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St. Louis housing market keeps heating up

St. Louis housing market keeps heating up

ST. LOUIS, MO/June 25, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) As the headlines have been saying for over a year now, the St. Louis housing market is red hot.  Days on market continue to dwindle, which means navigating the waters as a buyer can be pretty competitive and now expensive today.  One real estate agent spoken to by KSDK stated that he has been receiving a dozen offers on each of his home listings at this time.  With impossible odds for a lot of first-time home-buyers, there are some recommendations KDSK was willing to offer up for helping both buyers and sellers come out with a favorable result in the end.

For starters, have all “your ducks in a row” before you head out and start making offers.  Though houses are being snatched up in 2-weeks time, when they first enter the market, it’s time to pounce on the offering.  “It is a seller’s market, but that being said, it’s still a great time for buyers,” said Kenny Reinhold of Coldwell Banker Gundaker Real Estate.  “Last week I had 12 offers on one house.  If it comes on the market that day, you have to take advantage of it.”  Reinhold went onto state that a lot has changed throughout his 14-years as an agent in St. Louis.  “You have to be prepared. Inventory levels are so low right now that it’s creating multiple offer situations.  Being pre-approved is the first thing.”

In addition to being prepared, Reinhold also recommends that buyers get personal with the seller.  Human-to-human emotion has always been a big part of the real estate equation.

For those looking to capitalize from selling their homes, they should invest in hot-ticket renovations and cleaning services for staging.  “I think kitchen and baths. You’re seeing a lot of return on those,” said Reinhold.  Lastly, consider some video and drone footage of the home for the ultimate listing.

Millennials are shaping St. Louis’ industrial real estate scene

Millennials are shaping St. Louis’ industrial real estate scene

ST. LOUIS, MO/June 25, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) Industrial Real Estate Scene – There are never-ending stories about how millennials are changing commercial real estate design and layout as we know it today.  They’re all about collaboration, open-aired spaces, and big ceilings with lots of light to flood the work-space.  Less talk is occurring regarding their desire to change the industrial real estate market as well.  Three aspects of that market, huge bulk distribution centers, the bread-and-butter office-warehouse sector, and obsolete manufacturing/warehouse buildings, are changing quickly because of millennial interest, especially in St. Louis and the Twin Cities region.

One reason this change is flying under the radar is because industrial real estate isn’t as visible as high-profile corporate offices or snazzy new apartments with unique fixtures.  However, industrial real estate is perhaps the most telling for where an economy is headed in the future.

Probably the most major way millennials are influencing industrial real estate is through the eCommerce explosion.  With their buying power on full display, eCommerce has exploded, and the supply chain for delivering goods purchased over the Internet has created the need for much larger bulk distribution warehouses than we have ever seen in the past.  The first St. Louis example is the build out of Amazon warehouses on the outskirts of the city.  These distribution centers will enable massive shipping capabilities with even the incorporation of same-day delivery options.

“Thanks to eCommerce, your brick-and-mortar retailers are going out of business, and in their place these huge distribution warehouses are popping up,” said Chris Garcia, a principal with St. Louis Park-based commercial real estate brokers Lee & Associates and an expert on the industrial market.  He provided the quote to the StarTribune. “Basically, say goodbye to Macy’s and say hello to a box in a cornfield.”

Additionally, millennials want these warehouses to be close to urban cores with open-air collaborative elements and something that makes the place “cool” to be in.

