1998 was the first year that attached housing, which includes townhomes, co-ops and condos, surpassed single-family sales, according to John Andrus of the Chicago Association of Realtors. Andrus attributes the increase in condo sales to buyers who wanted more space without giving up convenience or a central location.
"Many who owned a studio or a one-bedroom condo decided to move up to a larger unit," says Andrus.
"But they didn’t want to give up living in the city, or the ease of maintaining a condo. Proximity to work was also a factor."
According to housing analyst G. Tracy Cross, the city has gone from a 3% share of the metropolitan market in 1993 to 14% today. Since condos are a larger part of the city market, it makes sense that their sales are growing. Cross, of Tracy Cross & Associates, Schaumburg, Ill., estimates that there have been 46 major condominium conversions in the city since 1993.
Another contributing factor is the extremely tight lakefront rental market. Very few buildings have been added to the city’s dwindling stock of rentals, while thousands of units have been eliminated from the pool as a result of condominium conversions. Condos have been popular in the city for decades, but brand new high-rise condominium buildings have been absent until recently. More than a dozen new condo towers are either under construction or pre-selling units along the lake, and announcements for several more are imminent.