Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homeowners' association gets creative with delinquent dues-payers

One Mint Hill homeowner's association has found a way to get neighbors who owe association dues to pay up without turning to the courts or foreclosures.

Homeowners' associations have found themselves dealing with unprecedented numbers of homeowners either unable or unwilling to pay association dues as the real estate market crashed and recession lingered. 

Many associations typically turn to liens and foreclosures when homeowners fail to pay assessments or dues, a costly and time-consuming process. Last weekend, I wrote about how some boards are trying new tactics, such as turning to rentals or agreeing to short sales.

Homeowner and association board member Shelton Lee contacted me after the story ran to share his board's creative solution to the growing number of homeowners who had stopped paying dues.

Most of these neighbors were current on their mortgage but had failed to pay association dues for various reasons.

Lee said when he joined the board five years ago he quickly realized that liens and foreclosures cost the association and rarely yielded any financial return. It costs the association about $300 per lien and $1,500 to pursue a foreclosure, he said. 

With about 100 homeowners not paying their dues, "the homeowners' association would have gone broke," paying for all the foreclosures, he said.

He said he also didn't want to foreclose on neighbors, saying as a homeowner's association board member, his duty "is to protect dues-paying homeowners and non-dues-paying homeowners" and to help keep neighborhood values healthy.

The board turned to what's known as a dunning collection agency, meaning the agency doesn't buy the past-due accounts. Rather, it writes and calls homeowners asking them to pay past dues and eventually informs them that if they don't get current their credit rating will take a hit.

The collection agency charges $20 per account, which the homeowner pays the association back. 

When a homeowners' association forecloses, homeowners can stop the foreclosure late in the process by offering to pay past dues. The association, meanwhile, suffers cash flow problems and may have to charge extra assessments to cover needed repair or upkeep. 

Lee said the response has been positive and swift. At least 60 of 85 delinquent homeowners in his Versage neighborhood have paid up. Others are approaching board members asking about getting current on their accounts. 

People care about their credit rating because it can affect their ability to get a phone, buy a car and even land a job, Lee said.

The association, meanwhile, is building up its reserves and hasn't had to file one lien or initiate foreclosure proceedings during the past five years, Lee said.

"There is another solution to this problem," said Lee, who has been a carrier with Federal Express for 25 years. "It's been so effective."

Read more here:

Foreclosures up in the Carolinas during 2012

The number of U.S. properties in some stage of foreclosure or bank-owed that were sold last year dropped 6 percent compared to 2011 and fell 11 percent from 2010, according to RealtyTrac.

These nearly 1 million foreclosure-related sales accounted for 21 percent of all U.S. residential sales during the year, down from 23 percent of all sales in 2011 and down from 28 percent of all sales in 2010.

Both North Carolina and South Carolina, meanwhile, saw an increase in foreclosure-related sales. Such sales rose 10.24 percent in North Carolina and accounted for nearly 12 percent of all sales. In South Carolina, they jumped  nearly 12 percent and accounted for 15.54 percent of sales.

Properties not in foreclosure that sold as short sales in 2012 accounted for an estimated 22 percent of all residential sales nationwide — bringing the total share of distressed sales to 43 percent (including both foreclosure-related sales and non-foreclosure short sales).

"Although foreclosure-related sales represent a shrinking share of total sales, primarily because of fewer bank-owned purchases, distressed sales are still a disproportionately high portion of the overall housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “And while distressed properties — whether bank-owned, pre-foreclosure or short sales not in foreclosure — are still selling at a significant discount compared to non-distressed properties, average distressed property prices are increasing in many markets thanks to strong demand and limited inventory.” 

Short sales (where the sales price was below the estimated amount of all outstanding loans for a given property) of properties not in foreclosure accounted for an estimated 22 percent of all U.S. residential sales in 2012 and increased 4 percent from 2011.

Short sales are becoming more common in North Carolina and Charlotte. 

North Carolina was among the states with the biggest increase in non-foreclosure short sales and saw a 24 percent increase last year.

Local real estate agents have attributed the increase in part to increased familiarity among sellers and buyers and a more streamlined process. Tax credits that expired last year also boosted interest.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Unlocking the strategy behind real estate listings

The most expensive U.S. homes listed for sale often include the term "parlor floors" in their description.

The phrase "cute little bungalow" typically refers to cheaper homes that may need repair.

And homeowners in San Francisco like to advertise that their property is near a Whole Foods Market. 

