The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 22 - February 18, 2009


A stimulus plan you can believe in

Roses are red, violets are blue, what affect will the government stimulus package have on you? Well, if I knew the answer to that question, I would be in Washington, but then no one in Washington really knows the answer either. There is one thing I do know and although it doesn’t have much to do with stimulus it has a lot to do with Anna Maria.

For a state that has been one of the hardest hit by the downturn of the real estate market, you would never know it by the activity on Anna Maria during the last couple weeks. Just a few short days into the season, Publix, my primary barometer of when season begins, has been busy, busy, busy. Two of the restaurants I recently dined in were totally packed and the westbound traffic on the Cortez Bridge almost made me turn around, until I remembered what real traffic jams were like.

Island real estate brokers are telling me that rentals are doing extremely well through the winter, and affordably priced summer rentals are more popular than ever with Floridians staying closer to home in a bad economy. As a result of the strong rental market and well priced properties on Anna Maria, it’s a great time for investors who can anticipate decent returns and the possibility of future growth.

Further, the real estate community looks like it’s getting its ducks in order for a market turn-around. Three established Island real estate companies have opened new offices on the Island, and an established international real estate company has recently opened an Island office.

Just riding around the Island provides a clear snapshot of a place that is not in limbo waiting for the government to send stimulus. The Pine Avenue Restoration Project is in full swing and there are many new renovations and homes being worked on. Bridge Street is looking great now that the pier is completed, evidenced by the success of the Bridge Street Market on Saturdays. And the Bradenton Herald recently reported the Holiday RV Resort in Cortez has sold a third of its lots to RV owners and have rented out all the rest for the season, primarily due to its proximity to Anna Maria.

I keep reading stories about Florida real estate, indicating that we may be at the brink of the market bottom. A story on MSNBC reported investors are buying up distressed properties for 15 cents on the dollar on the east coast of Florida, and Lehigh Acres near Fort Myers, one of the worst real estate markets in the country with values down by more than 65 percent from its top is starting to see sales, according to the New York Times.

In addition, now that the wise men and women in Washington have finally agreed on exactly what the definition of stimulus is, the package appears to contain provisions to loosen up mortgage money as some of the non performing loans are finally taken off the banks’ books. It is also expected that interest rates will remain low and may even get lower and may include a potential tax credit for home purchases, another glimmer of light.

Are we at the bottom? Will government’s actions be of any real help? I certainly can’t answer these questions. Few people can. However, you can call me crazy, but if my lottery number came up this week, I would be calling my real estate broker, not my stock broker. Now that’s stimulus I can believe in.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper