Thursday, March 14, 2013

Foreclosure starts rise in February but remain down from a year ago

Foreclosure rates across the country and in the Carolinas ticked up in February compared to January, but were down compared to the same time last year, according to the latest report by RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure filings were reported on nearly 154,300 U.S. properties last month, up 2 percent from January but down 25 percent from February.

In North Carolina, foreclosure proceedings were started on 2,557 homes in February, a 4.3 percent increase from January and a nearly 15 percent decrease from February 2012.

In South Carolina, foreclosure proceedings were begun on 2,867 homes, a 15 percent increase from January and a 34 percent decrease from the same time a year earlier.

RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said in a statement that while the once-high pace of foreclosures "has been effectively contained and should be reduced to a slow burn in the next two years," that "dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up" in states where legislation or the courts delayed the foreclosure process.

Such states include Washington, which has seen seven months of rising foreclosure activity, and Maryland, which has seen eight months of rising foreclosure filings, Blomquist said. Florida posted the nation's highest state foreclosure rate for the sixth consecutive month in February, RealtyTrac data shows.

North Carolina ranks 32nd in terms of foreclosure filings, according to RealtyTrac. South Carolina ranks 11th.

Read the full report here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rose & Associates hires as it expands focus to small businesses

Commercial real estate and economic development advisory firm Rose & Associates has hired two employees as it expands its focus to include small business and entrepreneurship.  

The firm has hired Robert Aldrich as a project consultant assisting with small business and entrepreneurship. 

He is the former Director of Finance and Operations for Ventureprise, Inc. (formerly The Ben Craig Center), a nonprofit business incubator affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he managed financial reporting, client and vendor relationships, the Student Incubator and the Accounting Advisory Services program. Prior to his eight-year tenure at Ventureprise, Aldrich was Senior Regional Accountant for InterNET Services Corporation. He is the owner of Aldrich CFO Services, an accounting firm specializing in small business. Aldrich holds degrees from Appalachian State University and Queens University and is Past President of the North Carolina Business Incubator Association.

Kathleen Yager joined the firm to assist with property and asset management as well as real estate market analysis. A certified general appraiser in North Carolina, Yager’s background includes work in senior housing/long term care valuation, multi-tenant office, retail and residential cash flow analysis and subdivision/condominium feasibility studies. Yager is a graduate of Wilmington College in Ohio.

Last month, the Davidson-based firm hired Budd Berro,  former director of the Piedmont Regional Office of the Governor of North Carolina, to serve as senior finance and public policy consultant.

In a statement, the company said it is expanding its economic development and real estate advisory services focused on small business and entrepreneurship.

"Not all small business is the same," says Kathleen Rose, the firm’s President and CEO. "We understand the nuances between Main Street retail, local services, tourism, emerging cottage industries and innovation. Each has different dynamics and needs. These start-up and first stage companies are what will drive most communities’ job growth going forward. That is what economic sustainability is all about and what our team will help deliver."

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

Read more here:

NAI Southern Real Estate brokers recognized

Charlotte's NAI Southern Real Estate brokerage team enjoyed recognition at the recent Deal Makers Awards Program sponsored by the Charlotte Commercial Board of Realtors.

The program recognizes the region's top commercial real estate producers each year.

The 130 applicants completed more than 3,750 transactions, which is an 18 percent increase over 2011, according to the group's president, A. Scott Hensley. The deals combined totaled more than $1.8 billion.

"These are phenomenal numbers and is a testament the Charlotte commercial real estate market is well on its way back to business," Hensley said.

The NAI Southern Real Estate brokers honored include: Billy Cooper, David Goode, and Mike Wiles, who were recognized for production volume between $10 million and $14.9 million.

Cooper was recognized as the 2nd leading retail broker based on volume for the local market.

Mac Barksdale, Rob Settle, David Simpson, Vince Sumner, and Jay Vaughn were recognized for production volume between $2 million and $9.9 million.

Old HIckory Business Park adds tenants

Old Hickory Business Park in Indian Trail has landed a new tenant, and an existing one is expanding.

