August 6, 2013

Ghosts Of Their Former Selves

The News Press reports on Florida. “One hotbed of spec building is Fort Myers Beach, where new construction was a rarity until a sudden burst of activity. ‘I sold more waterfront lots this season than I’ve ever sold in Fort Myers’ including some to investors, said Trae Zipperer of Luxury Property Firm. He expects some of those will become spec homes as prices continue to rise for existing homes and inventories remain low for waterfront properties. ‘At some point spec builders will step in to meet the demand, Zipperer said. ‘There’s a demand for new homes on the water and they just don’t exist.’”

The News Journal. “On the ruins of the partially built former Vizcaya condominium complex, which was abandoned during the Great Recession, a new developer is looking to build a new luxury condo complex. ‘We can’t keep a condo on the books if it’s priced right,’ said Ellen Darden, a luxury condo sales specialist with Watson Realty in New Smyrna Beach. ‘The condo market is heating up again. The Waterford is in a good location and should be very marketable.’”

“Condo demand in New Smyrna Beach is on the rise. From March through June, condo sales rose 34 percent to 205 this year from 153 last year, according to the New Smyrna Beach Board of Realtors. The median sale price in June was $189,000, up 6 percent from $139,000 a year ago, but slightly down from $212,500 in April, the highest level in 1.5 years. The units range in size from 1,845 square feet to 3,088 for a penthouse. Prices currently range from $700,000 to $1.6 million, but are expected to rise once construction starts, said Pat Collado, owner of Collado Real Estate in New Smyrna Beach, the exclusive sales agent for Waterford.”

The Sun Sentinel. “Home ownership in Florida has gone down and stayed down since 2005, and there’s little likelihood that will change any time soon as many of the state’s financially strapped residents still find it hard to buy a home or choose to rent one instead. ‘I have a lot of clients who are several points away from a good credit rating, or they have problems coming up with a down payment. They have no savings at all — living paycheck to paycheck — or they have a few thousand dollars but not enough for a conventional loan with 5 percent down,’ said Aaron Mighty, a real estate agent in Orlando.”

“‘A lot of people have decided that going back to renting is more feasible. I had one client sell his house because the market price was high. He said, ‘If I can make a profit, rent for a year or two, then I’ll give you a call and buy again.’”

“Many in the real estate business have adjusted by catering to this growing market of investment owners, a trend that will keep Florida’s rate of individual ownership relatively low for several years and perhaps much longer. ‘We sell less and less to end-users and more to investors,’ said Jim Banford, who deals in distressed properties for the Real Estate Asset Disposition Corp. in West Palm Beach. ‘There’s a lot of money right now betting that we need more rental housing, and Florida is a market for converting what was formerly owned by individuals as a primary home into rental housing.’”

The Orlando Sentinel. “Orlando is unlikely to see its recent home-price gains continue in the months ahead, according to Corelogic Inc. ‘I think the primary factor is the foreclosure inventory, and Orlando and Fort Lauderdale have very large inventories of foreclosed properties,’ said David Stiff, chief economist for the Corelogic Case-Shiller Indexes.”

“A softening of those housing markets now is understandable, considering that in recent months almost half of all existing-home sales in both have been cash deals made by investors. Prices have been rising the past year and a half, and are up more than 20 percent in the past year. ‘You and I both know that’s not sustainable,’ said Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida.”

“Orlando real estate broker, Myra Johnson of MJ Real Estate Inc., said home prices have been so volatile in Central Florida that they are difficult to predict. But it is understandable that the area’s housing stock could be in for a price decline, she added, at least until owner-occupants once again dominate the market. ‘Tied to a price decline is the fact we have all these vacant houses out there,’ said Johnson.”

The Tampa Bay Times. “Four years after the Great Recession technically ended, statewide employment has finally topped 8.75 million, nearing its prerecession size. But the mix of jobs has changed dramatically, with manufacturing and construction remaining ghosts of their former selves. Collectively, we’re earning less money with more people clustered in lower-paying jobs in retail, tourism and health care. There are more part-timers and workers combining a couple of part-time jobs into one full-time paycheck.”

“For 38-year-old April Cino, the state’s economic makeover triggered a personal financial makeover. Cino enjoyed manufacturing, working in Largo for a medical device company. But when her employer shuttered the Largo plant in 2010, Cino was suddenly out of a job. The mother of two teenage children, who was also pregnant, spent a year of fruitless job hunting. She eventually lost her Hernando County home to foreclosure. With the encouragement of a WorkNet Pinellas counselor and financial help from the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program, Cino attended Galen School of Nursing.”

“After receiving her registered nursing license last fall, she landed a job in the cardiac unit of Largo Medical Center. Her new job has ‘a lot more stress,’, Cino said. ‘It’s a little overwhelming.’”

From WFTV. “Facing one of the largest backlogs of foreclosures in the state, central Florida’s Ninth Circuit Court has cleared 41 percent of its backlog since June 2012. However, new numbers obtained by Eyewitness News show the court entered May 2013 with 28,000 cases still pending and another 1,000 new cases filed every month. Add into this mix more than $5 million from the state to help the courts hire staff to speed up foreclosures and a newly signed ‘fast-track foreclosure bill.’”

“‘The foreclosure backlog has really been a governor on it just going crazy,’ said Justin Clark, a central Florida real estate attorney. ‘The courts are doing everything they can to speed up the foreclosure process. Now with this fast-track foreclosure system, we’re just going to kick these people right out and it’s no fault of their own, I think it’s setting up for a lot of tragedy for families in central Florida,’ said Clark.”

Bits Bucket for August 6, 2013

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