Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cosmopolitan Condo Hotel Project Continues Forward

Cosmopolitan Condo Hotel Project Continues Forward
by Diann Tonnesen

Many proposed high rise condo projects around the country have had the plug pulled in the past two years due to cost overruns and tightening credit. Since Deutsche Bank announced they were beginning foreclosure proceedings on the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan condo hotel project at the beginning of 2008 on their $760 million dollar loan, over 1800 contract owners were holding their breath, wondering if the development would be completed. Or if they would get their money back in full if the development was canceled.

There were many "interested parties" making bids to purchase the project, but Deutsche Bank finally took over full ownership of the Cosmopolitan under an affiliate, Nevada Property I. Deutsche Bank was the high bidder, paying $1 billion at a recent foreclosure sale to acquire ownership of the project. Those still hoping to own a piece of the Las Vegas real estate market on the Strip breathed a bit easier.

And Deutsche Bank didn't let any grass grow under its feet to make sure the project went forward. It had already inked contracts with Related Companies to take over as the resort's new developer. In addition Perini Corp. signed a new contract to complete construction work on the project. Perini had been working on the project from the beginning, and was being paid under an interim agreement since March 2008 when Deutsche Bank began foreclosing after the original developer, Bruce Eichner, failed to complete a deal to secure more financing. Increased construction costs helped drive the Cosmopolitan's construction budget from its original $2 billion price in early 2006 to its current $3.9 billion price, and Eichner was unable to find a new partner with enough capital to infuse into the project.

A letter was drafted to contract owners by the resort's new developer, Related Companies, letting them know of the management changes and informing them of progress to date. This went out to almost 1825 contract holders, assuring them of the project's completion. To date over 50% of the Cosmopolitan's exterior construction has been completed, and it is anticipated that by December of 2008 owners will be celebrating the "topping off" of both towers, including the penthouse units. The new proposed completion date for the entire project is estimated for the second quarter of 2010.

Along with a rebounding resale housing market, this is great news for the local Las Vegas real estate market. For four months straight (July, August, September and October) statistics have shown a significant rise in Las Vegas homes sales, with multiple offers on lower end properties, especially in the segment of Las Vegas foreclosures.
About the Author
Diann Tonnesen has been selling real estate in the Las Vegas valley for more than 25 years and is considered one the city's foremost high rise specialists.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advance Auto is a Savior for Women

This is going to be a little off-topic, but I know there are a lot of single women Realtors, and probably plenty of mechanically "challenged" males as well. I wanted to tell you all about a national company that everyone has heard of, but many people don't realize what a godsend they can be - Advance Auto Parts Store.

Most people think of Advance Auto as a vague place to go buy a headlight or a carburator if you want to save a bit of money and not shop at the car dealer. But this store and these people are SO MUCH MORE.

I've been using AAP since I first moved to Myrtle Beach about 17 years ago. For several years I was living on practically minimum wage, driving a 10 year old Pontiac Fiero, and eating bologna sandwiches more often than I like to think about.

North Myrtle Beach in many ways is like the usual small town. Back in those days, more so than now, if you lived here, you eventually met the business owners, the police, the restaurant waittresses and others that seemed to help each other as much as the residents of Mayberry. One of the earliest things I learned from men that I met along the way (men LOVE to advise single women about car stuff) was that AAP was the place to buy things like windshield wipers, antennas (antennae?) and lights for the car.

There is a local garage in Cherry Grove that was so kind to me as to let me buy parts from AAP and bring them up there to install and repair my car. Now this is not something most garages will do, but in "North Mayberry Beach", so many people go out of their way to help people who work at hotels and restaurants. Most grew up here and worked at these jobs as teenagers, so they know what it's like to get by on $5.00 an hour.

Anyway, I've always known you could save money by shopping at AAP. And I quickly learned that when you buy windshield wipers from them, THEY will come out of the store and put them on for you - FREE! Now it's customary to tip the boy who does this. He's probably living on $8-9 an hour himself. But if any of you women have ever tried to put wipers on yourself, you know that it's worth every bit of $3-5 to let somebody else get their hands black.

I suppose many women have boyfriends or husbands that do this for you. But for those of us who don't, little things like this mean so much. Is your car running funny? Before you go drop it off to the GM dealership and spend a fortune, run it by AAP and let them hook you up to their diagnostic machine that might just save you a bundle. Buy a new battery there for about as much as you'd pay at Walmart...and these guys will install it for you, right in the parking lot. Got a headlight out? In most cases they will put it in for you at no charge and with no wait. Where else in the world can you expect service like that? Granted, they probably do more for a woman than they'd be inclined to do for a man, but I don't really know this for a fact either. They may well do it for every customer that walks in the door.

But today, this company amazed me beyond anything that's happened since I moved here.

Last night I must have left something on in the car from the day before. I still haven't figured it out, but when I went to go grab a burger for dinner, my car was as dead as a doornail. No horn, no lights, remote doesn't work...just dead. And I'm thinking, CRAP. It's Saturday night. Tomorrow is Sunday. Will I have to call a tow-truck or maybe I can find a neighbor to jump me off....which I hate to ask. People are funny about giving you a jump with today's new cars. I'm thinking on Sunday everything will be closed...what if I have to buy a battery? I went to bed just beside myself worrying about it. I can't stand to be without transportation.

