Tag - real estate

Real estate agent accused in killings prompts new law

Real estate agent accused in killings prompts new law

COLUMBIA, S.C./May 23, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — People who sell or manage property in South Carolina will have to undergo a background check to renew their license under a new law prompted by last November’s arrest of a real estate agent accused of killing seven people.

The law, signed Friday by Gov. Henry McMaster, requires real estate agents, brokers, property managers, and their supervisors to undergo a fingerprint-based check every third license renewal, or every six years.

“Hopefully, it will make people more secure,” Rep. Chip Huggins, R-Columbia, the bill’s main sponsor, said Monday. “This is the result of a terrible situation.”

The law takes effect in 2020.

Todd Kohlhepp was arrested after authorities said they found a woman who’d been missing since August chained by the neck in a storage container on his property in rural Spartanburg County. Authorities said they unearthed the remains of her boyfriend and another couple who disappeared in December. They also said Kohlhepp confessed to a 2003 cold case where four people were gunned down in a motorcycle shop.

Kohlhepp is charged with seven counts of murder, kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault and gun violations. According to the court roster, he is scheduled to be back in court Friday. Prosecutors declined to give details about the hearing.

Kohlhepp, a registered sex offender, received his South Carolina real estate license in 2006, before state law required background checks for real estate licenses.

As a teenager, Kohlhepp was convicted of raping a 14-year-old neighbor at gunpoint and threatening to kill her siblings if she called police. He was sentenced to 15 years and released from an Arizona prison in 2001.

On his 2006 South Carolina application, he checked the box acknowledging he had a felony conviction but lied in the explanation.

A 2014 state law requiring background checks took effect in May 2015 — for first-time applicants only.

Nick Kremydas, CEO of South Carolina REALTORS, said the law is a way to honor the victims.

“REALTORS were horrified by last year’s tragic events,” he said Monday. “We knew it was our responsibility to ask the Legislature to enact tougher laws to better protect the public.”

Once agents are in the Multiple Listing Service and given an electronic key, they “literally can walk in the front door of thousands of homes,” Kremydas said.

The law will apply to 48,000 people in real estate and property management in South Carolina — 63 percent of them real estate agents, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

What will happen when a crime surfaces in a renewal background check and whether any convictions will result in automatic license suspensions are not yet known. The state Real Estate Commission must develop the process, said Lesia Kudelka, spokeswoman for the licensing agency.

Huggins said he was shocked to learn how many state licenses are doled out without background checks. He plans to push next year for checks for other industry licenses.

“Hopefully, we can do a better job with making sure folks are checked before they’re working with the public,” he said.

SEANNA ADCOX, Associated Press


Proposal seeks to keep 165 downtown housing units affordable

Proposal seeks to keep 165 downtown housing units affordable

DETROIT/May 22, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — The Detroit City Council is considering a proposal that would allow two buildings in downtown Detroit to retain their affordable housing status for 30 years as a developer renovates them.

The city says the Stephens and Industrial buildings have — between them — 165 units under a housing operating subsidy that’s set to expire next year.

Officials say that would put the buildings at-risk of becoming higher-rent market-rate housing which could make living there too expensive for some current residents once renovations are completed.

The Roxbury Group acquired the properties in 2015 and plans to update the buildings in a way that allows existing residents to remain. Work would start in the fall.

Altice vacates St. Louis commercial office space

Altice vacates St. Louis commercial office space

ST. LOUIS, MO/May 21, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) Parent company of Suddenlink Communications, a St. Louis-based startup with communications technology, has slowly decreased its local footprint since acquiring Suddenlink in December 2015 for $9.1 billion.  Altice, the global telecommunications company behind the acquisition, this week confirmed that the company has consolidated two of its St. Louis-area offices into one by vacating nearly 46,000-square feet at 575 Maryville Center Drive in Town & Country towards the end of 2016.  Additionally, the company has relocated an unconfirmed amount of employees from St. Louis to New York.

“As we strengthen our operations in a highly competitive market and advance our position as a best-in-class connectivity company, last year we consolidated two offices in St. Louis and deployed some corporate and key business functions closer to our operations, partners, and the communities we serve,” said an Atlice spokeswoman in a statement to the St. Louis Business Journal.