The researchers at online real estate analytics firm Trulia gave a briefing to reporters Wednesday to introduce what the company calls its Real Estate Lab.  

The lab is geared toward better understanding the psychology and strategy used by consumers and real estate professionals in the residential real estate market.  

Among the fun facts researchers shared Wednesday: Phrases associated with the most and least expensive homes for sale nationwide, as well as some highly regionalized real estate terms.

For example, luxury home sellers often market their homes as a “magnificent estate” or “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to draw in prospective buyers. Homes described with these phrases are typically listed for more than $3 million. 

Other phrases associated with multimillion dollar listings include luxury home features and brands such as a “paneled library” or “Lutron lighting.” The phrase associated with the most expensive listings is “parlor floor,” which is the main and grandest floor of Manhattan townhouses and other big city mansions. On average, homes calling out this feature are priced at nearly $5 million.

Homes described as “cute little bungalows” are priced on average at $62,000. These cheaper homes for sale might have additional costs in the form of stripping toxic paint, removing mold, or extensive plumbing repairs, Trulia found.

The phrases associated with the least expensive listings are often required disclosures such as “mold-like substance” or “lead based paint notices.” Additionally, the agents and brokers listing these very-affordable homes will usually mention a “minimum commission” because the standard percentage commission is too low on these homes, which are typically priced at less than $28,000.

Home sellers also use regional terms or highlight local must-have features to describe their home and neighborhood, and it’s a strong signal of what buyers want, said Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko.

The popular Whole Foods is 10 times more likely to appear in listings in the San Francisco metro area than nationally. In Fairfield County, Conn., buyers want walls made from local stone. Sellers in West Palm Beach tout Roman tubs and home buyers in Grand Rapid, Mich., covet pole barns, to store farm equipment and other items.

Trulia didn't immediately have the hot features for Charlotte or the Carolinas. But if they get back to me with what they are, I'll post them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Engineering/consulting firm expands into Charlotte

Bohler Engineering is opening an office in Charlotte as part of the company's expansion into the southeast. 

The civil and engineering consulting firm said it is expanding at the request of its clients.

“What makes Bohler different are the genuine relationships we have with our clients,” said Adam Volanth, principal for the firm's mid-atlantic region. “We will do whatever it takes to prove to our clients that they truly 
are our number one priority; including opening a new office."

The office, the firm's 14th office on the east coast, will be on West Hill Street near Bank of America Stadium.

Andrew Moriarty will head up the Carolinas office, Moriarty is the former engineering director for the 

Timmons Group in North Carolina. 

 “I am excited for Bohler’s arrival in the Carolinas,” he said, “the depth of our firm’s experience and resources will make an enormous impact on the development community.” 

Monday, February 25, 2013

New online resource available for those in short-term rental industry

Four U.S. online companies serving the short-term rental market have joined to launch the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, an online resources for homeowners, property managers, residents, travelers and policymakers wanting to learn about the best practices in regulating the short-term rental marketplace.

Short-term rentals are a growing trend in the housing market. While residential real estate how been on the rebound lately, sales prices remain below recent peaks. Some investors and homeowners have property they   are holding onto because they don't want to sell for a loss. 

Some investors are buying homes to rent out. 

Even homeowners' associations and condominium owners' associations are turning to short-term rentals when they have property they have foreclosed on because the previous homeowner stopped paying dues, a trend I wrote about recently. 

Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and FlipKey formed the advocacy group, it says, after requests from users and local policymakers across the country.

“Short-term rentals are bringing tangible benefits to homeowners, residents, travelers, businesses and local communities across the country,” said the group's spokesman Tim Doyle. “As short-term rentals grow in popularity, some communities are asking questions about how to regulate the industry. As leaders in the short-term rental marketplace, we want to make sure all stakeholders, but most importantly our customers, have a reliable source of information to contribute to this important discussion.”

There isn't a chapter in Charlotte, yet. The closest chapter is in Myrtle Beach, according to the group's website.

To learn more go to

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charlotte leaders honored for creative thinking in real estate

Nearly 200 commercial real estate professionals gathered at Carmel Country Club Wednesday to honor colleagues for their creative thinking in solving real estate-related problems.

The awards, the 5th annual, was presented by the Carolinas chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate, an invitation-only professional group.

Jerry Orr, aviation director of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, was among those recognized. 
Real estate professionals largely praise Orr and his managing of the airport, saying it is one of the region's best tools for attracting new companies. 

