Official sales numbers were released this past week by Florida Realtors and as expected median sales prices fell 3.46% from July as more distressed sales sold in August 2011 than July. Sale prices were up 16.74% from August 2010 which is positive. Listing inventory continues to slide which bolsters prices as well. Last year Lee County had 11,667 combined single family homes from all MLS’s on the market and today we’re down to 7,675 combined. Actually there are less than both numbers because some homes are listed in multiple MLS’s, especially high end homes or homes in Estero, Bonita, San Carlos park where Realtors may belong to more than one MLS and desire additional exposure. Sanibel and Captiva is another example of where agents might list homes in the Sanibel board and the Fort Myers board.
As you can see from the attached charts, even though inventory has been falling, Realtors have been successful at closing high numbers of homes even though many are short sales. This is a testament to the fact buyers are being forced to look at short sales which may take longer to close to find homes in their price range. It is also testament that Realtors are increasing their education to handle these complicated sales, and banks are gearing up to close more of these sales rather than selling through foreclosure.
While sales prices have declined from their 2011 seasonal highs, they are still significantly higher than last year’s numbers signifying the bottom may be behind us. Before our market reaches for the skies again, we must first repair our fragile economy and create jobs and income growth. Combining that with a coherent, understandable, and definite tax policy will also help settle the real estate market. Congress and presidential politicians keep proposing changes to mortgage deductions, increased capital gains taxes on certain groups of people, and worst of all they’ve failed to extend the National Flood Insurance Program which puts hundreds of thousands of current transactions in jeopardy.
Washington couldn’t script are more harmful strategy to disrupt housing, which is amazing as housing leads to 32% of the nations GDP. There has got to be a better way, and thankfully there is a better way, but it won’t happen until the next election.
So for the next year the nation’s economy and housing market will have its ups and downs and will take its lumps until certainty returns to the market. I never understood why the president proposes raising taxes on certain people and not others. While I’m certainly not rich, nor is any real estate agent I know in SW Florida, I just don’t understand how taxing those that make more money encourages them to work harder or hire more people, which is what our economy really needs right now.
Last week I wasn’t paying attention and I received a speeding ticket. A day later I thought. Hey, if certain people get to pay more taxes because they earn more, then why can’t certain people drive faster than others? If I’m paying more shouldn’t I be allowed to drive faster? Well, it’s a silly argument as we should all obey and drive by the same rules, and so it goes with taxes, we should all pay the same rates. If someone makes more, they automatically pay more. So why should they pay more, and pay a higher rate?
And when companies are taxed at one of the highest rates in the world, why do we wonder when they move operations overseas? Perhaps we should lower taxes and encourage them to come back and hire US workers, which would raise income to the government.
Have you ever wondered why certain corporations move to Delaware or South Dakota? It’s because those states learned to compete with other states they must have lower taxes. It’s about time our Federal government understood this. We are in a global competition. When someone can accurately predict when our government will get its act together, almost anyone will be able to predict the real estate market. Until then, we’ll keep reading the tea leaves and reporting what we see.