After the consolidation, the company is only operating out of their office space at 520 Maryville Centre Drive.  To make the move possible, Atlice had to bail out of their year lease on their previous location at 575 Maryville Centre, where it was the occupant of the entire third flood of the building. The space left behind is now available for sublease at $15 per square foot.  The building, owned by New York-based private equity real estate asset manager Bluerock Real Estate, also has high profile tenants like CenturyLink and Cushman & Wakefield.

The building is located in a hot St. Louis submarket today, with only a 7.2 percent vacancy rate, second-lowest rate in the region trailing only to Clayton, according to research from Newmark Grubb Zimmer.  Comparatively, the St. Louis metro average is around 11.2 percent.

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, Suddenlink generated $681 million in revenue during the first quarter of this year, which was a 9 percent increase from this time last year.

Chinese real estate investors interested in Miami market

Chinese real estate investors interested in Miami market

May 21, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) Until recently, Asian investors were ultimately unacquainted with the Southern American city of Miami.  The reasons for this include lingering misconceptions of the “Miami Vice” era and the absence of direct flights from South Florida to East Asia.  However, some key factors are catching Asian investors’ eyes as they look towards the booming tropical haven.

Despite measures by its government to curb capital outflow, China is still dominating the global real estate scene today.  When looking at numbers from the last 2-years, investment in Florida real estate by Chinese buyers increased by 1 percent year-over-year from 2015 to 2016, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.  “Interest from Chinese buyers and investors continues to grow in South Florida,” said Teresa Kinney of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS.  “For the first time in 2016, Chinese buyers ranked in the top tier of foreign purchasers in South Florida.  Like other foreign investors, they are attracted to the desirability of the location, profitability of investment, safety, climate, clean air, shopping venues, and our institutions of higher learning.”

China isn’t the only Asian nation that is taking note of the South Florida region.  Japan made a $220 million purchase of the iconic Miami Tower earlier this year, one of the region’s biggest investment deals thus far in 2017.  Additionally, Asian Pacific Islanders are also becoming more active in the U.S. mortgage market, even though their global activity is still dwarfed in comparison by the likes of Japan and China.

This past April, China’s interest in Florida was definitely solidified when Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Boca Raton to meet with President Donald Trump.  He visited Mar-a-Lago, and his presence has created a “golden goose” ripple effect – meaning, if the president puts his seal of approval on something, all Chinese investors are likely to follow.

Boland Place development project officially approved

Boland Place development project officially approved

Boland Place & Dale Avenue multi-million dollar apartment complex approved

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, MO/May 19, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) Richmond Heights made a massive approval plan for $37 million Boland Place development today.  Officials approved an agreement with developer Joseph Cyr, who has plans to build the multi-million dollar apartment complex at Dale Avenue and Boland Place.  Despite the tax agreement cap put in place by the city of St. Louis, the city still agreed to a payment in lieu of taxes that will cap real estate taxes at $297,396 per year.  Put simply, taxes over that threshold will be abated for a 10-year period upon completion of the project.

The developer is a former Lawrence Group employee with years of experience in the St. Louis development industry.  Cyr plans to build a five-story, 187-unit apartment complex with 4,000 square feet of retail space on the ground flood.  The project is a big undertaking, and is estimated to take 3-years with a final completion sometime in 2020.

P&M Holdings, a business entity controlled by Cyr, acquired the properties in August 2016 for $885,000, the St. Louis Business Journal reported.  The Richmond Heights Church of God in Christ and before that, the vacant A.B. Green School, previously occupied the site for the project.  Although Richmond Heights actually approved the development back in February 2016, Cyr was forced to ask for tax relief because the projected tax on the completed project came in at 50 percent higher than he was initially expecting.

To date, Cyr has raised $8 million in equity to help fund the big project.  The remaining $29 million will have to come from various lenders, many of which he is already hotly pursuing.  City documents, provided by the St. Louis Business Journal, also confirm that Cyr is in the process of securing a loan for the project.  No official word on when the construction development will officially be underway.

