Property sales up, up and away
It’s been a long time coming, some people thought it would never happen, but I had faith. I knew Florida real estate would be the first to level off and start to turn around, I knew that weather, water and wonderful prices would be the tipping point, and here it is just in time for our winter guests.
Contrary to what is happening in the rest of the country, South Florida real estate is making a major comeback. Manatee County real estate companies sold 43 percent more single family homes in December of 2009 than December of 2008 according to the Florida Association of Realtors. You can’t even credit the first time buyer tax credit for the increase since the original expiration date was Nov. 30, and it was not extended until early November which was too late for sales that were set to close in December and January.
In addition, median sales prices also went up by about 5 percent to $167,400, with most of the sales activity under $200,000.
Closer to home, potential buyers who are making cell phones ring all over the Island appear to have a new confidence. Island brokers tell me they are seeing more multiple offers on properties with the best priced homes and condos continuing to be the ones that are selling quickly. The statistics reflect this trend with residential property sales up 50 percent over the same period last year and condos up 250 percent. However, although sale prices were up by 45 percent on condos, they were down by 25 percent on other properties.
These numbers are great and represent a definite trend to a healthier market for 2010. However, we are still in recovery and can expect to see more properties come on the market during the traditional busy selling season continuing the buyers’ market on Anna Maria.
We certainly do appear to be in better shape than the rest of the country where sales numbers fell in December by 17 percent after a surge from September through November reflecting the first time buyer credit. In spite of this, sales prices nationwide are showing signs of stabilizing and even improving in certain pockets.
Overall in the state of Florida resales rose 33 percent in December representing the 16th straight month of sales gains, however, the median sales price fell 10 percent. The Miami Herald reported their local market in Miami-Dade County jumped 45 percent and in Broward County 24 percent, however, their median prices fell 5 percent and 2 percent respectively. Between 50 and 60 percent of these sales represented foreclosures and short sales.
Most real estate professionals both locally and statewide feel the freefall of prices have finally stopped and the markets are calming down further encouraged by the federal government’s tax credits. Qualified buyers who have signed a contract to buy a primary residence by April 30 have until June 30 to close the purchase to be eligible for the federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers.
Also, with a little luck the Federal Reserve will keep holding down the prime rate contributing to the low mortgage rates, and enabling more buyers to qualify for financing. At one point in January you could get a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for 4.99 percent and even lower for a 15-year.
At one time it was location, location, location, now its weather, water and wonderful prices, and Anna Maria has all of it. So hang on to your hats, it may be slow at first, but we are up, up and away.