The elephant in the room
It’s June in Florida, and in June all Floridians are waiting for the elephant in the room to show up – the hurricane elephant that is. As much as we try to keep him out, he always manages to find a way into our lives and our consciousness dragging along the threat of the big one. This year, however, we have another elephant or rather a gorilla in the room and the oil spill gorilla is pushing the hurricane elephant into the corner.
There is, nevertheless, one place you can look to that so far doesn’t appear to be influenced by which animal is in the room and that’s our local and national real estate markets. The April sales numbers are looking pretty rosy, with an increase in sales of single-family homes at 7.6 percent nationally and 32 percent locally, according to national and local real estate associations. Statewide Florida home sales jumped by 27 percent. In addition, selling prices were higher by about 5 percent for single-family homes in our market.
Although single-family home sales were looking pretty good, condos were really the stars of the month. Local condo sales increased by a staggering 70 percent, with median sales prices also rising a little more than 5 percent.
All of this is great news, however, we will have to be watching closely until all of the home buyers who took advantage of the tax incentives offered by the federal government to light a fire under the real estate market complete their transactions. Only after these sales are finalized will we know for sure if the continuing low interest rates, down to 4.87 percent a week ago for a conventional fixed rate mortgage, and well priced properties will overcome high unemployment and a shaky stock market keeping the buyers coming.
Unfortunately, by the time these sales are on the books, we will be in our traditional slow real estate season here in Florida, so we can probably anticipate a downturn in sales numbers down the road.
There isn’t much we can do about the oil spill gorilla except wait and watch, but there is still a lot we can do to protect ourselves when the hurricane elephant starts acting up. Protect your property the best that you can by securing the envelope of your home or condo, stock up on your hurricane supplies and pay attention to the status of any storms.
And most important of all, have an evacuation plan that everyone in your family is aware of, an evacuation kit with important papers, prescriptions and irreplaceable items, and keep some extra cash on hand.
It seems that at the exact point in time that our local and national real estate markets are at the brink of recovery we’re faced with two monsters in the room. No matter where you live in the world you will be faced with challenges specific to that area.
Risk is a part of life, and it’s not going away, but it’s a risk that we should all be willing to take to live on this magnificent coastline.