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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Home Prices Back To Earth...and The Charlotte Scene

June 7, 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC
Home prices back to earth…and the Charlotte Scene
Housing turmoil has yielded one benefit: more reasonable prices. Homes in just eight U.S.metropolitan areas were overpriced by 35 percent or more as of the first quarter of 2008, down from a peak of 53 in the second quarter of 2006, according to a study by Global ln sight and National City Corp. The median price of a U,S. home slipped at an annual 6.7 percent rate in the first Quarter due to weak demand, rising foreclosures and fewer sales of high-priced homes. This marked the third consecutive quarterly decline for home prices. California, Florida and Michigan were the hardest hit areas, accounting for 45 of the 50 biggest metro-area price declines, while several regions in the Northwest were still overvalued.The study based its regional valuations on factors such as current and historic home prices, interest rates, household incomes and population density. The study’s authors doubt the housing slump is over, given cost pressures on consumers and tight credit markets, which make mortgages less accessible. “There is also excess supply that needs to be absorbed, plus the rate of foreclosures entering the market needs to slow down before housing can begin to pull out of its current downward trend”, says Jeanine Cataldi, senior economist and manager of Global Insight’s Regional Real Estate Service.

So what I am reading here is:
1. More reasonable prices.
2. Qualified buyers, this is a good time to purchase.
3. Do your homework when looking at a sales price
4. Ask about number of foreclosures in immediate area and next quadrants
5. Ask about the number of building permits in the last quarter
6. FHA seems to be capturing the mortgage business…and VA where applicable
7. Excess supply needs absorption
8. Foreclosures need to slow down

From my own vantage point, builders who have inventory are more willing to negotiate closing cost, purchase price and most recently for one of my buyers, paying off the termination of an apartment lease.

And if the government is more and more involved in mortgages, make sure to allow time for reviews and delays. It is the government.
In Charlotte, one of our biggest challenges is for the folks needing to sell their homes in other parts of the country so they make a purchase here. And there other good markets around the country as well. Here is a chart comparing 01-06-07 to the same period 08.
Off we go into another week with interviews on our podcasts and photos on the blogs.
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC

Friday, June 6, 2008

In The Spirit of The Day...

June 6, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC

In The Spirit of The Day…Our business has so many levels…perhaps just like any other business. Only sometimes I think our pendulum swings wider and deeper because people seem drawn to real estate, lured by either the desire to own their own home or thirsty to drink deep of the possible wealth with buying and fixing, flipping and making lots of money…in what seems like an effortless job. And we hear of all the stories…the majority of which seem to be about the unscrupulous brokers, the devious bankers, the shoddy inspectors and the shady appraisers…not too mention the scallywag attorneys.

But this week, for me, was about going out into the city, going out to open houses given by other brokers for new construction. It was about going out to see what I could see…how new projects were coming along, what the prices are like, what the availability is.

And always in the morning, I start by reading…and this week there was a delightful article about the 81 year old Carolina Theatre…soon to be brought into this century with a splash. How in this market one developer is taking the old, the long-time vacant and making his version of lemonade…with a twist. Encore 5 was announced and the concept is both daring and exciting. Five penthouses- each with a particular resident in mind. Developer Jim Donnelly said the idea behind The Encore Five concept is “if you have an interest in your life you can build the interior of your penthouse around it." Enter: The Epicurean, The Gallery, The Connoisseur, The iPad and The Cosmopolitan. More about Encore 5 soon to come.
Continuing on after morning coffee, computers and the news to an Open House at Dilworth Walk neatly located between Scott and Kenilworth within walking distance of all the fun and charm of Dilworth, ergo the name. Look for a podcast with Lana Laws, who will talk to us about Dilworth Walk.
Then, I took a quick hop to South Park and toured South Gate Corners…on the corner of Tyvola and Fairview. Quite a different approach…as one might expect where Dilworth Walk is for perhaps a younger demographic and hip, South Gate is posh. After all…it is South Park and South Gate fits like kid gloves…podcast on that coming as well.
I ended the day with Simonini’s Stephen Square…great care, superb planning, elegant and melting into Myers Park as though it has been there forever. Alan Simonini speaks to us soon in a podcast on site.
And because closings are our rewards, the day ended with a young Veteran buying his first home for his family in Concord. We had many hoops to jump through, all of us…builder, loan originator and support staff, paralegals and attorneys…but at 5:30 we made it through the closing…a little bit worn for the wear, frazzled for all the words back and forth, but we made it and I think everyone is happy and pleased.
The week was full of promise and surprise, frustration and doubt…but in the end, tonight I am grateful for the Spirit of things…it keeps me going.

