Thursday, 12 November 2009

Property prices are falling across the U.S.

Today's Miami Herald reports that property prices in the U.S. are falling as sellers are having to reduce prices in order to make their homes more attractive to buyers.

Information from a recent survey of 3 million homes (no foreclosures where included) shows that, overall, $28.1 million has been slashed from prices across the United States. On average, most homes have seen a reduction of 10% in their sales price, whilst 26% of properties have had at least one reduction.

Meanwhile, sales have increased by 11% as a recent tax credit for first-time buyers has helped demand.

The data provides an interesting insight into those properties that aren't foreclosed, as it essentially shows that ordinary properties for sale are also - for the most part - being reduced in price. As the property market is still rather sluggish, it's particularly necessary if homeowners do genuinely want to sell their property. Having had experience of the (West) London property market, I've seen some properties remain unsold of months - even over a year - as stubborn owners refuse to drop prices, believing their home will be the one to buck the trend, that it will still be bought, regardless of the (high) price.

But there then comes a point where properties remain unsold for so long and, although there's demand, buyers aren't willing to pay over the odds in a market which is struggling. Finally, prices do come down and the property market can start to make recovery - however slowly.

So, this survey is good news, I feel. It's obviously also good news for those of you out there are are considering buying in the U.S.! If you've had a search for American property before, why not take another look and see if prices for the kind of thing you're interested in really have gone down?

Article: Home sellers keep on cutting prices (12th November 2009, Miami Herald)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Foreign buyers prominent in South Florida

Today's Miami Herald reports foreign buyers in southeast Florida are apparently "dominating" the market. So much so, the article even presents the example of a developer that's started their own mortgage company to help provide loans for foreigners - as they may often find loans hard to come by. Whilst numbers of foreign buyers have actually dropped since the peak years, "foreign sales still outpace the activity of U.S. buyers".

One real estate sales director says:

"International buyers are activating this market and reactivating sales."

whilst the partner of a real estate consultancy claims:

"Investors are aware that assets have never been so depreciated in a country like America."

Foreign buyers are taking advantage of the weak dollar versus their own currency and, in many cases, want to strike as property in the region has never been cheaper. Whereas a few years ago, during the boom in the housing market, many thought they'd never be able to afford purchasing something in southeast Florida, they are now finding that the opposite is true. In some cases even, some buyers are finding property in Florida cheaper than their home country. Depending on their home country, of course; the article suggests this is true for some Latin American countries. It's hard and perhaps not wise to do a comparison with the UK (waterfront condos aren't exactly common in this country), but in many cases, some southeast Florida condos and hosues can seem to be a complete bargain.

Those that already have an interest in the area - perhaps by already owning property there - are also using the current economic conditions to further their investment, perhaps by buying a second (or even third) property. Swiss, Spanish, Italian and English nationals are named in the article as doing this. Overall, any foreign national that's buying at the moment is doing so for a long-term investment, and not to make short term gains.

Overall, southeast Florida is popular with Canadians, Latin Americans (unsurprisingly, the top buyers, making up 52% of foreign buyers) and West Europeans, though Brits seem to prefer the Orlando area, the article claims. That's certainly something that I keep coming across though I'm not sure why that area's preferred with my fellow countrymen and women - why choose theme parks and a slightly tacky setting over a beautiful coastline, gorgeous beaches, and a cosmopolitan city with plenty to see and do?

Article: Foreign investors dominate in South Florida real estate purchases (2nd November 2009, Miami Herald)