Why Cities Struggle to Turn Vacant Real Estate Into Housing

iQuanti: Vacant real estate presents great housing opportunities in many cities across the United states. In some instances, city officials allocate time, energy, and resources to transform abandoned buildings into housing. Yet, doing so can be more trouble than it's worth.

There are many reasons why cities struggle to turn vacant commercial real estate into housing. These include:

1. The Cost Can Be Substantial

A significant investment is required to turn an empty building into a house. First, someone must purchase the building and decide how to renovate it, and any commercial real estate lending or investments involving the property will need to be resolved. From here, an additional investment is required to update the property. After the building renovations are complete, the property can then be used as housing.

However, there is no guarantee that anyone will want to use the building as their home. And there is no guarantee the property will increase in value and deliver a long-lasting return on investment, either. 

2. Major Property Renovations May Be Required

A vacant building may need more than a cosmetic overhaul if it has been empty for an extended period of time. Buildings may require comprehensive structural or mechanical system changes to ensure it meets the city's most up-to-date codes.

This can result in a lengthy property renovation process. If problems arise during this process, delays can hamper a city's goal to turn vacant real estate into housing on a designated time frame as well.

3. A Building Cannot Serve as Housing

Not all vacant commercial properties can serve as homes. For example, a city may consider transforming an empty office building into apartment housing. The building may have wide and deep floors in the center, since the property was originally designed to provide office workers with ample space for storage and other functions. However, the building's design may limit the amount of light and air that can enter through the windows. Thus, the building may not meet city codes for apartment housing. Or, the property may fail to meet the needs of city apartment buyers or renters. 

4. New Construction Can Provide a Superior Option

Constructing new city housing may prove to be more cost-effective than transforming empty buildings into homes.

A city can hire architects and other building professionals who can determine the best course of action for turning vacant real estate into housing. These professionals can operate within a budget and timeline and do everything in their power to ensure a project is completed as requested.

Plus, new construction allows a city to erect homes from scratch that meet its specifications. If the city is building multiple homes at once, it can streamline the construction process.

Will More Cities Turn Vacant Real Estate into Housing?

Cities likely will weigh the pros and cons of transforming vacant real estate into housing in the months and years to come. In some instances, they may find doing so can deliver short- and long-term benefits. At other times, they may discover vacant real estate offers a poor housing option.

With the right approach, a city can get the most value out of vacant real estate, regardless of whether it is used as housing. If a city continues to explore opportunities to invest in its vacant buildings, it is well-equipped to uncover new ways to support its communities.

Source: iQuanti, Inc.


Categories: Real Estate

Tags: commercial real estate, housing, real estate