Ground Breaking Soon for $130 Million Dollar Central West End Project

The view from Forest Park’s northeast edge has always been a favorable one but it may soon be graced by an ultramodern apartment building tall enough to rival even its stately neighbor, the Chase Park Plaza.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ground is set to be broken as soon as next month on One Hundred, a long-anticipated structure awaiting shovelwork along North Kingshighway. Expected to rise some three dozen stories into the sky, the $130 million project is an architecturally impressive effort with tilted windows that blossom outward along the building’s length. The Studio Gang out of Chicago has been tapped to lead the design with Clayco doing the contracting work on the edifice which will add 316 units of residential space to the area after its anticipated completion in 2020. Extensive tax abatements have significantly sweetened the project for its developers.

All in all, it is an exciting time for the Central West End. One block north, the historic Chase is getting its own new lease on life courtesy of a rebranding announced earlier this year by swanky lodging chain Sonesta International Hotels. The St. Louis landmark was purchased by a Boston-area group last year.

Clayton one of the more desirable real estate markets in the Midwest

Mid-county is clearly on the radar both locally and nationally. In fact, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls Clayton “one of the more desirable real estate markets in the Midwest.”

But with space at a premium, potential tenants for slots in the county seat are increasingly looking to county government itself as a possible source for new large-scale development opportunities as disused facilities from the realm of local officialdom fall to the wayside. The Post’s Jacob Barker reports that $31.5 million worth of county property may eventually find its way to new buyers. It is part of a trove that includes the former site of the family court, two office structures on Meramec Avenue, and a parking area adjacent to the Lawrence K. Roos Government Building.

Enterprise Holdings, which already has a headquarters in Clayton, is thought to be interested in the last of these properties. Like the others, it has been shunted to the Port Authority to facilitate easier sale which is required by ordinance to generate a selling price of at least 95 percent of its appraised value. The parking lot is being reportedly being eyed by a commercial property owner who could potentially combine it with other holdings to create a plot for a mixed-use development involving hotel space and office opportunities.

No acquisitions on the tracts have yet been announced but the government has sold real estate to private developers before. A 200-room hotel is slated to rise on the site of the old police headquarters and a 25-story apartment tower with 10,000 square feet of retail space could grow in the footprint of a former county parking lot in the wake of a $1.1 million deal.

Regardless of what happens, it seems likely the county will find willing buyers somewhere.

“Everybody that calls from out of town, they all want a site in Clayton,” one commercial real estate broker told the Post, “and there is never that many.”

Higher Debt and Lower Inventory Slams First-Time Homebuyers

A double whammy of higher debt and lower inventory continues to slam first-time homebuyers hampering the dreams of Millennials with designs on suburban living.

Diana Olick of CNBC reports that the percentage of the market composed of buyers making their maiden voyage into the world of property ownership fell to just above one-third this year, a figure well below the norm. In the past, nearly two in every five buyers met that description.

One factor has been a crippling increase in prices which hit yet another high in August topping more than five straight years of annual monthly gains. Not only have prices risen but home sizes have dropped. Compared to last year, figures from one study indicated that the average first-time homebuyer in 2017 purchased a house 10 square feet smaller and paid about $7,500 more for the privilege. Meanwhile, sellers are getting what they ask for. Those paying list price for their new domicile hit an all-time high.

Perhaps more telling, first-time purchasers are often entering the market saddled with obligations having nothing to do with real estate. Figures from the National Association of Realtors show that the average student loan amount burdening first-timers has ballooned to $29,000 and a majority possessed debt of at least $25,000.

NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that competition for the shrinking supply of affordable homes isn’t limited to those who want to live in them. Investors, who often have cash in hand, have also proven to be attractive options for sellers who frequently have an array of offers to choose from just as the available low-end selections for purchasers are contracting.

“The dreams of many aspiring first-time buyers were unfortunately dimmed over the past year by persistent inventory shortages, which undercut their ability to become homeowners,” he told CNBC.

