Vol 6 No. 34 - May 17, 2006

Real estate values don�t tank in paradise

By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER

I want everyone who lives on Anna Maria Island, Perico Island, in Cortez or anywhere within walking distance to the coast to get up, look out the window or walk the short one or two blocks to the water and take a good look. What you’re looking at is paradise.

Most of the people in the country wish they had the ability to see what you’re seeing right now. And that, my friends, is why real estate values in this area and possibly in the entire state of Florida are not going to tank.

The doom and gloom that raised its ugly head after the April home sale statistics were published sent sellers to their anti-depressants and buyers licking their chops. Apparently the number of home sales, including condos, fell almost 50percent compared to April of last year. Selling prices were still higher, but they could experience an adjustment in the coming months as well.

Are these numbers true? Of course they are, but so what? Look at what you’re comparing it to – the hottest real estate market of all times. It had nowhere to go but down. Everyone needs to stand still and take a deep breath. The real estate market may very well be over-valued, similar to the stock market when the tech stocks fell from grace. The stock market stepped back, regrouped and now the Dow and the Nasdaq are moving right along pushing record highs.

Real estate also has to regroup and look at the big picture. The Bradenton-Sarasota area ranked fourth on INC. magazine’s list of hottest midsize cities in which to do business. Manatee County’s unemployment rate is lower than the already low national average, the population is growing, job growth is expected to increase to keep up with the influx of new residents, we’re awash with new housing options and the sun always shines.

And just to sweeten the pot a little, the state of Florida is getting ready to adopt an affordable housing plan that will help teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses and other critical service employees get into their own homes or at least keep up with the real estate market.

Believe me, I’m not being a Pollyanna here. I realize that prices have leveled off, inventory is high and investor financing has gotten expensive, driving them away. But 1,000 people a day are still moving into Florida, and those pesky baby boomers haven’t even started cleaning out their desks. I just can’t believe that all of them are going to Arizona.

If you and your family are in the position right now where you must sell your home or condo, you may realize a little less than this time last year, but you will undoubtedly realize a whole lot more than if you sold five years ago. Don’t let the "mental equity" you built up cloud your judgment.

If you are in a position where you don’t have to sell, wait it out. And if you are a buyer, it could be the last opportunity you have to jump into the real estate market before it takes off again.

So take a walk on the beach, gaze at the Gulf of Mexico and then try and tell me that paradise is lost. More likely it’s just having a reality check.

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