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kennethlin

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About kennethlin

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  1. kennethlin

    The Vue

    My biggest concern of the VUE is not whether the building will get finished. I truly believe it will be in due time, and I think the developer will obtain the necessary financing to get this done. My biggest concern with the VUE though is the current contracts held. Someone mentioned 60% has been sold. My question is, how many of those 60% will actually be able to close and how many will have to just walk? I went to the presentation showroom back in 2005 and it was unbelievable. Then again, the developers wanted $550/sq. ft. for each of their units. Who in their right minds is going to close and go through with their current contract at $550/sq. ft. when most high-end units in Uptown can be had for around $250-300/sq. ft. max! The VUE was supposed to be all about quality, the finest things in life. Well, I can tell you now that the renderings have been changed so many times and cost cutting has been going on since the project broke ground. Remember that $10k deep soaking tub from Kohler? Well, that's been totally axed! Let's not talk about all of the other high-end finishes this building was supposed to have with its hefty price tag. With that said, even if a buyer wanted to proceed with his/her contract, they will NEVER be able to obtain financing with a $550/sq. ft. price tag. There is NO WAY any appraiser will be able to assess a unit at that price point. Therefore, the ONLY way to buy would be to pay cash, and I seriously doubt any of those 60% contract buyers would want to sink any more money than they've already had. By the way, the minimum deposit to secure your unit at the VUE is 10%, and 15% for investors. With an avg. $500k price tag, that's a HEFTY amount of cash. However you spin it, this does not look good for anyone. I hope the building will get finished as soon as possible, but I just can't see it being a condo anymore, given that there are so many condos that can be had for a fraction of the price of a VUE unit with similar quality and finishes. At this point, they should convert it into an office/retail space. I think that would be better utilized, creating stability in the Uptown real estate market but also bringing in new retail/corporate tenants that will create more jobs and ultimately rising real estate prices in Charlotte. At the very least, that's what I see happening at the Park.
  2. kennethlin

