During the past year, Steve Kirstein, principal at BOWA, in McLean, Va., has seen increased interest in condominium projects in his market. He attributes this to homeowners seeking to reduce their commute in a traffic-congested area and opting to move from the suburbs to Washington, D.C. “We’re noticing a major shifting of the population moving closer to the city center,” he says, including both working and retired homeowners.
Empty nesters and older owners looking to downsize from large houses “naturally gravitate to condominiums,” Kirstein says, which require less maintenance. In addition, house values in the city are staying strong compared with values in the suburbs.
Though BOWA has developed an expertise in condo remodeling over the past 15 years, it is tapping the recent trend by reinforcing its reputation with building managers and real estate professionals and marketing these types of projects — dedicating a page on its website to this work and focusing a portion of its newsletters and advertising on condo remodels. “When we let people know we do it — that has helped it take on steam,” Kirstein says.
Because some buyers are unaware that their envisioned remodel will be limited by the building’s structure, Kirstein says it’s best when clients request a pre-purchase consultation. BOWA asks architects and engineers to evaluate units so that clients can make a purchase decision with the renovation estimate in mind.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.