Lakeside homeowners, sculling camp clash over waterway use

Lakeside homeowners, sculling camp clash over waterway use

CRAFTSBURY, Vt./June 25, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — Rowing is thought of as a relatively quiet, benign sport but some owners of lakeside vacation homes say too much of it by a renowned sculling camp is hindering them from enjoying the public waterway they share.
The Craftsbury Outdoor Center has operated a rowing camp on Great Hosmer Pond in Craftsbury, Vermont, since the 1970s. The center also trains athletes from around the country and world and has added a community rowing program.
“It’s too much,” said Sarah George, Chittenden County state’s attorney whose family has owned a summer home on the lake for decades. “From our perspective, it’s just gotten to this point where it’s a business that’s monopolizing a public body of water.”
The state has stepped in to develop rules for the lake’s use that could include time restrictions on rowers. Meanwhile, tensions persist in the community.
George, who also represents a homeowners group, says dozens of sculls are on the water for more than eight hours a day on weekdays.
“It’s the coaching that gets obnoxious,” she said. “When the coaches are yelling at the people out right in front of your camp and you’re trying to read on your deck or something, it’s pretty annoying.”
Homeowners also have safety concerns, she added, citing difficulty kayaking or paddleboarding while the rowing programs are running.
The center says the schedule is about seven and a half to eight hours and smaller sized groups are out at different times of day. Troy Howell, the center’s managing director, added that several homeowners have operated their motor boats in violation of water rules, and he’d like to see the rules enforced.
The center has made adjustments to the schedule to appease homeowners, it says.
Among the adjustments, rowers with the center are now off the lake on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends as well as four other summer weekends. It also has no rowing from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
“I think we really have a pretty good balance right now in terms of the amount of time the lake gets used to the benefit to a big group of people,” said Judy Geer, a center director.
But she acknowledges the changes haven’t helped the relationship with neighbors.
“It seems like the more we try to make things better and take more time off the lake, it doesn’t seem like it’s gotten better,” said Geer, a former Olympic rower, who said some of the scullers have gotten yelled at by homeowners.
George said the homeowners appreciate the changes, but the sculling programs appear to be growing, which puts more pressure on the lake’s use.
“So that tension just gets bigger and bigger,” she said, while the center says it’s actually cut back on the sculling camps.
Friends of Hosmer Pond, a group including year-round residents, say any decision on water activities doesn’t just affect the center and homeowners. Members of the community also take advantage of the lake for kayaking, fishing, and swimming. They say limiting rowing would take away dollars from the center’s affordable youth summer bike and winter ski programs and impact jobs.
“The center is much more than a rowing camp. It’s the heart and soul of our community,” said Gina Campoli, who has lived in Craftsbury since the 1970s and also uses the lake. “I’ve been paddling my canoe while rowing is going on and never have felt like I couldn’t do that, enjoy the lake.”

By LISA RATHKE ,  Associated Press

Iowa neighborhood plagued by flooding transformed into park

Iowa neighborhood plagued by flooding transformed into park

WATERLOO, Iowa/June 25, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — A new shelter and trail in Waterloo are among the final pieces of a transformation of a flood-raved neighborhood into a riverfront recreation area.
A $200,000 grant from Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program will fund the new shelter, parking lot and trail in Waterloo’s Sherwood Park Recreation Area, The Courier (http://bit.ly/2sqmbol ) reported.
“The whole idea is to take land that really can’t be used for anything else . and make it into a useful water- and trail-based recreation area,” said Waterloo Leisure Services Director Paul Huting. “The frequent and severe flooding limits what we can do in the area.”
The shelter is being built to withstand heavy flooding, Huting said.
Only a few homes and private lots remain in Sherwood Park, which sits on the banks of the Cedar River. The government used a federal buyout program to acquire about 60 homes in the area that were left uninhabitable after heavy flooding in 1993 and 2008.
The city has partnered with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board to redevelop and manage the area.
Grout Museum District staff will add panels along the trail with information about the area’s history.
Work on the project has been delayed multiple times due to high water and water damage led to an additional $16,000 in repairs. Construction is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall.

Big Fish Restaurant Group buys Delaware eateries

Big Fish Restaurant Group buys Delaware eateries

WILMINGTON, Del./June 25, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) The Big Fish Restaurant Group, which owns a chain of seafood eateries in Delaware and Pennsylvania, has purchased the Wilmington restaurants the Washington Street Ale House and Mikimotos Asian Grill and Sushi Bar as well as Stingray Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.
Eric Sugrue, a co-founder and co-creator of the Big Fish Group which runs the Big Fish Grill restaurants, has been finalizing plans for the past few weeks.
This past Thursday, he confirmed the purchase of the eateries which had been owned by the late Wilmington resident Darius Mansoory.
Sugrue said he settled with Mansoory’s estate last week. He said the names of the eateries will stay the same, but he plans on updating the three concepts and doing some general renovations at the sites. The restaurants will remain open during the work.
The Big Fish Restaurant Group already runs three Wilmington restaurants, Bella Coast Italian Kitchen & Market on Concord Pike, Trolley Square Oyster House on Delaware Avenue and the Big Fish Grill on the Wilmington Riverfront.
The Group also is involved with plans for a seven-story, 122-room hotel and banquet hall attached to the existing 275-seat Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront
The joint project involves the Pennsylvania-based property developer Onix Group and is expected to cost $23 million. Sugrue said he hoped to begin construction by late summer and open next year.
The Big Fish Restaurant Group started with the flagship Big Fish Grill in Rehoboth, and later expanded with other eateries in the resort town including the Big Fish Seafood Market, the Summerhouse Saloon, Salt Air and the Crab House. There’s a Big Fish Grill as well in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Mansoory had operated restaurants for two decades. The 52-year-old died suddenly of cardiac arrest on Dec. 31, 2016, in a hospital while on vacation in Cuba with his girlfriend. Mansoory, who grew up in Centreville, fell ill while at a hotel he was staying shortly before the couple was scheduled to leave and catch a plane home.
At the time of his death, it was unknown who would run the restaurants operating under the Cherry Tree Hospitality Group that Mansoory founded. His closest surviving relatives included his mother Janet Mansoory and father Dr. Amir Mansoory.
The Washington Street House marked its 20th year in business this month. Shortly before his death, Mansoory told The News Journal he had big plans for the popular restaurant and his other operations.
“I’m just now getting back into work full time and have my plate full fine-tuning Mikimotos and the Ale House,” he wrote in a text message sent in October 216.
Mansoory said he planned to reopen Presto!, a cafe next door to the Ale House, which he shuttered in 2014.
“June 4, 2017, will be the 20-year anniversary of the Ale House, and I definitely will have Presto! open and everything else running razor sharp as we celebrate that milestone,” he told The News Journal.
Mansoory began his career in the hospitality industry in 1997 when he bought the former Knuckleheads bar on Washington Street and transformed it, through several renovations, into the Washington Street Ale House.
Later, he opened Mikimotos Asian Grill & Sushi, named after the Japanese pearls, in 2000 just as U.S. diners began developing a surging interest in Japanese cuisine. The eatery, next door to the Ale House, became one of the city’s most popular restaurants
Stingray Sushi Bar + Asian Latino Grill on Lake Avenue in Rehoboth followed in 2008.
David Dietz, owner of the BBC Tavern in Greenville and a close friend of Mansoory, told The News Journal in January he was confident Mansoory’s restaurants will continue to operate and thrive.
“His family wants to see his legacy continue. I think Darius has a lot of excellent people at his establishments already in place and I feel they are highly competent and they will ensure his legacy lives on through the opening of the restaurants,” Dietz said.

