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Condo + Townhouse Market Showing New Signs of Life

By Michele Dawson | September 17, 2012

Townhouses and condos are becoming an increasingly hot commodity as sales heat up, supply dwindles and builder activity is experiencing a revival throughout the country.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in the second quarter of 2012 (April to June),  the number of townhouse starts was 17,000, a sharp increase over 11,000 during the same three-month period in 2011.

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And townhouse sales throughout many regions of the country are on the rise as well.

There are positive numbers coming out of Austin, Texas, according to the Austin Business Journal.

Sales jumped by 28 percent in July this year over July last year. Some 272 units were sold this year. And the median price rose 11 percent to $187,500 over the one-year period. And buyers are snatching them up quicker. Townhouses and condos were on the market 58 days, which is equal to 31 percent less time.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Board of Realtors reports condo sales in the state have shot up 21 percent from August 2011 to August 2012.  The median price rose from $300,000 to $320,000 during that period.

Some regions are experiencing shrinking supply. In Glendale, Calif.,sales are increasing, but the number of condos and townhouses on the market sunk from 160 in August 2011 to 51 last month, according to the Glendale News-Press.

The Santa Clara County Association of Realtors in California reported a few days ago that in 10 of the county’s 13 markets, the average condo seller landed a sale price higher than the listing price.

"We are seeing a lot of multiple offers and overbidding in this market," said John Pinto, spokesperson of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and a past president. "Buyers are motivated because of a combination of factors: high rents, low interest rates, high tax brackets, and expectation of future inflation."

In the Baltimore region, the number of sales and new contracts signed both increased by about 18 percent from August 2011 to August 2012, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"The big challenge my clients are having is the lack of inventory," Russell Chandler, a real estate agent with Redfin who focuses on homes in Howard County, told the Sun.

He said he is seeing more than half of his deals involve more than one offer. And he is seeing more interest in townhouses because buyers can’t afford a single-family home in his competitive market.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the luxury condo market is also experienced signs of revitalization.

For example, the Los Angeles Times reports that in downtown Los Angeles, more than half the units in skyscraper L.A. Live, the most prominent residential tower planned during the housing boom of the mid-2000s and mostly empty since they opened in early 2011,  are finally sold after the long hiccup in the market.

Some 224 condos, serviced by the Ritz-Carlton hotel, sit on the top 25 floors atop restaurants, offices, and a hotel complex.

Michele Dawson is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She spent seven years as a newspaper reporter and has written for various magazines and web sites specializing in real estate and home improvement, including Realty Times, SmartHomeowner, California Builder, and the Sacramento Business Journal.
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