Florida’s existing home sales were down 28% in December 2006 Vs 2005 levels, and median prices were down 2% statewide for the same period.  Prices actually held fairly steady compared to November 2006 single family home price levels.

Condo sales were down 30% statewide in December, and median prices were down 2%, mirroring the single family homes report.

In SW Florida, Lee County December single family home sales were down 45% in 2006 Vs December 2005.  Prices were down 19% compared to year ago levels, but were actually up against November levels, a positive sign.

We’ve included a line chart which illustrates sales by month for the past 5 years so you can view how sales are doing compared to years past.

Home sales nationally were down .8% in December, and 2006 saw the biggest drop since 1989.  USA Today Article

In a sign the home building sector may be gaining strength after a rocky 2006, new home sales reported by the Commerce Department showed Sales of new homes rose 4.8% in December and prices climbed 1.2%, signalling the market may be rebounding nationwide heading into 2007.

As the chart clearly indicates, January has seen a surge in listing inventory which has added to the growing months supply of inventory.  Sales numbers are due out tomorrow, and our internal Current Market Index suggests that sales for December will be off significantly from December 2005 levels, however prices should be up from November 2006 levels.  The media will probably run with the story that prices will be down against December 2005 levels, however that is to be expected as prices already dropped earlier in the year and are actually on their way up, at least on a median price level.  Does this mean we’re out of the woods on prices going forward in 2007? 

We don’t think so.  Stay tuned and we’ll provide our analysis once numbers are actually released, and also in our 2007 State of the Market Report.

 

January 23,2007 Active Total Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,769 1,016 19.02
Condo 9,002 529 36.26

   

December 27,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,330 1,029 18.41
Condo 8,559 546 34.48

  

December 8,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,173 1,078 18.19
Condo 8,444 543 34.01

 

November 27,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,186 1,031 18.21
Condo 8,344 535 33.61

November 9,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,148 1,046 18.16
Condo 8,096 534 32.61

October 18,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,669 1,128 16.80*
Condo 7,834 543 29.90*

 

The Florida legislature completed their special session today and voted on a comprehensive insurance reform package aimed at lowering property insurance premiums for Florida homeowners.  Increasing property insurance costs, as well as increased property taxes has weighed heavily on the pocketbooks of many SW Florida real estate homeowners and investors, making it less appealing to live in Florida.

Anything the government can do is a positive sign for the SW Florida real estate market and would help to improve things as the total cost of ownership has become prohibitive for many buyers in our market.  When you increase cost of taxes and insurance, it puts a cap on what people can afford to pay in price for a home.

We’ll provide links to several sources.  Many are happy, including Florida Governor Crist, and some groups are not.  Feel free to post your comments as to how you feel about the governments performance in handling property insurance reform.

We just might read your comment on the air on our weekly radio show, so here’s your chance to voice your opinion.

We’ve just completed downloading statistics for this years annual State of the Market Report for SW Florida real estate.  We’ve found some interesting statistics we look forward to sharing with you, and some more surprises.

We’ve also been busy attending seminars and presentations from industry experts and economists.  Our report will provide some interesting insight, and may or may not agree with all aspects the many experts you’ll hear explaining the SW Florida real estate market.

We look forward to presenting a clear and concise picture of what is happening in today’s real estate market, provide some history and perspective, and provide a glimpse into the future.

Our report will provide everything you need to know and nothing you don’t.  We are expanding the report in several key areas, and we’ll provide our expert insight as to what it all means when we can.

Much of the data makes perfect sense, and it will become clear when you see it.  Some, quite frankly, is startling and difficult to explain what the true implications mean for the future.  In any event, we’ll lay it out there and let you decide.

It will be released online and to the media at the same time, so please don’t ask for advanced copies.  The data has been compiled, but the report has not, so we couldn’t provide a report today anyway, even though we have some insight as to what the findings are.

Stay tuned and we’ll announce the official release date for the report.  This is the One Report all year you won’t want to miss.  If you are considering buying or selling real estate in SW Florida, you’ll definitely want to read this report.

U.S. home prices may have dipped over the past year, but many American workers would still struggle to afford a median-priced home in major cities according to a news story released by Rueters.

"American workers are really not gaining ground and they’re so far behind in the first place," said Barbara Lipman, research director for the nonprofit Center for Housing Policy, which conducted the study.

While the median home price in the 202 largest metropolitan areas declined 2 percent from a year ago to $248,000 in the third quarter of 2006, mortgage rates rose enough over the year that homes actually became less affordable as pay did not keep pace.

This is exaclty why The Ellis Team recommended mid 2006 that buyers begin thinking of purchasing real estate again in SW Florida.  Even in a declining market, affordability becomes an issue when interest rates are rising.  We pointed out in earlier articles that even if a home eventually dips in price later on and you wait to buy it at the market low, that same home may cost you more becuase the payment will be higher as rates rise.

One thing we know is that prices have come down substantially in the past year.  Nobody knows for sure where the bottom is, but many have argued we’re close.  We do know it’s almost impossible to time the market perfectly.  In fact, we have some analysis that suggests it’s already happened in certain segments, and other data that suggests we have more to go.

