For anyone watching the downtown condo market, the big question mark right now is Evo South. Big, beautiful Evo showed up to South Park last September, just as the financial markets went flying off the cliff. Poor girl. It was like watching a debutante arrive to a party just as they were putting up the chairs. The 311-unit building is the third downtown project from developer South Group, which had no problem selling out neighboring buildings Luma and Elleven. But what's your strategy in this market? And how are those sales going? Rhonda Slavik, director of sales and marketing at Evo, tells us they are closing a unit a week. Which isn't too shabby. (And if you lurk around the sales office near 11th St, as, uhm, we have, you'll see activity around the office, ie., people coming and going to look at the units.) And while other downtown sales buildings have turned rental, no, there is no consideration of going rental, according to Slavik. "Now that closings have started, our only option is to sell the building out as condos." After the jump, more from Slavik. UPDATE: Ka-ching. The $3 million penthouse that just sold was an all-cash deal, reports the Downtown News.
1) Where are you in terms of sales, closings at Evo?
-Total sold: 98 Units
-Total closed: 15 units
-Total sold, not closed 83 units (of these, we're closing meaning signing loan documents, record title, etc) 6 a month. To define "sold" : That means signed contract with non-refundable 5% contract deposit.
-New sales: Writing contracts of 1 per week on average.
2) What is the background of the buyers and where do they currently live?
The majority come from LA county and the majority work downtown. They moved to be closer to work and cut down on their commute. They were looking for a more luxury living experience and now that Evo is complete they have found it.
3) What are the reasons that you are hearing about why these buyers want to live in downtown (if they don't already)?
Commute times, most work in the downtown area, and the value they can get in downtown given what they see developing around. The opening of LA Live has helped bring the vision of downtown home for people.
4) A sale a week is pretty remarkable in this market. In terms of looking forward, are there benchmarks that your sales office is hoping to make by a certain deadline?
Six sales a month and six closings a month.
5) One quirk that's been going on in other new buildings is this: Buyers can't move in to the building/close escrow till a percentage of the units are sold. Are there any rules like that at Evo?
The lending restrictions are very complicated and have become more so in recent months for obvious reasons. Presale requirements by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were always in place, but until recently not enforced. Wells Fargo is closing loans on Evo and obtained a project approval from their builder division. We are also working with mortgage brokers who have various banking sources that are not dependent on Freddy/Fannie guidelines. [About 15 people have moved into the Evo building, she added in a follow-up email.]
6) Other ‘for sale’ buildings are going rental. Has this topic been discussed at all at any point as an option for Evo?
Before Evo began closing, we had been approached. However the basic math on a building of this size simply doesn't work for a rental building. Now that closings have started, our only option is to sell the building out as condos.
7) Has your marketing strategy changed since September, when the building was completed? If so, how?
Our marketing strategy has changed on an almost weekly basis since September. As you know we held our grand opening during the worst week in economic news in nearly a century. The buyer demographic immediately changed after the Lehman Brothers collapse and the TARP bail out. We have begun marketing internationally, we have increased our communication with the broker community, and we have revised the messaging in our ads to highlight what a great value Evo is in this market.
8) Who would you say is your competition at the point in terms of other buildings?
Resale units in Elleven and Luma.
Via flickr user La Citta Vida