44 Monroe converts to apartments

In a nod to the general bad economy and the extra-bad resale condo market in Metro Phoenix, the hi-rise known as 44 Monroe in downtown Phoenix will convert from condos to apartments.

Why? Many, many reasons. The economy continues to be sluggish. Condo financing has all but dried up. The condo rental market has been hurt too, by the easy availability of single family detached housing rentals. Condos always fare worse than detached housing in a real estate-led recession...

See the article in the Arizona Republic about the 44 Monroe condo-to-apartment conversion.

We have a good deal of experience helping buyers and sellers in the Metro Phoenix condo market here at The Phoenix Agents. If you need guidance condo-shopping or condo-selling in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria or Glendale, contact us. Not quite ready to talk with a Realtor? Totally understandable. A, we're not "salesy" and B, you can read what our clients think about us on our Tribe page.

Chateaux on Central has new owner

Depending on your viewpoint, the red brick McMansions on Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix known as the Chateaux on Central are either an eyesore or a diamond in the rough.

Back in the boom years, the Chateaux was built at an estimated cost of about $40 million with an additional $47 million provided by Mortgages Limited when the building went into foreclosure.

Wisconsin based MSI West Investments thought they were a bargain at $7million and snapped them up last March. They hired Rowland Luxury Homes to finish the build-out and punchlist items, and are putting out word they’re nearly ready to sell the luxury mid-rise condos.

The building includes 21 condo residences varying from 5,100 to 8,200 square feet. That means MSI West got the building for about $330,000 per condo.

Before the market fell apart, asking prices ranged from $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 per condo. MSI West Investments say the condos will now start at about $1,300,000.

The local Fox affiliate, KSAZ Fox 10, did a short piece on the Chateaux; see below.

Insider’s Note: I love how the Realtor in the video describes these condos as “a lifestyle never before offered in the Valley.”

<sarcasm> Yeah, because over-the-top luxury is *never* offered in North Scottsdale or Paradise Valley. <sarcasm>

Frankly, I think $1,300,000 for a smaller condo here seems a little high. They are downtown Phoenix condos after all, and your typical buyer with a cool million or two to spend doesn’t think of looking in downtown Phoenix first. People with two million smackers go look at mansions in Paradise Valley.

I’m betting the prices will settle out to more like $925,000 up to $1,700,000.  Check back in about a year to see how I did predicting future sales prices for the Chateaux on Central.

Find the original Fox 10 news video on the KSAZ MyFox 10 website ; or view the Arizona Republic's coverage of the Chateaux on Central sale.

Condo refinancing: tricky to impossible

Way back in April of 2010, my partner Chris wrote a piece about how condos were doing in the Great Recession. This was after much discussion between the two of us. The piece was long, well reasoned and thoughtful. It was also long. We’re both sometimes guilty of over-writing. <smile>

Essentially, Chris’ piece reminded buyers that when you buy a condo you’re also buying the neighborhood and the HOA. If the HOA or your individual neighbors have financial troubles, you could too.

If more than 51% of your condo community isn’t owner-occupied housing – it’s a vacation home, or a rental – then you might have a very hard time refinancing your condo mortgage, even if your income and credit is great. Same thing with past-due HOA fees: if more than 15% of the condo owners in your community are late on their dues, you probably won’t be able to refinance your mortgage.

Couple days back, the gloomy bloggy giant Housing Doom published a much shorter piece about condos that essentially warns the same thing.

Condos make a great investment for many types of buyers – especially first time home buyers, retirees, vacationers and single professionals – but they’re not for everyone. Buyers should understand that when there’s a recession, condos have historically taken a bigger hit to values than detached housing. You need a Realtor, maybe even an attorney and financial advisor to help you make the decision to buy or not buy a condo.

Do you need a Realtor? A Realtor who knows a lot about the condos in the North and West regions of Metro Phoenix? You’re in luck! I’m that Realtor. If you’re thinking about buying a condo, give me a shout.