A Senate panel Wednesday endorsed a bill that would create a new Charlotte airport authority by transferring control from the city of Charlotte.
The bill also must pass the full House. City leaders are expected to keep pushing for at least a delay in its passage.

Orr kept his remarks brief, offering plain-spoken advice.

Included among his comments: Be complimentary, get ahead of the competition, and "a good idea well implemented is far more productive than a great idea not implemented."

While award recipients were involved in local projects, they were chosen because of the broader impact they had on the community, moderator Kathleen Rose said. 

Ronald Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University, was recognized for his work to develop Mosaic Village, a mixed-use project on West Trade Street that includes student rooms, parking, retail space and a terrace. Event organizers said the project will help connect the campus and neighborhood with uptown Charlotte, which while close geographically, has long been divided socially and economically from the center city. 

Ruth Shaw, Michael Marsicano and Davis Cable were honored for their work developing The Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of greenways and trails that reaches 15 counties and 2.3 million people. 

Shaw told the crowd she thought the idea was "absolutely bodacious" when she first heard it because it would involve getting so many different people to work together. 

Organizers recently celebrated the completion of the 100th mile of the planned 1,500 network.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CBRE taps Charlotte woman as African American Network Group co-chair

Tonya Brandon, a CBRE Group Senior Vice President based in Charlotte, has taken a leadership role in the company’s African American Network Group (AANG). 

Brandon joins Eric Yarbro, a Senior Vice President in CBRE’s Midtown Manhattan office and the founder of AANG, as a Co-Chair of AANG, one of the commercial real estate industry’s first groups for African-American professionals.

"Tonya’s consistent demonstrations of strong management ability and leadership skills make her a great fit for the AANG co-chair position,” said Jim Reid, President CBRE’s U.S. Eastern Division and the executive sponsor of AANG. “AANG is an essential component of our commitment to promote the value of diversity within CBRE in order to better serve our clients, enhance the employee experience and contribute to the company’s success.”

Talent development, retention and recruitment are among the primary objectives of AANG and its career development activities include supporting CBRE professionals by generating and sharing information to increase business opportunities and assignments. Since its inception in 2004 as a forum for sales professionals to increase business, AANG has grown to include members from all CBRE business segments and has expanded its focus to become a model for other efforts within the real estate industry.

“Tonya has been a valuable contributor to AANG’s success and I am excited to continue working with her to enhance our organization in her new capacity as Co-Chair,” Yarbro said.

Brandon is an account operations director for CBRE's Bank of America account.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New buyer could close on One Wells in April

Fresh off a record-breaking year for uptown office sales, Charlotte's center city continues to attract interest from national and international investors.

Although a sale for One Wells Fargo Center fell apart late last year, another buyer is eyeing the former Wachovia Corp. headquarters, say real estate sources.

Starwood Capital Group and Vision Equities are expected to buy the 42-story tower in April, say people familiar with the transaction.

Connecticut-based Starwood has been active in town lately. Earlier this year it said it bought LakePoint Corporate Center III and LakePointe Corporate Center V buildings.

An Israeli real estate firm had agreed to buy One Wells Fargo for $245 million last year. CBRE Group Inc. is marketing the tower, owned by an affiliate of Childress Klein Properties. Wells Fargo & Co. is the largest tenant, occupying roughly 689,000 square feet, or 70 percent of the building.

CBRE's Ryan Clutter, who is handling the sale, declined to comment on the property or a possible sale.

But Clutter said that in general he is seeing strong interest among investors for office properties in Charlotte and the Carolinas. He said he expects this year will build on last year's strong sales in the Charlotte area.

"Investors have identified the Carolinas as a strong growth market that will continue to attract jobs and companies to the area," he said. "Investors in office buildings will follow job growth and Charlotte is one of the stronger job creators in the Southeast right now.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mint Hill Festival shopping center sells

Mint Hill Festival, a shopping center on the corner of Matthews-Mint Hill Road and Lawyers Road in Mint Hill has been sold for $2.5 million.

A Canadian investment group bought the 59,027-square-foot center, anchored by Monroe Hardware.

Neill Wilkinson of NAI Southern Real Estate represented the seller, Regions Bank, and Chris Orr of Romans Property represented the buyer.

New leases signed and renewed

NewBridge Bank has leased 6,000 square feet in the Carnegie VII building in SouthPark. 

