Author - Marty Smith

Retailers continue to try and compete with Amazon.com

Amazon.com

March 22, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) It’s been a rough few years for retail stores unable to compete with the rise of online shopping and the domination of Amazon.com.  The mammoth delivery platform is able to promise consumers same-day delivery on products they can purchase right from the click of a mouse.  The convenience is unmatched, and more on-the-go individuals are opting for the Amazon experience over any other type of retail purchasing.  As a result, retailers nationwide are closing down and selling property, especially American malls.  It’s not a pretty site, but it’s one that is a daily reality unfortunately today.

The problem is that Amazon has made major investments in its logistics networking, buying 1M SF distribution centers, closer-in 500K SF fulfillment centers and a wide network of last-mile depots where products are taken to their destination.  It’s also planning to increase its vehicle delivery network as it aims to be on par with FedEx and UPS.  Amazon has been able to make these investments because the company’s investors provide it with the capital to not worry about the short-term effects.  Today, the company can guarantee free, two-day shipping to 65 million Amazon Prime customers, and offer same-day delivery in a few dozen markets, making it even harder for traditional retailers to keep up.

Mid-size to large retailers are struggling to keep up with their expansion rates.  For most stores, the first step to drawing people away from Amazon and into their physical stores is to offer in-store pickup for online purchases.  But, offering this service requires more labor demands and having a round-the-clock staff waiting to present this kind of service.

Even more, these stores know they have to provide at-home delivery as well.  They simply don’t have the network Amazon does, so they are trying their best to come in second place.

Soulard’s Restaurant suffers devastating fire

Soulard's Restaurant

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 18, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) A historic restaurant, in a historic building in the historic district of Soulard burned Friday, March 17, 2017 at approximately 6:00 pm.  St. Louis’ finest, The St. Louis Fire Department responded to the alarm preserving the structure of the building, but the inside appeared to be an unconfirmed total loss.

The establishment is known as Soulard’s Restaurant and Bar located at 1731 South 7th, St. Louis, MO.  Soulard’s has been in business for more than 40 years according to the establishment’s website.

According to an employee, they were cleaning backed up grease and food and a fire started quickly spreading.  Employees vacated the facility to safety after calling 911.

According to the company’s website, they call the fire “devastating.”  Being present for the tragedy their description is a reasonable one.  They have not provided any further details.

Tim Badock is the owner of Soulard’s Restaurant & Bar.  Another member of the Badock family, Dan Badock, owner of Lewis & Clark restaurant located in St. Charles, MO suffered damages from a fire on March 8, 2017.

Friends interviewed at the scene felt confident that Badock would reopen after repairs are made stating that Badock is a dedicated restaurateur, however, that has not yet been confirmed by Badock.

Soulard’s Restaurant is considered a fine dining steakhouse with seafood options.  Their online reviews range, but it is around a 4 to 4.5 star rated restaurant with a long history.  Certainly, many local residents will be hoping for further information about Badock plans.

Pictures and video courtesy of St. Louis Media, LLC

Sellers becoming more selective in the St. Louis seller’s market

St. Louis sellers market

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 18, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) It was only a matter of time before sellers started to take advantage of their seller’s market in St. Louis today.

Barry Upchurch, president of St. Louis Realtors, sat down this week to explain the seller’s market hold on St. Louis and how sellers are taking advantage of their positioning.  “It is an undoubted seller’s market today, as we are seeing multiple contracts on a home and condo when they come onto the market,” said Upchurch.  “Since seller’s have such a hold, they are becoming more picky with terms and conditions, like obtaining bulletproof pre-approval letters.  This all points to the fact that buyers need an excellent negotiator in their corner.”

Upchurch did argue that it could be interesting to see which way the central corridor in St. Louis will go this spring.  He noted that inventory is definitely low, and although sellers consider themselves on top of the world today, buyers are starting to get selective about their purchasing decisions as well.