Industrial Alloys, Inc. has purchased approximately 7.27 acres of land located within the park and plans to 

build a 40,000 square-foot facility with room for future expansion.  Industrial Alloys is relocating from 
their current location in Old Hickory where they have outgrown their facility. The new building will 
let them add equipment and personnel.

Established in 1983, Industrial Alloys is a distributor and processor of carbon steel, aluminum, stainless 
steel and nickel alloy mill products.

CrossFit Indian Trail has signed a least for 13,900 square feet at 2021-B Van Buren Ave. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program.

Old Hickory is a 225-acre master planned business park for small- to medium-sized companies looking for ready-to-build sites.

Ken Chapman of  Merrifield Patrick Vermillion represented the developer and owner, NJV Investments, LLC, which is an affiliate of Merrifield Patrick Vermillion, LLC.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Charlotte's Hendrick Construction wins safety award

Hendrick Construction, Inc. has received the 2012 National Safety Excellence Award for its commitment to workplace safety.

The award was given by the Association of Builders and Contractors, a trade group. Charlotte-based Hendrick was one of 35 group members nationwide out of nearly 22,000 to receive the award.

“ABC is proud to honor Hendrick Construction with a National Safety Excellence Award for demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to safety and outstanding safety performance,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO. “Hendrick Construction has truly shown a dedication to becoming one of the leaders for the industry by striving to create the safest work environment possible for its employees.”

In a statement, Hendrick Construction president Roger Hendrick said: “A safe work environment is always our top priority. ABC brings the industry together each year to recognize and honor great safety records. Our employees work diligently to create safe job sites and we are pleased to see their commitment recognized.”

This is the third time in its decade-long existence that Hendrick Construction has been honored with a National Safety Excellence Award from the ABC. Hendrick was also honored in 2011 and 2008.

Hendrick Construction provides commercial construction services throughout the Southeast. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Charlotte home sales surge 27 percent in February

Charlotte area home sales rose 26.6 percent in February compared to last year, the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association reported Friday. This follows a 40 percent annual surge in sales seen in January.

Slightly more than 2,000 Charlotte homes sold in February, compared with 1,614 homes sold in February 2012. 

Both the average and median sales prices posted increases. The average sales price in February was $194,900, up 5.5 percent compared to February 2012's average price of $184,766. The median price, $150,923, was up 3.8 percent over a year earlier.

Average listing prices are also on the rise - increasing 8.1 percent to $267,708. 

Sellers also got more of what they asked for than sellers in February 2012. Buyers paid 92.6 percent of the list price, compared to 90.7 percent. 

New listings rose 4.7 percent to 4,207.  Overall inventory of available homes, however, continued to fall. The amount of available homes for sale dropped nearly 29 percent leaving the region with a five-months supply of homes for sale.  Agents consider a six-month supply of available homes as a healthy balance.

"With new listings up nearly 5 percent we’re hopeful that this is an early sign of seller confidence being restored throughout the region," association president Eric Locher said in a statement. "Sellers should still be mindful that homes need to be priced right for the current market.  Buyers need to understand that we’re edging closer to a seller’s market and in some situations, we’re seeing more multiple offers and sales price exceeding list price.”

The average number of days a property was on the market from the time it was listed until it closed was 147 days, which is a decrease of 12 days compared to February 2012.  

Foreclosures and short sales also continued to fall.  Distressed properties accounted for 10.2 percent of new listings compared with 13.8 percent last February.  

Distressed homes accounted for nearly 16 percent of homes sold in February,  down from 18.7 percent in February 2012. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wells Fargo economists optimistic about U.S. housing market

New U.S. home sales surged 15.7 percent in January from December, suggesting that the housing recovery remained intact throughout the year-end budget battles and lead-up to the budget sequester, according to the latest housing report from Wells Fargo & Co. economists.

Sales of existing homes also increased modestly in January compared to December, and even though housing starts fell slightly, the pace of new construction remains well ahead of last year’s total build, the authors wrote in their report released Thursday. 

Another promising sign: Single-family starts increased in January and are now at their highest level since July 2008.

Saying they "remain optimistic about the housing market's prospects for 2013," the economists forecast a 30 percent increase in single-family starts and a 29 percent rise in multifamily units.

