January 29, 2014

The First To Get Out Don’t Get Hurt

The Post and Courier in South Carolina. “It occupies the top floor in one of Charleston’s tallest buildings. And, if sold at its $19.5 million list price, the expansive two-story penthouse could mark another high: the largest amount ever for a condominium in the historic city. John Dunnan of Handsome Properties Inc., who’s listing the penthouse said he’s confident the Charleston market can accommodate such a listing. Dunnan’s listing rivals high-priced properties commonplace in larger cities such as New York, Atlanta and Miami. ‘The economy is improving and the market is just arriving,’ he said. ‘We took the appraised value for a listing in New York City and cut it half for comparable size with the same interior designer.’”

The Miami Herald in Florida. “Marc Sarnoff played his part quickly Wednesday morning, shoveling some dirt on the ground of a Brickell Avenue construction site for a ceremonial groundbreaking. He didn’t linger after the photo op; there was another shovel awaiting him at another condo tower groundbreaking in just 25 minutes. And one more after lunch. ‘We’ve never had a three-groundbreaking day in the history of Miami,’ said Sarnoff, a Miami city commissioner. ‘I’ve done two, but never three.’”

“Related Group CEO Jorge Pérez said Florida lends itself to boom and bust cycles, but he said the company learned lessons from the crash. He said the 453-unit SLS Brickell is almost completely sold out, with buyers agreeing to pay 50 percent of the purchase price before construction workers finish the top floor of the 52-story building. ‘We are trying to reduce the chance,’ he said, ‘that there will be a bust like the last time.’”

Miami Today in Florida. “How bad has the foreclosure crisis been in Miami-Dade County? Initial filings here dropped by 36% last year, yet the county remains the foreclosure capital of the US. Meanwhile, 46 condominium projects are in construction in the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, according to Peter Zalewski, a principal consulting firm Condo Vultures. He said there are areas of concern where inventory and price levels have been rising at alarming rates: the Brickell area and the beachside communities north of Miami Beach: Surfside, Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles Beach. He said he’s most concerned that Brickell’s condo market is overheating.”

“‘Developers are sprinting to put their buildings up,’ he added, ‘because the first ones [into a market after a price collapse like the last one and the first to get out] are the ones who don’t get hurt.’”

The Palm Beach Post in Florida. “A new report found that 2013 saw an increase in buyers with plans to either flip the homes or renovate and rent. According to RealtyTrac, 12 percent of Florida home purchases in 2013 were made by institutional investors, up from 9 percent in 2012. Local investors are watching the purchases with concerns. They say Wall Street buyers like Blackrock, which owns Invitation Homes, and Colony Financial, are overpaying for properties, artificially jacking up the prices.”

“‘It’s what I call the corporatization of residential America,’ said Jack McCabe, chief executive of McCabe Research & Consulting in Deerfield Beach. ‘You have a lot of neighborhoods now where big percentages of homes are owned by corporations and what happens to the community in the long run isn’t being talked about.’”

All Alabama. “When they first went on the market around Thanksgiving of 2013, the three available condos in the Antoinette building ranged from $449,000 for the two downstairs units to $549,000 for the upstairs unit. But Debra and Daly Baumhauer, who bought the building last April and have spent the past few months renovating it, have reduced the prices to $349,000 and $375,000.”

“The Baumhauers sold their family home in Spring Hill and now live in one of the upstairs units in the Antoinette. ‘It’s a knockout, high-end building,’ said Realtor Ashley McLean of LLB&B Inc. ‘You feel like you’re in a New York apartment.’”

The Tennessean. “Jill Tzompanakis has seen the effect that foreclosures have had on her neighbors’ home values, so she’s relieved to hear that the number of distressed properties in Wilson County has fallen dramatically over the past year. ‘It kills the comps in a neighborhood and kills the value,’ the Lebanon homeowner said.”

“Tzompanakis and her husband, Nick, have owned a home in the Spence Creek subdivision for about six years. They have seen the prices of some homes decline and believe foreclosures continue to affect the market. ‘What foreclosures sell for, it’s so low it shocks me,’ she said. One house that originally sold for $275,000 was purchased in foreclosure for $168,000, Tzompanakis said. ‘You hear stories like that and you wonder,’ she said.’”

Bits Bucket for January 29, 2014

Post off-topic ideas, links, and Craigslist finds here.