“There may be low inventory in the Central West End, but buyers are starting to be more selective in their decisions early in 2017, another good reason to consider realtors when weathering this hot-and-cold market,” said Upchurch.

All local realtors do agree that now is definitely the time to act as the economy heats up this year with the Fed increasing interest rates.  The bargain exchanges that are occurring in St. Louis right now won’t be the same bargains a year from now.  “Now is definitely the time to act for people who are looking for the real estate steal of the century,” said Upchurch.

It should definitely be interesting to watch the course of the St. Louis real estate market throughout 2017.  One thing is for sure: the competitive interest is a good sign for the health of the region.

America’s most sober cities dictated by religion

most sober cities

March 13, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) For those more interested in living in a sober city rather than a boozy city, Realtor.com this week, in addition to their booze assessment, also sat down to determine which American cities are the least interested in boozing and opening bars.  The site found that as predicted, religion had a major impact on how likely a city was to be focused on boozing.

To begin the assessment, Realtor.com researched 300 American cities on their rate of binge drinking, the number of bars, wineries, breweries, and distilleries per capita, the percentage of homes with a wet bar, the number of drug and alcohol rehab centers, and the percentage of traffic fatalities that are related to drinking.

The results?  Realtor.com found that every month is Dryanuary in Utah, having the number one, Provo, and number three, West Jordan, most sober American cities.  Many residents take a pass on alcohol all year long due to the state’s large population of devout Mormons, who abstain from drinking alcohol as well as caffeine, aided by the state’s stringent liquor laws.  In restaurants operating today, bartenders are required to mix drinks out view behind a “Zion Curtain.”

The next trend proved that people live in the suburbs for a reason: they don’t want to party there, too.  Several of the most sober cities, including Daly City, California, at number two, and Hialeah, Florida, at number eight, are two family-oriented regions not interested in opening their arms to drove of bars and breweries.  For suburban residents, they do have the luxury of just taking a cab 10 or 20 miles to the nearest booze-friendly city.

Other sober cities include El Monte, California, with 12.7% of the adult population admitting to binge drinking, Memphis Tennessee, with 9.6% of population admitting to boozing, Laredo, Texas, with 13.6% of population admitting to boozing, and Newport News, Virginia, with 14.8% of the city admitting to boozing.

Missouri Technology invests in AirZaar drone startup

Missouri Technology

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 11, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) AirZaar, a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service platform that presently provides commercial drone fleet management to partnering companies, this week announced they have raised close to $350,000 from investors that include the likes of Missouri Technology Corp. (MTC), as well as New York City-based Quake Capital, for helping the startup to reach full growth potential in the future.  It is predicted, according to VCCircle, a website that covers venture capital in India, that the raised money will be used to monetize its mining platform and to launch additional products for the construction industry.

AirZaar is one of many companies shaking up the expanding drone industry today.  Ravi Sahu and Ali Ahmadi founded the startup, with headquarters presently situated in Richmond Heights.  To complement their funding, the company is also in the process of setting up an Indian subsidiary, the VCCircle report stated.  Of the two investors, Quake Capital, according to their website, typically invests up to $250,000 in exchange for between 2 percent and 15 percent of equity in its portfolio companies.  Additionally, the investment firm is known for follow-on investment rights as part of its deals.

MTC offered up $75,000 to AirZaar and it was officially approved back in December 2016.  The MTC funds act as leverage for startups by matching funds from other venture capitalists.  Since its founding in 2011, MTC has invested in a staggering 95 companies that have been able to raise more than $350 million in capital – with help from the state’s matching funds, of course.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens outlined a $27.6 billion spending plan for the state’s upcoming fiscal year that includes a $17.9 million reduction for the Missouri Technology Corp’s investment fund.  It wasn’t the best news ever for MTC, but they remain optimistic despite the statewide politically backed resistance – for the time being, anyway.