Old Shriners Hospital site to be developed

Old Shriners Hospital site to be developed

Old Shriners Hospital in Frontenac to be developed by the Desco Group

ST. LOUIS, MO/May 19, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) The old Shriners Hospital for Children site, presently abandoned and looking rundown, has a new future just around the corner.  The Desco Group, commercial development company based out of downtown St. Louis, this week officially submitted its plans with the city of Fontenac to redevelop the site into a multi-building, mixed-used project.  The project, which would be a three-story undertaking, 36,000-square-foot office and retail building, will also include two 6,500-square-foot restaurants, as well as a Lifetime Fitness gym.  There will even be parking included onsite at eh 2001 S. Lindbergh Blvd. site address.

Overall, this is no cheap project.  The total investment on the project is expected to exceed $80 million, according to Scott Sachtleben, the present senior vice president of development and general counsel with the Desco Group.  This isn’t the first time the city of St. Louis is hearing about the project from Desco, however.  The group has had the land, which is currently owned by Shriners, under contract since May 2015.  According to the St. Louis County records, observed by the St. Louis Business Journal, the property has an appraised value of $11.7 million.

The site was left vacant two years ago when the Shriners Hospital for Children moved into a new $50 million, 90,000-square-foot specialty hospital located at the corner of Clayton and Newstead avenues in St. Louis.  Shriners today is one of the St. Louis’ largest hospitals with 2015 revenue of more than $37 million.

The Desco project has hired Stock and Associates to handle the design work, DG2 Design to manage the landscaping architecture, and Remiger Design to provide additional architectural work on the roll-out.

The Desco Group has been responsible for other development projects around downtown St. Louis, including the development of University Commons in St. Charles, and the Old Post Office in downtown St. Louis.

Architect couple turns crumbling building into modern home 

Architect couple turns crumbling building into modern home 

NEW ORLEANS/May 19, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — When David and Irelis MacDonald bought their property in the Faubourg Marigny in 2013, they knew they’d have to jump through some hoops to get construction started. Their idea was to turn the crumbling concrete structure into a modern apartment building in the midst of a historic district.

The 50-year-old, two-story building made of steel and concrete was in bad shape, with no insulation, a leaking roof and poor drainage. Part of the exterior was cracking and in disrepair.

The property, in recent years, had housed the NOLA Defender publication and a comedy club called The New Movement. Before that, it had been home to a mechanic shop, a ship anchor storage, a laundromat, a catering firm and a construction company, the MacDonalds said.

The couple — who are both architects — planned to gut the property, raise the foundation 21 inches above base flood elevation, and turn it into a three-unit apartment building. Those plans initially caused concern for some in the community. “There were a lot of people hoping the building would be torn down and rebuilt into a single-family home,” David said.

“We sent fliers to everyone and invited them here to express their concerns, but we didn’t have that many people show up,” Irelis said. “But we did have several support letters, but also people who weren’t in favor.”

Ultimately, it took seven months for the couple to go through the permitting process with the city and the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Plus, the property had a zero lot line, meaning there was little room to do construction work. So the MacDonalds had to request permission from their neighbors to work on the building’s sides.

In the end, the MacDonalds transformed the steel-and-concrete structure into a 3,400-square-foot, three-level residence with rental units on the first and second floors. The couple now lives on the second and third floor.

The MacDonalds will open the doors to their home this Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m., when their property will be one of nine featured on the 45th annual Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association Home Tour. Tickets are $25 and will be sold at Washington Square Park, 700 Frenchmen St.

The MacDonalds — whose company is Mac Design Build– drafted their building’s plans, and David served as the general contractor. This project was a labor of love for the couple, who met 17 years ago at the Louisiana State University School of Architecture.

After graduation, they worked in Portland, Ore., Sacramento and Boston. When David’s mother got sick in 2012, the couple moved back to Louisiana to be near her. And they’ve been in New Orleans ever since.

When they stumbled upon the Marigny property, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to design their own home. “It was a lot more than we thought we were going to do, but at the same time, it was like, well, it’s only going to be a three unit so maybe we can do it,” Irelis recalled.

The couple gutted the building. “Basically, what we had left was a shell,” David said.

They redesigned the property into three units with two bedrooms and two bathrooms in each. All of the apartments have a contemporary industrial look, with exposed steel cross-bracing tension cables and corrugated metal ceilings.

An outdoor spiral staircase leads to the building’s third level, which features a rooftop deck with a 360-degree view of the neighborhood and the New Orleans skyline.