The caveat in the latest data, the authors say, comes from the Wells Fargo/NAHB Home Builders’ Survey, which appears to have hit a wall in recent months, just below the key 50 break-even level. A reading below 50 means more builders rate the current sales environment as poor than view it as good. 

"The survey has a long history, and the recent stall may be a hint that something is amiss in the housing recovery story," the report says.

The report address frustration that some builders may feel. The authors say many smaller builders are having trouble securing developed lots. New residential development financing is still difficult to come by across much of the country. Not only are lots more expensive, but construction materials prices have also increased. Moreover, builders in many markets report they are having increasing difficulty finding and retaining skilled workers. All of this has happened with overall construction running at a pace that is still less than two-thirds of its long-run average.

One peculiar aspect of this housing recovery, the economists noted, has been the unusually large role cash purchases have played in driving sales and prices higher. Cash purchases accounted for 36 percent of all existing home sales in 2012, which is roughly twice the historic average, they said. The rise in cash purchases is being led by investors purchasing properties to rent.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Charlotte is a hot market for bank-owned homes

Charlotte is among the top places to buy a bank-owned homes, according to the latest research by analytics firm RealtyTrac.

The firm studied more than 900 metropolitan areas to find the top markets for buying bank-owned homes and short sales this year, according to its foreclosure and short sales report released Wednesday.

Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem made the list of best areas for bank-owned homes.
California cities dominated the best short sale buying list.

In Charlotte, sales of bank-owned real estate rose 109 percent in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier. Such homes sold for an average $111,260, a 43 percent discount off nondistressed sales, and took 144 days on average to sell.

Bank-owned homes in Greensboro sold for an average $85,333, or a 40 percent discount, while homes in Winston-Salem sold for an average $72,356, or a 49 percent discount.

“Short sales are on the rise as a better alternative to foreclosure in many areas — good news for buyers and investors in markets where short sales are closing more quickly at solid discounts,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “But buying from the bank may still be a better option in other markets because of increasing REO inventory, deeper discounts and shorter times to close.”

See the best markets for buying short sales here.

See the best markets for buying bank-owned real estate here.

Read the full report here.

Wells Fargo economists see "sustained recovery" in commercial real estate

The economic gurus at Wells Fargo & Co. have released their latest outlook for U.S. commercial real estate - and they are seeing promising trends.

As the authors write in their latest commentary: "The case for stronger economic growth has become more compelling."

They say years of easy monetary policy have helped revive the housing market, stabilize commercial real estate values and triggered an increase in merger and acquisition activity. Consumer spending has stood its ground. China's economy is ramping back up and Eurozone economies are expected to stabilize and produce less drag on U.S. growth, they write.

They say the steadily improving fundamentals, combined with low interest rates, are paving the way toward a "sustained recovery" in U.S. commercial real estate.

The apartment market has been booming for a few years now, nationally and in Charlotte. This strong recovery should gradually spill over into other areas, the commentary says.

They also predict that gains in single-family construction will boost prospects for the industrial market, as demand from subcontractors and building materials suppliers revives. Demand for office and retail space will improve less dramatically overall but a handful of markets should see much stronger gains.

The report also says that, according to Real Capital Analytics, troubled properties outstanding declined 15.8 percent in the past year. The pace at which properties fall into distress also has slowed.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Charlotte capital firm partners with Oakwood Homes

Charlotte-based Mountain Real Estate Capital has entered into a strategic partnership with Oakwood Homes, Colorado’s largest privately held homebuilder. 

Mountain Real Estate Capital will provide more than $100 million in equity capital to accelerate Oakwood Homes' growth and expansion into new markets, the companies said Tuesday. Oakwood Homes is expanding within Colorado and other regions, including Omaha.

“Oakwood has clearly developed a competitive edge in their marketplace and continued to reinvent themselves with superior product and market positions during the downturn. Together, we will be positioned to now take advantage of the growing market opportunities throughout the Midwest and Western markets,” said Peter Fioretti, chairman and CEO of Mountain Real Estate Capital.   
The companies have been in active discussion since June 2012, shortly after the two firms jointly acquired Banning Lewis Ranch, a 2,600-acre, 8,500-lot master planned community in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“While capital is essential to homebuilders, success is also based on relationships and industry experience,” said Pat Hamill, Oakwood's founder. “This partnership not only delivers a capital infusion, it sets the stage for us to take advantage of market demand and expansion opportunities with greater flexibility than others in the industry."

