West Harbor Drive Condos
Condominium complexes on West Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Growth was healthy in condominium sales last year, but lagged behind sales of single-family homes, a trend that could provide openings for first-time buyers, according to a new Zillow analysis.

The U.S. median sale price in November for a condo was $255,333, just under $41,000 cheaper than a house.

In San Diego, the gap was far greater – median condo prices hit $465,500 in November, about $240,000 less than the cost of a single-family home.

The most expensive markets, by far, were in San Jose and San Francisco. Meanwhile, the lowest median prices for condos could be had in Cleveland, at $124,000, and Houston, Cincinnati and Orlando, all hovering around $150,000.

Analysts traced the slowing of the condo market by rising inventory and a growing share of listings with price cuts.

A relatively soft market presents an attractive option for those looking both to buy and gain access to shared amenities like gyms and pools as the pandemic eases.

“Condos provide a unique opportunity for prospective buyers looking for a foot in the door, especially in markets where house prices have risen out of reach or where proximity to urban centers is a priority,” said Nicole Bachaud, an economic data analyst at Zillow. “Right now many amenities that make condos appealing, like gyms, pools, and community spaces, are not fully open. But in a post-pandemic world, it’s likely these amenities will come back in full force and become an attractive selling point.” 

As available single-family homes became more scarce in 2020, condo inventory grew – a sign that owners were trading up for more space.

Inventory was up in a few markets that began their ascent in 2020 and are predicted to be the hottest this year, including Austin and Phoenix. 

The median condo prices in November 2020 in other California markets were:

  • Sacramento, $365,667
  • Riverside: $370,833
  • Los Angeles: $546,667
  • San Francisco: $713,667
  • San Jose, $718,333

In other western markets, the median November 2020 condo prices were:

  • Las Vegas, $163,500
  • Phoenix, $227,040
  • Salt Lake City, $260,000
  • Portland, $286,500
  • Denver, $278,300