Condo Sales Drop: What You Should Know Before Buying One

Accidental landlords Amy and Lawrence LeVine are having trouble unloading their one-bedroom condominium in uptown Chicago, within walking distance from jogging and biking trails off Lake Michigan. They would love to put in a renter, rather than take a loss on the sale, but their condo association already booted out their one and only tenant due to a rental time-limit clause in the association's bylaws.The unit has been back on the market now since February 2010, sitting empty ever since their renter had to leave. "We were breaking even on the rent," says Lawrence, "but our renter would've liked to have stayed. We would have liked that too."

The LeVines are in an increasingly common predicament. Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 28.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 460,000 in July from 640,000 in June, and are 24.0 percent below the 605,000-unit level in July 2009, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors. The median existing condo price nationally was $176,800 in July, down 1.7 percent from a year ago. The heavy supply makes it a good buyer's market.

This may be tough news for a condo owner to hear, especially given tales of homeowners associations causing some homeowners to lose their homes. However, there is hope for condo owners or those looking to buy a condo.