Consider Hiring an Expert When Installing Lighting

Any trip to the electrical fixtures aisle at your local big box store can get the creative juices flowing and let’s face it, there is a lighting do-it-yourselfer in all of us. There is also a certain satisfaction that comes with tackling a project on your own.

But when it comes to brightening your home, there are good reasons to consider calling in a lighting installer before you find yourself knee-deep in receptacles and power cabling. A recent St. Louis Magazine article identifies several arguments to “go pro”.

  • Tech and trends. Lighting isn’t a static industry. That’s true whether you are talking about design or function. From energy efficiency technology to the newest lighting styles, installers will know the latest innovations to keep your home in the ranks of the best and brightest.
  • Guaranteed satisfaction. Making sure a job is done right should always be a priority but if there is a problem, a reputable professional will have a warranty on his or her work. It is a piece of paper that can provide peace of mind that a DIY job will never give. If you flip the switch on your big project and the house stays dark, it is good to know you can call someone to solve any issues for free.
  • A do-it-yourselfer can provide the enthusiasm to complete a project but it may take a professional to supply the know-how. Every project a lighting installer takes on is backed by years of experience from previous jobs. If the ideas you envision involve handling wiring and fixtures for the very first time, you might want to reconsider and commit to a pro. The initial bill could be higher but you might just save money over the long haul.

Low Inventory Means Difficulty Selling Homes

It is difficult to sell homes when few are on the market.

National figures are in for August and they show the pending home sales index dropped by 2.6 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as purchasing enthusiasm was again dampened by a lack of houses to purchase.

While recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas have also contributed to the decline, the reality is that post-recession dearth of housing inventory continues to be a coast-to-coast phenomenon frustrating agents and buyers alike while giving sellers a boost in their home value. The index fell in every region with year-over-year numbers toppling the hardest in the northeast where the figure lost more than four percent to conclude at 93.4. The Midwest region, which includes Missouri and Illinois, dropped 3.2 percent to 101.8. Overall, the country finished the final full month of summer at 106.3. That’s the lowest since early last year.

With hopes of an inventory expansion faltering, the NAR is now projecting existing home sales for 2017 to come in just a hair lower than the figures for last year.

The organization’s chief economist Lawrence Yun notes in Realtor Magazine that many buyers are either in a holding pattern unable to find a home that meets their needs or have simply given up in a market where prices have simply risen beyond their means.

Fortunately, the effects from recent stormy weather and other factors may only delay some sales.

“The good news is that nearly all of the missed closings for the remainder of the year will likely show up in 2018, with existing sales forecast to rise 6.9 percent,” Yun said.

Housing Starts Stall in Mid-Summer

Rosy housing start numbers that were once thought to be welcome news for a market suffering from a crippling lack of inventory appear to have stalled coming into mid-summer.

Housingwire.com reports that the seasonally adjusted figure fell to 1.16 million last month, a decline of nearly five percent from June’s more optimistic levels. It represented an even steeper loss when contrasted against July 2016 when the rate was at 1.22 million.

The numbers, fresh off the presses from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also showed falloffs against June figures in housing units authorized by building permits as well as completions. However, those statistics at least represented improvements over the rates for the same time last year.

It had been thought that homebuyers squeezed by higher prices due to a lack of available homes on the market might find some relief from an easing of the housing supply through new construction but the July report has somewhat dampened those hopes.

One bright spot is that single-family housing starts were only off by half a point settling at 856,000. The shrinkage in the overall figure was primarily from multifamily developments.

Update on Redevelopment of the City Foundry

Progress continues on redevelopment of the City Foundry though the scope of the massive project may have just gotten a bit smaller.

According to reporting in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lawrence Group, which is spearheading the effort, has abandoned its plans to erect a residential apartment building near the site along Interstate 64. Rising two dozen stories above the Midtown landscape, the proposal was dropped because it would have scuttled the developer’s hopes to acquire millions of dollars in historic tax credits.

