Last year, 824 Austin apartments were converted to condos. This year, that number is expected to grow to 1,167. As downtown condo prices have skyrocketed to $400 / SF or more (sometimes much more), a wave of Central Austin rental properties are being converted into more-affordable central condo buildings.
Many of these new projects offer upscale central living for much less than the price of the major high-rise projects. As downtown condo prices have rapidly increased while rents have grown at a slower pace, downtown condo conversion provide a quick return for developers. While the price is lower — often $200 – $250 / SF — the product is also very different. Unlike the new glass, concrete, and steel downtown towers with panoramic views and high-quality build-outs, most of the current crop of conversions are low-rise renovations of older wood-framed buildings without views and with limited amenities. The main attraction is the price of entry, with units starting under $100K — they are the most reasonable yet chic living options within miles of downtown.
Representative projects are being completed in Clarksville, East Austin, and South Austin.
Here is a summary from the Statesman:
Ryan Robinson, demographer for the City of Austin, said that with demand for downtown area housing skyrocketing, “market pressure pushes prices up, and property owners can realize a larger margin from selling units as condos.”Most of the converted units have emerged from apartments built in the 1960s and 1970s in “prime locations” in Central and Southeast Austin that command higher-than-average prices, Davis said.Often they appeal to buyers because they offer “upscale living in a mixed-use development” with boutique-style retail, restaurants, coffee bars and the like, “all in one new urbanism-type community in the heart of the city,” Davis said.Barbara Ditlow, a real estate agent with Capital City Sotheby’s International Realty, knows of four condo conversions in South Austin, all with updated wiring, plumbing and walkways, plus granite counters, stainless steel appliances and wood floors. . . But Ditlow said buyers need to do their homework before purchasing converted condos.”Some (developers) buy these apartments at high price points and have to skimp on the finish-out to meet the bottom line,” she said, adding that it’s important to research the developers and their track records. “Don’t get stuck with sow’s ear when you thought you were buying a silk purse.”
The $13.5M 2020 Congress Project in South Austin includes units priced from $97K for 425SF to $200K for 943 SF
The 30-unit 41 Waller conversion project in East Austin has units starting at $215K for a 936SF 2-bedroom condo