    The Vue

    Don't know if this news is already known, but my source told me that the original developer of the VUE (Orlando) has sold the Charlotte project to another developer. Can anyone confirm this? Also, if so, how would this affect the original renderings and its projected 50-story height? I just don't think the Vue would go all the way up 50 stories when they aren't anywhere near completely sold and take that kind of risk. I think they'll top off around 20-25 stories and call it a day and have most of the current units sold without carrying additional overhead costs. Plus, some of those who originally signed contracts probably won't be able to qualify for mortgages now that lenders are getting so tight on lending any money out and will be for some time. Hopefully, I'm wrong about all this, but that piece of news I heard was startling. But my source does come from Vue Orlando, so I trust it.
  3. An encouraging news is that due to the bailout by the Federal gov't to takeover Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, home interest rates have come down about 3/8 point in just 2 days. Also, lenders have reported new loans just on Monday alone to be the MOST BUSIEST day of the year and the most busiest since 2006! That is encouraging news, and we can only hope that the low rates, coupled with less guidelines will free up this tough market. The problem is not that people don't want to buy houses, it's moreso because lenders aren't willing to lend today, causing people to panic and hold off from buying a house. That, all in turn, is a huge reason why homes haven't sold, prices dropping, and people not buying. Free up those lenders and inject more capital and watch what will happen. I'll guarantee the market will come right back up the moment we hear news that the government has relaxed some of the restrictions imposed by FNMA when they were private. With just rate reduction of almost 1/2 point, people were rushing to close. Just look at all the closings of homes done on 9/8 leading to yesterday. I bet you next month's reading for the month of Sept. will look great, and then you'll hear everyone say we've hit the bottom. Well, not exactly, unless the gov't continues to free up lender's and their issues. Then maybe can we finally say we've survived the bottom.
  4. While, it's true that NO ONE in their right minds should be touching this...I will say this: There are only 2 reasons why someone would think about buying this project and completing it. A) That bidder is so overly loaded and in love with Charlotte that he/she doesn't want to see an eyesore, with a potentially devestating impact to the city landscape and economic value hurt any future development in the Uptown boom, or B) the potential winner has NO INTENTION of completing this project as its original intended purpose. I believe it's the latter, and I also believe the highest bidder is going to get rid of this project as a condo and use it more for a retail/hotel/apartment mixed use building. Financially, it makes the most sense, as we all know Uptown is severely lacking retail, rental, and transient hotel living. With its close proximity to the TWC Stadium, future Nascar HOF, and a short distance to the Panthers Stadium, while sandwiched in between the banks, whoever gets this building, finishes it off, and clears all the contract issues is going to do just fine. Plus, the structure has more than ample parking to serve those purposes. There is more than enough parking to serve customers, hotel guests, and shoppers altogether. Plus, with the fact that only the exterior shell is complete, while the interior still has MANY issues to clear, this makes perfect sense for whoever is bidding this. They only have to complete the exterior to what is already done, and only spend minimal $ on interior walls and lower end fixtures for a hotel/apartment purpose. Not saying that's what I would like to see, but honestly, that's the ONLY reason why I would see anyone thinking about touching this given it's dire history. From what I remember a buyer of this project told me, the contract stipulates that the builder is ALLOWED to use the deposit money for construction costs? That was already a sign of bad things to come, and unfortunately, it really happened. I've never heard of that, and quite honestly, I don't think many of the buyers, including my friend, were thinking about the consequences of letting that happen. Let's just say, they were all caught in the condo crazy hype, and I remember my friend telling me he's already made $100,000 without even moving into his place back in 2007! Boy have times fell hard on these Park investors, and I truly feel bad for them. I guess this is a lesson of don't let greed get you, because if it does, there's no stopping it. And I think we can all attest to the current status of financial and real estate markets worldwide. Let's just hope the storm has calmed and we can move forward from here, especially for the Park investors. Hiring an attorney to try to retrieve their deposits is going to be extremely difficult, especially given that the property has already been foreclosed, the city owns it, and all the new winning bidder has to do is to pay his/her bid offer and any liens associated with the property. Plus, even if the attorneys do get a case, they will charge SO MUCH to win this case that most of the money will go to them anyways. It's truly tragic.
  5. That is wonderful news! Couldn't have come at a better time, and the hard work and efforts spent by the citizens of Noda (myself including) finally paid off. Months and months, nothing happened, and finally, with all exhaustive efforts, we finally got this through. Congrats for all residents of NoDA who have worked so hard in getting the City Council to hear us out.
