Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Florida records strong May home sales

More listings, higher median prices, increased inventory

Closed sales of single-family homes statewide reached 23,013 in May, up 3.6% over the same period a year ago, the latest report from Florida Realtors said.
May was a strong month for the state with more new listings, an increase in median prices and an uptick in inventory.
"Inventory levels continue to improve in Florida, and the months' supply of homes for sale remains stable – all good signs for the housing market," said Florida Realtors President Sherri Meadows.
"Right now, the market offers a great opportunity for sellers, who are seeing nearly 93% of their asking price at the closing table. And mortgage rates, though rising, remain historically low – giving consumers more buying power," Meadows added.
In addition, new listings for single-family existing homes in May increased 13.1% year-over-year, compared to new listing for townhouse-condos, which grew 3.9% over the previous year.
Median sales price for single-family existing homes last month came in at $180,000, increasing 4.3% from the previous year. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cape Coral, Fort Myers economy decidedly American

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers area is 96th out of the Top 100 metro areas when it comes to jobs created directly by foreign investment, according to a report released today by Washington think tank The Brookings Institution.
But authorities say that's not necessarily a bad thing: A lot of foreigners pour money into the local economy through indirect means such as buying a vacation home here.
"This isn't a performance metric," said Kenan Fikri, a policy analyst at Brookings. "Foreign direct investment jobs aren't unambiguously good."
The top metro areas for foreign investment are found in high-tech centers like No. 1 Bridgeport, Conn., or oil industry powerhouses like Houston (No. 5). At the bottom are places that are lacking in such heavily globalized industries such as No. 100 Provo, Utah.
Link to the database: here.
Fikri said, the mainstays of the Southwest Florida economy — tourism and construction — aren't likely candidates for a foreign owner.
What's lacking here, Fikri said, are the high-tech or industrial sectors where much direct foreign investment often comes from mergers and acquisitions.
That type of economy can be built up by initiatives such as FGCU's planned six-acre technology institute, within the privately owned Innovation Hub research park near Southwest Florida International Airport, he said.
But the major engines of Lee County's economy don't lend themselves much to direct overseas investors — although major homebuilder Taylor Morrison, for example, is British-owned.
Tourism isn't an industry that lends itself to foreign investment, said John Naylor, a hospitality industry consultant who for many years worked as an executive with Fort Myers Beach's Pink Shell resort.
An absentee owner of a resort, he said, often isn't able to spot the sometimes subtle trends in how the business is faring, while "If you're manufacturing widgets, it's all about numbers, production and cost."
The only major tourism venue owned by foreigners in Southwest Florida is the old Amtel Hotel in downtown Fort Myers, owned by a Thai family.
The once-thriving hotel has been closed since 2008, and developer Bob MacFarlane is working on plans to purchase the hotel and bring it back as an independent living rental community for people 55 and older.
What this area does have, Naylor said, is that it's very attractive to people overseas who buy a house directly.
'The biggest thing is the Germans who stay at resorts and end up buying their own places," especially in Cape Coral, he said. "Housing prices have been a little lower in the Cape than in other places."
Florida TaxWatch said in a report released Thursday that the state consistently leads the nation in international home sales, with 23 percent of the total in 2013.
In 2012-13, the report states, Cape Coral-Fort Myers was the fifth most popular place for international sales, with 6.1 percent of the total. Naples-Marco Island was eighth with 5.5 percent.
Real estate broker Greg Fous, CEO of Fort Myers-based Better Homes and Gardens Market America Group, said international buyers have become more comfortable with the idea of buying here.
"We've noticed this influx," he said, especially from Germany and Israel. "I've got more people with money than I have deals to put them into."
Fikri said that though high-tech venues such as IHUB can help an economy, it's important to remember that not every metro area needs to do that to succeed.
"It gets to the fundamentals of why cities exist," he said. "Some of them exist because they're near a natural resource."|
1. Bridgeport, Conn.
2. Greensboro, N.C.
3. Worcester, Mass.
4. El Paso, Texas
5. Houston, Texas
96. Cape Coral-Fort Myers
97. Lakeland
98. Little Rock, Ark.
99. Modesto, Calif.
100. Provo, Utah
SOURCE: Brookings Institution

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brevard property values keep climbing