Inside, the walls are white, as the couple wanted their future tenants to have a blank canvass. The floors are water-resistant vinyl planks that look like hardwood, and most of the kitchen fixtures are from Ikea.

Though the last year has been filled with 70- to 80-hour work weeks for the couple as they finished the project, they are thrilled to be settling into the property. Like many architects, designing their own home was “a bucket list item for us,” Irelis said.

“It’s more like a nightmare as you go through it,” David joked, “but a dream in the end.”

Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association Home Tour

What: Nine buildings in the historic district, including the MacDonalds’ home, will be open for self-guided tours. Other featured properties include artist James Michalopoulos’ studio and Marigny association founder Gene Cizek’s house.

When: Sunday, May 21, noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Washington Square Park, 700 Frenchmen St.

Tickets: $25, ($20 for FMIA members) at faubourgmarigny.org.

KEVINISHA WALKER, The Times-Picayune

Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 4.02 percent

Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 4.02 percent

WASHINGTON/May 18, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates inched lower this week. It was the fifth straight week that the benchmark 30-year rate hovered around the key threshold of 4 percent.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans slipped to 4.02 percent from 4.05 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.58 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages eased to 3.27 percent from 3.29 percent last week.

With higher St Louis property values come higher taxes

With higher St. Louis property values come higher taxes

ST. LOUIS, MO/May 18, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) Property values are going up in St. Louis County, and so are the property taxes.  What’s been an incredible last 2-years for the St. Louis real estate market has translated into higher valued properties – and residents aren’t happy about it.  It’s been almost 10-years since many of the reassessed saw any kind of hike in their property value.  Opening the letters this week with increased property value information spelled out one clear thing for residents: higher property taxes.

City Assessor Fred Dunlap said St. Louis is simply responding to the real estate market today.  Close to 55,000 parcels of residential and commercial real estate in the city saw an average increase in value of seven to nine percent since the last assessment took place in 2015.  Land reassessments take place on every consecutive odd year.  “Of those 55,000, we had 17,000 that increased by 15 percent or more,” said Dunlap.  Naturally, residents that fell into the big increase category weren’t too thrilled with the result.

Dunlap went on to state that although statewide assessments are done on odd years, the values of the market following the Great Recession result in no property value increases until now.  Used to no changes from 2008 until 2017, a lot of citizens are trying to calm down and max sense of it all.

Of course, with rising property values come rising taxes.  Last year, city property owners paid $350 million in taxes.  This year that’s expected to reach $371 million if assessments are approved.  “We don’t establish the tax rate. We combine tax rates,” Dunlap continued.  “Then we get the certified rates we receive from the taxing authorities and send it to the auditor.  Once we get things back from the auditor, we establish the tax rate.”

Dunlap is hoping more St. Louis residents will do some research to understand the assessment letters they got this week.

St Louis residents aren’t happy about rising property taxes

St Louis residents aren’t happy about rising property taxes

ST. LOUIS, MO/May 18, 2017 (STLRealEstate.News) The red hot St. Louis real estate market could very well mean a higher property tax bill for many residents in the greater metropolis today.  St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman stated that most people will see a significant increase this time around.  The last time the reassessments were done, in the wake of the Great Recession, there was no increase to residents.  This shift is already creating controversy and unhappiness in worried residents today.

“Two years ago we saw that homes in really nice parts of town were going up in value and the rest of St. Louis County, not so much.  This year, the rising tide seems to be lifting all of the boats,” said immerman.  He went on to state that it’s about a 7 percent increase across the board.  Residents are wondering how they come up with these numbers.

Zimmerman responded, “It’s data driven, but we have personally inspected 75,000 properties just in the space of the last couple of months.”

Some St. Louis residents have certain opinions on who should be subject to these increased assessments.  Sarah Heine of Kirkwood, the former head of the group that pushed for property tax relief ten years ago, stated that there ought to be a property tax cap for anyone over the age of 65.  “I feel at some point I should not be in a position to have to move out of the community I helped to support for all those years, and be able to live in my home and enjoy the community I helped create,” she said.

She went to claim that it might be time to consider taxing homes when they are sold, not when they are being lived in.  Heine’s group, the St. Louis County Citizens for Property Tax Relief, is presently looking for new leadership to carry on the crusade.