Florida Real Estate News: March 2018 Compiled by Fast Florida House Sales

It has been one of the most volatile years in the history of Florida real estate. In a year that saw hurricane Irma cause devastation across the State, the market reacted with a huge number of sales and prices have reflected the growing demand for property in Florida. Fast Florida House Sales has compiled the most relevant news regarding Florida Real Estate.

Florida Real Estate Bounces Back After Irma

Now the dust has settled in hurricane-hit Florida, Richard Way (aplaceinthesun.com) explains why property in Orlando and the Gulf Coast has lost none of its shine…

The most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic made landfall in Florida in September 2017, giving homeowners there a stark reminder that every so often conditions in the Sunshine State momentarily turn treacherous.

Florida Real Estate News March 2018The statistics surrounding Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm when it first hit the state’s south-west corner, are alarming – wind speeds of 140-plus miles per hour, evacuation plans for more than six million and insurance claims worth over $5-billion from nearly 800,000 affected property-owners (State Office of Insurance Regulation, as of end of October 2017).

But Florida is accustomed to hurricanes – Irma is hardly the first and won’t be the last – and its residents are well versed in protecting themselves and their homes. Reassuringly, the state-wide building code there, implemented in the early 2000s and constantly updated, has made a significant difference to reducing both storm damage to buildings and injuries to occupants.

“Florida has the strictest building code in the country,” said Tiffany McQuaid, president of Naples realty firm McQuaid & Company. “Most damage caused by hurricane Irma was either natural debris, such as trees, or poorly secured pool cages or shingle tiles from older properties.”

Ms McQuaid is helping to organise a fund-raising concert in recognition of local communities affacted by Irma. Unlike inland areas, Naples and the southwest of Florida were hit especially hard in September, due to topographical reasons.“Central Orlando is never an area where we worry about hurricanes,” said Zoe Attwood at Homes of America. “They will always hit the coastal areas first, leaving inland areas sheltered from any storm surge. This time, Irma did come right over our home.”

And according to Garry Walmsley at The Orlando Agency, it’s no coincidence Disney World is where it is: “Walt Disney did his homework. One of the reasons he selected Orlando as the location for the Disney resort was for the weather patterns in the middle of the state, which he studied for many years prior.”

Inevitably, Irma caused a blip in sales and new listings in Florida’s property market in September 2017. Now though there is no reason to delay your search for a Florida property – for peace of mind, be sure that properties you consider are built to storm-proof standards and are not in a flood zone and when you do buy, get an adequate hurricane and/or flood insurance.

Orlando and central Florida

The Orlando and so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ areas around Disney continue to cater predominantly for UK couples and families buying a vacation home, although realtors also note interest from investors.

“Eighty-five percent of our purchases at the moment are for vacation homes for short-term rentals,” said Mark Shore at Florida Horizons Real Estate. “Most of our British clients are spending between $200,000 and $250,000, and opting for a resale single-family home, usually with four or five bedrooms and pool. They like gated communities such as Cumbrian Lakes in Kissimmee, just 15 minutes from Disney. UK clients who recently bought there paid $230,000.”

Other Disney communities popular for vacation properties and zoned for short-term rentals, so enabling owners to cover their running costs, including West Haven, Windsor Hills, Emerald Island, Tuscan Hills, Watersong, Bella Vida and Veranda Palms. Typical family homes there are $230,000- $300,000.

“People who want something a little lusher look outside of the tourist areas,” added Ms Attwood at Homes of America. “They may spend $400,000-$600,000 for something more exotic and just for their own use, maybe for six months a year.”

In terms of new developments, a noticeable trend is for vacation-style resorts with amenities that stretch beyond just a pool and clubhouse. “The key difference is the size of the resort and the level of amenities offered,” said Mr Walmsley at The Orlando Agency Villas. “All are designed to attract and increase the number of guests to seven of the world’s top theme parks and US’s largest convention centre.”

Examples could be The Retreat at ChampionsGate and The Encore Club at Reunion, both with access to championship golf courses, and where new family homes range from just under $480,000-$800,000, unfurnished.  “But first take a look at resales there,” added Mr Walmsley. “I’m starting to see some great opportunities from around $380,000 that are no more than 3-4 years old and typically come furnished, which can also be amortized in any mortgage agreement.”

Another option could be Balmoral at Waters Edge in Haines City, a recently opened five-star resort set around a lake, which has townhomes as well as large detached villas available. Realtors warn investors and anyone looking to maximise rentals to be wary of homeowners association (HOA) fees – these rise in line with the size of a resort and the facilities available there, thereby eating into rental income.

Gulf Coast

Cities and resorts on Florida’s white sandy Gulf coast remain popular with mature British second homeowners, including retirees, who value culture and coastal leisure activities over the bright lights of Disney. Sarasota and its adjoining islands, including famed Siesta Key, is a lively city complemented by a beach and nautical scene.

