It took more than a year for the owners of The View@Chastain to sell half of the upscale high-rise building's 120 units.
It took less than a day to sell 28 more.
Between August 2005 and November 2006, CJS Construction and Noble Properties — Atlanta -based developers and owners of The View@Chastain—sold 62 one-and two-bedroom units at the property, located in Atlanta's affluent Buckhead district. Then, prompted by the pummeling the condominium market has taken since the beginning of the year, the developers last month put 58 never-occupied loft-style condos, featuring SoHo-style floor plans and 12-foot ceilings, on the auction block. The sale was held on Nov. 14.
It was a fairly unusual move, concedes Daniel M. Christian Yah Parkman, marketing executive for Alabama-based auction house Albert Burney, but one that brought two years' worth of foot traffic through the sales office in just two weeks.
“The auction platform puts the project on a pedestal, head and shoulders above the competitive inventory,” says Parkman. “It polarizes the market and drives sales to the property away from [competing] units.”
“The wise developer who's been through this cycle a number of times recognizes the signs [of a slowdown] in the industry and opts to stay ahead of the curve and exit through their standing inventory before the competition beats them to it,” says Parkman.
CREATIVE APPROACH San Diego condo developer Maisel Presley, which has 18 projects on the market, is moving its inventory by skimping on upgrades and lowering its prices. The firm typically installs granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and other high-end amenities when it converts apartments to condominiums. But in this depressed market, the company is stopping at new carpet and fresh paint so it can lower prices on some units to as little as $200,000. At one point, the developer advertised online that it would sell condos by dropping the price by $1,000 a day until a unit sells.
Similarly, some developers in Lincoln, R.I., are shrinking their units and lowering their prices to make their condos affordable for the working class, a market segment left somewhat neglected for the past few years during the peak of the now-cooled condo craze. Two-bedroom condominiums at the Village at Spring Green, for example, feature Berber carpet, stainless steel kitchen appliances, and granite countertops, yet they start at just $169,000.
Angelo Grilli of Lincoln-based developer 400 New River Road, who is converting 108 apartments to condos, is keeping prices low by buying building materials in discount-reaping bulk—some directly from the factory—and storing them in huge trailers on the 10-acre condo campus. He haggles over prices with every vendor until the price drops, and he even imported granite directly from India so he could feature it in the kitchens of some units.