Vince Sumner with NAI Southern Real Estate did the deal. He also renewed the Robins & Morton Group 4,000-square-foot lease in the Carnegie VIII Building.  Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimerbrokers assisted with this transaction. 

The Charlotte Community ToolBank, meanwhile, signed a 7,830 square-foot lease at 2513 South Tryon Street. The nonprofit expects to open in April.

Frank McCleneghan with Piedmont Properties/CORFAC International represented the tenant in those negotiations and the landlord was represented by Doug Wynne with Perennial Commercial Real Estate. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Charlotte's ULI chapter holds first women's leadership event

Roughly 75 women gathered at Myers Park Country Club Thursday for ULI Charlotte's first event geared toward promoting women's leadership.

ULI, or the Urban Land Institute, is a national membership group for professionals involved in land use and real estate development. ULI created a women's leadership initiative two years ago to help female members network and become more engaged in the group.

Leadership and development coach Kathryn Heath spoke at the women-only luncheon, advising the audience on how and why women succeed or fail at their jobs.

A founding partner at Charlotte-based Flynn Heath Holt Leadership, Heath said her group would like to see females account for 30 percent of corporate America's top jobs. Currently, she said, women hold 14 percent of top corporate positions nationwide, make up 16 percent of U.S. corporate boards, and lead 19 of the Fortune 500 firms.

Heath shared six rules women should learn to adapt. The information comes from a book she co-authored, Break Your Own Rules.

They are:
- Take center stage. Too many women focus on helping others at their expense. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want.
- Project personal power. Don't be modest. It is ok to take credit for accomplishments, she said.
- Proceed until apprehended. Too many women focus on seeking approval. Instead, they should focus on moving forward with what they want or believe in.
- Don't take an "all or nothing" attitude.  Work and home life aren't easily equally balanced, Heath said. Professionals must learn to weave varying responsibilities together. "Sometimes it's more one than the other," she said. "Great leaders can deal with lots of gray and ambiguous things."
- Don't play it safe, play to win. Take charge of your career and have a strategic plan for how you would like things to unfold.
- Be more politically savvy. Success sometimes isn't just about working harder but understanding relationships and strategy. The work environment is a game, Heath said. As one of her mentors once told her, she shared, "Get in or get out."

Heath also encouraged women to support one another and take on mentoring roles. Women are too critical of one another, she said. Instead, she advised: Lock arms and support each other.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Economist says Charlotte apartment market not in current danger of being overbuilt

If you spot a construction crane around Charlotte, chances are good it's being used to build an apartment complex.

While much of commercial real estate has remained relatively stagnant since the financial crisis hit in 2008, the multifamily sector has been running hot. Developers are currently building more than 4,000 units and thousands more are in the works.

The surge has some real estate professionals worrying the market is being overbuilt.

But Kevin Thorpe, chief economist with real estate firm Cassidy Turley tells the Observer he is not worried about the market running too hot.

In fact, he said, he thinks Charlotte needs even more units. Currently, the vacancy rate is 5.2 percent, which he described as "so low."

"There is very, very strong demand," he said. "I know there's a fear about overdevelopment. And this industry has a tendency to do that. But demand for apartment units has exceeded new supply in Charlotte for three years."

Rents are also forecast to grow steadily, a healthy four to five percent a year he said.

There could be some extra supply in 2014 or 2015, he said. But he doesn't see it being a big problem for property owners.

It could, however, provide relief for renters. If vacancy rates rise, some complexes will probably slow their rent growth to 2 percent or 3 percent annually, instead of 5 percent.

As Thorpe said: "Renters could see a little bit of a breather."

Keith Corp. sells 10 Charlotte-area industrial properties

Cushman & Wakefield’s Atlanta office announced Tuesday that its equity debt and structured finance team arranged $78.5 million of acquisition financing for The Keith Corporation Industrial Portfolio on behalf of a joint venture between Schmier & Feurring Properties, Inc., L&J Schmier Management and Investment Company and Independencia Asset Management LLC.

The financing was for The Keith Corporation's sale of  10 industrial properties totaling 1.93 million square feet in the Charlotte area. The assets were financed with a 10-year, cross-collateralized loan with 5 years of interest-only. The portfolio was leveraged at 72% of purchase price with the lender providing future funding for a to-be-built buiding for Britax Child Safety, Inc. 

