An Analytical Analysis of Analyzing Condominiums

June 15, 2007 by Lucas Lechuga

People often ask me why I chose to focus on condominiums rather than single family homes when I began my career in real estate. I guess the answer is mainly attributable to my formal education and the work experience I gained after graduating college.

As mentioned in the About Me section of this site, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance with a specialization in Investments. After graduation, I worked as an equity options trader on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange for four years.

It became second nature for me to begin to analogize most aspects of my life in investment terms. Condominiums to me had similar homogeneous characteristics as that of a financial security than single family homes.

In my opinion, it is much easier to analyze the true market value of a condominium than it is for a single family home. A price per square foot analysis of condo units in a building, and even a neighborhood, reveals more truth than the price per square foot analysis of single family homes on a particular street or in a particular neighborhood.

A 2 bedroom condo in a particular building, in many instances, will have the same characteristics of another 2 bedroom condo in that same building, such as shared common areas, amenities, year built, square footage, appliances, floor plan, maintenance fees, view, parking spaces and so on. Any differentiations in the aforementioned qualities can be easily adjusted in the value of the subject property versus comparable properties.

It is much more difficult to assess the value of a single family home. It is common to see a small, outdated home situated right down the street from a large, recently built home. Of course there are ways to appraise the values of each by making adjustments for any differentiations in each home but it just isn’t the same, in my mind. A home buyer may fall in love with one home while he or she finds the home right down the street an eyesore.

It becomes much more expensive to turn a home down the street into your dream home than it is to turn a condo down the hallway into your ideal abode. The expense of replacing or changing the floors, paint job, window treatments, light fixtures and other elements of a condo can more easily be ascertained.

These thoughts guided me into the decision of choosing to specialize in condominiums over single family homes when I began my career in real estate. As the housing bubble talk began to escalate a few years ago, I began to think of how nice it would be conceive a way to hedge real estate investments for the average home purchaser or investor in case of a bubble-popping scenario.

I guess fellow Chicagoans at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange had similar thoughts. They created a tradable home market index based upon the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which measures home prices based on recorded changes in home values and a repeat sales methodology.

The futures and options instruments that were enacted by the CME began trading in May of 2006. The purpose was to offer jittery homeowners a way to hedge the investment in their homes against future price declines. The CME also saw a large interest from investors to directly participate in the much-talked-about housing market.

While being a giant leap in the right direction, the CME’s housing index is far from perfect. They introduced tradable securities based upon large metropolitan areas which include the following: Miami, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Washington, as well as a weighted composite index.

However, it is difficult to adequately hedge the value of a condo in a building such as The Setai in South Beach from a condo in a boutique building in Hialeah using their index.

I have decided to create my own, localized, index. This index will be based upon market data derived from major condo buildings in Miami. I will create a graphical representation of a six-month price per square foot moving average using data of closed sales and a month-to-month price per square foot analysis of units currently on the market. I may include other relevant statistics in the future to provide more in-depth information relevant to the Miami condo market. I hope you guys trading the Miami housing index at the CME appreciate the information. I’d love to hear from you.

I plan to release an index update each week. At the outset, I will rotate Miami neighborhoods for a total of four neighborhoods (South Beach, Brickell, Arts & Design District and Miami Beach minus South Beach). In the future I plan to add Downtown Miami and Park West as its own index once the nearly constructed buildings in those areas are fully built.

I’ve decided to name my index the “Miami Condo Index”, or MCI for short. Obviously my index won’t be tradable as is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s housing index, but I hope that it will provide more insight to localized housing markets throughout Miami’s major neighborhoods.

The Miami Condo Index will launch next week with an in-depth look at Brickell.

I urge other Realtors throughout the country to create their own localized housing indices to fully encompass their own markets and provide market transparency to home buyers like no other.

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4 Comments on "An Analytical Analysis of Analyzing Condominiums"


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Anonymous
8 years 9 months ago

Hello Lucas. I’ve stumbled upon your Blog as I myself embark in creating my own (Blog.MiamiDade-RealEstate.com). There is definitely much for me to learn about blogging, the right blog-site to use, the right content, etc. However, I see you are setting a standard for me and I thank you. Hope you visit mine from time to time as well. Thank you and continued success.

Anonymous
Juan
7 years 8 months ago

MCI, this tool will be very useful on the making purchase decision…
I am very interested in your MCI regarding brickell,as $ /sft, seem to very different. Also the number of closings seems to be low. It seems the units inventory is still very high. the trend seems to be different promotionals events on the works ..please your prespective?

Anonymous
Libo
7 years 6 months ago

The problem as I see it is that the state of Florida insits on charging non-residents of the US a much higher property tax. In addition, non-residents of the US are charged a school tax when their children will never attend a US school. This is a deterrent for non-residents from investing in Florida real estate. This issue needs to be corrected soon if the State of Florida wants to attract foreign investment in Florida real estate.

Has there been any developments on this issue that you are aware of ?

Anonymous
db
7 years 28 days ago

I guess what I am asking is advice on investigating the risk factors in a newer condo

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