Monday, November 24, 2008

To Live or To Sell!

Downtown st louis lofts for lease
Last month at the Downtown Neighborhood Nights, we ran into one of our clients. With so much for them to do and see, we didn't spend too much time talking except for a few brief minutes. How's your life? Do you enjoy your space? etc.

We found out they had become the Association President too.

That brought up the subject of how they had chosen to implement leadership in the building.

One topic that seems to be coming up lately as a problem for people trying to sell is the creative RENTAL RESTRICTIONS have been implemented in some of the loft buildings downtown.

It seems that buyers, when faced with a decision between two or three lofts will choose one with less restrictive by-laws. Their "short list". That often times one of the determining factors is conveyed like this, "well if I ever needed to rent this one, I could." Of course some loft buyers have every intention of renting out their space at some point of their ownership.

We discussed that with our client. He cited some research that was provided regarding appreciation levels in comparable buildings. One building chose to "manage" its residents affairs with edicts and fines. Another similar building had higher fees with less restrictions. According to the study, in this situation price appreciation was higher in the building with less restrictions. Instead of being heavy handed, the condo association held parties and mixers in the building so that residents could get together and talk about issues in an informal setting.

Of course, I have no idea what study this is or the validity. There could be other factors not made clear in our discussion.

It seems interesting though, that the lofts we are trying to sell with the most difficulty have strict rental restrictions while the units that seem to sell faster have less absolute restrictions regarding rentals or other matters. Since the summer, we've actually sold more units in the Syndicate than any other building. While prices are drastically lower in resale units,

Also interesting to me is that often times condo board members we talk to only cite the negative problems that rentals can cause and seemingly have little or no interest in how restrictions can stiffle resale. Seemingly there are two sides to the matter, and those that believe having strict limits on rentals do so because they are entirely focused on the buildings livability and fear of renters. Selling and resale value tends to not be as high of a consideration. The minority of people selling seem to take up the issue of association restrictions at times, but as people leaving the group, they have little influence. As a realtor, of course, we'd like to think we focus on the "big picture" but my primary interest with buyer's is usually resale.

Condo assocations to have to consider the number of leases allowed in a building to keep the building "warrantable". Usually that number is a maximum of 40-49% leased units. The former giant Pyramid had a brilliant scheme: to only allow rentals for "original owners" creating a noble class within their buildings. This really was a scheme that allowed them to sell with less trouble, and to reduce competition for them down downt the road. Members of the noble class always seem to embrace this right. Sometimes those affected by strict rules talk lawsuit: forcing the will of one onto the many. That doesn't seem like the way things should be handled either.

No matter how this issue is viewed, or any other, one thing clear is that setting policy in condo associations can be a delicate matter. No training or education is required to be elected to the board or to lease, but having some collective wisdom or case studies available to those who serve would be nice.

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