Investors eye growing condo prices

But financing, building restrictions create dilemma

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Conventional wisdom usually holds that when interest slows for a specific commodity, the least desirable in the category is not only the first to suffer but it also sustains the greatest loss. Traditionally, condominiums have not appreciated at the pace of single-family detached homes so any 'softness" in the market was expected to surface with condos before detached homes. Not so for condos in all markets. In fact some regions report that condominiums had appreciated at a greater pace than single-family detached homes in the past year. Condominiums have been the answer to may home buyers -- especially first-timers -- stung by the cost and scarcity of affordable conventional homes. Condos have also been a target for investors who have been eager to rent out units in popular high-rent neighborhoods. Condo buyers -- like many single-family home buyers in the country -- are purchasing a lifestyle. Most consumers buy condos because they can't afford to buy a house, while others, like the...