Watercolor buildout extensions

Discussion in 'Real Estate' started by Buckhead Rick, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Buckhead Rick

    Buckhead Rick Beach Lover

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    As you all know today St. Joe has extended the buildout dates for Watercolor by two years, what effect do you all with a feel for the real estate mkt think this will have on WC and 30A and the 1500 or so lots for sale in Sowal.
     
  2. Kurt Lischka

    Kurt Lischka Admin Staff Member

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    I guess buildouts are a double-edged sword. They can build value in a community but they help to drive up inventory?
     
  3. SHELLY

    SHELLY SoWal Insider

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    I don't think it will have any effect...the inventory will continue to build, the prices will stagnate, and people who want to sell will have to lower their prices to match the buyers' bids (assuming of course that there are buyers).

    On the other hand, JOE...is going to have some 'splaining to do to the folks who thought they were buying into a neighborhood that would be built out (thereby increasing the value of their homes) and not surrounded by empty lots with "For Sale" signs owned by investulators.
     
  4. goofer

    goofer Beach Fanatic

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    They have done the same extension for two years at watersound. i don't think this will accomplish developing the communities. just gives the speculators two more years to hang on and pay higher interest to the banks.
     
  5. Dbaby

    Dbaby Beach Comber

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    I think this is a positive thing and a step in the right direction for St Joe. I think the builders have had the upper hand on holding prices up knowing we have a short build out requirement.
    I also think the quality of home will increase. I had such a short build out that I was going to use the quick solution,( the st. Joe box) now I have breathing room to build a custom home. :D
     
  6. sandfleas

    sandfleas Beach Comber

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    The buildout extensions will only prolong the agony for the real estate speculators. There aren't enough high demo end users flocking to the area to swallow even a fraction of the over 3200 available properties along 30A. The speculators will simply leave their lots on the market at the inflated prices hoping that a greater fool will come along in the next two years. It won't happen. Joe will be in the same boat two years from now.

    Asking prices are way too high. If asking prices fall to where actual sales prices were in 2003, some inventory might start moving. However, if speculators believe that houses in the high end developments will fetch $1000 per square foot, they are dreaming. The same for 40X100 lots that are a quarter of a mile or more from the beach priced at $500k to $1.5 million. Those prices are simply crazy. Some speculators caught in the frenzy paid those crazy prices for a very short period of time. You will find very few, if any, end users that paid those kind of prices. The real estate market in the area looks just like the NASDAQ did in the late 1990's.

    Rising interest rates, hurricane risks, falling housing values across the country, increasing insurance rates will all ensure that the market stays in the tank for quite some time. Only those owners willing to drastically lower prices to 2003 or before levels will sell their properties in the crowded market.

    Joe did not do the right thing. Joe should have stuck to its guns and started buying back a few properties to put fear in the hearts of speculators. The prices would have dropped significantly, lots would have sold to end users and the communities would have been finished in a reasonable amount of time. This move has only prolonged the inevitable crash. Smart speculators will drop prices and get out as quickly as they can. Others will hope for a recovery that will not come. One more hurricane and even these predictions will seem rosy.

    And, Joe stock will continue to tank. They will miss earnings by a mile. They have seen virtually no sales in any of the developments along 30A in all of 2006 and the rest of their developments are suffering too. Joe needs to sell about 5000 memberships to the Watersound beach club by June 30 to turn things around.

    Alys Beach is also suffering. No sales in the development from Feb to April. Cypress Dunes, The Preserve, Highlands, Village at Blue Mountain, Adagio, Bella Vita, and others seeing virtually no sales activity. Interesting to see what happens when all those speculators on Sanctuary and Redfish Village condos are required to close on those condos because they can find no one to assume their contracts prior to closing. Joe is getting no interest in all those spec houses being built in Phase 4 in Watercolor, Watersound, or Watersound West and the new Compass Point 3 condo offering will be a bust. This scenario actually looks good compared to the condo glut in Panama City. The panhandle is definitely in for a rough ride for the foreseeable future.
     
  7. GVM

    GVM Beach Lover

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    Excellent analysis.
     