The Space Coast housing recovery looks like it’saccelerating.
The latest evidence: newly released data from Brevard County Property Appraiser Dana Blickley, showing an increase of more than 8 percent in the taxable value of property in the county, compared with year-earlier figures.
“I was pleasantly surprised by that number,” Blickley said. “I see what is appearing to be a normal, positively responding real estate market.”
This is the second straight year of property value gains, following five years in a row of declines after an overheated real estate market tumbled.
The current estimated taxable value of properties in Brevard is $27.9 billion. That’s up from the $24.6 billion low two years ago and up from $25.7 billion last year.But it remains far below the peak of $40.7 billion in 2007.
Blickley said the gains in the taxable value of properties in the last year were not consistent across the county. She said the Suntree/Viera area and the beaches have shown the strongest gains.
Also helping boost the increase was the addition to the tax rolls of about $1.1 billion in commercial and residential property in the last year. By far the biggest single addition was the new Florida Power & Light Co. power plant off U.S. 1 in Port St. John, which added more than $750 million to the tax rolls, Blickley said.
Mitch Riback, president of the Space Coast Association of Realtors, said the data from the property appraiser correspond with what he is seeing in the Brevard real estate market.
Riback, quickly noted however, that there are key differences between “appraised value” and “market value.”
The market value is simply what the majority of potential buyers looking at a home would be willing to pay for it.
The appraised value for taxing purposes is lower than the market value because it deducts such things as the cost of selling a home. Florida law also limits how much the appraised value of property can increase each year. Certain exemptions, such as the homestead exemption, lower the taxable value of properties below their appraised value.
Latest-available figures show that, in Brevard County, the median selling price for a home — the point at which half the homes sell for less, half for more — was$132,000 in March, according to Florida Realtors, an industry organization. That’s up more than 10 percent from the previous year’s median figure of $119,900.
Those differences between market and appraised value notwithstanding, Riback said the appraiser’s estimates are good news, particularly for such markets as Palm Bay.
“I used to tell some of my friends up north they could come to Palm Bay and get a nice deal on a house for $60,000 to $70,000,” Riback said of the market conditions two years ago. “Now, those properties are more like $120,000.”
At one point several years ago, Blickley said, as many as 80 percent of residential property transactions involved foreclosures or short sales. That figure now is down to about 30 percent.
Property owners who aren’t buying or selling will be affected as well. For many people, their home is their biggest asset, so, as the value of their home rises, so does their overall financial worth.
A higher taxable value doesn’t necessarily mean a higher tax bill next year. That also will depend on the tax rates set by local governments, such as the county, school board and cities.
Blickley said taxing authorities have several options:
• They can adopt the same property tax rate currently in effect. Under current conditions, that would, in many cases, raise a property owner’s tax bill because of rising property values, thus allowing the taxing body to collect more taxes to pay for services.
• They can roll back the tax rate to a point at which they would collect the same amount of property taxes, because of the rising property values.
• They can set the property tax rate somewhere in between, so the rate is lower, but property tax money collected is higher.
• They can raise the property tax rate above the current level, which will allow them to collect even more revenue, both from the higher tax rate and from rising property values. Because of political pressures to keep taxes in check, that scenario is unlikely.
Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or Follow him on Twitter at @ByDaveBerman
There was an overall 8.24 percent gain in the estimated taxable value of property in Brevard County, as it relates to the county’s general fund, raising the estimated taxable value to $27.86 billion. The biggest increases were in unincorporated Brevard. But all 16 Brevard cities and towns also showed gains. Here are the figures for individual municipalities, their estimated 2014 taxable value, and percent gains from 2013 taxable value:
Cocoa$773.9 million.13
Cocoa Beach$1.38 billion5.62
Grant-Valkaria$292.6 million3.16
Indialantic$284 million7.21
Indian Harbour Beach$661.3 million5.88
Malabar$184.2 million2.72
Melbourne$3.45 billion4.37
Melbourne Beach$288.5 million7.19
Melbourne Village$35.3 million1.02
Palm Bay$2.64 billion5.63
Palm Shores$50.4 million8.06
Rockledge$1.05 billion4.89
Satellite Beach$651.2 million6.23
Titusville$1.32 billion3.24
West Melbourne$968 million7.45
Source: Brevard County Property Appraiser Dana Blickley

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fla.'s Housing Market Shows Strength in 1Q 2014

PR Newswire
ORLANDO, Fla.May 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida's housing market reported higher median prices, more new listings, fewer days on the market and a slight uptick in inventory during the first quarter of 2014, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 50,251 in 1Q 2014, up 2.3 percent over the 1Q 2013 figure.
Florida Realtors logo
"The first three months of 2014 show a strong housing market in Florida, with diminishing distressed property sales," said 2014 Florida Realtors® President Sherri Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in GainesvilleOcala and The Villages. "More jobs are being created, putting more Florida residents back to work, and our population continues to increase. All of these factors are bolstering the state's economy and providing a solid foundation for a strong housing market.
"Statewide, new listings for single-family homes over the three-month-period rose 12 percent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings rose 8.2 percent. Home sellers, whether in the single-family home market or the townhouse-condo market, received more than 92 percent, on average, of their original listing price during the first quarter of this year."
The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 1Q 2014 was $168,000, up 9.1 percent from the same time a year ago, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties during the quarter was $135,000, up 16.9 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
Looking at Florida's townhome-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 24,860 during 1Q 2014, down 0.8 percent compared to 1Q 2013. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales last month: Short sales for condo-townhome properties declined 55.8 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 52 percent. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
"The first quarter statistics reflect the fact that Florida, in part a derivative market, has felt the sting of the northern winter," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. "Yet, the market is showing some positive movement. Sales are up, particularly for non-distressed properties. Other data indicate that this is a market that is settling down and returning to more stabilized conditions."
In 1Q 2014, the median days on market (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to sell during that time) was 58 days for single-family homes and 56 days for townhouse-condo properties.
Inventory was at a 5.7-months' supply in the first quarter for single-family homes and at a 6-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.
According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.36 percent for 1Q 2014, up from the 3.50 percent average recorded during the same quarter a year earlier.
To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Media Center at and look under Latest Releases, or download the 1Q 2014 data report PDFs under Market Data at:
Florida Realtors®, formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors®, serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its 127,000 members in 61 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at

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