Despite yet another decrease in existing home sales and a corresponding increase in total housing inventory, sales of condominiums and co-ops actually ticked up in June, according to data released by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Realtors. What's more, some of the most notable growth is occurring in geographical areas—such as Florida; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Southern California—that many consider to be among the hardest hit by the current U.S. housing recession.
While sales of single-family homes declined 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.27 million, existing condo and co-op sales rose a modest 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units, compared to 580,000 units a month earlier. Although region-specific data has not yet been released, NAR managing director of research Paul Bishop indicates that several of the nation's dead condo zones are starting to turn the corner and show renewed life. “The markets hardest hit over the past few years in terms of declines in sales and weaknesses in price are where we are starting to see an uptick in sales,” Bishop says. “Southern California, a few areas in Florida, and even Phoenix, in a sense, may have already gone through the worst of it.”
Overall, condo and co-op sales are still 19.7 percent below the 735,000-unit levels hit one year ago, but the latest data offers a glimmer of hope that the housing recession might be turning, particularly in the multifamily for-sale arena. “When prices fall 25 percent to 30 percent or more, that is a strong incentive pulling buyers back into the market, and it seems like folks are beginning to respond to price, as you would like to think that they would,” Bishop says.