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

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Queens Road Is The Queens Way…

June 5, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC
Queens Road Is The Queens Way…
Charlotte is noted for many things, but most of all for her trees. Flying over Charlotte, the uptown is clearly visible and then there is the canopy of the great ladies. The Willow Oaks and Post Oaks, the Red Oaks and all their beautiful Sisters: the Maples, and Elms, and Pines, the Willows…a forest of green. And yet, today Charlotte has slipped beneath the Federal requirement for green space…so I wonder.

Do we move so fast, tear down so quickly, change for what we deem to be better…when we already have such an incredible city with such amazing streets as Queens and Queens Road East and Queens Road West.Sound silly to have all those Queens? Believe me when I tell you, it is not nearly enough. For over fifty years I have ridden through the Queens' pathways, the wide boulevard-like streets and breathed in the elegance and charm of our history. We who have lived here for eons, speak to the trees, bask in their shade and calm our racing minds by walking or running in their shadows. We treasure this beautiful city.
This evening, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and talking to Alan Simonini about hislatest community: Stephens Square…on the corner of Queens Road West and SelwynAvenue. Stephens Square looks as though it has been there for many years. As a matter of record it replaced two fourplexes that had been there for years and none the worse for wear…I asked Alan how the vision came and what was their notion. Stephens Square has its name and its roots in Myers Park. Please allow me to introduce George Stephens. I’ll read this from the Simonini presentation…

"There are no freeways in his name, no hospital wings, auditoriums, libraries or museums. Yet George Stephens left an imprint on Charlotte that all but defines this city.
It was he, more than any other individual, who conceived of creating Myers Park. With his father-in-law John Springs Myers, he purchased the land, funded its development through his company and led the city to embrace the brand new notion of suburban living.
In those days, what is now Myers Park was largely farmland. At first, few could see the wisdom of Stephens' plan to build large houses on the open space beyond the city limits. But steadily, progressive citizens came to appreciate what Stephens had in mind -and to make Myers Park their home.
To fulfill his vision, Stephens enlisted the services of the most promising landscape architect of the day, John Nolen of Harvard Square in Boston. On account of Nolen's exceptional contribution, his name has come to be most closely associated with Myers Park through the years.
It is our hope that Stephens' name will also come to be remembered for our city's pre-eminent neighborhood as it should. It only seems right that the landmark corner of Queens Road West and Selwyn Avenue be forever known as Stephens Square.

Now we’ll follow soon with my interview with Alan Simonini and Scott Teel... and pictures from Stephens Square.Simonini is to be applauded for preserving, making better, honoring the grace of QueensRoad West. If you love Charlotte, I am sure you’ll agree. Stephens Square is very it sits behind the gracious old trees. As it should.

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Each Condo Has It's Own Nuances...

June 4, 2008

Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC
Each Condo Has It’s Own Nuances…

Oh, sure I love seeing the announcements and seeing the renderings of the new towers or the villages that are being built. It’s fun seeing rooftop gardens appear and outdoor fire pits, sumptuous exercise facilities and meeting the concierge.

And I also enjoy knowing some of the intimate details of condominiums…
for instance…did you know that there is a front and a back elevator at
The Poplar, a rooftop terrace and a central laundry on the lower level?That in The Ratcliffe…all the floor plans are unique. There are no two alike.That the mailboxes at 400 North Church are reminiscent of The Plaza in NYC? And that there are some two story condos there as well as flats and one unit that merged two condos.That at Chapel Watch all the units start with a “5” even if you are on the second floor?That Springfield Square has a pool? On the street level?That Gateway Plaza’s interior units look down on a fabulous pool and gardens?That The Frederick has a historical
designation (and is a favorite of mine).That there is a condo community in
Fourth Ward called Manhattan on The Park? That there are two condominiums by Myers Park Country Club, both of which were converted from apartments, share a common pool.
That Greenfield, a complex in Raintree, has it’s own pool?

And I enjoy reading about the wondrous new condos, where windows turn out 180 degrees for fresh air and for cleaning!For the latest details on Encore 5 from the team that brought us The Trust…the folks who design
the box as well as color outside of it…especially admirable and commendable as we wade through this particular season in the market.We have some details and pictures from both coming up soon as well as our very first telephone interviews. We’re listening for what you want to know. Thanks for tuning in.

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

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Charlotte City-Condo CanDo

June 3, 2008

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

Charlotte City-Condo CanDo…

For many, many months, announcements came from every corner about a new condo tower uptown…and rendering of what our skyline would look like when yet another tower was completed. Glass and steel filled the sky…and the numbers people filled the units both large and small with the great immigration from all parts of the world, all ages. The uptown population increased into thousands and thousands and it sounded as though we simply wouldn’t have enough. Some of us thought we might have too many small one bedroom condos but were assured that the young bankers and the young executives would take to Urban living like ducks to water.
And we went through the light rail debate…the half full cup and the half empty cup went at it…to the tune of an expensive vote and a overwhelming “Yes” vote in favor of the shiny blue Lynx Line.That light rail, thought to be the elephant in the room, is now even more so the darling. Lucky Charlotte.

