Friday, January 30, 2009

Urban Oasis

Construction means different things to different people. In general, it pushes people away. Sidewalks are closed. Construction vehicles, dump trucks, cranes and fences take up the sidewalks and block off the area. Prior uses of a space come to a halt and the project takes over.

Right now, there are two projects nearing completion that are currently in the state described above. Thier eminent completion this spring/summer will revamp downtown in a much needed direction.

This weeks St. Louis Business Journal had an article about the Post Office Plaza and how its problems are being addressed. The unanticipated costs of construction is nerve-wracking. In this case, assuming a parking lot hadn't been the construction dump from a prior building at that location was the problem. Kudos to the Danforth Foundation and the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis in keeping the project moving forward. In order to repay a loan from the Danforth Foundation, organizations or idividuals can purchase "naming rights" to park benches for $7500, so businesses like mine who are just shy of buying naming rights to a sports arena can participate.

Just a few blocks away from the Old Post Office
is the nearly complete CITY GARDEN. Expected to be completed by mid summer, this park between 8th and 10th along Market will be another opportunity to showcase downtown and give residents and visitors an enjoyable hiatus. Unlike the plaza style of Post Office Plaza, the combination of art and nature is a welcome addition.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

St. Louis City Sales Data 2007 & 2008

Last week, I put down a fair amount of information on the downtown real estate market and provided the sales information about the area. I also talked a bit about how the year of 2008 felt for a real estate professional (2008 Real Estate Sales Downtown ).

The post is something I've tried to do for a few years. Putting the year in perspective.

Of course, that was just downtown.

Hearing a news broadcast yesterday, I heard some remark about housing values and felt that the report was misinformation; exagerating the markets downturn.

Today I pulled up the city wide sales statistics. Looking at single family residential, condominiums and multi-family homes, the report is included below, but the most notable data follows:

Year----Total Sales Number/$ Value----Average Price---Days on Market

2007--------5000 / $701,227,559---------$140,246---------------88

2008--------4532 / $515,009,046---------$113,638---------------99


Thursday, January 22, 2009

2008 Real Estate Sales Downtown

St. Louis Lofts
This post is something I've been thinking about all year. After 2007, as a realtor, I felt kicked around. As we found out a few months ago, a recession started in December of 2007 and we could feel it. My annual Downtown St. Louis real estate sales post,was appropriately titled "To Forget or Not to Forget 2007." We were starting to notice problems on the horizon. Regardless of the hard work or the below market pricing, some listings just wouldn't sell. That was a new problem. Buyer's were surfacing into the market with a cut-throat mentality. Low-ball offers and walking away after the first counter.....another strange new anomoly. Despite the changes that were just appearing on the horizon, as things continued to get progressively more difficult and bizzare in 2008, that post came to mind.

Despite getting harder, the market makes sense today. A year ago, we were still waiting for over 2000 units to flood the market. Nearly all of those had to become rentals as demanded by the bank. Developer's had to start taking responsibility for the loans. Some couldn't.

Pyramids collapse in April was a dismal blow. Despite the numbers not making sense, John Steffen had a vision for our city that was adopted by many. "Paris on the Mississippi" was his line. His ability to do so much at one time was questionable, and ultimately a big part of the company's demise, but the end result was something worth believing in.

The financial crisis which played a big part in Pyramid's collapse has taken its toll on just about all projects downtown and elsewhere, from Ballpark Village to our listing at Westgate Lofts not being completed. Easy street is no more.

When the media covers the financial crisis, the stress always seems to be on foreclosures and personal finance, when the bigger news seems to be the effect on large scale commercial projects. Being out with a buyer a few days ago, they insinuated that the shift in scale of Ballpark Village was proportional to the ability of downtown to sustain that project. My thought and comment was that projects all over the world have been scrapped, delayed,reduced, or changed like Brown Shoe and more recently the Shriner's Hospital.

Foreclosures and relocation sales have taken thier toll on the sales prices this past year. Appraisals are supposed to take similar properties in similar sales conditions. Not using a distressed property to compare with a property being sold "at market" is the standard, but unfortunately, in some places, there aren't any sales taking place other than foreclosures or relocation sales. In this regard, downtown is fortunate. Foreclosures are prevalent, but not the majority of sales. Looking at the sales data though, seeing a loft sell for around $100 per square foot is just wild. The condition of these units are often times horrible.

To sum it all up personally, feeling "bashed in the face with a baseball bat" didn't feel good last year. Now the real estate market is all about getting "bashed." Interestingly though, it's not as bad as the media makes it out to be. We're having the best January as a company we've ever had. Interest rates are favorable and supply is good for buyer's. For seller's it can be horrible unless able to price extraordinarily low and STILL get low-balled.

Happy New Year! Here are the MLS sales from 2008.

Year--#Sold-------$/Sq Ft----Ave.Days on Market-------Ave.Price

See The Whole Report Here

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Down to the Ballpark

Ballpark Village St LouisAs a realtor, I've been asked lots of times about the Ballpark Lofts. There really wasn't much to say for a long time. Things started up with an interest list, followed by an event "the NFL Style Draft" where each and every one of the units on floors 3-5 were reserved. Up until a month ago, I'd never heard anything different.

When we got a call from Kevin McGowan to help out with the building, it really excited me for three reasons: its the only "for sale" development within 2 blocks of Busch Stadium, they're move in ready, and lastly that they weren't really made available to realtors to share with buyer's due to the draft style reservations.

Once we got to the building and inside each and every unit left, I was impressed with the views and the modern finishes. With Spring Training starting today, I'm thinking of how the landscape will transform with Cardinal red coming so soon. Also with Ballpark Village's recent approval and removed residential components, these spaces will be the only ones available in Ballpark Village.

Contact us to check out the Ballpark Lofts and get one of the best spaces for Redbird season today!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Do You Have to Sell Now?

St. Louis loft deals
I'm going out with a buyer this morning and am just blown away by the deals out there. Foreclosures, short sales, and just plain motivated sellers are pretty much all that's out there.

It begs the question that we ask all our prospective listings now; do you HAVE to sell NOW? In a bad real estate market, in the middle of winter, during a recession? Usually we get some derivitive of "yes" to that question. The bottom line, if you try to sell now, you're leaving money on the table--and having to compete for buyer's with those (especially relocation companies) that slash prices incredibly.

Unfortuantely for the buyers though, dealing with banks can be a nightmare. We work with them all the time in either foreclosures or short sales and they can really give the impression that they don't care about anyone.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year Ward 6

In the past, the downtown area has been exempt from having to perform occupancy inspections at the sale or change of residency of a loft or condo. As a side effect from the rift going on at the King Bee Building, it was ordained that buildings downtown would begin to be incorporated into the city's HOUSING CONSERVATION PROGRAM

In November, I checked with the office in room 406 of City Hall. As a city landlord and resident, these inspections are familiar. Asking when they would be adding downtown buildings, they told me to check back.

So it was strange, last week, when I did look up the Terra Cotta address to find that they, along with all the other downtown buildings in the 6th Ward, were now assigned to Conservation district 54. (This presently includes 2020 Lofts, Terra Cotta Lofts, The Annex Lofts, Printer's Lofts, Railway Lofts, Windows Lofts, King Bee Lofts, Paris Style Lofts, Knickerbocker Lofts, Garment Row Lofts, Denim Lofts and Westgate Lofts) All the buildings are scheduled to require occupancy inspections by July 1.

Looking at downtown, it should be interesting. Just like any other situation, being able to get the occupancy inspectors into a building requires more leg-work than necessary in a house. Its also one more step in the process of selling or renting your loft.