by Jack Hagel, The News & Observer
Ram Development hasn’t given up on plans to build 140 condominiums in downtown Chapel Hill. But it has given up the ambitious prices of yesteryear in an effort to forge ahead in a soft housing market.
The Florida developer launched pre-sales last year, hoping to break ground once 25 percent of the units were under contract, and complete the project by 2012. Lenders have since tightened up on such projects, often requiring developers to sell about half the units before construction.
Last week, Ram offered pre-groundbreaking buyer incentives, cutting prices on units at its planned 140 West Franklin project on Franklin Street. The goal was to lure 10 more buyers by offering:
Almost 10 percent off three-bedroom units, bringing the price to $470,000.
Almost 11 percent off two-bedroom units, dropping the sticker to $375,000.
About 8.5 percent off one-bedroom units, bringing the price to $215,000. Less than a year ago, Ram had hoped to fetch about $350,000 for those units.
It wasn’t clear Wednesday how many, if any, buyers jumped at the lower prices. Regardless, the discounts show that Ram has faith in the project, albeit at a lower margin and in the face of competition with dozens of condos already being built at nearby projects such as East 54 and Greenbridge.
Only 11 condos were sold in Orange County during the first quarter, according to data from the Triangle Multiple Listing Services. That’s down 77 percent from the first-quarter average over the previous four years.