Tag - real estate

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

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

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.

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

Puerto Rico families fight, flee a surge in foreclosures

Puerto Rico families fight, flee a surge in foreclosures

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico/June 21, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News)— Elvis Guzman opened the letter, saw it was in English and took it to his lawyer for translation.

The 59-year-old who sells recycled metal for a living figured it was another letter from the bank warning his family that they were behind on their mortgage payments. But the news from the attorney shocked him.

“He told me I was losing my home. When he told me that, I burst into tears,” Guzman recalled. “You have no idea the depression I’m going through. I am going to fight tooth and nail for this house.”

An average of 14 families lose homes every day to foreclosure in Puerto Rico, more than double the rate a decade ago as the island faces a real-estate crash worse than the one that sparked the Great Recession on the U.S. mainland. Families across Puerto Rico are moving in with relatives, becoming homeless or simply fleeing to the U.S. mainland with destroyed credit records as the island’s government struggles to restructure a portion of its $73 billion public debt and help the economy emerge from a decade-long recession.

“It’s the crisis no one is talking about,” said Ricardo Ramos, a professor at the Legal Assistance Clinic of the University of Puerto Rico. “This has so, so many consequences.”

In this U.S. territory of 3.4 million people, local courts oversaw foreclosures on nearly 33,000 homes from 2009 to 2016, according to government statistics. A record 5,424 homes were foreclosed last year, up 130 percent from nearly a decade ago, when the government first began tracking those numbers.

However, the actual number of foreclosures is much higher because the statistics do not include an estimated 20,000 loans in default or close to default that local banks have sold to companies outside Puerto Rico since 2009, Ramos said. Those cases are largely handled in federal court and no one compiles statistics.

Looking ahead, more than 17,000 homes are now in the process of foreclosure in local courts, including the one Guzman bought more than a decade ago in a working class suburb in the capital of San Juan that he shares with his wife, who works as a maid, and two young daughters.

He was paying $1,114 a month on their home when the prices for copper, iron and other metals dropped. His business shrank and he filed for bankruptcy. He then fell behind on his mortgage payments and recently got denied a payment plan despite insisting he can afford to pay $700 a month.

“My attorney told me, ‘You have to prepare yourself for a Plan B,'” Guzman said. “I’m not doing that … I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not leaving my house.”

Nonprofit organizations struggling with dwindling budgets amid the island’s economic slump say the jump in foreclosures has led to a surge of Puerto Ricans seeking help amid a deep economic crisis.

“The great majority are professionals,” said Leslie Ortiz, spokeswoman for the Salvation Army in Puerto Rico. “It’s people who have studied, who have worked and have lost everything and don’t know where to go to find help because they’ve never needed it.”

Of the 35 people recently staying at the Salvation Army’s shelter for men in Puerto Rico, nearly half were there because they lost their homes and have no substance abuse or other issues, she said.

The group also is providing financial help to people like Sandra Maldonado, a 40-year-old divorced mother of two boys who is in danger of losing her home.

Maldonado and her ex-husband bought the three-bedroom home for $70,000 with the help of federal and local incentives more than a decade ago. She is now behind on her mortgage because she recently had to choose whether to pay for her son’s medical care and make a house payment. She has borrowed money from family and friends on occasion as letters from the bank accumulate.

“You get scared because you think, ‘My God, I have two children and I’m going to be left without a roof over my head,'” she said.

The number of people in Puerto Rico who have become homeless because of job loss or eviction has increased in recent years, with a total of more than 4,400 homeless people reported last year, a nearly 10 percent increase from 2009, according to U.S. Housing and Urban Development. More than half the homeless people interviewed for a 2015 Puerto Rico government survey held every two years said they were homeless for the first time.

“The foreclosure problem that Puerto Rico has experienced over the past few years is actually worse than what we saw during the height of the foreclosure crisis nationwide,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with Attom Data solutions, a U.S. housing data provider.

The problem in Puerto Rico also has been more persistent, with foreclosure rates above the 1 percent benchmark level for nearly seven years. In comparison, hard-hit U.S. states like Nevada were above that level for only five years, Blomquist said.

And unlike the U.S. mainland, where the housing crisis was set off by the collapse of a price bubble, experts say the high level of foreclosures in Puerto Rico comes mostly from the island’s long economic slump, which has produced an unemployment rate of 12 percent.

“The difference with Puerto Rico is that it’s not just risky bad loans that are driving foreclosures. It’s the underlying weak economy,” Blomquist said. “That’s a harder problem to solve than it is to solve bad loans.”

About 60 percent of foreclosed homes in Puerto Rico have been abandoned, said Silvio Lopez, president of Puerto Rico’s Mortgage Bankers Association. By comparison, only 30 percent of foreclosed homes were abandoned in the U.S., mostly in areas hardest hit by the recession.

To stay afloat, banks in Puerto Rico have sold more than 70 percent of their mortgage portfolio on the secondary market, said Zoime Alvarez Rubio, executive vice president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Banks.

“Banks cannot carry this risk. … It’s too much to bear,” she said in explaining why troubled loans are sold off. “The economic impact and risk is monumental.”

Blomquist said that is an extremely high number, adding that banks on the U.S. mainland discovered that strategy late in the housing crisis.

As of last year, Puerto Rico’s six commercial banks still had more than 3,800 repossessed homes on their books worth $338 million, Alvarez said. To avoid even more foreclosures, local banks since 2009 have implemented more than 176,000 alternatives to foreclosure worth $19 billion, including restructurings and refinancing.

Alvarez and other banking officials say the number of foreclosures is decreasing because the record number reported last year reflected what happened in previous years. Government statistics show the mortgage delinquency rate has dropped to nearly 13 percent from a high of nearly 18 percent in September 2012. For comparison, that rate is roughly 5 percent on the U.S. mainland.

“It’s still an absolute crisis,” said Ramos, the professor at the University of Puerto Rico. “This island is falling apart.”

By DANICA COTO ,  Associated Press

NYC landlord pleads guilty in illegal-eviction case

NYC landlord pleads guilty in illegal-eviction case

NEW YORK/June 21, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — A New York City landlord has admitted to driving out tenants in a rent regulated apartment building.

State Attorney Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that Daniel Melamed and the corporation he controlled pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful eviction of rent stabilized tenants.

The Democratic attorney general said Melamed turned off heat and used demolition to try to get rent-regulated tenants to leave a Brooklyn apartment building.

Melamed’s 2015 arrest was the first resulting from the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, a collaboration between state and city agencies.

An attorney for Melamed had earlier described the unlawful-eviction case as “political grandstanding.”