Condo Drought | Urban Living

Condo Drought

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It's holiday party season. As I don my gay apparel and wander from buffet to booze at various gatherings, I often get the question: "How much are all those new condos going up everywhere selling for?" To which I respond: "All of those are apartments, not condos!" That's right. Just about every new high-rise is an apartment building. We are in a bona fide condo drought.

Who buys condos? All sorts of people, but the demographic has traditionally been active seniors—downsizing from their family homes once the kids head off to college—and single women. I remember a developer friend told me that when he built his first condo project in the 1990s, he was surprised to sell to mostly women. He learned their motivation was security they weren't finding in apartments. They wanted a locked lobby and a parking garage that didn't open without a pass card or code. These amenities have become standard in today's projects—from video cameras to Nest smart door knobs.

There's no way in hell I can tell you the number of apartment buildings versus condos being built in the Salt Lake Valley in 2017 without moving up a pay grade here at City Weekly. I'd have to call every city and 'burb and talk to each town's planning staff. I can, however, give you the data from the Wasatch Front Regional Multiple Listings Service: 2,003 condos were sold in Salt Lake County in 2017; 264 have sale pendings and 271 are for sale. They report that there's currently a three-month supply of condos.

Condos for sale range from $69,900 to about $2.5 million, with an average asking price of $372,206. Oddly, the average asking price of a condo with sale pending is $254,441—meaning it's the cheaper inventory that's selling. Sales prices in 2017 averaged $299,836 per unit. Sadly, I can personally count less than a half dozen new condo buildings begun or built this past year in Salt Lake City. Instead, thousands of new rental units have reached toward the sky along with the rents that landlords charge for them.

Builders these days have found that condo developments are harder to finance than apartments. All in all, the WFRMLS reports 1,671 homes for sale and 271 condos for sale, for a total of only 1,942. In a county with over a million people, there's obviously a drought—not only of snow but inventory of available homes and condos. The Grinch is really on a roll!

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