By PATRICIA TALORICO ,  The News Journal of Wilmington

Hundreds evacuated from London towers as fire fallout widens

Hundreds evacuated from London towers as fire fallout widens

LONDON/June 24, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — The scope of Britain’s fire-safety crisis broadened Saturday as London officials scrambled to evacuate four public housing towers due to concerns about external cladding, fire doors and insulation around gas pipes.
Hundreds of residents hastily packed their bags and sought emergency shelter, with many angry and confused about the chaotic situation. Some refused to leave.
Camden Council said it decided to evacuate the buildings on the Chalcots Estate late Friday after fire inspectors reported that the blocks were “not safe for people to sleep in overnight.” Inspectors uncovered problems with “gas insulation and door stops,” which combined with the presence of flammable cladding meant residents had to leave immediately, council leader Georgia Gould said in a tweet.
The evacuation comes amid widening worries about the safety of high-rise apartment blocks across Britain following the inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London on June 14, killing at least 79 people. Public attention has focused on the external cladding material blamed for the rapid spread of that blaze — but now it appeared that multiple other fire risks have been identified in some blocks.
Britain’s government said Saturday that cladding samples from 27 high-rise apartment blocks in cities including London, Manchester, Plymouth and Portsmouth have failed fire safety tests.
So far, Camden Council has been the only local authority known to have asked residents to leave as a precaution. It said about 650 apartments were evacuated, though initial reports had said that as many as 800 were affected.
“I know some residents are angry and upset, but I want to be very clear that Camden Council acted to protect them,” Gould said in a statement. “Grenfell changed everything, and when told our blocks were unsafe to remain in, we acted.”
Residents — including families with babies and elderly relatives — trooped out of the buildings Friday night with suitcases and plastic bags stuffed with clothes as council workers guided them to a local leisure center, where some spent the night on inflatable mattresses packed into a gym. Others were being put up in hotels and other housing projects.
The council said residents would be out of their homes for three to four weeks while it completes fire-safety upgrades.
Many residents complained of a lack of information and confusion. Officials first announced the evacuation of one building, then expanded it to five and later reduced it to four. Some said they learned about the evacuation on television news before officials came knocking on doors.
Renee Williams, 90, who has lived in Taplow tower since 1968, told Britain’s Press Association: “No official came and told us what’s going on, I saw it on the TV so I packed an overnight bag.
“It’s unbelievable. I understand that it’s for our safety but they can’t just ask us to evacuate with such short notice. There’s no organization and it’s chaos,” she added.
Dozens refused to leave their homes. Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the inflatable beds offered on the floor of the leisure center and went back to his own apartment.
Flammable external cladding that is widely used to provide insulation and enhance the appearance of buildings has been identified as the culprit in the Grenfell disaster. But fire-safety experts have said the blaze was probably due to a string of failures, not just the cladding.
Police said Friday that they were considering filing manslaughter charges in the Grenfell disaster and they were conducting a wide-ranging investigation that will look at everything that contributed to it.
The Metropolitan Police said cladding attached to the 24-story public housing project during a recent renovation failed safety tests conducted by investigators, and that they have seized documents from a number of organizations.
“We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards,” Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters. “We are looking at all health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.”
The government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze. McCormack said the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer had not been subject to any product recalls before the fire.
Hotpoint said it was working with authorities to examine the appliance, adding “words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy.”
The government has called on all building owners, public and private, to submit samples of cladding material used on their buildings for testing.
Fears about cladding are not limited to apartment buildings. One hotel chain, Premier Inn, is calling in experts to make certain its properties meet safety regulations.
Police says 79 people are either dead or missing and presumed dead in the blaze, although that number may change. To encourage cooperation, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government won’t penalize any fire survivors who were in the country illegally.