“Our client was seeking acquisition financing for the 10-asset industrial portfolio. One of the 10 assets is a build-to-suit, which is still under construction; therefore, we acquired the financing on the existing nine assets with the ability for a future advance when the build-to-suit property is completed,” said Mike Ryan, Senior Managing Director for Cushman & Wakefield Equity Debt & Structured Finance in Atlanta. “The lender was particularly attracted to the deal because of its stable cash flow resulting from a diverse tenant mix with long-term leases. In addition, nearly 80% of the square footage belonged to mission critical facilities."

The properties included in the transaction are:
·         Lakemont West Business Park, Pleasant Rd., Charlotte, NC – Britax Child Safety build-to-suit (478,400 square feet)
·         Lincoln County Industrial Park, 621 Lincoln County Pkwy., Lincolnton, NC (382,668 square feet)
·         Lincoln County Industrial Park, 100 East Powell Dr, Lincolnton, NC (360,800 square feet)
·         Lincoln County Industrial Park, 4100 Progress Drive, Lincolnton, NC (106,144 square feet)
·         Lincoln County Industrial Park, 3333 Finger Mill Rd., Lincolnton, NC (60,650 square feet)
·         Lincoln County Industrial Park, 520 Lincoln County Parkway Extension, Lincolnton, NC (38,480 square feet)
·         Rock Greek Center, 6450 Franz Warner Parkway, Whitsett, NC (241,050 square feet)
·         Sherrill Industrial Park, 2061 Sherrill Drive, Statesville, NC (112,500 square feet)
·         Sherrill Industrial Park, 2101 Sherrill Drive, Statesville, NC (65,900 square feet)
·         Cleveland County Industrial Park, 212 Commerce Blvd.,  Kings Mountain, NC  (80,052 square feet)

Mike Ryan, Brian Linnihan, Jeff Walker, and Larry Johnson represented the joint venture between Schmier & Feurring Properties, Inc., L&J Schmier Management and Investment Company and Independencia Asset Management LLC on the acquisition financing.

Wells Fargo report praises national housing market

The latest Wells Fargo's Economic Commentary sings the national housing market's praises.

As the report says: The housing recovery finally asserted itself in 2012, with nearly every key metric posting measurable improvement from prior years. 

Sales and prices both rebounded solidly this past year, the report says, and new home construction steadily gained momentum over the course of the year. 

"Progress has also been made dealing with the imbalances left over from the housing boom," the report says.  

The report describes the recovery as "sustainable" and "self-reinforcing" but cautions that challenges remain, such as how large a role investor purchases have played in stabilizing home prices; how much credit availability has truly improved; and, what the government’s role in mortgage finance will ultimately be.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Crescent Resources raises more capital

Charlotte's Crescent Resources has acquired more capital as the Charlotte developer continues to develop and build apartment, residential and commercial projects in the Southeast.

The developer closed on $75 million in additional senior secured notes last week, the company said Monday.

Crescent began raising capital last summer, with the completion of a private offering of $350 million of senior secured ntoes. At the same time, Crescent's principal equity holders, Anchor Capital Master Offshore, Lt., and MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners III, LP, made a $100 million equity commitment, which was recently increased to $150 million.

Since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2010, the developer has been active in the apartment market. 
The company has more than 5,400 multi-family units either planned or under construction in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, including Crescent Cameron Village, the first residential center in the 60-year-old Cameron Village outdoor lifestyle retail center in Raleigh.

More recently, the company announced plans to build a "transformative" project on three blocks in uptown. The site, at the corner of South Tryon and East Stonewall streets, will be anchored by office space and could include apartments, retail and a hotel.

“We view our success in attracting growth capital as validation of our strategies for bringing innovation, sustainability and community building to all of the real estate markets we serve,” said Todd Mansfield, CEO of Crescent Resources.

“We have assembled a talented team at Crescent that is committed to using our capital base and our experience to make smart investments for the benefit of all stakeholders, including the people who live, work and play in Crescent developments,” he said.

The company is also developing master planned communities in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee and Florida, including its signature Palmetto Bluff and Springfield communities in South Carolina and Lake James in North Carolina.  In the last six months, the company has acquired five new sites for residential community development.

“We have entered 2013 in a very strong capital position with liquidity that totals more than $200 million after this transaction,” Mansfield said. “We see signs of continued growth throughout our markets and with the support of our investors we will continue to fulfill the leadership position for which Crescent has long been known.”