This morning about 8am I decide to call AAP and ask if (A) they are open, which I doubt...and (B) will they loan me one of those battery chargers if I can find a ride up there.

First amazement, they answered the phone. The LADY manager (that's pretty amazing too) explains to me that they don't open until 9am, but yes, they are open. And yes, if I want to leave them a charge card or something as a deposit, they will give me a battery jumper.

BUT...she says, why not just let me send my guy to your house to help you and jump the car? I ask her how much that will cost and she tells me NOTHING. "It's our customer service", she says.

Can you imagine in this day and time (and gas prices) that any company would do this? I might add that this is a new Advance Auto that just recently opened about 3 miles from me in Little River. I've always dealt with the one in North Myrtle Beach before. These people did not know me, nor did she ask my name.

She goes on to say that since it's Sunday, they won't be busy, so as soon as they open, she'll send one of the boys to help me. And if I want to tip him something, that's up to me, but there is no charge for the service.

About an hour later, a very nice older man rides up in a yellow truck, jumps me off, and then because I'm smart, I follow him back to the store to have the diagnostic done. It shows my alternator is fine, and the battery is just low but good, and advises to recharge. This has taken about 6 miles of driving, maybe an hour of their time, and they don't charge me a dime or sell me a thing. AND ARE HAPPY TO DO IT!

Yes, I tipped the man...and well. I saved a tow-truck fee, possibly being sold a battery I didn't need, and received the kind of service most people just dream of. So girls, (and guys too!) the next time you have a car problem, remember there is a company out there that wrote the book on customer service. Advance Auto Parts is the BOMB. I can't brag on them enough.

And to the home office AAP, I hope you give the manager and all the employees at 1661 Highway 17, Little River, SC a RAISE. They do more to brand your store as a winner than all the advertising in the world.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

8 Tips to Selling Your Home Now

Jim Remley, writer for "Realty Times" and author of Sell Your Home in Any Market, recently wrote a synopsis article for Bottom Line Secrets, with quick tips on the selling your home in this slow market we are experiencing. Here's a summary of his tips and advice...
  1. Don't start with a higher price. Negotiating back and forth over price does not work in this market. Mr. Remley advises that you should price your home towards the lower end of the comparable homes for sale in the neighborhood. Real estate agents that may show your home will pay the most attention to a new listing. Once the home has been listed for a while, you miss this initial attention, and they probably will not even bother to show an overpriced house at all. He also advises you to recheck comparable asking prices every several weeks if the house does not sell. If you do have to lower the price, make it a LARGE reduction so that it will attract notice and even be a "best buy" in the category. **Note: Do not even THINK about what homes in the neighborhood sold for a year or so back. The market was entirely different and prices were also. If your home is listed and isn't being shown, the problem is more than likely the price.
  2. Repair and fix up the home before you offer it for sale. In this market, fixer-uppers are most often ignored. Do all important repairs before listing.
  3. Beautify your home's face. Remley advises to spend the money for landscaping, flowers, exterior repainting, outdoor lighting, the sidewalk, and even new doorknobs. Buying a home is an emotional purchase, and these small things will make a buyer "fall in love".
  4. Refresh the inside, and especially when it comes to any odors. New paint, carpet, tiles, or hardwood floors can help, but if a smoker or pet owner lived there, it may be necessary to hire a "building restoration company" to do whatever it takes to remove all the smells that linger behind.
  5. Think of any special amenities that your home can boast, and include it in the MLS listing, SPELLED OUT. Remley suggests rather than saying "inground pool" your agent should write it up as "inground pool with waterfall and hot tub".
  6. Negotiating Real Estate Commissions
  7. Offer incentives to buyers. There are many home sales made by "bribing" the buyers with cash, cars, tv's or a plethora of other offers. Of the most effective, Remley says that helping with closing costs, or paying to buy down the interest rate (purchasing points with the mortgage) work the best. Be sure these are listed on the MLS as well as any advertising that you do for the potential sale. *In florida, helping with home or condo insurance would be a good incentive!
  8. Offer incentives to brokers and sales agents. Mention the bonus in the MLS listing (not the original commissions) and be sure to disclose it on the sales contract. A lender could possibly claim fraud in the sales price if anything is hidden in cash negotiations.
  9. Don't play the negotiation game this time. If the buyer offers a reasonable price, consider accepting it without making a counter-offer. Better to take an offer you can live with then to take a chance of the buyer making an offer elsewhere. If you are getting lots of offers, this may not be in issue, but losing a sale over a few thousand dollars is not worth the chance.

These tips are particularly important with resort areas like Florida, and real estate in Myrtle Beach SC. Areas such as Greenville SC real estate markets may not have the glut of foreclosure homes that trendier areas suffer from. All oceanfront property will benefit from attention to the tips that Remley suggested, and if you are trying to sell this type of real estate, his book could prove invaluable.