How long do people stay in condos?

It’s a common perception that Chicago condo buyers are short-termers, destined to move on 3 to 5 years after purchasing. When I sold units in my developments I’d often ask buyers how long they intended to stay, and the answer almost invariably was “3 years, 5 at most.”

This subject came to mind when I chanced upon the record of a 2003 estate sale at 2333 N Geneva Terr. The seller was the executor of the estate of one of the original purchasers, who had been there when I bought in 1975.

All of the newly-built units at 2333 were 1,200 square foot (approx) 2-bedrooms with 2 full baths, balconies opening off the living room and eat-in kitchens. The units had central air, hardwood flooring in the living areas, and a woodburning fireplace in the living / dining area. The building had only 4 units on each floor, with a laundry room on each floor. Soundproofing was terrific since the floors were concrete and an exposed brick wall was the only wall shared with another unit. My purchase price in 1975 was about $44,000, which included an assigned parking space on-site. I recouped nearly half my 10% down payment from a $2,000 first-time buyer income tax credit then available to spur sales during the downturn of the mid-70s. With the exception of a semi-retired Japanese dentist, all of the buyers were about my age.

The units appreciated quickly, and I sold in 1978 for $79,000 to move to a 3-flat rowhouse in DePaul that I’d gutted and renovated into a single-family home. The most recent sale of my unit occurred 10 years ago, for $310,000.

Looking at current property records I recognize the names of at least 4 of my neighbors, including one of the developers, who’ve owned there now for more than 35 years. Other owners remained in the building for more than 15 years before selling.

Is the common perception of condo owners’ tenure as often as not a misperception?

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