Mountain Real Estate Capital is a private capital source for real estate developers and builders.  Based in Charlotte, it has offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, New York, Richmond, Baltimore and Los Angeles.  Since 2010, the company has acquired more than 31,000 lots or homes and another 12,000 developable acres. With roughly $500 million of equity investment involved in deals, the firm is involved in projects in 15 states. 

U.S. home prices jump nearly 10 percent in January

U.S. home prices rose 9.7 percent in January compared to the same time last year, the biggest increase since April 2006, according to the latest report by CoreLogic, a real estate analytics firm.

The change marks the 11th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally.

On a monthly basis, U.S. home prices rose by 0.7 percent in January compared to December.

CoreLogic's Home Price Index shows all but two states, Delaware and Illinois, are experiencing year-over-year price gains.

Home prices in South Carolina rose 7 percent in January compared to the previous year. North Carolina home prices, meanwhile, rose a more modest 3.1 percent during the same time.

The figures include distressed sales, such as foreclosures.

Excluding distressed sales, U.S. home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 9.0 percent in January compared to a year earlier.

CoreLogic expects to see February home prices rise by 9.7 percent from a year ago and fall by 0.3 percent on a monthly basis from January, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown.

“The (index) showed strong growth during the typically slow winter season,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “With these gains, the housing market is poised to enter the spring selling season on sound footing.”

Other highlights from the report:

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Arizona (+20.1 percent), Nevada (+17.4 percent), Idaho (+14.9 percent), California (+14.1 percent) and Hawaii (+14.0 percent).

• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national home price index (from April 2006 to January 2013) was -26.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the index for the same period was -19.9 percent.

•The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were Nevada (-51.6 percent), Florida (-43.0 percent), Arizona (-38.9 percent), Michigan (-37.4 percent) and Rhode Island (-35.5 percent).

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thomas Sittema named to Crescent Resources' board

Thomas Sittema, chief executive officer of CNL Financial Group, has joined Crescent Resources' board.

CNL Financial Group is a private investment firm that provides global real estate and alternative investments.

Sittema, who joined CNL in 2009 and assumed the CEO position in January of 2011, leads a team that advises four real estate funds and a business development company.  Since its inception in 1973, CNL Financial and its affiliates have formed or acquired companies with more than $26 billion in assets.

"Tom brings incredible depth and breadth of real estate investment and capital market experience to our board and will be extremely valuable in helping mold our business strategies,” said Todd Mansfield, Crescent CEO. 

“Success in real estate development today requires a global perspective and innovative ideas, and Tom and our other board members are helping to assure that Crescent remains on the leading edge in all aspects of our business.”

Prior to joining CNL Financial, Sittema was managing director of real estate, gaming and lodging investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch serving in numerous capacities, including sector head of REITS and lodging. Sittema led more than $20 billion in merger and acquisition transactions, $5 billion in equity offerings and more than $35 billion in debt transactions.

Sittema’s career has also included real estate financing and management of the Dallas real estate office for Bank of America and its predecessors. 

In 2007, he was named one of the "Seven Investment Bankers Every Director Should Know" by Corporate Board Member Magazine.

Sittema, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Dordt College and MBA in finance from Indiana University, serves as Secretary / Treasurer of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, is an Executive Committee Member of the Public Non-Listed REIT Council of NAREIT, and serves as the Chair of the University of North Carolina Charlotte Center for Real Estate Advisory Board.

“Crescent Resources is in an outstanding position to foster true innovation in real estate development because of its seasoned leadership team, strong capital base, proven business approaches and focus on growing markets,” Sittema said. “I look forward to becoming a board member of such a dynamic organization that has a long heritage of industry leadership and an even brighter future.”

Charlotte-based Crescent Resources develops multifamily, residential and commercial projects.

Founded in 1969, it has 20 master-planned communities and eight multifamily communities with 5,400 units under construction and in predevelopment.  Crescent owns roughly 72,000 acres including 1,400 acres zoned for commercial use.