Most real estate experts will say because prices have fallen, and because rates are unexpectedly low, now is a good time to buy.  Selection is available, prices are down, and rates are low, a perfect Trifecta.

Real estate is always a good investment.  Not only does it provide shelter, it’s a great way to gain equity over time.  Real estate may be risky for short term investors who wish to gain from a quick flip, it’s always good for long term investors and people who plan to live in the home.  It’s almost impossible to save up enough money each year to keep pace with inflation, so the sooner you buy that first home the quicker you’ll be keeping pace, and it will make it easier to trade-up to that next home instead of constantly trying to save the downpayment for that higher priced home.

Michael Timmerman, managing director for Hanley Wood, a national company that collects and analyzes data for home builders, spoke at the REIS (Real Estate Investment Society) luncheon on Tuesday and told the audience he sees sales picking up in 2007 at the expense of price.

We will have more sales in 2007, I will guarantee you that," said Timmerman.  Timmerman said the market will be toughest for the mid-range homes that were heavily speculated by investors as prices rose sharply in 2004 and 2005.  "What’s doing well is the low and high ends of the market."

Timmerman, and agents from the audience all agreed, it’s a good time to be a buyer as selection is good, rates are low, and prices have come down considerably.

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX agrees largely with Michael Tmmerman reported.  Sellers who have reacted and priced accordingly are selling in the SW Florida real estate market.  Foreclosures are rising a bit as some sellers cannot afford to sell at the new prices because they financed 100% at the top of the market in 2005, and they cannot afford the payments.  Those sellers are in for a rough time.

Sellers who bought before 2005 are in better shape, they just can’t expect the profits they would have received on paper had they sold sooner.  Many believe the market is bottoming out in some segments.  We’ll explore this in further detail in our upcoming 2007 State of the Market Report for SW Florida.  Meanwhile, excellent statistics on the local housing market can be found at our Housing Statistics page at Topagent.com

SW Florida Building Permits Slowed From Record Levels in 2005. Permit activity in the SW Florida real estate market was off compared to record 2005 levels. Builders are less likely to pull permits for speculation construction with the amount of resale inventory on the market, and investors looking to flip for a quick buck have dried up.  That leaves builders with the normal buyer contracts, and even that has slowed from 2005 levels.

In 2005 buyers bought new construction at record levels for a few reasons.  First, because there was a severe shortage of homes on the market, and new construction was Plan B and served as backup inventory.  Secondly, investors liked buying at pre-construction prices, and the building process gave them time to find a buyer for that home so they could make a nice profit without hopefully ever having to own the home.  Investors serve as financiers so to speak and helped speed up supply.

Demand from end users never changed very much.  We had artificial demand which the investors created, which made the market appear much better than it really was.  While we had artificial demand, we now have Real Supply.  When you mix Real supply with Normal demand, you have a Buyers Market.

Buyers are in the driver’s seat, no question.  The only question is the speed at which they are driving, and how long it will last.  We are starting to see signs of increased buyer activity.  This is welcomed news for many.  Many buyers were sitting on the sideline waiting for somebody to give the “All Clear, it’s OK to buy now signal.”

Many buyers have heard the signal and are stepping back in.  The market may not be All Clear in all segments; however we are seeing very nice activity in certain segments.

Mixed Messages:  Many buyers think when they hear the words “Buyer’s Market” that they own the road.  Buyers still need to be aware that many properties are pried very well.  Those sellers are successful at selling in this market.  It’s not like we don’t have any buyers, we certainly do.  We have normal buyer activity just like we’ve always had.  Because the best properties always sell, buyers are not in competition with the seller for those properties.  Buyers are in competition with other buyers who will scoop up the property and steal it from them.

So, if you’re a buyer and see a property you like and is priced well, don’t sit too long.  The best values are selling, and you’ll be on your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th choice before you know it.  The only good news is that if you can live with your 2nd -4th choice, they are there for you this year.  Last year you didn’t have a 4th choice.

December showing numbers are out from RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers, Lee County’s top single office for sales.  As expected, December’s showing are off slightly from November’s numbers as showing slack off considerably a few weeks leading up to Christmas.

December Statistics:

Total Number of Showings December 2006 478
Average Number of Showings Before Selling 6.9
Average number of Showings During 1st Week of Listing .5
2nd Week of Listing .4
3rd Week of Listing .3
4th Week of Listing .1
5th Week of Listing .3
6th Week of Listing .23

November Statistics:

Total Number of Showings November 2006 561
Average Number of Showings Before Selling 6.3
Average number of Showings During 1st Week of Listing .3
2nd Week of Listing .4
3rd Week of Listing .4
4th Week of Listing .3
5th Week of Listing .4
6th Week of Listing .3

October Statistics:

Total Number of Showings October 2006 599
Average Number of Showings Before Selling 6.5
Average number of Showings During 1st Week of Listing .5
2nd Week of Listing .5
3rd Week of Listing .3
4th Week of Listing .4
5th Week of Listing .3
6th Week of Listing .2

It will be interesting to see the January numbers.  December numbers looked very solid, and going forward this may be a good sign for a recovering real estate market in SW Florida.

We will post new numbers as they come out each month.