By SYLVIA HUI and DANICA KIRKA ,  Associated Press

Sale of Detroit-owned properties for bridge to bring in $48M

Sale of Detroit-owned properties for bridge to bring in $48M

DETROIT/June 23, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — Detroit says the sale of city-owned properties as part of plans for new bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada will bring in $48 million.
Mayor Mike Duggan on Friday announced an agreement with the state to sell 36 parcels of land, underground assets and about 5 miles (8 kilometers) of streets for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The Canadian-financed bridge is scheduled to open in 2020.
Detroit plans to use the money for neighborhood redevelopment, job training and health monitoring for Detroit residents.
The mayor’s office says $33 million will go to a neighborhood improvement fund to assist more than 450 Detroit families who live near the bridge project. They will get the option to stay in their current homes or swap a home for one elsewhere in the city.

Chicago businessman pleads not guilty in $7M fraud scheme

Chicago businessman pleads not guilty in $7M fraud scheme

CHICAGO/June 23, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — A Chicago businessman has pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges he swindled elderly homeowners in a $7 million reverse-mortgage scheme.
Federal prosecutors on Thursday said 60-year-old Mark Steven Diamond caused lenders to make reverse-mortgage loans to homeowners who didn’t sign up for them or did so after Diamond misrepresented terms. Prosecutors say Diamond had title company representatives provide him the loan checks rather than homeowners and he kept the checks for himself. Diamond ran offices in Chicago and the southern suburb of Calumet City.
Diamond entered the not guilty pleas Wednesday to seven counts of wire fraud. A federal judge has set his next court appearance for Aug. 28.
A Chicago woman, 47-year-old Cynthia Wallace, also pleaded not guilty in the scheme. She is accused of soliciting homeowners.

Buffett’s company loans $1.5B to Home Capital, invests $300M

Buffett's company loans $1.5B to Home Capital, invests $300M

OMAHA, Neb./ June 22, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — Warren Buffett’s company is loaning $1.5 billion to Home Capital and spending roughly $300 million to purchase nearly 40 percent of the troubled Canadian lender’s shares.

Berkshire said Thursday that the credit line will carry a 9 percent interest rate once Berkshire completes its initial stock investment later this month. The interest rate is similar to what Berkshire charged on loans during the financial crisis.

Home Capital has struggled with liquidity issues since Canadian regulators announced they were investigating the mortgage lender.

Berkshire is also getting a discount on Home Capital’s stock. Buffett’s company will pay $10 Canadian per share. Home Capital’s shares jumped nearly 12 percent Thursday to $16.71 Canadian after the financing deal was announced.

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Home sales up in May, but buyers face sharply rising prices

Home sales up in May, but buyers face sharply rising prices

WASHINGTON/June 21, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — Americans shopping for a house are facing an intensifying set of pressures: Fewer and fewer homes are being listed for sale, while prices are climbing at a pace that most incomes can’t possibly match.
The May sales report released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors shows a housing market unable to meet the demand from would-be buyers. Sales edged up 1.1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.62 million, a decent gain amid a relatively stable job market with a robust 4.3 percent unemployment rate.
But many possible buyers are finding their ambitions thwarted because there aren’t enough homes for sale. Sales listings have plummeted 8.4 percent over the past 12 months to 1.96 million. On an annual basis, the number of homes for sale has declined for the past 24 months. Homes are staying on the market for a median of just 27 days, the briefest period since the Realtors began tracking the measure in 2011.
The sales growth in these circumstances is a “testament to just how strong the draw of homeownership is right now,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at the real estate firm Zillow.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that current buying conditions in many markets are terrible, with sellers in complete control and buyers forced to contend with cutthroat competition and intense pressure to make a deal,” Gudell said.
The lack of homes on the market has caused prices to rise are more than double the pace of wages. The median sales price has risen 5.8 percent from a year ago to $252,800.
Lawrence Yun, the Realtors’ chief economist, said that the term “shortage” understated the problem in many metro areas.
“We may even use the term ‘housing crisis’ in some markets,” he said.
The fastest-moving markets with rising prices and limited supplies include San Francisco and San Jose, California, Seattle and parts of Utah, Yun said.
Home sales rose in May in the Northeast, South and West but fell in the Midwest.

By JOSH BOAK ,  AP Economics Writer