“In Sarasota, I’m seeing a steady flow of lifestyle buyers,” said Pat Tan, an expat realtor at Your Global Agents. “Some do rentals when not using their property. Renters here tend to come for one to three months. This is longer than in the Orlando area, which typically means fewer turnovers, less wear and tear, and lower management charges.”

Most of Ms Tan’s clients this year have bought villas, usually in communities with resort-like amenities and with price tags of $300,000-$400,000. Some retirees have opted for smaller condos, spending $150,000 to $225,000.

“Another trend we are seeing is new ‘multi-generational’ homes, which are villas with a separate granny annexe. These allow British buyers to keep one part of the home for themselves and put a long-term tenant in the other part of the property. These homes start at  around $360,000.”

Ms Tan, who has never been hit directly by a hurricane in 20 years of living in Sarasota, highlights the Soleil development as a particularly attractive buy right now. “Offering two and three-bed coach homes and with prices in the low $200,000s, these brand new homes are just seven minutes’ drive to downtown Sarasota and 15 minutes to St Armand’s Circle and Lido Key beaches.

North of Sarasota is the popular area of St Petersburg, whilst further south in the upmarket resort of Naples, another established destination for discerning UK buyers, Brits are back looking for homes. “Only last week we had five British couples come into our office off the street,” said Ms McQuaid at McQuaid & Company at the end of October. “Two were looking to buy an amenity-rich resort-style condo near the beach, while another was looking for a single-family home in a golf community. Their budgets ranged between $550,000 and $1.6million. The remaining two were looking for seasonal rental property.”

Popular golf communities in Naples right now include Quail Creek, with prices from $600,000s, and the more affordable Vineyards. For condo homes, Ms McQuaid suggests the Isles of Collier, with prices starting in the mid $500,000s, or the more central Naples Square development in downtown Naples.

Sell your home in Orlando, Sell your home in Kissimmee, sell your home in St. Petersburg.

Miami’s real estate market is so strong that homes are selling for the near-asking price

The local real estate market is in good shape, according to a report by the Miami Association of Realtors. January saw an increase in the sale of condominiums, single-family homes and luxury properties valued at $1 million or more reports the miamiherald.com

Sales of residential properties in Miami-Dade rose by 5.1 percent, from 1,731 to 1,820, from January 2017 to January 2018. That represented $791.3 million in sales in the first month of 2018, $89 million more than in January 2017. The number does not include multimillion-dollar properties.

The Miami Association of Realtors obtains its data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a computerized system that lists properties for sale.

Miami properties sold for pretty close to asking price. Another good sign: Homes are selling quickly.

On average, a single-family home goes under contract 47 days after it is listed for sale, compared to 61 days last year. Closing the deals took an average of 98 days, a sharp drop from January 2017, when it took an average of 113 days.

Selling an apartment takes a little bit more time, 123 days. But the average wait for a contract is 75 days, 10 days less than what it took last year.

The shortage of properties on sale partially determines the prices and speed of the sales. In January 2017, 6,590 single family homes were for sale, compared to 6,255 this January.

The inventory has been dropping for more than five months, confirming that the market is favorable to those who want to sell their properties.

Sell my house fast Miami BeachBut there’s a 14-month inventory of apartments, indicating that the market is favorable to buyers. A balanced market is supposed to have an inventory of six to nine months.

The biggest obstacle for the sale of condominiums is the difficulty in obtaining financing. Out of the 9,307 condo buildings or complexes in Miami-Dade and Broward, only 12 are approved to receive financing from the Federal Housing Administration. That’s a type of loan for first-time home buyers, which allows them to put down 5 percent or less as down payment.

This sounds like good news, but for those who don’t already own a home, it’s not. The average price of a single-family home rose by $20,000 and reached $330,000, compared to $240,500 for the national average. Prices have risen for 74 months straight.

Condominiums did not fall behind and now sell for an average of $230,000.

The sale of homes fell at the national and state levels, but in Florida, the sale of condos rose 5.9 percent compared to January 2017.

Only 9.9 percent of the sales in January involved properties in trouble, including bank-owned and short sale properties. Those kinds of properties accounted for 12.7 percent of the sales last year — and 70 percent in 2009.

Nationally, those kinds of sales are lower than in Miami at just 5 percent, 2 percent less than last year.

Cash is king in Miami-Dade’s real estate market, with 42.2 percent of all sales involving no mortgages. That’s almost double the national figure of 22 percent.

On the good side, that’s a drop from last year, when 43.4 percent of sales were in cash.

Those numbers show that South Florida attracts many foreign buyers. Most of the condo sales are in cash because banks do not approve financing for those kinds of buildings.