  6. I am an Noda resident also, and I was able to attend the association meeting this past week. The petition that you signed was for the city to expedite the approval of starting work on the mills. Apparently, there's been quite a bit of vagrants running around those mills pillaging whatever they can find. There's also unwanted activities going on there like car break-ins, the homeless sleeping around that area, prostitution, armed robberies, etc. Couple that with the fact that the mills are already in bad shape and getting worse, we need the city to ACT NOW, instead of putting it off all the time. The meeting also discussed how a presentation was granted by the city to our association's leaders and our members were alloted 10 minutes to present their case to the city council. Instead, 90 seconds into the proposal, they cut us off and never brought the topic up again. Then, they proceeded to say that this isn't a concern of theirs because they were more focused on the election results than worrying about what to put in replacement of the mills. The petition that you signed was for the city council to approve the NODA residents' preference in going with NoDA MILLS, LLC. There are over 200 reasons as to why we want NoDA MILLS, with the main factor being that NoDA Mills would invest a MAJOR PORTION of their OWN funds to make their renderings happen. Plus, they are based locally, meaning it'd be much harder for them to build and bail. The other renderings, while seemingly nicer, are just unrealistic. First is the cost, which they have severely understated, and they are looking for the city to grant them money, which will never happen. Then, they were adament in not hearing what the residents of NoDA had to say in regards to making tweaks and changes. Basically, these developers were just that, DEVELOPERS with no heart and only dollar bills. We don't want that here, and I could care less what kind of proposals they brought to the table if that's how they are going to act. Their ideas were unfeasible and we made that point out to the city council. The fear is that with the new election and the terms to begin in January 08, we need to city's support NOW or we are going to face the fact that these mills may NEVER get developed, especially with the new members on the city council. Apparently, the association committee has already spent countless time and hours, and the only way that we may even have some notice is for residents of NoDA and the surrounding areas to voice their say about it; otherwise, it's guaranteed that they will not hear another thing we have to say about those mills. That is the problem with city owned property. They know they have us in the ropes, and given that this is already a valuable piece of property, they want to make sure they get the maximum tax dollars in compensation for the development of the project. I wish someone would just come in a buy the land outright from them, but it'll never happen.
  7. What happened to Mellow Mushrooms off of 36th and N.Davidson? I went in today, everything still looks the same, EXCEPT for a few mural changes, and it's now a different name of a pizza chain. I do recognize most of the employees there still, so I am assuming that they just changed the franchise name (since they've now become extinct) to something of a private name but is still owned by the same management. Anyone knows more information about this?
  8. Andrew: The condo project you are referring to is called "Metropolitan." Do a google search for it with Charlotte, NC included and you will be led to their website. There are two styles of living you can choose from: studios called MetLofts or 2/3 bedrooms called MetTerraces. Both of those are in excess of $350/sq. ft, which puts it right on par with Uptown Charlotte pricing. Those prices were about a year ago, when I went in during their ground breaking ceremony. You can bet they are higher now, given the rise in construction and transportation costs due to the rise in gasoline prices. I think, if I remember correctly, that the lofts were around 700 sq. ft - 1000 sq. ft, starting around $250k, the terraces were over $500k for 1500 sq. ft. You can expect prices to be higher by anywhere from $30-50k today from a year ago.
  9. Oh, and another note...don't listen to all the people that've told you they just made $100-400k on their condo investment when it's not even finished! That is the biggest bolonga I've ever heard in my life. It's amazing that all of a sudden, just because a developer sold you their condo 2 years ago at pre-market prices, and now 2 years later, he's asking for $100+ more per square feet means you've just banked $200k and to hear that from so-called savvy real estate investors just makes me laugh. What people don't realize is that yea, sure you can go ahead and take the equity out of the home, but in order to do so, you need to clear 2 processes. 1) get a solid appraiser that is QUALIFIED and knows what he's talking about, and 2) find a lender that will facilitate the deal. Don't expect to come out of this without having to pay closing costs either, and if your unit is high priced, expect to pay 5 figures! Then, let's say you took that money out, what do you do with it? Invest it in other projects, blow it by buying high priced vehicles and vacations, etc? Chances are, 95% of the people I talk to (yes, I do finance) blow that money away like nothing else, and when all is said and done, what did he/she accomplish? Absolutely nothing, and worse, that person's stuck paying the mortgage interest and principal. Then, you'd have to worry about being able to sell at the originally appraised price? What if you can't, then you are in serious trouble. Just like what MZT said, prices of real estate is based on the REAL prices and the demand of the city. This is all about supply and demand, and for condo owners, I'd be quite wary in knowing that in about 2 years, you're facing roughly triple the amount of condos available to ready buyers and renters. That's when things are really going to get interesting, as I will be waiting to pick up high-end condo units for less than originally advertised. Yes, it's a gamble to wait, but patience is key. The funny thing is I met a real estate agent for 20 years in a highly reknowned agency tell me that he invested 2 units at the Vue. Since he put the down payment on his units a year ago, he's doubled his money. Really? When I sat down and gave him my speil, his jaw dropped like he was just made a fool. I told him to take out his contract and read it very carefully. Apparently, he didn't see that you couldn't resale at the Vue unless 1 year after you owned it. At the price he paid vs. sq. footage, there is no way he'd be able to rent his unit at $2000/mo. and with rising interest investor rates and tension over subprime lending, which also affects the minimum down payment percent these days, his profit margin has just quickly diminished. Couple that with trying to sell within the first year, you're facing oridinary income tax gains, and that can be 40% if you are in a high tax bracket. Then, he paid $395/sq. ft for his condo, and now the Vue is commanding $500/sq. ft? Honestly, the true value and final sales price are all undisclosed until you have closed on your units. It's amazing how so many so-called investors get conned when they see that a unit with the same floor plan that they have has just sold for $100/ sq. ft more, when they later find out that the deal was filled with concessions, breakpoints, closing costs entirely covered, and a renegotiated price. Point is again, buy, hold and sell later. If that means you having to live in your unit to make ends meet, then do so. Otherwise, forfeit your unit and downpayment so you won't have to see the misery that many of the people I know and associate with are facing.
