Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The times may be changing for condo developers.
From the NY Times:
Since the middle of 2006, the frenzied condominium market here(in D.C.) 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.
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.
In hopes of salvaging something from their costly plans, hundreds of developers... are planning to rent their units for at least a couple of years while waiting for today’s condo surplus to shrink. In some cases, developers are even turning older buildings back to rentals after a brief or aborted attempt at condo conversion. Meanwhile, another 2,500 proposed condominiums in the Washington area have been scrapped altogether, according to Delta Associates, a real estate research firm.
The latest salvage operation on the part of condo developers is far from a sure bet, however. Condominium buildings generally cost more to build and operate than those built for apartments from scratch. And while rents are high and rising in most cities, in many cases they still are not sufficient to turn a profit.
Industry analysts also point out that rents may start sagging if too many condos are converted into apartments too quickly. While rents were rising at a robust 6.1 percent annual pace in the Washington area late last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some buildings in the suburbs have recently started promoting move-in specials and other incentives to lure renters.
“You can do it, but it isn’t as attractive,” Tom Meagher, a Boston real estate consultant, said about converting condos into apartments. “You are not going to get enough rent to cover the cost. You might have to go back and redesign the floor plans.”
While the recent slowdown is forcing developers to consider converting their projects to apartments and offices, ...as many as a third of them will never be built at all