  8. sandfleas

    sandfleas Beach Comber

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    Thanks. Time will tell if my opinion is right. I searched through this site last night and found lots of interesting opinions on both sides of the aisle. This site has lots of great info about the panhandle area of Florida between Destin and PCB.
     
  9. mahthamadear

    mahthamadear Beach Lover

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  10. Dbaby

    Dbaby Beach Comber

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    enough with the gloom and doom senarios.
    I have had it with you predictors of the future. I guess you also got out of tech stocks right before the drop too.
    It is easy to predict what has already happened. I don't care about the speculators and their prices that have to drop. I was talking from my own perspective. I am a lot owner that bought in 2003 and I just wanted a little more time to build out. Building out is a very slow process in Watercolor. Hell, it takes 6 weeks just to get your lot resurveyed to start the plans. It takes much longer than a year to complete a build out. More like 18 months.
    There intent is to see that the community is build out in a certain period of time not to take back land form speculators. Two more years is a good thing.

    Your senario does not take into account that no matter what, weathy people are flocking to the coasts. Yes, there is a lot of inventory on the market but that too will change over time. Wealthy People buy real estate no matter what the interest rates are doing. An area like 30A is priceless, long term.
     
  11. Franny

    Franny Beach Fanatic

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    Very good comments Dbaby!!
     
  12. Skerm

    Skerm Beach Comber

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    Real estate always comes back in time.
    Note the operative term: Always, not sometimes, not mostly, not almost always....it always comes back.
    The only concern any of you Watercolor or Watersound lot holders should have is when. I own lots in both areas.
    If you are in it for the long term (don't ask me to define long term, it is undefinable) in other words: If you are not under a certain timetable to unload your properties...you will make money.
    It is not an opinion, it is fact.

    Therefore, Sandflea's comments are meaningless over the course of years.

    Florida's real estate market has been pronounced dead at least 100 times over the past 50 years. I was born in Miami in 1959, my Father packed us up when I was 5 and moved to Chicago because the booming appreciation of Southern Florida property values was officially ended ~ according to all the Sandflea's around back then.
     
  13. Pirate

    Pirate Beach Fanatic

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    Sandfleas' comments aren't meaningless unless you don't care about a good return on an investment, which you may not. Real estate values have historically come back after decreases but that doesn't mean you actually make any money. If this areas prices dropped say 30% and then stagnated for 10 years (as has happened before) and rebounded to the current levels you would actually lose money if you sold.

    Even if there was an increase of 10 percent per year after that stagnation you would still be behind even a bond return and wouldn't be able to make it up in a lifetime, not to mention opportunity cost. If the decrease is 15% and the market stagnates for 5 years you might break even on bond money in 20 years.

    I am talking strictly of real estate as an investment here not as a second home or retirement spot. I love the area and may retire there, but not because of the cost of a house. In my opinion most real estate in the area is a very risky investment at this time with little upside potential in the near future. It's hard not to be emotional about real estate as an investment but emotion can cost you money there. Ask yourself this, How many years of 0% appreciation would it take for the area to be on track for historical averages of appreciation? Decades is the answer. The averages have stood the test of time for a reason. When there are large fluctuations it is harder to buy in and sell without ending up an a peak or dip. I can assure you the last few years weren't a dip.

    As a second home or retirement home who really cares about the fluctuations, you made your plan and are hopefully happy with it. From your previous posts you state you have 1 home completed recently and another under construction and now say you have 2 additional lots so I would assume this is an investment for you ... and a rather large one at that.

    I hope everyone here makes a boatload of cash, but I think many people are going to be sorry.

    BTW I got out of tech before the carnage and I sold my gold last month, I may have missed some upside but why not leave a little on the table when you're satisfied?
     
  14. drsvelte

    drsvelte Beach Fanatic

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    From RealMoney.com


    Investing
    The Real Story: More Woe at St. Joe
    By Marc Lichtenfeld
    Senior Columnist
    6/8/2006 9:30 AM EDT
    URL: http://www.thestreet.com/comment/investing/10290401.html

    Shares of all homebuilders have been pounded like cheap beer at a fraternity house, but St. Joe (JOE:NYSE) stands out from the group -- and not in a good way.


