Condo sales jump locally, vary nationally

September 05, 1993|By Copley News Service

Sales of condominiums are increasing in most areas of the country. But in some markets, the trend is swinging in the opposite direction, as buyers take advantage of falling prices and low mortgage rates to buy detached homes.

Nationally, condo sales are up by about 2 percent over last year. Sales have reached an annualized volume of 372,000 units, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors.

"Condos often make the ideal home for a first-time buyer," said William Chee, NAR president. "And considering today's low mortgage interest rates, many young families are seeking and buying that condo home."

During the first half of 1993, sales of multifamily units shot up 18 percent in the Baltimore area. Legg Mason Realty Group reports that 1,002 units sold, compared with 849 units during the first half of 1992.

"Part of that is due, obviously, to lower interest rates and the availability of those units on the market," said Robert Lefenfeld, senior vice president for the realty group, which tracks the new-home market in the metropolitan area. "It's reasonable to assume affordable multifamily [homes] will continue to be a strong component of the market because of their availability to ,, first-time homebuyers."

The median price of a condominium fell 2 percent in July, to $87,900 compared with $89,695 in July 1992, Legg Mason reported.

However, in areas where home prices have dropped significantly in recent months, condos have lost much of their attraction, says Bob Edwards, chairman of a regional Multiple Listing Service.

Nationwide, 372,000 condos are expected to sell this year -- up from 366,000 in 1992 and 339,000 in 1991.

Condo prices nationally declined by 3.4 percent compared with last year. The median price, at last report, was $82,700 -- 22.7 percent below the national price for single-family homes, now $107,000.

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