Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fallacies of Public Perception

St. Louis real estate
I recently got a great comment from a nameless fellow blogger that seemed to be a perfect example (despite the massive run-on sentence) of some of the misinformation that I hear too often about downtown real estate.

Prices are dropping too! I know you're on the inside, but I'm one of those young up and comers so to speak that these lofts are suppose to target, yet no one I talk to would move downtown including me and I work downtown and look at these everyday.

I consider prices dropping to mean that something actually sold for more than it will later. Buyer's who visit lofts with me can attest to my beliefs that some lofts are overpriced. In 2005, there was a fork in the road, so to speak, where a group of developer's continued on doing what they had been doing for the past several years regarding new construction pricing. (See my post back then, Loft Pricing: 401) A newer group of loft developers sort of tested the market that year with limited success. What the heck, it was a boom year. Why not?

What happens in St. Louis real estate? The market rate seems to slowly increase.

To say that the prices are dropping to me means that the market rate has dropped. That happens with gas, bananas and beer, but not usually real estate. To see artificially high "list prices" drop does not mean that pricing has dropped. It just means that someone is trying to get real.

Point 2, Are lofts being built for the next generation? My answer would be officially, "sort of, but mostly not."

To me, some of the developers that are really trying the "youth marketing" thing are the same ones that are over-pricing, under-sizing, and not doing as well in the numbers game.

Despite all this, the urban renaissance in St. Louis marches on.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Winter Loft Sales Pick Up

Urban St. Louis Real Estate
Looking at loft sales in January and February may not really look like much. 21 Sales. Big Deal.

All things considered, it's a pretty solid winter.

Think about it-most closings for January and February occured due to house shoppers in December. While "the holidays" really only make up a day or two, business life pretty much ends by mid-December. The focus for many is on office parties, travel and gifts. Despite that, we kept relatively busy these months. Other than the penthouses at the Banker's Lofts and a few Marquette units, most buildings that were MLS listed had already had most of their closings by the end of December.

The market is has already turned the corner into the Spring, but here are the winter sales as listed in the MLS:

2020 Washington #401----------------------------$170,000
1720 Chouteau #202------------------------------$173,000
2020 Washington #313----------------------------$179,000
1136 Washington #209----------------------------$179,000
1136 Washington #612----------------------------$182,000
300 N Broadway #1504----------------------------$194,650
1123 Washington #310-----------------------------$196,000
1136 Washington #610----------------------------$203,000
300 N Broadway #1008----------------------------$209,900
1123 Washington #510-----------------------------$214,240
2020 Washington #406----------------------------$217,500
1123 Washington #504-----------------------------$219,000
300 N Broadway #1101----------------------------$231,900
300 N Broadway #1102----------------------------$235,900
901 Washington #305-----------------------------$274,506
703 N 13th St #407--------------------------------$310,000
315 N 11th St. #902--------------------------------$349,900
400 S 14th St. #1018------------------------------$444,900
901 Washington #704-----------------------------$497,150
901 Washington #701-----------------------------$530,871
901 Washington #703-----------------------------$776,539

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Grease is the Word

In the press downtown, City Museum really gets its due. Maybe I just don't read enough news about the area, but one thing I never really hear enough about his how fantastic the Art Loft Theater is.

Last year I saw Batboy and vowed to attend the theater for every production. I failed miserably.

I finally got back last night and had a blast watching the play/musical Grease. When the movie Grease was came out back in the 70's, my interest in Theater was limited to Kiss and Ozzie Osbourne. The stage version was so much more than what I remember from the movie. The cast was fantastic. The script was hysterical.

Once again I vow to get to the next production, The Clockwork Orange in April or May. I can't say enough about one of downtown-wests greatest assets.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


St. Louis real estate
I finally was able to attend one of the meetings of the housing committee of the Downtown St. Louis Partnership yesterday. We joined the partnership going on 2 years ago, and for some reason that commmittee wasn't meeting, or didn't need new members or something strange. It was good to be present to hear what the discussion is about.

There was a banker, a developer, a builder, a commercial realtor, me and my assistant, and the folks from the partnership--a fairly diverse group.

We talked about our good occupancy and sale rate, we talked about the Downtown living Tour, we talked about the special Downtown section of the St. Louis Magazine. What really got the bulk of discussion is the new development coming online this year.

Kevin Farrell, at the partnership said that in the next year, with all the new construction going on, there will be almost 2000 condos available for pre-sale in the downtown area. Wow! Should loft buyer's be concerned about a "glut" as the Post Disgrace would have us believe?

The interesting thing about construction is it's financing.

Construction fincnancing has its own requirements that protect the lender and its investment. Our discussion at the meeting touched on the point that lenders are looking to firm up those requirements even more in the coming months. What is required to really get going on one of these monumental construction projects is solid sales base: something like 30% of the lofts must be under contract in order for the bank to begin disbursements for construction to begin. More benchmarks in sales and occupancy are sometimes thrown in to the process down the road too.

All these bank stipulations protect the banks, but they also protect the neigborhood and the consumers from the "over-building" myth that has been propagated by downtown naysayers since lofts were first introduced into St. Louis.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Downtown "Government Day"

St. LouisThe Downtown St. Louis Residents Association will be holding a meeting with the Mayor on Tuesday March 6th--6:30pm at the Tap Room. Don't miss the opportunity to represent downtown, meet the mayor, and make sure that the matters affecting downtown residents are voiced in this special opportunity.

Beyond the meeting with the mayor, as most of us know from the all of those hideous, non-real estate signs out there, that it's also the day of the primary elections. The 6th Ward, which makes up a substantial chunk of the Downtown West, will be holding an election for a new alderman. The current alderman for the 6th Ward, Lewis Reed is challenging for the Aldermanic Presidents post. It will be an important day for all the residents in the city to show up and participate.

From my position, I see how so much of the progress all over the city has taken place because of the businesses and investors that are willing to invest in the city neighborhoods. Sometimes what the headlines don't pick up is the countless hours our public servants work, the ideas and leadership they share, and the direction they continue to see for our city.

Tuesday is the day to "Suit Up and Show Up" and hopefully make the best choices for our continued success.

Politics of Deception

St. Louis Missouri Real Estate
The rash of articles trashing the real estate market and more recently the mortgage business has been bizarre.

Every day this week an article in the Wall Street Journal has discussed how mortgage defaults are on the rise and that banks are not lending as much to the "sub prime" market.

Fine. Big Deal.

Yesterday the article was about how lending may even get more stringent to in the alternative markets.

Of course, the emphasis of the article was how this will continue to cast a dark cloud on the real estate market.

My only problem is that this series of articles has done absolutely everything to take the focus off the major slide the stock market is taking this week (remember, Dow Jones is the publisher of the Wall Street Journal).

Interesting though. I have a closing today that almost couldn't happen. Why? The all three title companies were too busy (read: lots of real estate deals closing).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The "East of Boyle" Phenomenon

Next week's issue of the St. Louis Business Journal will focus its special section on the topic "Highway 40: the Price of Progress."

I'm intrigued by this topic. People have been talking about the subject for months. Many look at 2007 as the year of reprieve. We thought all along that the contruction would "really" begin this year. Not just a few lane closures here and there, but the road would seriously be closed.

Many professionals thought that 2007 would be a busy year because all the people sitting on the fence from last year. In the city, East of Boyle, I predict a population surge.

City living has been the new trend, but this year will see the final shuffle before the highway shuts down. It will be interesting to see what the Business Journals take is for this regional event. My prediction is that I'll keep hearing what many of my recent buyer's have been saying, "just make sure I'm east of Boyle."