Empty hotels get second life as tiny apartments during pandemic

Real-estate company Vivo Living is turning a former Ramada Inn hotel in Mesa, Ariz., into apartments. | Photo: Vivo Living

By Will Parker, Konrad Putzier | Wall Street Journal

Investors are buying hotels and turning them into rental apartments, in the latest sign of how the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the American real-estate market.

These buyers are trying to take advantage of the hospitality industry’s crisis by taking over struggling or foreclosed properties at bargain prices. They are also looking to profit from rising demand for cheap housing from households forced to downsize during the recession.

The small but growing number of hotel conversions—some properties are also being turned into offices—is a symptom of the turmoil the pandemic has caused in the hotel sector. Many properties are shut down or running steep losses because of a drop in travel.

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