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HOUSTON-With one month to go before delivery, the 176-unit, class A 7575 Kirby in the Medical Center has been changed from apartments to condos in keeping with today’s hottest ticket for metro-positioned multifamily assets. The Houston developer hopes to harvest more than $34 million in sales from the changed plan.

Brett Moody, president of Moody National Cos., tells GlobeSt.com that condo demand locally is at its peak and number crunching showed the payout would be better than the original business plan to build, stabilize and sell. He says condo prices initially will average $180 per sf or $192,000 per address and rise to $200 per sf as lease-up progresses. Units will average 1,100 sf.

Moody says the target market is the “in-between” crowd, a group that wants luxury Inner Loop housing without the princely sums attached to rental properties in the area. Inner Loop high-end apartments rent for $1,700 to $3,000 per month while existing condo stock bears $300,000 entry-level prices. The four-story building, perched atop one floor of parking spaces, is rising on a three-acre tract at the intersection of Kirby Drive and Braeswood Boulevard.

Moody says the intent is to secure condo financing in August after the occupancy certificate is issued and replace a construction loan held by Whitney National Bank of New Orleans. Though he’s not holding any letters of intent, he anticipates the first wave of condo closings will take place in early September.

Alex Sims, senior analyst with Moody National Development, says condo association fees will kick in during the second year of operation. He says the monthly tab is still be calculated.

Moody National had Countrywide Financial Corp. of Calabasas, CA, put together several Libor-based financing options, mostly interest-only packages, for condo buyers to keep monthly mortgage payments between $625 and $905. He says many condo owners occupy their units for three years, a built-in appeal for interest-only mortgaging. He expects the average loan-to-value ratio would range from 80% to 100%, with appreciation projected to exceed 14% annually. Teaming low payments and a property appreciation opportunity should help fill a gap in housing options for Inner Loop professionals, Moody says, whose company, though primarily a mortgage banker, is steering the sales.

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