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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Holding Steady in Charlotte, NC

June 21, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo CanDo® in Charlotte, NC
Holding Steady in Charlotte…
Our city is much like a teenager, or at least that is my definition. There is rapid growth here. Some projects going well. Some not so well. I think that is pretty normal. You know, the old saying, “take things with a grain of salt’? Well, I think that might apply here at the moment.For example, two of our condo towers are facing rocky roads. One is The Park where the bank is foreclosing on the stalled condominium project as the developer defaults on 30.7 million loan. A receiver has been assigned to secure the building until its future is settled in court.The other, with the description of condo/hotel, is 210 Trade . The battle is heading to court and the contractors are stuck with unpaid bills.The details on these two projects are layered and deep. And the causes perhaps myriad. I think perhaps the problems are unrelated to our current credit crunch.On the other side of growth, there are many good projects moving ahead. And here is a thumbnail of each:
New Uptown Office Tower Signs First Tenant
The developers of a 15-story office tower planned on South Church Street in uptown Charlotte have signed their first major tenant.
In Kannapolis, home could be 1.5 million
The old Kannapolis Country Club and a course designed by Davis Love III are part of David Murdock's Irish Creek project.
There's no doubt the $1.5 billion North Carolina Research Campus that Castle & Cooke is building in Kannapolis will be a Next Big Thing for the city and the region.
Uptown condo tower begins sales this week
The developer hopes buzz about the tower will pay off
The Catalyst condo tower – which last week reached its ultimate height of 27 stories – seems to have sprung up almost overnight on South Church Street.
More upscale homes to rise on Park South
Ardsley Court condo project has dual lure of SouthPark and convenient commute.
Over the past five years, half a dozen residential infill projects have sprung up on Park South Drive, a roughly mile-long street connecting Fairview Road with Park Road in south Charlotte
Microsoft buys offices off Arrowood
Microsoft has purchased two buildings it has leased for more than seven years in ArrowPoint Office Park off Arrowood Road in southwest Charlotte.
Pricey penthouses will cater to pricey passions
This unusual uptown development targets residents eager to showcase their enthusiasm for art, cooking, wine, technology and entertaining.
The developer of uptown's 20-story Encore condo tower wants to create five of the most unusual and most expensive penthouses Charlotte has seen.
Development tied to town vision
The town of Cramerton expects its population of 3,200 to double in about 10 years if the proposed 143-acre Village at South Fork is developed along the South Fork River as planned.
Wachovia doesn't plan to slow condo tower
The company will open a sales center in the fall. Waiting gives the bank flexibility, experts say.
Wachovia Corp.'s $880 million, 48-story office tower is still climbing skyward in uptown Charlotte.
Fat City facade will live again in NoDa
Neighbors invited to help decide on graffiti for wall of new lofts
A NoDa landmark disappeared a year ago when high winds blew down the graffiti-splashed facade of Fat City Deli.

All in all,We will both suffer and celebrate these times and ultimately be the wiser for them.

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

Condo CanDo-Friday's Q/A

June 20, 2008
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC

Condo CanDo, Friday Q/A…

Let’s Start:
1Q.I live in Matthews and own what I thought was a condo. Now I am told it is a townhome. How should I be able to discern that myself?
A. In our tax records under property description you will see a Unit File Number. Shortened that is U/F and then a number or numbers. If it has this as part of the description, then it is a condo. Townhome descriptions have a Book and Map because the land beneath the townhome is owned.
2Q. I live in a condo that was built 5 years ago. I am the original owner. I recently looked up our restrictive covenants to see what our Master Policy covers. I thought it was everything from the paint out, including the electrical and the plumbing. Apparently one set of Board of Directors changed what the policy covered to reduce the costs and it does not now include plumbing and electrical. How can this happen?
A. First, pat yourself on the back for discovering it now…and secondly, ask for a special board meeting to discuss this…after notifying neighbors of the change.
3Q. We are looking at an Active Adult Community. They are ranch type duplexes which suits us just fine. They are located within a busy shopping center where one large box store is open 24/7 and has a large parking area that is always jammed. I am concerned about high traffic and frankly, crime, with that easy access. My husband thinks being close to shopping is great.
A. Yes, being close to shopping is sometimes good when you can walk to pick up groceries or visit the drug store. Have you explored other areas that might have more of a buffer. I think your instincts are right on. Check the police reports in the area and listen to your gut.
4Q. We were thinking about selling our house, scaling down and buying a condominium or perhaps into one of those retirement communities. But we also have heard many boomers are adapting their homes to fit their needs better so they can stay in their homes longer. This has great appeal…and financially, it makes sense as well. What do you hear?
A. I hear and read more and more that folks are doing just that. Of course, it depends on your home and how adaptable it is. I have a friend who lives in a mobile home and has even prepared the 2nd bedroom in the event that she needs a caregiver. Of course, for her 80th birthday she gave herself a gift of a couple of sky diving expeditions…and she prepared for that adventure as well. For some folks, staying in the home is a good option, for others, scaling way down, travelling and having a smaller abode woks well. Listen to yourself. You have more than one option.
Got Questions? Send them in and we’ll see if we can answer them for you.

