Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Condominium conversion: an alarming trend

Seattle apartments being converted into condominiums.

In 20004 it was 345. 2005 saw 1551 conversions, according to a front page article in March 20 Seattle PI.

If this trend continues there may be little left for rent in Seattle and buying a condo usually costs well over $240,000. That's still cheaper than buying a house.

It's population increase and a strong economy.

The main problem is, lots of people are buying condominiums and where are they going to put them? Seattle is basically running out of room for new construction, so the market turns to existing buildings. Convert them into condominiums, but where do the renters, and those who can't afford home ownership go?

Well, so far, I don't think that problem is too bad up here in Bellingham.

Yet at least.

Tons of new condominiums are being built all over town to help absorb the demand and protect existing rental properties.

So far at least.

Still there is lots of environmental concern about the explosion in construction seen around Bellingham.

Bellingham isn't real affordable either, but at least it isn't quite as bad as Seattle. It has some expansion room and it is also somewhat protected by it's low wage scale.

Supply and demand, but supply needs room.

Supply needs room, or, what developers call "buildable lots."

Seattle has around 10 times as many people as Bellingham, with in it's city limits, but only around 3 1/2 times the land area.

Bellingham isn't as dense, yet, but that is the wave of the future as population keeps increasing.

Another reason why housing demand is so high in Seattle is those huge rings of "low density sprawl" around most American cities. Traffic in all that sprawl is getting so bad that people are wanting to move back into the denser urban cores. Yet the cores can only hold so many.

That is part of the reason why Bellingham is starting to grow up with many new high rises planned for this city. We can become a new urban core, but I am afraid a lot of locals will fight it.

Remember, over population.

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