The Star-Ledger
Real Estate Marketplace

Expert explains
Conversion plan
Conversions of rental housing to condominiums can be enormously successful if marketing plans are geared to the needs of the consumer, according to one of the nation’s leading experts in the field.

“Playing to your strength is as much a part of a successful condominium conversion as it is in waging a winning political campaign. In each case, the key is a careful evaluation of who the consumer is, what he wants in terms of a living environment and what can be readily offered to him.” said Jack P. Studnicky, president of J.P.S. Associates, Inc., a New York and Washington, D.C., real estate consulting and marketing firm.

According to Studnicky, not every rental property is a good candidate for conversion.

“Just as in politics there are winners and there are losers. A careful evaluation of each ‘candidate’ must be made before any campaign can be successfully waged.” He said.

Studnicky pointed out that in making a strategic analysis of a property, the first step in determining a potential candidate for conversion is the location. To assess a particular location, the builder must keep in mind certain considerations such as the appealing assets of the property, access to transportation, convenience to shopping, parking facilities and the surrounding neighborhood.

There are other elements that also must be analyzed. One must consider what the real estate project offers in terms of living space and what the apartment mix ratio will be.

Studnicky stressed that the entrepreneur-builder must remember that potential buyers are looking for a place to call home. They are making a major investment, perhaps the biggest in their lifetime. Therefore, the successful condominium conversion must pay strict attention to the smallest detail.

“The competition in today’s market is stiff, both from rental units and other condominium projects. In order to attract buyers, many condominium complexes will offer special amenities, such as a swimming pool and health club,” said Studnicky. “In many areas of the country, in fact, a condominium project is expected to provide these amenities. This is especially true in the southern and western parts of the country.”

J.P.S. Associates, Inc., has wide experience in the condominium field. J.P.S. is a full-service real estate organization that employs 67 persons. The various J.P.S. subsidiaries are involved in consulting, construction, conversion, design, marketing and brokerage.

“After assessing all the strengths of the property and determining what methods can be implemented to improve the conditions, there is one more element which should not be overlooked. That is the rental tenants already living on the premises,” said Studnicky.

“Special care and treatment should be given to these potential consumers. Since they already live in the building, and may have a long-term emotional investment in where they live and the surrounding community, the right kinds of incentives will turn these tenants into buyers. Financial incentives in the marketing program could entice them to stay,” he said.

Studnicky noted that any prospective condominium purchaser is looking for a secure and profitable investment. Timing is important. The current economic situation, today’s inflationary market, competitive prices, fluctuating interest rates and the availability of financing have a great effect on whether any condominium conversion project can be successfully sold.

“Paying attention to details will pay off financially,” he said. “But you have to know what you are getting into if you want to come out ahead in today’s condominium marketplace,” he said.