    St. Joe operates mainly in northwest Florida, which had seen a boom in development with buyers and visitors drawn to the pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. St. Joe hoped that demand would continue, as it sold homes away from the beach and even in the woods. To put it plainly, it ain't happening, judging by recent events at a few St. Joe developments.

    St. Joe was scheduled to release 12 condo units to the public last week in its Watersound Beach development. However, the sale was postponed, according to a St. Joe sales associate. The sales office does not yet have a date when the release will take place and was not given a reason for the delay.

    It was due to a lack of demand, according to a real estate agent in the area, who requested anonymity, as he primarily sells St. Joe properties and is in litigation with the company. There are currently 52 St. Joe condos at Watersound up for resale, providing competition to the 12 new ones the company planned to sell.

    According to several sources, the resale condos are in better locations than the 12 planned for release by St. Joe. There are currently 94 lots and 8 homes for resale in Watersound Beach as well.

    Curiously, when asked for comment, St. Joe spokesman Jerry Ray said there are no condos in Watersound Beach, despite several listed for sale on St. Joe's Web site.

    Ray did not respond to repeated followup calls seeking clarification.

    Meanwhile, prices are plummeting in the development. The real estate agent is currently listing a lot for $465,000 that his client bought for over $800,000. He said he'll be lucky to get $450,000 for it.

    A look at the prices of lots for resale shows either some desperate or unrealistic sellers. For example, one lot is being offered at $1.3 million, while the one next to it (which appears slightly larger) sold for $660,000 in March -- and we know prices haven't doubled in the past three months. Next to that one, a larger lot is being offered at $1.285 million, while an adjacent and similarly sized property is listed at $595,000.

    St. Joe, like many developers, has a building timetable for many of its buyers. When a buyer purchases a piece of land, he agrees to build a home within a guaranteed period, typically three to five years, depending on the community and when the sale took place. In certain communities, if the owner reneges on the obligation, St. Joe has the right to buy back the land at the original price. That original price is valid even if the property is flipped several times.

    St. Joe is extending the length of time buyers have to build by two years in its Watersound Beach and Watercolor communities, averting a potential public relations disaster.

    Another potential PR situation could be developing at Watersound Beach. St. Joe owns and operates the Watersound Beach Club. Membership to the club was supposed to be included in the purchase price of a lot, according to a former Watersound Beach salesperson.

    However, owners recently received a letter stating they will need to pay a $20,000 fee and $675 quarterly dues to be able to use the club. Owners have 90 days to exercise their membership decision. Again, Ray was not available for clarification.

    In past columns, I have questioned whether demand will match supply for St. Joe's communities and homes. Building costs range between $300 to $400 per square foot for the high-end homes in St. Joe's exclusive communities.

    At Rivercamps, a 1,500-acre community in Bay County, Fla., with permits for up to 450 homes, sites have ranged from $84,000 to $849,000 and have averaged roughly $200,000. Assuming a 3,000-square-foot house, the cost to own is well over $1 million.

    "Rivercamps is a total joke," according to one hedge fund manager who is short St. Joe. The source, who requested anonymity, questions who is in the market to spend that kind of money and to be stuck in "a buggy pine forest on a bay," or at other St. Joe developments that are off the beach, when beach property is available in other parts of the country for roughly the same price or less. He believes the company parlayed its success in the Gulf of Mexico to entice previously successful speculators to buy up lots in much less desirable locations.

    Demand was certainly high at Rivercamps when the company had its initial release in October 2003. At that time, 314 buyers submitted offers for 23 lots, according to a company press release. The fervor was still there in February of last year when 281 buyers submitted offers for 37 home sites.

    However, there are currently only three houses (including one that's a model home) completed. "Nobody is building," according to the fund manager, who said he did not see a single new home under construction when he visited Rivercamps last month.

    St. Joe's Ray, however, has said previously that construction has started on several houses and that "everything is on schedule."

    St. Joe has its supporters.

    "St. Joe has a balance sheet that can carry for the long run, so I am willing to for wait for the returns that I think will eventually come," says RealMoney.com contributor David Merkel, a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, who is long the stock.

