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Today’s Reality of the Florida Real Estate Market

florida skylineThroughout 2013 and into January of 2014, sales increased and prices improved. Inventory is up by 4-11% as of February this year. 5.7 months of inventory in single family homes and 6.1 months of inventory for condominiums and town homes remain which make the market balanced for both buyers and sellers.

As of February, closed sales of single family homes increased 1.5% but decreased 6.8% for condos/town homes. The median price of single family homes is $165,000, 10% higher than last year. The median price of condos increased 15.2% from last year to $132,500.

Canadians have been the number one foreign buyer in the state of Florida for the past four years and accounted for 30% of all foreign sales in 2013. Across the USA, they’re also the number one buyer and accounted for 23% of all foreign sales.

So what’s hot? New construction is booming in both single family homes and condominiums. Homebuilders are buying land and sales are at pre-recession levels. While inventory in the resale market is slightly up, many buyers are choosing to build when comparing the value of buying new versus a property that is a few years old. Homebuilders are adding lots of options these days in countertops, flooring, eco-friendly features, and design, thus making it an easy decision for consumers who want the best their money can buy.

Many that came to Florida in 2013 may have experienced frustration in attempting a purchase. This scenario may change in 2014. High season for snowbirds (January, February, and March) proved to be very disappointing in many areas. The severe weather in the north, the slightly higher interest rates, and the lagging employment are all credited to resulting in fewer sales. Even the waterfront properties which are in high demand this time of year, had difficulty selling due to the long-awaited decision about the pending huge flood insurance premiums. Now that the government has extended the flood insurance plan to remain at its current rate, consumers may feel more comfortable purchasing.

Foreclosures are still available but at a much smaller number than in years past. When they hit the market, they are typically offered to those who intend to reside in the home as their permanent residence. Normally, after 14 days, the bank will open up offers to investors. In both cases, if the property is in good shape, multiple offers are common. Buyers must be prepared to offer their “highest and best” and accept the property as-is. Inspections are a must as is using your own attorney to handle the closing or represent you in the closing. Consumers should be aware that most foreclosures now are priced much higher than they should be and require a lot of due diligence and in many cases remodeling. Educate yourself about the market and look at all properties available in your price range for a foreclosure may not be the best property for you. The “deal” may actually be the home a few doors down the street that has been lived in and well maintained. While the property may seem more expensive, you need to evaluate the time and money you will need to put into a foreclosure property and the unknowns about its condition or potential title problems and/or liens.

To breakdown the single family home market in areas that the Canadians like to frequent:

-Tampa/St. Petersburg, Naples – traditional sales are up 5.9% and sales prices up 7.2% to $178,990. Foreclosure sales are up 15% and their prices have increased 6.1%to $82,000.

-Orlando/Kissimmee/Sanford – traditional sales are up 4.9%and sales prices up 14.9% to $197,500. Foreclosures sales are down by 5% and their prices have decreased .4% to $124,900.

-Naples/Marco Island – traditional sales are up 8.4% and sales prices up 32.4% to $450,000. Foreclosure sales are up by 32.6% and their prices have increased 1.9% to $161,900.

-Sarasota/Bradenton/North Port – traditional sales are up 14.9% and sales prices up 14.4% to $246,000. Foreclosure sales are up by 29% and their prices have increased 17.3% to $112,114.

-Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano – traditional sales are up 11.3% and sales prices up 9.8% to $291,000. Foreclosure sales are 15.6% and their prices have increased by 6% to $162,000.

-The Villages, a retirement community near Ocala was just named the fastest-growing community in the country. Home prices range from the mid $100,00s to over $1million.

When buying or selling, always look for a Certified International Property Specialist (a designation granted by the National Association of Realtors and held by 2% of agents worldwide). He or she will be able to assist you with not only the contractual issues but with introducing you to the experts that will best advise you on any tax, legal, currency or immigration issues.

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