Friday, October 19, 2012

Fla.’s housing market continues upswing in Sept. 2012 (reprinted from Florida Realtors® website)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 19, 2012 – Florida’s housing market had higher pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in September, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Florida’s real estate market is no longer in recovery mode – stability and growth gain solid footing,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “Realtors across the state are reporting consistent increases in home sales and median prices, and multiple offers from buyers isn't unusual. In fact, increasing buyer demand in many local markets is creating inventory shortages – and that’s putting pressure on prices. For sellers who may have been reluctant to enter the market, it’s now time to reconsider. Conditions are turning to a sellers’ market.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 15,643 in September, up 2 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed by not yet completed or closed – of existing single-family homes last month rose 40.1 percent over the previous September. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in September was $145,000, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2012 was $188,700, up 10.2 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in August was $343,820; in Massachusetts, it was $317,750; in Maryland, it was $255,498; and in New York, it was $225,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes-condos, a total of 7,329 units sold statewide last month, down slightly (-2.9 percent) from those sold in September 2011. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhome-condos in September increased 30.6 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $105,736, up 18.8 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in August 2012 was $176,700.

Last month, the inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months’ supply; inventory for townhome-condo properties was also at a 5.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply symbolically represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

“The onward march of Florida's housing market continues,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Inventories have now tilted to the point where we truly have a sellers’ market forming. Prices are up smartly and have been for quite a while. It’s getting to the point where Florida is the place to buy, but it may soon move out of reach for many households.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.47 percent in September 2012, lower than the 4.11 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website ( and click on the Research page; then look under Latest Housing Data, Statewide Residential Activity and get the September report. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center ( and download the September 2012 data report PDF under Market Data. (

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Obama-Romney Debate ‘Ignores’ U.S. Housing And Foreclosure Problems (reprinted from

Obama-Romney Debate ‘Ignores’ U.S. Housing And Foreclosure Problems

With all the spirited banter last night about tax cuts, 47 percenters, foreign policy, job creation and all-things political, it appears the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney “ignored” perhaps one of the biggest economic issues facing the United States during their second presidential debate at Hofstra University:
There are countless pointed reactions and passionate thoughts about “who won” the debate. And depending on which news channel you watch or in which political direction you lean, you’re going to get a mixed bag of reactions and have formulated your own opinions. That’s cool — we’re not here to pick sides, not even close, but shed light on a glaring omission. Housing is a serious issue and it has been since the mortgage meltdown more than a half-decade ago that triggered the national foreclosure crisis.
So why aren’t the 2012 presidential candidates talking more about it?
Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post provides a potential explanation that splits party lines rather evenly:
“Both Republicans and Democrats agree that one way to help the economy would be to launch a massive program to allow Americans to refinance their home loans at low rates. Obama has suggested such a proposal, as has a top adviser to Romney. Yet neither Obama nor Romney has an incentive to discuss housing. Housing has been arguably one of Obama’s weakest areas as president; he has acknowledged it was the most stubborn problem he faced. And Romney’s approach has been largely to allow the free market to sort out the woes of the housing market, allowing those who got in over their heads to default. Neither is a popular talking point.”

Perhaps unpopular, but certainly worth debating when the dynamic duo hit Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., next week for their third and final verbal sparring session prior to the election on Nov. 6, 2012. A fine institution of higher learning nestled in the heart of South Florida, one of the hardest-hit foreclosure hot beds in the nation.
To read Obama’s policy on housing click here and to read Romney’s click here.
Photo by VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is Now the Time to Buy: Part IV

I track weekly indicators in the housing market so I can best represent my clients. As a buyers agent its important for me to keep abreast of the latest trends and statistics. After-all I only make money when I sell houses. So I want to sell lots of them.

But in order to do that, I need to know what is going on in the marketplace. When and where to buy is often just as important as what to buy.

In the first three parts of this series (Is Now the Time to Buy) I covered some of the key factors for buyers like: the inventory shortages, the affect of supply and demand on rising prices, the shadow inventory, the cost of capital, the 10 year lows in median home prices, and the cost benefit analysis between renting vs. buying vis-a-vis mortgage rates.

This week two more indicators from major media outlets confirm my theory that now IS the time to buy.

CNN Money is predicting another housing boom. According to them: Signs of recovery have been evident in the recent pick ups in home prices, home sales and construction. Foreclosures are also down and the Federal Reserve has acted to push mortgage rates near record lows.

They further cite a recent Barclays Capital report "forecasting that home prices, which fell by more than a third after the housing bubble burst in 2007, could be back to peak levels as soon as 2015".

This makes sense as it coincides with the same 2015 time frame announced by the FED a few weeks ago regarding interest rates remaining at record lows, coupled with the supply and demand pressures that are currently driving up prices, as well as the "inevitable" inflation that the FEDs QE policies will trigger, driving up prices even higher.

A few days later the Washington Post ran a story about how "house flipping" is again on the rise because "a market where home prices are appreciating is much more forgiving for flippers than a market where prices are depreciating", driving a renewed interest in this industry.

Not to be confused with the illegal version which involves collusion, inflated appraisals, and fraud, "house flipping" is a genuine business engaged in by savvy entrepreneurs across the country. Buying, fixing and reselling goods for a profit is as old as apple pie.

For the last few years HUD has yearly extended its waiver against its own anti-flipping rule of 2003, to encourage private investors to help absorb and reintegrate the surplus of foreclosed and otherwise abandoned or unused homes. This waiver expires at the end of 2012 so they would have to renew it again for another year, but I'm betting they will.

Private real estate investors who buy, fix, and sell homes are the perfect mechanism to help banks liquidate their remaining inventories, and the fact that "flippers" are coming back into the market place is a very good thing vis-a-vis inventory (which affects the supply side of the pricing curve). 

However more flippers means more buyers, which means more competition, which means more demand, which means rising prices.

But as I see it we are on the bottom of this upward trend (for a loose comparison buying now would be like buying in 2001 or 2002 before the last housing boom of 2005-2006).

So from my perspective there seems to be more and more evidence pointing toward an increasingly stronger housing market, at least in the short term. 

I still have to answer emphatically YES, now is the time to buy!

As always I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.