  10. I can't tell you anything for a fact, but I will give you my input on the whole condo phenom. Honestly, I think condos are over-rated, but that is just me. Everyone's entitled to his/her own opinions, and that is mine. But even with that thought in mind, everything you do is a risk. The BEST thing when it comes to investing in anything is to buy and hold, and get out at its high point (or as YOU feel is high enough). That goes with anything: real estate, equities, bonds, funds, currencies, collectibles, etc. Now, to answer some of your concerns, I can see why you are concerned. Quite frankly, there are ALOT of condo developments going on all throughout Charlotte and the surrounding areas. They're like the newest, hottest things on Earth since the concept of urban planning has been involved. And it's no wonder that given the exorbitant land prices these days in Uptown and the surrounding areas that developers are building higher, larger, and grander in hopes to outbeat its competitors. Now, it's been talked about many times that developers have done all their research on the Charlotte market prior to their announcement of building condos and high rises, but have they? Honestly, I don't think they do enough. Basically, what they are saying is that they expect the Downtown living population to double in a few years, quadruple in a decade, and Uptown Charlotte to be THE place to live for many years to come? Really? On what basis do they base those analysis from? Do they not understand that basics of numbers? It's much easier to double from 5000 to 10000, but are you telling me that it's just as easy to double from 10000 to 20000 and so forth? Come on, give me a break. Then, what about the economics of the city. How are they to know what Charlotte will be like 5 years from now. At Charlotte's crime rate growth vs. population growth, we are in trouble. If the streets of Downtown become dangerous to walk your dogs and let your children play on, what makes you think people will ABSOLUTELY HAVE to want to live in Uptown Charlotte. Then, you got the housing markets, the lenders, the local economic activities...I can go on and on. Point of the matter is, we just DON'T KNOW. Nobody knows. Charlotte can grow 50% or it can become stagnant, who knows? If you are worried about your deposit at Met because you're not sure whether you can hold it for a few years after you buy it, then I'd suggest you just lose the deposit and take it as a learning lesson in investing. This is a risk in investing in anything, and if you don't have reserves, then you could potentially be shooting yourself in the foot. No, I'm not trying to be harsh to you, but rather, inform you of the risks involved in buying into real estate. I've seen people around me do it all the time and crash and burn at the end because they didn't plan for the "what ifs" and only looks at what they "dreamed" to have. Reality is, there are LOTS of condos and will ONLY get much more expansive in the next few years...yes, you are correct on that one. As for competition, who knows? If Charlotte is able to bring in a mass exodus of new people from different places of the world, then you should be ok. Another thing I always consider is parking. I will say that one advantage (maybe, because I don't know what Met permits) you may have over Uptown is the parking issue. I know several friends who've purchased in Uptown only to find themselves stuck there and lonely because none of their friends want to come see them there. There are just no places to park, and if you do find one, you have to pay for it (sometimes even have your car towed away!) Buyers ALWAYS consider that, and if you don't offer parking spaces not only for yourself and your spouse, but additional spaces for guests and family members, good luck selling your place. I've got a friend who has one of the very first high-rise living units in Uptown (not going to name it) but he's been trying to sell his penthouse unit for over a year now, no takers. He's even moved out because it drove him crazy as no one wanted to visit him. He's also got 2 dogs that were miserable and couldn't go anywhere. Oh, and parking? 2 spaces, and you'd have to wait 2 mins just for the stupid gate to open while your car is hanging out in the middle of a busy intersection! 1 year, 4 showings (switched 5 agents along the process too!), no offers, asking price below his original purchase and still no sale. That's why I am telling you, plan to live at the place you're buying because no one, not even renters will save you in a market that is quickly changing. Good luck to you.
  11. Yes, you are correct in that the homes you mentioned are pending or have sold. BUT you have to put them in perspective too. Those homes are ACTUALLY WORTH paying the price for. I'm not saying that EVERY investor cheapens their homes with low budget materials, but it seems like many do. I was lucky enough to get a nicely renovated 3 story home right in NoDA off of Charles and Pinckney last year for $125/sq. ft. While I agree that pricing in the area has skyrocketed in NoDA ( I believe the average sales price/sq. ft in the area is in the $180/sq. ft range now), there are TOO many people that think they can come in an area like NoDA and buy a run-down house, while borrowing a construction loan and put only $50k-$80k and expect to resale at $375k-$400k. I think what really put it into perspective was when I read that Observer article about a month ago, on the front cover page, where they were mentioning investors making a KILLING by buying in areas like NoDA. They even showed a guy that supposedly ONLY buys $100k homes and resales at $300k+, and he owns two houses on Charles that have YET to be sold, and I don't anticipate him being able to for the price and quality of work he's put in. Then the article mentioned that he's a SELF MADE