Search This Blog

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Let's Do a Number(s) on the Economy...

May 10, 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC
This from my morning coffee,the daily and Associated Press…
As dire as it is, the housing slump is not as big a fac-
tor for the economy as investors think. True, the
downturn has been unprecedented, leading to foreclo-
sures, seizures in the credit markets, erosion of house-
hold wealth, record low consumer confidence, and, until
recently, stock market declines. But residential con-
struction contributed just 3.8 percent to first-quarter
a high of 70.8 percent of GDP in the first quarter of
2008, based on advance numbers. Exports, another
rising category, added 12.7 percent.
"Do not freak out about housing," says JPMorgan
Funds Management Chief Market Strategist David Kel-
ly. "We pay too much attention to housing in terms of
how it's going to direct the U.S. economy." He thinks
stocks are under-priced as a result. Housing is closely
tracked, with frequent updates on sales, construction
activity and prices. "The problem is, every one of those
numbers is lousy, and every one makes the evening
news," notes Kelly.
Citi Investment Research strategist Tobias M.
levkovich says consumer spending is more important
for stock prices. "Too many critical points are missed
when investors only hear one data point and don't ana-
lyze the rest of the information," he writes.
Of course, housing shouldn't be dismissed. Mort-
gage troubles helped cause the current credit crisis.
Christopher Burdick, director of economic analysis for
the Schwab Center for Financial Research, notes the
spillover effects on spending. "The concern is warrant-
ed," he says.
But Kelly thinks investors should pay more attention
to the stronger-than-expected growth in services in
April. In addition, an early reading on first-quarter GDP
points to growth, albeit at a sluggish 0.6 percent pace.
SOURCE: Bureau of Economic Analysis Dani and Girard, AP
I was delighted to read another perspective...not that I am looking for a there-there, just another viewpoint. Enjoy!
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC

Friday, May 9, 2008

Who's On First? Condo Q/A

May 9, 2008
Who’s On First? Condo Q/A

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC
It’s Friday and time for Condo CanDo’s Questions of the week.
1. If I am buying new construction, the building hasn’t been started, the builder’s representative says the building will take eight months to build. They need 30% sold to get bank financing….and it is now 12 months after I gave them a big deposit, they haven’t reached the 30% and a long way off…how could I have avoided this?
Tough questions. The builder holds the cards. By law, 100units or less the builder can’t hold you to the legal requirement of 24 months. But if it’s in the contract, they can. I think I would be inclined to stagger the deposit. So much down, so much when they start and hire an attorney to craft language so you are not out on a limb.
My personal goal would be for buyers to know they drive the market.
2. Can an existing condo complex rewrite the rules and regulations to limit investors, not allow any more investors and to define who may rent units that will be grandfathered in?
Yes. More and more of the older complexes in Charlotte are doing this. Takes time and money and a good attorney. Takes getting the percentage of owners to sign that is outlined in the documents. But worth every penny in the long run.
3. When a condo is foreclosed, does the bank pay the monthly home owner’s dues, keep up with payment on any assessments if there any pending, check the unit to make sure it is in good repair, no leaking pipes or trash piled up?
No. They are banks not property managers. Condo Associations have to be pro-active to protect everyone’s property values.

4. I have heard it said that curb appeal drives the sale…we live in a condo, what can we do?Most folks are quick to say they want a condo. They are tired of cutting the grass. But you still have responsibility to be involved with the association, know the rules and regulations and be a good neighbor. Neat and clean go along way in the presentation of your condo…even in the glitziest condo tower, there are shiny windows, a handsome lobby, no trash in sight or coffee cups and papers. It’s home, people.
Got questions on condominiums or townhomes?
Send them our way and we’ll do our best.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Condo CanDo's Favorite Charlotte Things...

May 8, 2008

Hello! This is Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC

Thursday, a Time For Favorites…

Favorites have included the very first condominium in Charlotte, Gaynor Arms; a first and a favorite, Center City Green because it is creative, progressive and green; a favored builder Brian Speas because he is the epitome of a fine builder and good person, so now what, you’re thinking.You know what I like…I like many of the ways Charlotte is changing and many of the ways Charlotte is constant.Change is 400 North Church with it’s green center island…it was new and exciting at the time. The main streets in Charlotte or at least six blocks in each direction of the square had been torn up and remade. Only a handful of cities in the world have ever undertaken that project.Constant is The Poplar is Fourth Ward, once apartments being converted to condominiums and how The Poplar harkens in style and grace back to New York City. Change is Ivey’s Department store being renovated into condos…very large condos with large storefront windows and no terraces or balconies and what seems like bridges to some of the units. Constant and change how The Square has evolved to be the traffic cop of all the condo towers and high-rises.Change in how Earle Village (subsidized housing) in First Ward has become the Garden District wrapping around the Afro-American Center and how many of the condos overlook the freeway…and change in how Piedmont Courts (high crime-low rent) is being totally transformed as a gateway to Central Avenue and The Plaza…Change thrives on Central as condos spring up and through Plaza Midwood. Constant as the wide boulevards and tree canopies in Plaza Midwood, Myers Park, Elizabeth, Dilworth, Wesley Heights. Change is how Freedom Park becomes more charming and constant is how much the lake and park and playing fields are loved by old timers and new comers alike.Unfortunately, we are constantly tearing down what is old and historic…or cutting down trees, or changing the threads of the fabric that made our tapestry wondrous to produce the change some think will be more appealing.In some cases, that works…I look at South Boulevard and the impact of the light rail and the profusion of condos and apartments from South End on out towards Pineville.
Charlotte is constantly changing, growing, envisioning. I can see favorites both in looking back and imagining tomorrow.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Not Wait For The Other Shoe...

May 7, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC
Let’s not wait for the other shoe…

During this tumultuous time, I am taking every opportunity to learn as much as I can about real estate processes…about real estate across this country and about real estate in our region and city. This means classes. Classes on foreclosures, short sales, financing, credit scores, inspections, mold, investment, ethics and classes on safety, marketing, staging and working with first time home buyers and Seniors. Conferences looking at the statistics, the trending and tracking. And reading everything I can get my hands on…talking to other brokers, talking to buyers and working with sellers. Writing for my podcasts and blog. I believe that we can be pro-active. We knew somehow the housing bubble was coming. We did not know the form or shape or incredible consequence. Now that we do, I believe we can be pro-active. We can do something about our situation…if we can work together.I wrote earlier about foreclosure and the short sale. And this is what I have learned so far. If you think you are heading for troubled waters, even think about it, start asking for help from your lender, your mortgage company or a government agency. Beware of the scams…check the credentials of the agency or person first. Gather information…lenders do not want houses back. Nor condos. Our job is to ‘row”…be pro active.

Condominiums are a bit trickier. This takes the rowing team…more than one person because condos are about more than one person.Start now. In condominiums and townhomes, call a meeting and start talking. Find out how many foreclosures there are, if any, or what is for sale, what has sold and under what circumstances. Be involved. Find out how to head off foreclosure…for yourself, your neighbor. The rewards for rowing together are great. Banks and mortgage companies typically do not start paying HOA dues if/when property is foreclosed. They do not pay assessments. A vacant property is not attended or checked. So busted water pipes go without repair, water/ moisture spells mold and there you go. I heard just yesterday where a condo community became involved with a foreclosure and gained access only to find the unit had been stripped down to the paint.
In times of stress, I think we tend to act more harshly…I know I sometimes have a short fuse when everything hits the fan…so I am practicing patience by listening carefully, assessing the whole situation before acting…and caring about what and how and who I am involved with…let’s get the job done and turn this mess around.
By simply caring and rowing together. And talking about the elephant in the room.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New Construction:Pros and Cons...

May 6, 2008

New Construction: Pros and cons…
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Thanks to the real estate agent in Vancouver who so rightly pointed out the virtues of new construction. New homes are “New”, they’ve never been lived in before, and everything is new: bathrooms, kitchens, hot water heaters, stoves, furnace, roof…and more. Everything purportedly works. There are warranties. There are walk throughs. There are sometimes Home Owners Associations with rules and regulations. Those are all great. I understand “new”. My own home was “new” when I built it over 40 years ago…and am still here.We have both changed and I hope for the better.
Here is what I contest: Poor building products. What do I mean? Thin cabinetry of the lower grade even on half million dollar condos, thin granite from China that can not easily be replaced or repaired,poor quality pre-finished hardwood floors or frankly even bamboo, poor quality paint, poor quality molding, poor quality doors…poor quality lumber, poor quality siding. I could go on and on….but add to that, poor quality construction, installation, finishing, painting, follow up on walk throughs.
Oh, and while I am at it…such small home sites that if your house is vinyl and someone next door has a fire…grab the kids and the dog and head out…or the nine pieces of shrubbery that goes in too close together and not properly planted…and then there’s the sales representatives who are not agents and if they are, they need to really make the point that they represent the seller, the builder, and that “By signing here” you give up your right to have any representation…and of course, I get in a wad when the builder presents their closing incentives of so much in closing costs if you the buyer use one of their preferred lenders. This only means that the lender who has been working with you and got you pre-approved is out of luck…and for the builder it is only part of moving money around.
And one last thing…I never look at commission paid until after the offer becomes a contract, but rarely does a builder pay 3%, they chisel it down to 2.5% because I suppose they think we have less to do because it is new construction. How little they know the amount of time we actually put into every sale. Every sale resale and new construction.
So…what are we to do? I think it is my job to help educate the buyer. To ask them to step outside of granite and hardwood floors and look at the reality of each home. My home is over 40 years old and looks and feels and acts like new. Because I take care of it. Fix it now or fix it to sell, but the constant is “Fix it.” I don’t know how to tell buyers to be careful…to ask questions…to be patient…to set the emotions aside, the idea of “home”…aside and look at the finished product, look at the neighborhoods, talk to the people who live there, about their homes, the neighborhood and the builder.I am for new…done well. I am for resales properly cared for…I am for growing but not at the expense of some of the people for the gain of others.
Charlotte will continue to grow. I am a part of that. This hometown is energizing and electric. I want Charlotte to be as good as I know it is and great as I know it will be.

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Monday, May 5, 2008

I Reserve the Right to be Wrong Sometimes...

May 5, 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC

I reserve the right to be wrong sometimes….
For as long as I have lived in Charlotte, for the decades I have been a full-time real estate broker, for the hundreds and hundreds of closings I have been party to…guess what, I have made my share of mistakes. And as the years grew on, I thought I had seen most of everything as a real estate broker.This sub-prime situation is mercurial, complex and ever-changing. I study more about foreclosures and short sales, buying and selling, credit scores, marketing, market value, statistics, the national market, the Charlotte market, where we are, where we’ve been and what might lie ahead.I am outspoken about builders and developers…everything from the quality of building products, the missing craftsmanship in the final product, the rigid guidelines for preferred lenders and the unbending posture in negotiations. I read and visit neighborhoods where the foreclosure rate is high…and read about the opportunity for investors.It would be easy to make a wrong call in all this. But I did.
My first time home buyers did everything I asked…pre-approval…apartment lease termination penalty…worked with their budget after every group of houses we saw. And a couple of the houses were so appealing, I asked for pre-approval letters specific to the home’s address. I was looking in what I deemed “safe” places. I was staying away from new construction. And they found a house, a resale they liked in a new subdivision in Cabarrus County. Again, I played Angel’s Advocate: what about the drive, the cost of gas, what about the schools? Well, we looked at the resale and it was a beauty. The builder was still in the neighborhood and I thought we might see about spec houses and how the pricing compared. Sometimes, this can be a great situation for a buyer given all the pieces fit.
This particular builder gave some thought to his neighborhood. There are sidewalks, a small pool, a Home Owners Association with Rules and Regulations, and larger home sites. And they also made it easy for a broker to show all three of their spec homes by placing a key in our famously secure Supra Lock. The sales representative was easily accessible and was a veritable Johnny on the Spot. He listened carefully to my concerns about price, about closing costs and about terminating the apartment lease to accommodate an earlier closing. All this on the phone while my buyers were thinking and working with their budget. Many phone calls later and just two actual days, I made the appointment for the buyers to meet the sales representative and present their offer…and their request that their mortgage be handled by the broker who had been helping them from loan approval to supplying us with loan approval letters and closing costs on the three “almost” houses.
In every instance, there was friendly discussion, questions, interesting points to be made and finally, in less than two hours, acceptance that was a win-win-win for everyone…including my buyers original mortgage broker. I learned a lot yesterday.
My buyers listened so carefully to each of the steps of the process, I got it myself, how important my role as a broker is. I followed their search around the different areas and learned even more about single family homes, new construction and resales... The current day “know”…trending, marketing and activity.
What did I learn…that all new construction is not gloom and doom. That some home builders seem to take pride in the homes they build and the neighborhoods they create. And this particular case, they honored the buyers’ spread sheet on budget concerns, and valued the buyer’s relationship with their mortgage person. The buyers were listened to and an agreement was reached to everyone’s satisfaction.

Living and learning, that’ me,

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte NC