Will we ever start moving again?
Right around Christmas three national reports were published, none of which did anything to enhance our Christmas spirit. One was published by the Pew Research Center, another by the Census Bureau and a third by local and national real estate boards reporting 2008 November statistics compared to the 2007 November numbers. If you think I’m about to give you good news, better stop reading right now.
The Pew Research Center’s report focused on the decline in Americans moving. They reported that fewer than 12 percent of Americans moved since 2007, a decrease of almost a full percentage point compared with the year before. As a comparison, in the 1950s and 1960s, the percentage of people moving annually was near 20 percent.
The report sited some of reasons for the decline is an aging population that is resistant to moving and the growth of two-career couples. Considering that 63 percent of Americans said they moved to another community at lest once in their lives, a decline of even 1 percent represents a substantial number.
The Census Bureau had even worse news as it relates to the Southern and Western regions of the country. Its conclusion is that due to the housing crisis, unemployment and the declines on Wall Street, the decade long trend of people relocating to the South and the West looking for more space and warmer climates has started to reverse. It appears that the risk of moving in our current economic environment far out weighs the longing for a more desirable lifestyle.
Florida has attracted more people from other states than any other state in the nation since the start of the decade. However, from 2007 to 2008 more people left Florida for other states than moved in, a little over 9,000 people. Florida still has gained population from an increase in births and immigration, but growth is still lower than in previous years. California is the biggest loser of population for the year with a net loss of 144,000 people, which could impact it congressional seats if the trend continues.
As far as the November real estate sales numbers go, they’re pretty dismal too.
Nationally, the sale of existing homes fell by 10.6 percent according to the National Association of Realtors, the worst in two decades. Resale prices also showed the worst decline in 40 years.
Florida, as a whole, did better than the rest of the nation, with some gains in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Fort Myers and Cape Coral. However, single-family homes in Manatee County were down by 13 percent from a year ago, as was the median resale price being down $95,000. Condominium median sale prices were down 21 percent from last year and units sold were about half.
The best spin I can put on any of the above is that by now everyone involved in the real estate market and every homeowner has certainly experienced a reality check. I still believe when the market starts its inevitable turn-around, Florida and certainly Anna Maria Island, with all it has to offer will be among the first to benefit.
When the champagne bubbles from New Year’s Eve finally clear out of our heads, we will clearly be looking at a new real estate market, and the best we can hope for is that we’re looking at the bottom.