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

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Charlotte Residential Sales For May 2008

June 19, 2008

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

Looking at Charlotte Residential Sales For May 2008…
From The Charlotte Observer,Stella M. Hopkins

The number of Charlotte-area houses, townhouses and condos sold last month through the Carolina Multiple Listing Services dropped 26 percent compared with May 2007, marking a full year of double-digit declines.
Mecklenburg County new home construction also remained stalled.
The 2,778 houses sold was the lowest count for May since 2003, according to the MLS, which accounts for nearly all existing home sales within about a 50-mile radius and roughly one-fourth of new home sales.
The average MLS sales price fell nearly 4 percent, to $223,946, the sixth consecutive month of declines.
Builders took out permits for 614 new residences in Mecklenburg last month, down 36 percent from a year ago and the lowest number of any May since before 1998.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Condo-Tel Concept:SEC Consideration

June 18, 2008

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

Condo-Tel Concept: SEC Consideration:

From an article published by the Associated Press, June 2005 Mike Schneider

"The hybrid concept of a luxury hotel that sells some of it units as condominiums has become one of the most popular trends in the industry in recent years. Condo-hotels in the past two or three years have expanded beyond traditional markets in ski resorts or Hawaii and into other tourist destinations such as Orlando and Las Vegas. Projects also are under construction in urban centers like Atlanta, Chicago and New York, where the Plaza Hotel is being converted.The concept has risks for both the developer and the condo buyer.
Financial risks
The Securities and Exchange Commission considers the condo offeringa security if income and expenses from the rental units are pooled and if a condo unit is sold with the explicit expectation the buyer will earn money or derive tax benefits from it. If the development is structured as a security, it can only be sold by a securities broker and it is easier for an investor to sue the developer under the SEC's anti-fraud rules, according to Los Angeles attorney Jim Butler.
Most developers choose not to sell their projects as securities to avoid the SEC complications, so they are prohibited from discussing the economic or tax benefits from a rental arrangement or project on how much a condo unit can earn in rental income. Many buyers make decisions without all the facts.A developer typically has to come up with around 40 percent of the equity for a traditional hotel; a condo-hotel development requires much less investment.
"If you're not allowed to communicate revenue expectation, often times buyers are making a decision based on incorrect information or overly optimistic information," a quote from Mark Lunt, Ernst & Young in Miami.
And for further information, please take a look at this questionnaire used by a mortgage company when looking to lend funds for a condominium purchase: which we also have made available in a .pdf format.

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Looking Back at The City of The Future

Jun. 16, 2008

Looking Back at The City of The Future
Lynnsy Logue The Real Estate Lady® and Condo Cando® in Charlotte, NC
Though Charlotte has different kinds of challenges than most of the country, we do have them.
The many condo tower announcements that came week after week...the drawings of how the city would look in 3 to 5 years...the condominiums' amenities...the sparkle, the dazzle, the excitement...and now the scuffle, the lawsuits, the claims. We have our challenges.
Here's the latest news:

Dispute plagues EpiCentre tower
Work on 50-story tower has stopped; $70 million lawsuit
From The Charlotte Observer By Kirsten Valle

