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

No comments: