By Louise Bolger
We live in interesting real estate times
sun staff writer
During a short period of time in mid-February, some very
interesting things happened related to the real estate market.
If you read the newspapers and follow local real estate trends
and events, you may have noticed some of what Im about
to tell you. If not, pay attention because in my opinion its
all interrelated and may predict the future of the market.
On Feb. 15 the fourth quarter national home sale statistics
were released by the National Association of Realtors, and
the numbers were dismal. In the 27-year history of the National
Association of Realtors survey this was the largest
percentage of price declines.
Nationally, sales declined by 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter
of 2006 compared with the same period the previous year, however,
the median sale price only fell 2.7 percent. The biggest sales
declines were in Nevada, Florida, Arizona and California with
Florida coming in second at about 28 percent. The median sale
price decline for Sarasota/Bradenton was 18 percent, with
the unfortunate distinction of being the leading price decline
in the country.
The very next day, the federal government reported that housing
construction in the country is at a 10-year low. And the Bradenton
Herald reported that in Manatee County the number of building
permits issued for single family residences declined 44.7percent
from January 2006 to January 2007.
Are we depressed yet? Dont be. In my never ending desire
to place a positive spin on anything to do with real estate,
I also found a couple of bright spots.
On Saturday, Feb. 17, there were two absolute auctions in
Bradenton Beach. I attended one of them and came away feeling
that all is not lost, not even close. The auction took place
at a Gulffront condo unit in the Bradenton Beach Club at 1702
Gulf Drive, a 3 bedroom, 2 bath fully furnished with a good
rental history directly on the beach. Since this was an absolute
auction, there was no minimum or upset price. About 75 people
were in attendance and access to the unit being auctioned
was available for inspection. According to the Manatee County
Property Appraisers Web site, this unit was sold in
November 2003 for $750,000.
The opening bid was $500,000. The bidding went up rapidly
from that point in $50,000 and $100,000 increments until the
price reached $850,000. Two buyers were bidding against each
other, and they moved from $875,000 to $885,000 to the final
bid of $895,000. I never expected it to sell that high, despite
the fact that the unit next door, which is smaller listed
for $895,000 with a local broker.
Then on Feb. 20, as if I needed to be even more encouraged
about the real estate market, in a newspaper article regarding
the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, I was reminded
of Governor Christs proposed plan:
An increase in the homestead property exemption to $50,000,
portability of homestead exemptions from one property to the
next and making second home and commercial property owners
eligible for the 3 percent cap enjoyed by homesteaded residential
property owners. If all three of these proposals are voted
in by 60 percent of voters, youll see the real estate
market get a kick start like you wont believe.
You need to take a little bad with the good in life, and Im
going with the impending good. But, if you cant wait
for Florida to turn around you can always move to Atlantic
City, New Jersey where the median home price was up almost
30 percent in the fourth quarter. Too much of a gamble for