CONDO DROUGHT

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 ‘How much are all those condos going for that they are building everywhere?’  ‘ALL OF THOSE ARE APARTMENTS, NOT CONDOS!’  That’s right-just about every crane and every high rise in construction is an apartment building in the Salt Lake Valley and we are in a bona fide drought for condo buyers.

            Who buys condos? Well everyone of course. But the demographic has traditionally been active seniors (Boomers) downsizing from their family homes once the kids flew off to college, and, single women. I remember a developer friend told me that when he built his first condo project in the 1990’s he was surprised to sell it out to mostly women. He learned that their motivation was security that they weren’t finding in the apartment inventory at that time. They wanted a lobby that was permanently locked except to visitors owners let in and a parking garage which didn’t open without a pass card or code. This amenity has become a must in today’s projects, from video cameras to nest door knobs.

            There is no way in hell that I can give you the number of apartment buildings vs condo buildings under construction or completed in the Salt Lake Valley in 2017 without moving up a pay raise here at the weekly (from free to paid!). I’d have to call every city and burb and talk to each town’s planning staff. I can give you the data from the Wasatch Front Regional MLS tho: 2003 condos were sold in Salt Lake County in 2017; 264 have sale pendings and there are 271 currently for sale.  They report that the supply of condos has been about three months-worth until there would be zero inventory.

            Condos currently for sale at the end of December range from $69,900 to $2,499,000 with an average asking price of $372,206. Oddly enough, the average asking price of a condo with a sale pending was $254,441-meaning it’s the cheaper inventory that’s selling. Sales prices in 2017 were an average of $299,836 per unit.  Sadly, I can personally count less than half a dozen new condo buildings initiated or built this past year in Salt Lake City itself. Instead, thousands of new rental units have reached up to the sky as well as the rents landlords are charging for them.

            Builders these days have found that condo developments are harder to finance for construction than apartments, and simpler to build when you take in the grueling process of permits, planning and zoning. All in all, the WFRMLS reported 1671 homes for sale and 271 condos for sale mid December…that’s a total of only 1942. Certainly in a county with over a million people there’s been an obvious drought of not just snow this time of year but inventory of homes and condos to buy.