MULTI-MILLIONAIRE now at only age 32 by flipping homes. They even gave a more vivid example of a house he bought for $70k, and he put $60k into it, and resold it after 3 years of renovations for $179k. Honestly, you mean to tell me that for $130k and having to pay the mortgage for 3 years and interest/taxes/insurance, that he DID WELL? Oh, let's not forget the agent fees for the listing of the property. Subtract 5% minimum there, and what do you have left? Chump change. I'm afraid that the Observers' portrayal of these speculative investors is ONLY going to add fuel to the fire of mortgage deliquencies and depressed home values. You are right again in that you can still buy homes in NoDA for $200k, but look at what you can get now for that price vs. just even a couple of years back. Not saying I'm complaining, as certainly, it looks good for my property value, but to say that I can only get a 1000-1200 sq. ft. home that is not the best of shape for $200k is pretty high up there already. Then, if I want a nicely remodeled home, I"d have to pay in excess of $300k. Luckily, I got in on the area a year back and I don't have to do anything to the home I got.
  12. Uhh, I think you may be mistaken, but 28th Ro is doing VERY WELL. They've, so far, sold 71/92 units for a whopping 77% pre-sales rate before the project even has broken group. That's pretty impressive. As for the other units, they are NOT available for sale yet. 28th Ro is doing these units in phases, due to some builders having issues with selling too many in the beginning to rake in sales, only to see that their profit margins get eaten away due to higher construction costs and under-budgeting. Currently, they are on phase II, as ALL UNITS in phase I has sold out. Expect to see them hold Phase II for some time until they are ALL sold out, due to seasonal and market issues. You can expect the developers at 28th Ro to BUILD to SUIT, meaning the units in Phase I will get built very soon, as they've ALL sold. Until Phase II units and future Phase III and IV gets sold, they will NOT build them all at once. That was announced by the developer himself before this project took place. As for Steel Gardens, go to www.steelgardens.com/pricing/list.cfm. You will see that just about ALL units that ARE AVAILABLE for sale has been sold. Only a handful of units left are in inventory, and the smaller 1-bd units will become available next. They are selling the LARGEST units first to make their sales goals, and the 1BD units are profits for them, as the builder probably anticipates that there will be more singles and young crowds wanting to buy the 1BD units up fast. I don't think they'll have a problem with those, as the pricing is very good. So in conclusion, if you are looking to buy, you ought to do it soon, especially in a place like NoDA where property values are creeping higher and higher each year and you are beginning to see some major developments in the area in anticipation to the demand to live closer to Uptown Charlotte and the future-planned light rail system running the NE rail lines. The only thing that I see that isn't selling well in NoDA are the so-called "risky investors" who think they go in and buy a home in NoDa for $100k and resell in 3 months for $400k against over 50 homes listed "for-sale" in the area currently. I don't know what they are smoking, but I would like some of that if they really think they can triple their profits by renovating projects with local Home Depot and Lowes quality materials. You may actually be better off with a condo in NoDA as opposed to a SFH as, bucking national trends, it seems NoDA's condo market is doing better than the SFH sales market in the area, unless you home is priced $200k or below. I haven't seen ANY homes in NoDA that's sold for over $400-500k yet, except for a select few that had incomparable renovations and/or extravagent additions and restorative work done to it. But give it 3-5 years, you'll see that the area will become another Plaza/Midwood, where homes are rediculously priced in the $200-300/sq. ft. range, similar to Uptown Charlotte.
  13. Loans have NOT closed on the Renwick project yet. I am certain of this. Developers are smart in that they DO NOT allow buyers to CLOSE prior to full completion of the condo/SFH units. This is THEIR way of leveraging themselves in case of unforeseen circumstances where it can allow them to back out of these contracts. Believe it or not, there are STILL buyers at Courtside (the original units) that are still awaiting closing. I'm certain they are doing this to make sure they (the developers) are making their buck on this project and the last few buyers of Courtside are the guinea pigs for their profit making. That is why I am NOT surprised that the developer of Renwick wants to pull everyone's contract and redo the sales process again. Honestly, I don't see the buyer really standing a chance against this, because the language that developers have written these contracts bodes well on their favor. I've seen them, and they are just too unprotective of the buyer. Anyways, good luck though for the buyers, because they did THEIR homework, and it's sad that it's always the BIG BOYS getting all the breaks.
  14. kennethlin

    The Vue

    For your enjoyment....http://charlotte.craigslist.org/rfs/206741616.html
  15. kennethlin

    The Vue

    That's a good question. Even if it WAS an outside broker listing on Craigslist, that wouldn't quite make sense since NONE of the units at the VUE has closed, as far as I know. Hence, you can't really say it is YOURS just yet. There is definitely something fishy about this. As for the people railing me about being negative about this, keep in mind, this is ONLY my opinion and it is supported with facts. I'm just informing what I see, because I have no indication things are happening there. As for the Q4 start date, I sure hope so. I, along with everyone else, want to see this built, and for the poster that indicated the VUE WILL get built, I'm with you...except I also have to evaluate both sides. Anyone can say anything about the start date, but without any concrete facts, who knows? Yes, the developer has EVERY RIGHT to keep their mouth's shut, but to keep it shut for so long, especially even to their own buyers would be something I wouldn't do, especially given how all these news about real estate softening is all over the place. It's all about doing good marketing/adveritising/PR.
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