estate and Affordable Housing: The American Class War
The United States of America was built on the sweat, commitment and integrity of the working class. So why is it so hard for fire fighters, police officers, nurses, teachers and average Americans in general to buy real estate for an affordable price? As the United States economy shifts and changes, the middle class continues to shrink. Increasing health care, real estate, education and utility costs often exceed a typical middle class income. Working class people employed in the city can’t afford to live or purchase real estate in the city, yet as gas prices rise commuting becomes more difficult. Many of the companies who have recently invested and lost on condo conversion projects were overly focused on the luxury market. Condo conversions can be built with more affordable prices in mind if the property is chosen correctly and the plan is designed with working class buyers in mind.
Economic Growth Means More Opportunity for Everyone
It doesn’t make good economic sense that people who risk their lives to protect the public, teach our children and nurse us back to health should have trouble finding homes they can afford. Condo conversions can create affordable housing available to working class families, especially in areas where single family home prices are too high for middle class residents. Investors interested in selling condos to the working and middle class have a great chance of being successful if they buy the right property, in the right location, where affordable housing is a necessity. Savvy commercial and residential real estate investors have the power to make condo conversions part of the affordable housing solution rather than a problem. All it takes is the creativity, knowledge, planning and the courage to think outside the box.
Tips for Condo Conversion Success
One of the keys to making a successful and profitable condo conversion investment is research! Don’t invest in a property you plan to use as a condo conversion without following these tips:
Tip 1. Learn everything you can about the area where your property is located. Find out the local standard of living and what resources are in close proximity such as hospitals, schools, shopping centers, etc.
Tip 2. Explore the various target markets you will have for your units. Who are your potential buyers? What is their lifestyle? What kind of properties and perks are they searching for? When marketing a condo conversion property think carefully about your niche markets. First time homebuyers, single mothers or women and retiring baby boomers often search for condo solutions because they are safe, easy to maintain and cost less.
Tip 3. Consult a professional. Make sure you fully understand the local zoning, permit and construction laws. Do your homework and don’t make any decisions until you have all the information to consider.
Think Outside the Box with Condo Conversion: Commercial Investment Options
If you invest your money in a project that is smart and has appeal to the community your condo conversion project has a better chance of success. In addition to these tips consider rehabbing the property and creating both residential and commercial floors. A condo conversion investment can be more profitable if residential space is sold on upper stories while first floor property is sold as retail or office space. Also consider offering lease to own options to buyers. If you think creatively about your condo conversion investment you will discover all the possibilities. If you are looking to buy a conversion property educate yourself as much as possible before you purchase. The real estate you buy with condo conversion in mind must be well suited for this kind of project.