Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sales up and prices down in Florida

Here's a topic covered in many Florida - and nationwide - newspapers today as figures for the second quarter of 2009 were revealed. They show that in the period ending 30th June, house sales in Florida rose by a impressive 23% compared to the same period last year. Sounds promising, but it's tempered somewhat by the accompanying news that median prices fell 29% during that quarter and now stand at $143,600. For condos, sales rose by 29%, whilst median prices fell even greater - by 38% - to $111,100.

Across various regions of Florida, sales increased by healthy margins whilst prices tumbled. The Fort Myers region saw the highest increase in sales, with numbers there almost doubling, whilst prices fell by over 50%. Part of the reason for such a high increase in sales is the current large supply of properties attributed to over-building prior to the property crash.

The area to post the second highest rise in sales was Miami, which saw a 73% increase, whilst median prices fell by over 30% to $195,000.

The greatest reason for these falling and currently low prices is the large number of foreclosed properties being sold this year, which are pushing prices right down.

Other areas to show increases in property sales for the second quarter of 2009 include Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.

As a comparison, sales for the US as a whole fell by 2.9% for the period, but still stand in good stead for the year.

So, it seems that there's a healthy amount of demand out there. Prices may continue to fall, but low-priced foreclosure properties are a large factor as to why median prices are so low out now. If you're looking for a Florida property, you might consider waiting further to hope that prices fall even more - but I get the impression there won't be many more large price drops. Moreover, make sure you don't leave it too late to snap up the property that you actually really want - it may already gone!

Article: Florida Home Sales Up 23 Percent in Second Quarter (13th August 2009, The Jacksonville Observer)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Brand new high-end homes in Orlando difficult to shift

Here's a piece from the Orlando Sentinel from a few days ago on properties at the higher end of the scale - in the $1.2 million to $4 million range, to be precise. Sure, it's not exactly the budget of many looking to buy in Florida, it's still interesting to see the issues facing more expensive houses in Florida.

Throughout the article, the properties are referred to as "custom-built", which I assume to mean that they're specifically crafted with their own interiors and fixtures and fittings - as opposed to those lots of houses and flats that are all built identical.

Let's look at some of the statistics. Currently, such homes are taking on average a year to shift. Demand has tumbled dramatically: 66 houses were sold in the first six months of this year, whereas 256 were sold in the same period in 2006. And prices have been slashed considerably; in some cases by up to 50%.

Previously, such houses sold easily, with many selling as soon as they were finish. Nowadays, many languish untouched for months with little interest in them, whilst the construction companies behind them must pay for their upkeep, taxes and other expenses.

Article: Unsold Central Florida mansions bedevil builders (6th August 2009, The Orlando Sentinel)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Check your neighbours - and that you have them - before you buy

Another article from The Guardian last week told of the plight of a retired man who bought a Florida condo last November - and who now finds himself the only resident in the building. Victor Vangelakos's situation might not be so bad if the residence in question was a small build, but he in fact lives in a 32 storey building containing 200 units. It must get a little lonely.

Purchasers for other condo units in the building did exist, but either pulled out or failed to get a mortgage. Some others have also been moved to a less fancy building next door which Vangelakos tried to do as well, but was prevented by his mortgage lender.

So he and his family now find themselves all alone in the building. The plus side is that they have sole use of the pool, gym and clubhouse.

Rather creepily, however, they admit to hearing strange noises at night sometimes and once "someone pounded on their door at 11pm".

Article: Marooned family live all alone in 32-storey apartment block (6th August 2009, The Guardian)

Friday, 7 August 2009

Florida property attractive to Brits once more

Last Saturday’s Guardian newspaper featured an article on buying property in Florida and covered some of the reasons why Brits are looking to take the plunge now and grab themselves a holiday home in the Sunshine State.

As the Pound improves against the Dollar, many think that the present may be the best time to buy property in Florida, especially as prices have fallen so substantially and still remain low. Although there might not be many indications of prices rising in the near future, the idea of grabbing a bargain before it’s too late – meaning, before prices rise, whenever that may be – is key. Likewise, there may be many attractive bargains out there at the moment, but as more people snap them up there will be fewer and fewer attractive options for those looking to buy.

The article also mentions the ingenious foreclosure bus tours, which ferry people around numerous foreclosed properties in one day. The paper points out that these tours can be very valuable to foreign buyers, as not only can they easily see a number of properties in a short space of time, but the companies running such tours can guide them through the sometimes difficult process of buying property in Florida.

Also highlighted were the types of properties that can be found in three different areas of Florida – the Gulf Coast (near Tampa, specifically in Naples); the Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville, in the very north of Florida, near the state line); and in Central Florida (Orlando). Slightly strange that they chose not to feature anything in or near Miami, a place that surely must be a big draw for Brits!

Article: Florida: Bagging a bargain property in the sunshine state (1st August 2009, The Guardian)