Also affecting the Miami real estate market is the fact that many residents of northern states are moving to Florida to cut down on their costs of living.

Federal tax reform, which was signed into law on Dec. 22, sets a deductions cap for income, sales and property taxes at $10,000. The new cap is leading more residents of states with high property values and state income tax to purchase properties in states such as Florida, which has no state income tax.

Sell your home fast in Miami

Will the real estate market crash?

A reader of jacksonville.com asked Richard Montgomery (Monty) will the real estate market crash. Some people fear another real estate market crash. We see the real estate market has recovered in many markets. We are considering selling our current home and buying or building another house. With these conflicting opinions, it is difficult to figure out whether to go ahead. Do you think the housing market will experience a significant correction soon?

Monty’s Answer: To look into the future direction of the real estate market is complicated. It is for this reason that I am uncomfortable making predictions about the course or the condition of the real estate market. This writer did not anticipate the collapse of the market in 2008. The only comfort this admonition supplies is that most people did not see it coming. Rather than predict how the market will perform, a discussion on the effects of the market moving, either way, maybe more helpful for you than a prediction.

Real estate markets move in both directions

There have been dips in home values as long as records of real estate activity have existed. The 2008 meltdown, which is the one most people remember, did not affect everyone. The homeowners that were affected were not affected equally. According to the American Community Survey (ACS) data, some groups suffered more than others. Homeowners most impacted were on both coasts, people between the ages of 26 and 34, wealthy people, and Hispanics. The ACS is a service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

People who owned homes for years, people with substantial equity, and people with regular income or other means that retained ownership of their home through the meltdown were unaffected. If some of these people live in an area that has not entirely recovered, they may yet be affected if they sell before the recovery is complete.

Perspective is important

There are different estimates as to the total number of foreclosures since 2008. One approximation that is common is “over 5 million.” Five million is a large number, especially if it were multiplied by the individual foreclosure losses, which totals over $1 trillion. The interesting comparison here is the total number of single-family homes in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau is over 76 million homes. So while five million foreclosures is a large number, it represents a relatively small percentage of the total number of homes.

Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

Tired of working as a yacht captain, Pancho Jiminez decided to get into real estate even though he knows it’s a highly competitive field in Florida, report tbo.com

“Realtors are every 10 feet around here,” he says.

Nonetheless, Jiminez is among 30 students who started classes this week at the Bob Hogue School of Real Estate in St. Petersburg, one of 16 locations where Hogue instructors are currently coaching would-be sales agents.

Florida already has 180,000 Realtors battling it out for commissions at a time when there are so few homes on the market. In January, only about 4,000 homes sold in the four-county Tampa Bay area, which worked out to less than one sale for each Realtor in the area. And the ranks of agents keeps growing — last year, 32,223 first-timers took the licensing exam statewide, just slightly off of 2016’s applicant pool.

Yet talk of a hot market continues to lure aspirants like those who’ve paid $295 for the week-long course at Hogue’s St. Petersburg headquarters.

“It’s been holding steady,: Hogue says of enrollments. “It’s actually doing a little better than I would have thought what with the new president and so forth but the economy is moving forward and we’re getting a good supply of people.’’

Among them: Chantel Leavitt, who said she had a good run selling clothes on eBay until sales plunged 50 percent because of competition from Amazon. Meanwhile, her sister, a ReMax agent in Brandon, has been enjoying success in real estate.

“She has urged me to do this for years,” Leavitt, 50, said of getting a license. “So I’m going to switch gears even if it’s out of my comfort zone, which is retail.”

Colt Caywood — sporting a black T-shirt that said “Rogue” — is an ER assistant helping doctors during open-heart surgery. But he wants to be his own boss and thinks the way to do that is to get into real estate because Florida’s market is “phenomenal.”

“Just like you need health care, you always need somebody to sell a house,” said Caywood, 35. “I’m going to step my foot in to see what it’s all about and if it’s a good fit, I will make a change.”

During a break he was chatting with Jiminez, the yacht captain.

“I’m done being owned by other people and at their beck and call,” Jiminez, 47 said. “I want a job with flexibility.” Having a license will help him not just with his own real estate investments — “I don’t want to pay a commission” — but with those of friends.

“I know a lot of yacht captains with a lot of cash,” he said.

The current class may be a little atypical in terms of age. Hogue says he’s noticed that students — who must be 18 to get a sale associate license — seem to be younger than in the past.

“I’m surprised at how many were born in the ‘90s,” he said. “We’ll soon be getting our first person born in this century.”

And if the past is a guide, a majority of current students won’t make careers in real estate. Between 57 percent and 61 percent of those who took the licensing exam last year failed it, according to monthly statistics compiled by the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Of those who do pass, many find that selling houses is a lot harder than they thought.

“We try to warn that it’s not for everybody,” Hogue says, “but they still keep coming.”

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