You can stop being scared of real estate now
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Do something everyday that scares you." Well I’ve been scared every day for about two years now, but I’m starting to de-scare my brain, and you should too.
In spite of the fact that Washington still hasn’t completely unfrozen the mortgage money iceberg, there are very positive signs that buyers are starting to believe the market has bottomed out. The news during March, both locally and nationally, is creating the beginning of activity from buyers who either have cash or the ability to get financing and who don’t want to miss out on a good thing.
First of all, Wall Street closed higher during March than it has for some time. There were some significant rallies and some days of profit taking resulting in a sell off, but the net result at the end of the month was positive.
Also positive was the Florida and national home sales news, which were both up. Florida single family existing home sales during the month of February 2009 compared to February 2008 were up 20 percent and up 15 percent for condominiums. Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale were all up above the state average, with Fort Lauderdale at a whopping 39 percent. However, Bradenton and Sarasota were down by 7 percent for single family and 17 percent for condos.
After thinking about why our area’s sales figures were lower in February, I realized that we weren’t down as much as these regions to begin with, and we don’t have as much inventory on the market, especially compared to Fort Lauderdale.
I’m also a little skeptical of averages that lump together Bradenton and Sarasota. The areas are so diverse with higher depreciation and larger inventories of properties in the eastern part of the counties, possibly skewing the figures for the islands.
To support this theory, all you have to do is look at all the activity, traffic and reports from businesses on Anna Maria. You would never know there was a recession going on. I’m hopeful that the March and April sales figures, which are usually the best of the year, are reflective of the Island’s hustle and bustle.
In addition, as reported in this paper two weeks ago, Island seasonal rentals have been very strong for even a good economy not to mention a really bad one, and some of the restaurants have reported their best year ever. Rental companies are reporting record bookings for next year and even some for 2011, with rental rates holding strong. Why spend three times as much to go to the Caribbean when you have a safe and friendly tropical island practically in your backyard?
Anna Maria has received a lot of good press this past year starting with USA Today, Southern Living magazine, and most recently, The Hartford Courant, all extolling the virtues of the Island. Undoubtedly this has brought a whole new field of visitors and potential buyers who may be viewing our little Island with investment eyes. Remember when you think the market is finally at the bottom it’s probably already on its way up.
I’m pretty sure Mrs. Roosevelt’s message had more to do with challenging yourself as an individual than investing in real estate, but since real estate has been nothing if not challenging recently, I don’t think she would object. The time has arrived to stop being afraid of real estate because the alternative is way too scary to think about.