January 4, 2008

Signs of the Real Estate Times

Two new signs that appeared this week on a 10-unit condominium project in my neighborhood speak volumes about the current state of new-home sales.

The block of condos was built out to the property lines on a corner lot that used to contain two 1,100-square-foot homes built in 1941. The units start at 1,800 square feet, and each is three stories with several small bedrooms, a city view and lots of closets. The building has below-ground parking. There is no outdoor space apart from small concrete balconies.

The condos were under construction for more than two years and placed on the market several months ago. There is no evidence that any of them have been sold.

That disinterest on the part of buyers hasn't surprised my neighbors since the condos have been priced in line with the smaller single-family homes that we own. We wonder why anyone would opt for a condo rather than a house with a two-car garage and a backyard large enough to add on the extra square footage.

The curious pricing and soft housing market likely explain the new two signs, which read: "Townhomes for Lease" and "We Are Hiring Agents to Represent Our Homes."