Now I heard about them on NPR last evening as I was wending my way up the 134 after a lighthearted day in the salt mines. And it really is quite a business they have going on there. Apparently so many unnecessary condominiums were built in Florida during the "Banks Gone Wild" subprime era that the landscape there is literally awash in the damn things. You just couldn't find a happier hunting ground for Condo Vultures.
Here's a bit of the Miami Herald story from Tuesday that was the source of all the excitement:
Buyer makes $200,000 profit in 20 minutes by flipping 19 Miami condos - It could be one of the quickest profits made in Miami's condo market. All it took was 20 minutes for a bulk buyer to make $200,000 by purchasing 19 units in the new Mi Primera Ilusion Villas Miami condominium and then immediately selling the same condos to another investor, according to a report from CondoVultures.com ... "Call this condo arbitrage, Miami style," said Peter Zalewski, a principal with the Bal Harbour, Fla.-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures LLC.
NPR, which broke the story to a national audience yesterday, has also published an interesting article on the Condo Vultures group, and I thought it would be nice to share it with you here. The piece starts with the Herald piece I quoted above, and then has this to say:
Bottom Feeders, Flippers & Condo Vultures: ... That's how crazy things are in the condo market in Florida, where a weak economy and over-built market have combined to drive foreclosures up and prices down to the point where bottom-feeders are now seeing if they can swoop in and make some fast money by quickly flipping properties ... The company collects data on the condominium markets in South Florida and four other cities-- and sells condos too. "Where you want to be in this market place when the market does start to turn is on the buy side," Zalewski says. And his company aims to provide clients with the information they need about that market.
So what, you may ask, does this really have to do with anything going on around here? Just because people went crazy in South Florida and built themselves into a state of near economic collapse can't have any actual relevance to us, right?
Mmm, apparently the correct answer is yes, it does. Because according to the Condo Vultures website, they are looking to set up an operation right here in sunny Los Angeles County. As a matter of fact, they now list 5 markets as being their happy hunting grounds. In addition to the aforementioned South Florida, other real estate disaster cities such as Las Vegas, San Diego, and Phoenix are also listed. And do you know where else? You got it, Los Angeles is now included as well. Here is what you'll see when you click on the LA tab:
Condo Vultures Realty LLC is working to open a location in the Los Angeles market to capitalize on the condo crash.
Did you see that? We really are a land of opportunity after all. Just another over-built and poorly planned region where soon to be arriving immigrant condo vultures can fly in and feed off the broken dreams of a thousand foolish developers.
So do you think that maybe SCAG should be getting a couple of points on all this upcoming action? After all, they were the ones insisting that all our local cities plan for the building of these brick and mortar equivalents of roadkill not so very long ago. Your federal and state tax dollars hard at work. Maybe their forecasts about millions of God's creatures moving here weren't so inaccurate after all. Except instead of people, the immigrants are turning out to be avian real estate scavengers.
Now I don't know where Condo Vultures LLC is planning on setting up their shop, but if they were to ask me I'd suggest Pasadena. Because not only would you have immediate walkable access to all those unsold 6 story condo wickiups located there, but you'd also have Glendale, Burbank, Arcadia and Monrovia right there at your fingertips as well. There must be hundreds of distressed condo properties located in just those burghs alone. The site of hungry condo vultures lazily circling above the half-empty skylines of our San Gabriel Valley brethren might be kind of interesting in an apocalyptic sort of way. A philosophical testimony to the nature of man's folly.
Of course, since we were the only city in the region with the foresight and chutzpah to stop such condo-crazy construction within our borders, there would be no reason for any Condo Vultures to circle on over Sierra Madre's way. As a matter of fact, they might even view this to be hostile territory and try to stay away altogether. Which would be fine with me.
Then again, there is a kind of 2005 condo cargo cult in this town that still believes it would be a good business investment to build that kind of stuff here. When all they would really be doing is feeding the vultures.
Bonus Coverage: I received a kick in the pants from a reader who asked what it is I have against condos. They live in a very nice one here and felt I was being something of a knucklehead about it. I called him up and I had the pleasure of talking with a very highly informed person who is keenly interested in what is going on. Short answer: What this article is about are the 6 story heavy development kind of stuff you find in some of our neighboring cities. The well-planned and unobtrusive condos you find here in Sierra Madre are how things should be done. Sierra Madre is planned for small town ambience, and that includes condominiums. Stuff that Condo Vultures LLC will have no interest in. That is the big difference.