A dispute between the developers of the EpiCentre and a luxury condo tower on the site has brought the tower's construction to a standstill, its developer alleges in a $70 million lawsuit filed this month.
Work on the 50-story 210 Trade building stopped in February, with two floors built, because of a disagreement over technical building-code issues. Until the problem is resolved, lenders will not finance the rest of the project, and county officials will not issue certificates of occupancy, the lawsuit says.
The suit was filed in federal court June 6 by a subsidiary of the tower's developer, Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties. It alleges that the Charlotte-based Ghazi Co., which is developing the EpiCentre uptown, has failed to live up to contractual agreements and refused to cooperate with local and state requirements that would allow the condo construction to move forward.
At stake is the future of the EpiCentre, a high-profile mixed-use complex on the corner of Trade and College streets uptown. The project was conceived with a luxury residential building – as well as offices, retail, entertainment and a hotel. But the condo tower won't move forward until the suit is resolved, developers say.
The rest of the EpiCentre development is progressing. Its first tenants, including the Suite nightclub and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Whisky River bar, opened in recent months.
If the tangle is resolved in coming months and work on the tower resumes, its first residents could move in by summer 2010 – more than a year later than originally planned, Flaherty & Collins' attorney, Lee Spinks, said Monday.
“If we do not get the issues resolved, we are intent on getting every dollar back that we've spent or paid them, and lost profit,” he said.
The condo developer is seeking $70 million if the issues are not resolved and the project scrapped. If construction can continue, the company is asking for $28 million in damages, it said in the suit.
Ghazi Co. officials did not return phone calls Monday.
Construction on 210 Trade, which is being built atop part of the EpiCentre, started in October 2007 – and tension between the project's developer and The Ghazi Co. arose even before that.
In the lawsuit, Flaherty & Collins investors allege various physical and structural problems, including getting fewer parking spaces than they paid for. The company also says it's owed more than $2 million because of a provision in the contract that said the company would be paid if The Ghazi Co. erected a second tower on the site that would obstruct some condos' skyline views.
Despite the issues, construction moved forward, and developers sold 265 of the tower's 420 units.
In February, the condo tower's lenders, U.S. Bancorp and Corus Bankshares, ordered construction stopped after being informed of the developer's building code issues. The problem arose with the county's code enforcement department after it discovered the project had been filed as a single-owner building on the EpiCentre site, when ownership is actually being shared by the owners of the condo tower, the office-entertainment complex and a hotel that's going up on the site.
According to the lawsuit, The Ghazi Co. has refused to enter into an agreement that would place the development under a condo form of ownership, satisfying the code requirements. That has stalled the project and turned off lenders, the suit said.
“We have 265 buyers who are counting on our company to deliver their homes, but we have been thwarted by the (Ghazi investors),” Flaherty & Collins spokesman Mark Conover said in a statement. “They have refused to cooperate in providing reasonable and necessary agreements that are routinely required by lenders. … It is their refusal of lender requests that have delayed construction.”

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

Monday, June 16, 2008

Flipping Rules Suspended, FHA Loans Popular

June 16, 2008

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

Daily Real Estate News June 11, 2008

Property-flipping rule suspended
The White House temporarily suspends a rule that imposes a 90-day waiting period before foreclosed homes can be sold to receive government loans.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration is temporarily suspending a 5-year-old rule intended to deter property flippers, as part of an effort to help speed the sale of foreclosed properties.
For one year, the Federal Housing Administration will no longer impose a 90-day waiting period before foreclosed properties can be sold to receive government-backed loans.
The policy was put in place in 2003 to deter property "flipping" schemes, in which buyers are overcharged for foreclosures or other distressed properties. But the surge in vacant properties resulting from borrowers who were unable to afford their mortgages has become a far more pressing concern.
"A glut of foreclosed and abandoned homes harms neighborhoods, frustrates homebuyers and delays a community's recovery," FHA commissioner Brian Montgomery said in a prepared statement.
The new policy "will allow homebuyers to purchase these homes in much greater numbers and ease the excess supply of unsold homes," Montgomery said.
Nationwide, 261,255 homes received at least one foreclosure-related filing in May, up 48% from the same month last year, and up 7% from April, foreclosure listing company RealtyTrac Inc. said Friday.

FHA Loans Gaining Popularity Source: The Washington Post, Dina ElBoghdady (06/10/08)

As lenders toughen their standards, loans by backed the Federal Housing Administration are increasingly popular.The number of FHA loans issued rose 126 percent in the first quarter of 2008, compared with the same period a year ago. Most of FHA's business now comes from refinancing.The volume of FHA loans at Wells Fargo has increased 342 percent this year from the same time in 2007, says Greg Gwizdz, the company's national retail service manager. Helping increase business were live simulcasts for real estate professionals that the lender recently held in movie theaters nationwide touting the benefits of FHA loans.Only borrowers who can make at least a 3 percent down payment or have at least 3 percent equity in their homes and who can document their income can qualify for FHA loans.Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, says FHA paperwork remains daunting and the rates aren’t always the lowest. “But if your choice is vanilla ice cream or no ice cream, vanilla starts looking good," he says.

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