And the No. 2 banking city ranked in more top rankings for everything from retirement favorites to one of the leading cities attracting young, creative types… yes, despite our being in the headlights of the sub-prime mess,Wachovia will continue building the fabulous art center with an equally fabulous condo tower.
And then the half empty and the half full geared up again, this time on the U.S. Whitewater Center... where Olympic Training is going on as I write…
Historic Districts are being challenged and houses are being torn down to accommodate condos, more density, tax revenues.There are 28 building cranes uptown and they are not idle.
There are three major condo complexes being built or started in North Davidson, three or four in the Plaza Midwood area, several in Myers Park, three in Dilworth and two or three on the Westside…and I am not even looking.
I looked at the statistics from May 2007 and compared to May 2008 for just Uptown. And our market is down almost 50%. But remember, builders are not always represented. Our market is slower but we still have a market. We still have appreciation, though miniscule. People are coming by the droves and new real estate agents are filling the real estate schools.Charlotte is perking.
And when you hear or read that this is a good time for buyers. It is a good time for good, well qualified buyers in Charlotte, NC. Everyday there is an invitation from a builder about a fancy lunch, a special drawing, buyer incentives, broker bonuses, agents are being creative to get other agents and their buyers on the property. The market is cooking.
We are not out of the woods by a long shot…people are still concerned about all the credit and money matters…but you can hear the sounds of the future buzz if you take the time to listen. One of the woman brokers said during a gathering, “We are building a city here”. Yes, Ma’am, we are building an incredible city here.

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

Monday, June 2, 2008

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

June 2, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed…
I’ll start with something borrowed: In this morning’s Observer, a letter to the editor that brought a smile to my lips. And while I read this letter, I thought back to last fall when there was a spat going on between a developer and the neighborhood association in Dilworth, one of our historic districts. A fellow with the historic commission made the comment that developers and builders are like barking dogs…that’s what a dog does and you can’t really change that behavior, the barking. Well, I thought about that as I read this letter:
Condos don't leave me `feeling earth-friendly'
In response to "Advocates: Tree rules not tough enough" (May 27):I was thrilled to see signs on Briar Creek Road and Central Avenue touting "The Vyne," a "green" condo development. Imagine my surprise and dismay when developer Citiline Resortline razed almost every tree on the site, including maples, magnolias and the city's signature willow oaks. Also flattened: Mature 6-foot azaleas and other shrubs, tended over half a century, as well as the white clapboard house they surrounded. The house was destroyed without any visible attempt to reuse or recycle its materials.
Why are residential developers required to save only 10 percent of trees? Can City Council do more to force developers to act responsibly toward their environment?
The Vyne's Web site chatters about "sustainable building practices" and "energy-efficient features that'll have you feeling earth-friendly." But signs on the Vyne's construction site no longer use the word "green." Nothing on this mudplain is green anymore.
Thanks to Peggie Porter

Something Old
In NoDa, that’s North Davidson, also an historic district, Fat City Lofts are underway again.Here’s a brief on yet another condo development in the Arts District…picked up from our daily:

Fat City Lofts under construction on North Davidson Street.
A NoDa landmark disappeared a year ago when high winds blew down the graffiti-splashed facade of Fat City Deli.
Now, the developers, who had planned to integrate it into the new Fat City Lofts on the site, are working to bring back the funkiness and perhaps create another icon for the North Charlotte neighborhood.
Fat City Deli opened in the early 1990s and closed about five years ago, leaving the original building on the site vacant.
Deli founder K.C. Terry, a partner in the new venture, said he chose the location back then for one key reason: "It was the cheapest building in town."
Fat City Deli became a neighborhood gathering place for NoDa's body-pierced musicians and artists, but over the years the clientele grew to include business people in dress shirts and suits.
Fat City Lofts, which includes 26 condos and 8,000 square feet of street-level retail, is the latest example of the neighborhood's transition from restored mill houses to commercial and multi-family development.

And Something New…Allen Norwood is leaving after 12 years as Home Editor and nearly 33 years in the building at Tryon and Stonewall. The home section was recently named the best in the country for papers their size by the National Association of Real Estate Editors. I personally thank Allen for all of his good work, his great energy and the perspective he brought to the Home Section. As a former employee of both the Observer and the News, I sent him bouquets of new found freedom. Thanks Allen.
Lynnsy Logue the Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC