The slow rebound of the housing market is leaving behind condominium owners at Forest Park’s Residences at the Grove and elsewhere. The suffering is real for owners who need to sell because of job transfers or other hardships.
Sellers face a glut of inventory, restrictive mortgage lending, and price competition from foreclosures and short sales. A quick Internet search shows there are 88 condos for sale in Forest Park right now and, according to Realtor records, a foreclosed condo sold in Forest Park last year for $13,500. Added to the pressure is competition from local rental units, many of which have been upgraded with amenities such as granite-counter kitchens and luxury touches not formerly found in apartment life.
As owners at the Grove are finding out, letting their neighbors rent out their units in order to reduce economic hardship can, in turn, make their own unit more difficult to mortgage. Banks and appraisers, once too eager to generate loans now won’t touch a loan unless it’s low-risk and can be bundled and re-sold. And the Feds only seem to regulate “in the rear-view mirror” as some bankers say.
The condo-owner dream has become a nightmare. It all adds up to a perfect storm of pain for our neighbors, and the end doesn’t seem to be in sight. The village council will need to tiptoe through this quagmire as they decide whether to allow more rentals at a development like the Grove.
The good news: It’s worse elsewhere. Forest Park still has the amenities of Madison Street. We have walkability, access to two different train lines and the expressway. The Grove and other newer developments in town are mostly well-built buildings that are nice places to live. When (or if) the condo market rebounds, it’ll happen sooner here. Not much solace to someone who needs to sell – or rent – immediately, but a tiny drop of optimism wrung from a very negative situation.