Pell-mell condominium conversions

The sole "hot" sector in the 1979 housing market was the one on which no official statistics are kept -- condominium conversions. They increased 70 percent and more than tripled over 1977.

And, in contrast to every other housing sector, they should do equally well this year.

These are findings of a special US Housing Markets study published by Advance Mortgage Corporation of Detroit, this nation's third largest mortgage banker.

There were 145,000 conversions last year compared with 85,000 in 1978 and 45, 000 in 1977. (The 1979 total includes 12,000 co-op conversions, almost all in New York City.)

There are expected to be another 145,000 conversions in 1980. Big increases in the Florida market and New York and continuing diffusion of the conversion trend into medium and smaller markets should offset declines in most other major markets.

Official statistics of condominium conversions are not maintained. The study uses local documentations of conversions where available plus estimates of informed observers in other local markets to build up its national estimates.

Even industry observers, the study says, were surprised by the strength of the conversion trend. In a survey the publication made last spring, only a 30 percent increase was projected.

Conversions shot up from near-zero to between 2,000 and 2,500 last year in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Palm Beach County, Fla.

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