    Elsewhere, Third Avenue Management owned over 10 million shares, or 14%, of the company as of March 31. A Third Avenue representative refused to discuss St. Joe, instead pointing me to its recent shareholder letters. Its most recent shareholder letter does not mention St. Joe, other than to state the percentage of various portfolios that the stock comprises. In the fourth-quarter 2005 shareholder letter, St. Joe is grouped with companies that Third Avenue believes has "super good management with proven track records." Third Avenue also believes St. Joe has insulated itself from competition.

    It's important to note that a critical member of that management team, former president and COO Kevin Twomey, recently retired. His exit is seen as a significant loss by Wall Street.

    I don't disagree with the competition statement: St. Joe owns northwest Florida. However, while you can be the only Porsche dealer in town, if people aren't in the market for Porsches, it doesn't matter that there's no competition.

    That's the situation St. Joe is in. Many properties are very costly and targeted toward the second-home buyer -- most of whom are not buying in this environment (in fact, some are bailing out). Although many homebuilders are suffering from fewer orders, St. Joe is exceptionally vulnerable because of the high-end market and region that it serves.

    Lastly, in what I believe was a play to increase its asset value, St. Joe reclassified 199,000 acres of what was previously classified as timberland to land that can now be used for resort and recreational purposes.

    CEO Peter Rummell pointed to new product lines like "new ruralism" (an example being Rivercamps), as ways the land can be put to better use.

    I have argued since my first story on St. Joe that there will be a very select few attracted to this type of living, especially when real estate prices have stopped climbing. The lack of construction at Rivercamps proves that point.

    St. Joe shares have been crushed, off 48% since their high in July and 27% since that original bearish article in March. With more ugly surprises likely in store over the next few quarters and sentiment turning increasingly negative, I suspect the stock still has a ways to go on the downside. I am maintaining my $31 price target, roughly 30% below Wednesday's close of $44.52.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Lichtenfeld doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships.


    Marc Lichtenfeld was previously an analyst at Avalon Research Group and The Weiss Group and a trader at Carlin Equities. He holds NASD 86,87, 7 and 63 licenses. His prior journalism experience includes being a reporter/anchor for On24 in San Francisco and a managing editor of InvestorsObserver, a personal finance Web site. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. He appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
  15. sandfleas

    sandfleas Beach Comber

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    Bingo!!!

     
  16. sandfleas

    sandfleas Beach Comber

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    Good points.

    Many people take a simplistic view of real estate "profits". They confuse the gain on sale with true profit after considering all the costs of ownership. When computing true profit, you need to consider real estate commissions, closing costs, interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc. to determine if you really made money on your investment. Simply subtracting your basis/original purchase price from the sales price doesn't tell the real story unless maybe you are talking about stocks. Many people talk about their real estate gains by simply referring to sales price minus basis. They gloat about the huge gain when they actually lost money on the investment after considering all in costs of ownership. Anyone that made an investment in real estate--not a purchase for long term enjoyment--in the area since mid 2004 will be hard pressed to ever turn a true profit on their investment after considering all costs of ownership over time. Most investments made during this time period are underwater at the current time with no turnaround on the horizon.


     
  17. spinDrAtl

    spinDrAtl Beach Fanatic

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    The current situation along the Emerald Coast can, I think, be compared somewhat to what happened in Park City, Utah. Although there are differences, there are also many similarities. Upon announcement of the Olympics in 1995, speculators drove prices up, up, up. The fever peaked prior to 2000, if memory serves me correctly. 9/11 did throw a monkey wrench into things as that area is more of a fly in destination than the drive-in we currently have in Florida so that was kind of a wild card. Tourism was down, yadda yadda yadda, and prices fell off, even after the huge exposure of being awarded the Olympics. Prices dropped substantially, continuing even after the Olympics, with the trough being somewhere between Nov 2002 and Feb 2003. In Feb 2003, a developer was auctioning off the remaining units in a ski in/out development at the Canyons Ski Resort. Other properties along Main Street in Park City, in Deer Valley, and the Park City Resort were at probably 5 year lows. Extremely desirable locations were just sitting, theoretically priced too high.