Charlotte could become an Austin, Texas, former resident says

Last month's blog about PwC commercial real estate forecasters likening Charlotte to Austin in terms of potential job growth generated lively debate among the online comments.

The topic also inspired Charlotte newcomer Daniel Farrar to give me a call. Farrar moved to Charlotte from Austin at the end of last year to oversee Stream Realty's expansion into the Charlotte market. Stream is a full-service commercial real estate firm that will focus on office and industrial leasing, property management and tenant representation.

Farrar, who lived in Austin for 6 1/2 years before moving to the Queen City, said he agreed that Charlotte is similar to his former Texas home. He has settled into a home in Dilworth, which he says feels familiar to his former neighborhood near Austin's downtown.

Among the cities' similarities, he said: A young, highly educated workforce, a vibrant "live, work, play" environment and a growing high technology and biotechnology sector.

Some commenters knocked Charlotte for its lack of excitement and entertainment options for young people. And while the local economy has grown more diverse, the city remains heavily intertwined with the banking industry.

But Farrar said Charlotte has an energy to it and is expected to continue to attract young talent from the area's universities.

He also said more high tech and biotechnology firms are eyeing Charlotte for possible future moves, adding that those are some sectors his firm expects to see grow locally.

To be sure, Farrar said, Charlotte doesn't have the same energy or buzz as Austin, proclaimed by its city leaders in 1991 as "the live music capital of the world."

But, he added: "The evolution of Austin becoming the Austin it is today took 20 to 25 years. Me being in Charlotte two months, I can't speak to how close it is to being Austin. But there are a lot of similar dynamics in play."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Charlotte firm says office market will rebound faster than nation while retail and industrial ones grow more slowly

Integra Realty Resources believes Charlotte's office market is going to rebound faster than the nation's but that the local retail and industrial markets will rebound more slowly, according to its latest 2013 Viewpoints report, an annual report of commercial real estate valuation trends. 

Among the consulting and valuation company's findings: 

  • Office (uptown) market:
  • 11.4% of the Uptown office market is vacant.
  • The office sector’s property values are expected to remain flat through 2014.
  • It is expected to take two years for the market to balance, compared to the national average of 4.5 years.
  • Retail market:
  • 10.8% of the retail market is vacant.
  • The retail sector’s property values are expected to increase 5% from 2012-2014.
  • It is expected to take five years for the market to balance, compared to the national average of 3.3 years.
  • Industrial market:  
  • 16.4% of the industrial market is vacant.
  • The firm predicts it will take eight years for the industrial sector to balance, compared to the national average of four.
  • The industrial sector’s property values are expected to stay the same through 2012-2014.
  • Apartment market:
  • 5.48% of the apartment market is vacant.
  • The apartment sector’s property values are forecasted to increase 20% from 2012-2014.
  • 16,250 units will be under construction for the next three years.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Davidson-based Rose and Associates expands services

Davidson-based real estate advisory firm Rose and Associates has hired Budd Berro, former director of the Piedmont Regional Office of the Governor of North Carolina. Berro will serve as senior finance and public policy consultant.

Berro's addition comes as the firm is expanding its services to help the public sector with economic development.

“Expanding our services to include public sector implementation is an exciting next step for Rose & Associates,” says Kathleen Rose, President and CEO. “Many communities struggle with economic development either because they don’t have a strategic plan or because they simply don’t have staff with the skills, experience or resources to execute a plan. Our team will work as an extension of municipal staff, putting programs, initiatives and operational structures in place and creating infrastructure that supports a vibrant local economy.”

With 20 years of experience, Rose and Associates has advised real estate development companies, private equity firms and municipalities. 

Most recently, the city of Germantown, Tenn., hired the firm to implement a strategic economic development plan the firm developed last year. 

“Providing effective support to communities as they develop, refine and implement their economic strategies is critical to their success in creating long-term economic sustainability and growth,” Berro said. “This is what our firm is uniquely qualified to address.”

Charlotte home sales surge in January

Charlotte-area home sales soared 40.4 percent in January compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.

There were 2,163 home sales last month compared to 1,541 in January 2012, the association reported Thursday.

Average sales prices ticked up 0.6 percent annually to $189,007.

Sellers also got more of what they asked for then a year ago. Buyers paid an average 92.6 percent of the listing price, up from 90.2 percent in the beginning of 2011.

New listings, meanwhile, dipped 1.3 percent to 3,838 as the amount of available homes for sale continued to fall, dropping nearly 30 percent in January.   The Charlotte region is now thought to have a five-months supply of homes for sale.  Agents consider a six-month supply a healthy market.