The remaining project is still plenty big however. A $134-million investment will revamp the mass of disused industrial space into an area for dining and office opportunities. Set for completion in late 2019, an equally ambitious second phase would invest tens of millions more, giving birth to a movie theater and restaurant along with a parking garage and 130,000 square feet of offices. More than $19 million in TIF funds have already been greenlit for the initiative and cleanup of the area, which may be supported by “brownfield” tax credits, has gotten underway. Developers told the Post that a trio of anchor tenants are already in discussions regarding retail slots at the site.

Tax incentives are an important key to the financial picture for the facility and they are expected to allow for free parking in the new garage, a feature which developers contend is vital to maintain the project’s commercial viability by generating consumer traffic for its retail component.

Shuttered since 2007, the City Foundry sits only blocks from St. Louis University and Grand Center to the north with the city’s emerging technology district set off to the west.

Maryland Heights Best for Home-Flipping

When it comes to home-flipping and rental potential, Maryland Heights may rank among the best areas in the nation.

That’s the word from HomeUnion, an online real estate investment firm, which ranked the top 20 zip codes in the country for investment quality based on probable returns. The 63043 zip code ranked 17th on the list between Edmond, Okla., and North Scottsdale, Ariz. The zip code was expected to produce an annualized return of 5.5 percent.

By contrast, a West Palm Beach area zip code ranked at the top of the list with an 8.1 percent expected return.

Maryland Heights was the only municipality in Missouri to make the list.

According to an article on credit.com, HomeUnion’s formula for rankings focused on calculating rental rates by estimating a number of different factors such as school district quality, crime rate and the number of white-collar jobs. STLRealEstate.news said that the study figured the annualized return figure by looking at probable appreciation in value as well the potential for future cash flow over a five-year window.

Midwest Jumps in Sales of Existing Homes in June

The Midwest was the only region of the country to reflect a jump in existing home sales for June but a lack of inventory continues to put a drag on numbers coast-to-coast.

The nation’s heartland saw sales rates for existing homes rise 3.1 percent to reach an annualized rate of 1.32 million. That was in contrast to drops for the other sections of the United States which ranged from 0.8 percent to 4.7 percent.

Meanwhile, values continue to rise. Year-over-year figures for median prices showed increases in all regions with the Midwest leading the pack by producing a 7.7-percent jump to $213,000.

The culprit continues to be a lack of houses to buy.

“The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession,” said Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors chief economist as quoted in an Inman.com article. “Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly, but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines.”

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales of existing homes tumbled by about 100,000 from May to June. Though it was the second-slowest sales pace recorded this year, June’s rate still finished a bit ahead of its 2016 counterpart for the same period.

Nationally, housing inventory fell by half a point in June. The month’s figures saw a more than seven-point decline over the same time last year and marked the 25th month in a row of year-over-year inventory shrinkage.

Crestwood Tops Home Sale List in August

Where do homes sell the fastest? In this market, the answer is pretty much anywhere in the St. Louis area.

But as of early August, Crestwood topped the list on stlouisrealestatesearch.com with listings on the market for an astounding average of just eight days over the last month. Twenty properties in the city found new owners during that time period.

Yet even those figures may seem tame compared to what stlouisrealestatenews.com reported in late July when Valley Park topped the list with homes spending an average of just four days on the market.

August numbers also revealed other hot areas. Properties in Fenton spent an average of nine days for sale and Webster Groves took ten. Maryland Heights, Black Jack, Herculaneum, Green Park and Shrewsbury were all under two weeks. Valley Park had fallen to 24th place with a 23-day waiting period.

Among the top 30 municipalities, O’Fallon, Ill. did the most volume at 191 properties. The average wait there was 22 days.

None of the top 30 had waits longer than 26 days on average.