An Orlando and Charlotte Vue Buyer Weighs In

We received a long comment yesterday from an Orlano buyer who also bought a unit in Charlotte that can be found in our first post on whether to Buy or Walk Away. We are pasting her note here in full so it gets maximum visibility. As mentioned yesterday, the more information we can get from Orlando the better we can ensure our experience in Charlotte is different. This same note can be found on the Buyers’ Facebook page. The phone number to contact her with questions is in the comment. If you find out anything more please share it with us here!

FROM AN OWNER IN THE VUE ORLANDO AND VUE CHARLOTTE.

Well, unfortunately, I am an owner of a condo in The Vue Orlando AND The Vue Charlotte. The latter which was entered into in 2005. I have a deposit for $106,000 at stake in Charlotte for a corner unit priced in the mid $700’s. I am telling you this so you can feel better about your position!

Here is the risk and what happened with the Vue Orlando. Yes, almost 200 units were purchased in an auction this Spring. There is good news and bad news associated with this. The good news is that we have someone that is paying the exorbitant HOA fees for those units whereas before the HOA was not collecting on them and the amenities were in fear of declining rapidly. The bad news is that the new owner of all these units is NOW CONVERTING THEM TO RENTAL APARTMENTS. The plan is to release them as sales once the market turns around in a few years. What does that mean for the remaining unit owners in Orlando, like me? We will never be able to sell a condo in an apartment complex. There are so many short sales in that building it’s not even funny. The unit that I paid $450,000 on in 2004 (and closed on right before the market tanked in 2008) is now going for $279,000. I can either walk away and ruin my credit or stick it out. I am chosing to stick it out. The buyers of another condo complex in Orlando, called “55 W” had better luck. The developer reimbursed everyone’s deposit and converted the entire building to apartments. We could only be that lucky.

The other risk everyone is facing in The Vue Charlotte is similar to what happened to another downtown Orlando project. When sales didn’t reach the sales levels desired by the developer, the developer cut back on the quality of his materials. A couple of years later, tiles starting lifting off, cracks appeared in the ceilings, etc. I have already noticed that the fixtures in my master bathroom have been downgraded since the original brochure.

I am very interested in seeing what these units appraise for at the Vue Charlotte and how people will get financing, especially as rental property and non-conforming (ie. jumbo) money. This is a loan over $417,000 and credit is very tight for these loans as they are not insured by the govt.

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2 Responses to An Orlando and Charlotte Vue Buyer Weighs In

  1. My name is Cristian Michaels, and I am the President of Condo Developer, LLC, the development company which purchased the Vue Orlando out of a bankruptcy auction, on May 17th. I feel it’s important to clarify some misinformation given in the last post by “Owner in Orlando and Charlotte weighs in”. When a developer constructs a luxury tower, the magnitude of a Vue Orlando, or Vue Charlotte, they often attain financing from multiple sources. In the Vue Orlando’s case, there were eight lenders competing over any revenues generated from sales, after the market adjusted nearly 40% in Orlando. In the end, the Developer on Vue Orlando was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, by the lenders involved, which in turn led a judge to order an auction of the entire unsold portion of the asset to a single buyer. The auction process, as many may know is not the most effective way to liquidate an asset and attain close to fair market value. It is however, appropriate in a case of a more urgent fire sale situation, which deems quick results. The Orlando market easily bears 200 psf today, whereas in auction, our developer paid close to 125 psf (25.9 million cash). The current owner is mistaken, however, we have no intentions of renting the building. As much as this may stabilize some assets in the Orlando market, like Paramount on Lake Eola or 55West, it is not a carry strategy which we plan on taking. The primary difference with the Vue Orlando, is there is a significant demand for the product. The new developer, has come in and stabilized the association budget, are funding reserves, investing a substantial amount of money in the building into returning it to the caliber it was destined to be. We have multiple contracts as high as $265 psf, showing that we are commanding a premium in today’s market above the competition. That being said many of the owners in the building that we have engaged are glad we are on board and have the money to carry the project through this market adjustment.
    Another factor to consider heavily is, end loan financing. In most markets, 15-25% of buyer’s pay cash, but the rest require mortgages which in turn require appraisals. Appraisers have been deluged with new guidelines to protect lenders from over leveraging their position when considering real estate as collateral for the mortgage. This often means undervaluing the collateral or lowering the loan to value ratio. This will be a significant challenge for Vue Charlotte. Vue Orlando was at a critical point of being nearly 2/3rd’s closed, which to a lender is much less risk than a tower that may only be 20-30% closed. How things pan out on a closed sales ratio will have a significant impact on what financing will be available to future buyers of the project.
    As for comparing Charlotte to Orlando, every market experienced very different levels of market correction, usually directly tied to the amount of over speculation experienced through 2005-2007. Buyers should consider the very different components that create market value in each of these cities. At the end of the day it all boils down to supply and demand. If a contracted buyer can attain a mortgage and they plan on holding 4-5 years, and occupy as a primary, then it may very well make sense to close. If you were an investor planning on a quick flip and a profit of 100K, those days are most likely nonexistent.
    We are excited to see in Orlando, at least, an end to our market slow down and distress inventory has begun to diminish significantly. With this transition, we will see a return to a stable real estate market and there has never been a better time to buy.

  2. Juan says:

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    Exactly! Vue dropped down to 50% of the amount of rebar (reinforcing steel within the poured concrete) vs. what was used in The Avenue Condominiums for example. I learned this speaking to one of the project managers at R.J. Griffin & Co. who worked on both Vue and The Avenue.

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