Hello, Are the capital appreciation prospects good for the Sunset Lakes Development in Lakeland in 2009?

Asked by Paul Kelly, South Wales, UK Fri Nov 14, 2008

I am a UK Property Investor that has purchased a 1 bed condo in the Sunset Lakes Develoment in Lakeland Florida. I was just wondering what the prospects for capaital appreciation are for the remainder of this year, 2009, 2010, etc?

It is very difficult to get an accurate information this side of the Atlantic as the British Media are painting a very bleak picture of the US housing market in general. I have been keeping an eye on your website for the sold prices, etc, but apart from that any information is quite hard to get hold of.

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Ready To Move, Renter, Lakeland, FL
Fri Jul 9, 2010
I currently am renting a 1 bedroom condo/apartment. I have lived here for about 9 months. When my lease expires I am moving out. Things are changing (for the worse) in this property. First, the good is that it is very pretty and the maintenance and lawn service are doing a very good job of maintaining the property. However, out of the 288 condos, 146 of the condos were owned by Summer Landing LLC. They went into foreclosure so now the First Bank Puerto Rico owns the 146 condos. That's well over half of all the condos! This happened at the end of May 2010. No body knows yet what First Bank Puerto Rico plans to do with the condos that are being rented out as apartments and so far are still being property managed by CAM. If you go to http://www.Zillow.com and put in the search field "summer landing drive, lakeland, florida" or any of the building addresses such as "4300 summer landing drive, lakeland, florida" or "4280 summer landing drive, lakeland, florida" you will get an overview map of the complex. From there you will see that condos (rented as apartments) may be appraised at $88,00 to $140,000 USD but they are really being sold for as little as $25,000 for a 1 bedroom/1 bath and $39,000 for a 3 bedroom/3 bath. Incredible prices. But use your common sense, ask yourself why are so many of the condos being sold for so little US dollars? Because the complex is going downhill as far as quality of tenants. The rental standards have come down and that is making some people (particularly those with investments or even tenants) uneasy. The change in the quality of the tenants is a big, big factor of my planning on moving out. I love my apartment and I have a fantastic view. But once I step out of my apartment, I feel uneasy. It's a big complex so there is a lot of traffic, people out all hours. I am not aware of any violent crimes in the complex but I don't feel safe at all. Nor do my neighbors.

I considered purchasing the apartment I am renting but even at $26,000 USD with $100 USD a month HOA fees (for now), I didn't want to be stuck in a condo situation where I have no control over who will live in the same building or complex. I didn't want to put my money into a complex where the primary owner (Summer Landing LLC) went through foreclosure and the majority owner is now First Bank Puerto Rico. Who knows what their plans are or if they will auction the condos or who those new owners at an auction might be). Perhaps I am overly careful with my money. I am not a risk taker. I guess someone could buy very, very cheaply, and reap rent money while they can. Obviously, the investment in a condo is not large right now and if one were just looking for rent money as opposed to the actual property rising in value, it might work for them. Like I said, it is a pretty complex and of course, Lakeland weather is wonderful most of the year.

I was told that originally this complex had been apartments. Then in around 2006, Summer Landing LLC bought the majority of the complex and turned it all into condos. Every tenant had to either buy their apartment or vacate. Massive vacating took place. Some people purchased their apartment and there are British investors who purchased one or several of the condos. Then what happened is there were all the vacancies because it was right at the time when the real estate market tumbled down. Hardly anyone was purchasing the condos (priced anywhere $115,00 to $150,000 USD). So, Summer Landing investors turned the remaining condos into apartments again and each year the requirements for renting have become less stringent. Thus a change in the quality of tenants. And the people who purchased their condo just a couple of years ago, expecting to have neighbors who qualified to purchase condos over $100,000 USD suddenly found themselves surrounded in their building and the whole complex with rental tenants. And these condo owners were very unhappy that they had purchased and now the real estate market is still down so they are not able to sell their condo easily. It is not uncommon down for someone to ask if this has turned into a public housing project! I am not kidding. At least several times a month, the maintenance man is asked that very question.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. I fear I made it sound so dire. I guess it depends on what kind of investment the UK investor wants. Rental income --yes. Property appreciation in the next 5 years or more? Very, very doubtful. It is a delicate balance between keeping the apartments rented and yet screening out problem tenants.
1 vote
Steve Marnier, Both Buyer And Seller, Ukiah, CA
Thu Nov 18, 2010
Hi Paul,

Did you actually manage to get a mortgage and complete?. I also invested in Sunset Lakes, but couldn't ! :-(
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