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Aging Condos Are a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ and Need More Oversight

Maintenance is a problem at some of the condos, housing co-ops, and HOAs that house 74 million Americans. 

It’s not just condominium buildings that are showing their age, as was the case in the deadly collapse of a condo in Surfside, Fla. The condominium form of ownership itself is under strain. Some condo buildings are even being “de-converted” to rental properties—including the 391-unit 1400 North Lake Shore Dr. in Chicago, which was bought by a New York developer in 2019 for about $107 million. 

Some economists argue that the U.S. and other countries made a mistake by going too heavily into condos and related forms of ownership, including housing co-ops and homeowner associations, in the decades after World War II. Some 73.9 million Americans lived in condos, housing co-ops, and HOAs in 2019, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. The shared form of ownership is also popular in Europe, Israel, Australia, China, and Russia, among other parts of the world, says Amnon Lehavi, dean of the Harry Radzyner Law School of IDC Herzliya in Israel.