    Late in 2004, it seemed that many who had perhaps seen the Olympics on television and subsequently made a trip to Park City had decided it was a good place to own property. All of a sudden, properties started to move as an influx of new buyers who had 'discovered' the area were opening their checkbooks. I called an agent about a listing I saw on Main Street and was informed that it had sold in 3 days and that properties were moving much faster. New developments were on the drawing board and buyers began to outnumber sellers. Currently there is another fever going on - some properties that were sitting for months at $300 per square foot in desirable locations have been flying off the market in days at $600 sq ft. Some now have passed the $1000 sq ft level, although I don't think they will sell at that lofty level. I do not necessarily think this is fueled by speculation, but from frequent inspection of listings, I am certain there are too many right now. A year and a half ago, you could search realtor.com and find maybe 25 listings in the area between, for example, 125k and 200k. Now there are probably hundreds, as properties that were 70k are now offered at 140k.

    Prices have doubled in many areas. I think they were priced too low at the bottom and are probably too high right now. However, the proximity of the ski areas to the airport (30 minutes) and the easy drive up on a well maintained interstate helps tremendously. Skiers from California can fly to Utah and be on the slopes faster than they can drive to Lake Tahoe. Savvy buyers who watch the market can make money.

    These resort type areas will rise and fall and timing is everything (duh). The desireability of the areas will continue to draw people when property is priced sanely as the coastline/mountains are finite areas. Things were in the dumps out there a short while ago and now things are flying high. Shake out the speculators along the Emerald Coast and things will get back to normal. For those getting good use of their 2nd homes or who moved for permanent residency, I say enjoy your properties and feel confident that you will make good money over time! :D
     
  18. SHELLY

    SHELLY SoWal Insider

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    I have to agree with Real Estate bulls on one thing...it IS different this time. What was "different" with THIS real estate boom?:

    (1) The EASIEST money in 40 year years

    (2) A huge crop of newly minted speculators who didn't learn the lesson of the dot.com bubble.

    (3) All those wacky loan products whose application process was simply the ability to "fog a mirror"

    (4) Zero risk averse people who were willing to put their primary homes on the line by "liberating equity" in order to fund speculative real estate.

    (5) Questionable appraisal practices and industry collusion to inflate prices.

    (6) Unprecedented number of US jobs and massive amount of consumer spending linked to the real estate industry.

    What we've just witnessed in real estate was a classic speculative bubble. Fundamentally there was no reason for the widespread condo, home and land price spikes we've witnessed.

    Previous real estate booms and busts were localized--this one spread across the entire nation. Several generations all across the USA will soon learn the lesson that real estate IS a risky investment. A few will repeat their mistakes--many more won't be able to afford to repeat their mistake...others are waiting in the wings to take advantage of their mistakes.

    The unwinding of this RE boom will warrant more than a footnote in financial textbooks. We've all experienced a nationwide RE boom the likes of which we will never see again in our lifetimes--and yes, Florida was along for the ride.
     
  19. Bob

    Bob SoWal Insider

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    Shelley, your statement that the real estate boom has spread across the entire nation is a crock. Some areas of the country have had negative appreciation in prices when factoring in inflation.
     
  20. spinDrAtl

    spinDrAtl Beach Fanatic

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    All these statements are too generalized, IMO.

    1. The easiest money was made in the tech stock boom, if you made it. No closings, no documentation, no negotiations. Point and click.

    2. What is a huge crop? Sweeping generalization.

    3. Those wacky loan products, as you refer to them (again with no specifics), work for some people if used properly.

    4. More generalizations. Who are these people? I'm quite sure there are also people who used equity to make prudent investments.

    5. Can't disagree here as this does go on, but it's done in pockets and individual neighborhoods. Your statement sounds like a headline teaser on MSNBC.

    6. Depends what kind of spending you are talking about. The cocooning effect after 9/11 has lead to increased spending in home theaters, pools, decks, and other enhancements to individual lifestyles in one's primary residence.

    At any given time, there are booms and busts in different areas. Right now Phoenix, Miami, Las Vegas, and others are experiencing a bust. Other areas like Utah and Atlanta are experiencing price increases. Shifts in population will always cause rises and declines in real estate prices. Speculation is NOT occuring all over the country causing a nationwide boom. You make is sound like the millions of people who own a primary residence and purchased in the last 3 years will soon be on skid row. Negative hype is just as bad as positive - the sky is not falling nationwide.
     

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