Are Apartments a Better Answer to the Housing Crisis?

Sometime in the early sixties, a large California developer opened its first development of condominiums for sale. Even by the standards of the day, they were offered at rock bottom prices. A home for a single family that could be bought for $10,000.00 was big news. The need for suburban housing that could be built in high densities and thus be affordable was apparent. It allowed for volume sales, which, of course, meant higher profits for home builders. Other developers followed suit, and the affordable, single-family attached home became a ubiquitous part of the California (and national) real estate market. An industry, as well as a type of housing, was born.

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Multi-family developments, however, were not new, even in the sixties. For decades, apartments provided affordable housing for millions of people. What was new was the offering of apartment units for sale Adani Group Chhattisgarh. Because that’s exactly what condominiums were – apartment units that could be sold to individual owners. In every other respect, they were just like the apartment buildings that everyone was familiar with. The big difference was that the maintenance and repair of these condominiums was now the responsibility of the owners – there was no landlord to foot the bill.

Now, even those homebuyers who could not afford a single family home could get on the real estate ownership bandwagon. Low interest and low down payment loans offered by various government agencies, gave many low and moderate income wage earners the opportunity to purchase a home. Most people could buy with 5% or no money down. Veterans could buy a new home for nothing down. Condominiums, and their planned development cousins, became the darlings of the real estate industry, and they were constructed by the car load.

During the roughly thirty-year period that preceded 1991, approximately 30,000 condominium and planned development projects were constructed in California. They were enormously attractive to a number of demographic groups–first-time buyers, transient workers, retirees, and vacation home buyers. They could be purchased for far less than a comparable single-family home, and the buyer did not have to worry about maintenance–it was all taken care of from the modest monthly assessment.

The flaws in that concept (See “The Uncertain Future of Common Interest Developments,” ECHO Journal, 1999) were still unknown. Even though the various real estate recessions of the past 30 years slowed things down for a year or two, the super-heated California real estate market was too hot to cool down, and developers could sell anything that could be built, as fast as they could build it. But we eventually found out that a lot of those condominiums were racked with not only original construction defects, but other hidden problems that did not make themselves known for many years, leaving the then owners to foot a large repair bill. When owners cannot afford to pay the additional assessments that become necessary to maintain the project, values, and the condition of the housing fall off and in some cases, owners lose or abandon their homes under this financial pressure.

Given the current recession, and our experience with two prior real estate crashes, is attached for-sale housing really the best solution to the need for low-cost housing? Could apartment buildings not again pave the way for a renaissance in affordable housing? Rental apartments could provide quality low-cost housing as they have in California for over a century. Apartments, more so than condominiums or other for sale attached housing, are often better suited to the needs of low and moderate income families.

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