The association's president Eric Locher said in a statement: "With inventory decreasing and new listings down, we are seeing continued upward pressure on prices. We are a couple of months ahead of the selling season and it’s a good time for sellers to prep homes for listing, keeping in mind that the property still needs to be realistically priced for what the market will bear.”

Homes took an average 155 days to sell, down 10 days from January 2012.

Foreclosures and short sales also dropped, accounting for 11 percent of new listings, down from 14.4 percent a year earlier.  Around 18 percent of January sales involved distressed homes, down from 21 percent during the same time last year.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Charlotte area home prices rise in December, but less than U.S.average

Home prices in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill metropolitan area rose by 5.1 percent in December compared to a year earlier, according to real estate analytics firm CoreLogic. 

On a monthly basis, home prices rose 0.5 percent in December compared to November.

Excluding distressed sales, such as foreclosures and short sales, prices rose 4.9 percent in December compared to 2011 and increased 1 percent compared to November 2012.

The local annual price appreciation is smaller than the national improvement in home prices, CoreLogic reports. Prices nationwide jumped 8.3 percent in December compared to a year earlier, the biggest increase seen since May 2006 and the 10th consecutive monthly increase in home prices.  On a month-to-month basis, prices rose 0.4 percent in December.  

CoreLogic expects that January home prices will rise 7.9 percent on an annual basis and fall by 1 percent on a monthly basis, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown. 

"December marked 10 consecutive months of year-over-year home price improvements, and the strongest growth since the height of the last housing boom more than six years ago," said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. "We expect price growth to continue in January as our Pending HPI (home price index) shows strong year-over-year appreciation."

"We are heading into 2013 with home prices on the rebound," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "The upward trend in home prices in 2012 was broad based with 46 of 50 states registering gains for the year. All signals point to a continued improvement in the fundamentals underpinning the U.S. housing market recovery."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Firethorne Country Club sells

The Firethorne Country Club has been sold, according to the property's listing broker.

The new owner was not identified but described in a press release as "a new entity to the golf industry" but "a veteran of the hospitality industry."

The country club, with its 18-hold golf course, ran into problems in 2009 when it stopped paying on a $8 million loan, according to court documents filed by its lender, Textron Financial Corp. The lender said at the time the club owed more than $5.5. million.

Textron started foreclosure proceedings in 2010, but they were halted when the country club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing debts of $1 million to $10 million. Textron later took over the club, located in Marvin.

Marketing materials show the listing price as $5.5 million, a 57 percent discount to the $12.7 million county assessed value.  The materials say the club has a historical annual revenue of between $4 million and $5 million.

Steven Ekovich and Chris Karamitsos with Marcus & Millichap's National Golf & Resort Properties Group represented the seller. Ekovich said he could not disclose the seller because of a confidentiality agreement. He also did not share the sales price.

Allen Tate opens new office

Allen Tate Realtors has opened a new office in Union County. The new office is at 1532 Providence Road, Waxhaw, in the New Town Market shopping center, at the intersection of Providence and New Town Roads.
            “We’re excited about this new office location, which will allow us to conveniently serve our growing customer base in both Union County (NC) and South Charlotte,” said Pat RileyAllen Tate president and chief operating officer. “We’re right in the heart of some exciting growth areas, as well as established communities with excellent schools.”
            The office will accommodate up to 25 Realtors, including those agents who prefer to work virtually.  Lyn Kessie and DianeWolfe will manage the New Town office.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Real estate visionaries announced

The Carolinas Chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate have announced the winners of their 5th annual Creative Thinkers Awards.

The awards recognize leaders in the real estate industry "who exhibited leading edge or out-of-the-box thinking, treated obstacles and risks as opportunities for novel solutions; made cutting-edge decisions; or did something that resulted in a paradigm shift in thinking about a subject," said group chair, Loren Kennedy.

The winners are:

-Jerry Orr, aviation director with the Charlotte Douglas International Airport
-Ruth Shaw, founding chair of Carolina Threat Trail
-Michael Marsicano, president and CEO of Foundation for the Carolinas
-Ronald Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University

The winners will be recognized at a luncheon to be held February 20 at Carmel Country Club.

The Counselors of Real Estate is an international group of people involved in real estate or who provide expert, objective advice on complex real property situations and land-related matters. Membership is invitation only.