Three things to impact commercial properties financing in 2017

commercial properties

March 10, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) According to a report by the Mortgage Bankers Association, over $500 billion in commercial real estate loans were originated this past year, indicating a strong financial landscape for lending in the year ahead.  The financing market has demonstrated sustainable, dependable growth we can expect to shape commercial properties financing starting today.  Low interested rates, steady rental growth, and rising property values are increasing investor activity in commercial real estate, which is presently driving up loans to finance these investments.

Of course, with the beginning of every New Year, many are wondering what the future holds for commercial real estate financing.  Some wonder if the market will continue this upward trajectory of increased lending activity, or will new legislation by our new president have an even bigger impact?  Here are 3 major things to consider when pondering these questions:

1. Interest rates: These rates will remain low, at least in 2017, incentivizing borrowers to refinance their maturing loans in order to lock in lower rates.  Though the Fed is going to raise rates this year, the effects won’t be felt for a few years.

2. Availability of capital: There will be a wide availability of diverse sources of capital that will increase lender competition in the year ahead.  Strong market fundamentals, like low unemployment rates and increased property values, are fueling a boom in loan originations for commercial real estate assets.  Based on these strong fundamentals, it can be assumed capital will remain strong in 2017.

3. CMBS Regulations: A new bill is requiring CMBS lenders to hold onto five percent of the loans they issue as opposed to being able to pass them off as bonds.  In anticipation of this new law, many CMBS lenders are adopting more conservative underwriting standards as we speak.

Reading for financing in 2017?  Take notice of these three upcoming factors.

Real estate professionals doing their part for veterans

Real estate professionals

March 8, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) It’s no secret our country could make astronomical improvements in the amount of veteran care, benefit access, and support in our system.  As such, of the thousands of complaints received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), files regarding debt collections from the military community numbered twice the rate of the general population.  Even though not only the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but also the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act covers veterans, the political pandering isn’t doing enough to make a difference in their difficult lives.  The CFPB has fielded nearly 20,000 complaints from servicemembers.

Here is a breakdown at what national real estate entities are doing to say thank you to our servicemen and women.

  • Barbara Mills, a RE/MAX Realty One agent in Irverness, Florida, arranges for hundreds of small parties to greet individual soldiers returning home from the Middle East.  Additionally, she organizes a larger event every year and gifts each servicemember a basket valued at $450.
  • PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program gives new homes to wounded veterans and their families across the country.  Recently, Army Sgt. Matthew White and his two dogs received keys to a mortgage-free, fully furnished home in Dumfries, Virginia.
  • Bank of America has donated more than 2,000 abandoned and foreclosed houses to nonprofits like HomeStrong USA and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.  The bank also has thousands of employees that volunteer hundreds of hours to help put the houses into move-in condition, including stocking the pantries with canned goods.  The bank ensures its partnering nonprofits do a thorough vetting job to ensure the new residents are able to handle the pressures of home ownership.

Know of a real estate entity helping veterans out there?  Write about it and submit it!  The national coverage could help their project expand that much further.

Top 10 cities Americans are flocking to

Top 10 cities

More people are moving to these Top 10 Cities

March 7, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) The “it” cities in America every year are an ever-changing list struggling to keep up with the latest fads and trends.  What was once a hip city in 1975 could be nothing more than a washed-up industrial hub today with nothing alluring or notable about its make-up.  Then, there are the New Yorks, Miamis, and LAs of the world that manage to stand the test of time despite skyrocketing market rates.

But, what if these rates get so high that not even yuppies are willing to shoulder the costs anymore?  Gateway markets have sky-high prices today and potential yields that seem to shrink by the quarter.  It’s always a good idea to follow job growth and population growth in a city, and Penske Truck Rental this week released its projection of the top 10 American cities people will flock to in 2017.  Here are the results:

Charlotte, North Carolina offering a pleasant climate with relatively affordable apartment rents at $1,169 per month; Houston, Texas, with a business sector that relies heavily on the oil industry with a median apartment rent in the city at $1,392; Las Vegas, Nevada, with its beautifully temperate climate and affordable apartment rates despite its grandiosity; Seattle, Washington, despite its incredibly expensive apartment rates, the rainy city must have other alluring features; Orlando, Florida, boasting a year round warm climate and recently inexpensive apartment rates; Tampa, Florida with apartment rents of $1,264 per month and a beautiful ocean view; Denver, Colorado, one of the sunniest cities in the entire United States; Phoenix, Arizona, with affordable rents everywhere; Dallas, Texas, with warm weather and business friendly policies; and lastly Atlanta, Georgia, the number one alluring American city people are flocking to today with apartment rents of $1,600 per year and a relatively mild and predictable climate.

Millennials contributing to corporate office relocation

corporate office relocation

St. Louis, MO/March 6, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) In the past few years, as millennials have come of age in the working world, a handful of America’s largest corporations have joined an exodus from their suburban headquarters to new home bases in the city, and millennials seem to be a major driving force behind the shift.  Suburbs are no longer where corporations set up shop to save a dime or two on real estate.  Beginning in 2015, McDonald’s, Kraft Heinz, and ConAgra Foods all made the switch from the suburbs of Chicago to downtown office spaces – and it appears to not just be Chicago.

In August of this past year, General Electric announced it was ditching Fairfield, Connecticut, for Boston, and several years’ prior, Swiss banking giant UBS returned to New York City after 15 years in Stamford, Connecticut.  But this time, it was because UBS realized much of its top talent lived 35 miles south, right in Manhattan.  These major shifts are undermining what we have come to know as the traditional office park – a cluster of drab, nondescript buildings encircled by vast parking lots and highways.  Essentially, they are dying out, and we’re not sure if it’s a good or bad thing.

It can be clearly linked to the defining characteristics of the millennial generation, however.  They love walking, fast-casual restaurants, and a number of American companies are either rebuilding their suburban office parks to mimic an urban environment, or just plain uprooting for the city.

“Companies want to move to areas where millennials are located,” said Robert Bach, director of research at the real-estate advisory firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, disclosed Business Insider this week in their latest publication edition.

Millennials are surely driving the change because there are 75 million of them today.  The question is: how long will it continue, and to what extent?

Fox Park: St. Louis’ hottest neighborhood in 2017

Fox Park

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 5, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) Where’s the coolest, hottest, most up-and-coming area of the greater St. Louis region to call home in 2017?  Experts at Redfin are reporting it is indeed Fox Park.  The area, a south city neighborhood tucked between Tower Grove East and McKinley Heights, just north of Benton Park, is set to generate major real estate interest this calendar year, the national real estate brokerage this week stated.  Fox Park satisfies all of the elements weighed and measured by Redfin to come to their national 2017 hot real estate markets within American metropolises.

To come to their conclusion, Redfin measured which areas had the highest increase in total page views and favorites on Redfin’s website and apps over the course of the second half of 2016.  These neighborhoods that experienced the most growth in these metrics are projected to show increased transactions and prices in 2017.  Redfin’s model has been precisely accurate in past years when predicting up-and-coming areas for real estate transactions.

Following Fox Park is Maplewood, with Soulard coming in at number three.  Redfin went on to defend their Fox Park determination by stating that although the area may be under-appreciated by locals, other than those admiring the architecture on their way to Lon’s L’il Eats, the area has been a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985.  This kind of rustic and inner city allure has positioned it to be one of appeal to millennial couples and artsy individuals intent on living in a meaningful location.

Redfin agent Tamika Evans noted, “After losing significant population in the 1990s, Fox Park is now one of the fastest-growing south city neighborhoods in St. Louis.”  So, for the locals who can’t seem to picture the area as one of an urban revival, Redfin’s data asks them to consider in the future: what’s not to like?