Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need proof that Fla. home sales are up?

WASHINGTON – Sept. 28, 2011 – The value of home sales in Florida has gone up. For proof, look no further than doc stamp taxes, which are paid on all home sales. According to U.S. Census Bureau reports, doc stamp revenue rose 9.8% in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the same quarter in 2010.

Other state taxes also rose, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday as part of a national study that showed continued revenue gains nationwide.

Florida sales tax collections climbed 5.4 percent; Florida corporate income tax collections rose 5.4 percent year to year for the quarter ending June 30.

Nationally, corporate income tax collections shot up 20.4 percent while sales tax increases increased by 4.7 percent. Income tax collections were 16.3 percent higher in the quarter compared to 2010.

Stagnant property values continued to take a toll, however. Nationally, local governments collected $85.9 billion of total property tax revenue, a decrease of 1.0 percent from the same quarter in 2010.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fla.’s home, condo sales and median prices higher in August

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sept. 21, 2011 – Sales activity and median prices for Florida’s existing home and existing condo markets rose in August, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Existing home sales increased 15 percent last month with a total of 16,206 homes sold statewide compared to 14,131 homes sold in August 2010, according to Florida Realtors. The statewide median sales price for existing homes last month was $137,500, up 2 percent from the year-ago figure of $134,900. August’s statewide existing home median price was also slightly higher than it was in July.

“Over the past few months, it appears that home prices have been stabilizing in many local markets across the state,” said 2011 Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. “This is another positive sign that the housing recovery is gaining strength.”

According to analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), 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. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2011 was $168,400, down 5.4 percent from a year ago, according to NAR. In California, the August statewide median resales price was $297,060; in Maryland, it was $241,564.

Fifteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home sales in August; 15 MSAs also had higher existing condo sales.

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 7,098 units sold statewide last month compared to 6,041 units in August 2010 for an increase of 17 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $91,100; in August 2010 it was $81,500 for a 12 percent increase. According to NAR, the national median existing condo sales price was $167,500 in August 2011.

NAR’s latest industry outlook notes that despite high affordability conditions, sales activity is underperforming, partially as a result of overly restrictive lending standards.

“Affordability conditions this year have been the most favorable on record dating back to 1970, but many buyers are being held back because banks are offering financing to only the most highly qualified borrowers, ignoring a large share of otherwise creditworthy buyers,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Those potential buyers represent the difference between an uneven recovery and a much more robust housing market that could stimulate additional economic activity and create jobs.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.27 percent in August, down from the 4.43 percent average during the same month a year earlier. Florida Realtors’ sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fewer real estate agents expect price drops

EMERYVILLE, Calif. – Sept. 19, 2011 – Most real estate professionals and homeowners expect home values to decrease or stay the same through the end of the year, according to HomeGain’s third quarter survey. While the outlook remains dour, however, a higher percentage of real estate agents seem to think their market area has hit bottom and is rebounding.

In Florida, one in five (22 percent) real estate professionals surveyed expect prices to rise over the next six months, as did 22 percent of homeowners. That’s second only to Arizona, where 33 percent of agents anticipate a price increase and 29 percent of homeowners.

Nationally, 11 percent of real estate professionals expect home values to increase in the next six months, down one percent from last quarter; 12 percent of homeowners expect home values to increase, down 3 percent from last quarter.

According to the survey, 47 percent of agents and brokers and 45 percent of homeowners think that home values will decrease over the next six months. However, agents’ attitudes have become slightly less pessimistic since the second quarter (50 percent expected price declines) even though homeowners have become more pessimistic (30 percent expected price declines).

An almost equal number of agents and homeowners expect selling prices to remain roughly the same for the next six months, with 42 percent of agents expecting the status quo to continue compared to 43 percent of homeowners.

According to agents and brokers, 75 percent of homeowners believe their homes are worth more than the agent’s recommended listing price. In contrast, 68 percent of homebuyers believe homes are overpriced.

The five states with a rising outlook about home prices – Arizona, Florida, Texas, California and Ohio – were generally hit hard by the real estate crisis and now may be bouncing back. The five top states where agents expect prices to decline include New Jersey (77 percent of agents expect a six-month price drop), Pennsylvania (75 percent), North Carolina (68 percent), Georgia (62 percent) and Virginia (58 percent).

ScottSorensonRealEstate.Com Over 500 real estate agents and brokers and over 2,200 homeowners were surveyed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Florida bouncing back, and recession not likely, report says

MIAMI – Sept. 16, 2011 – Florida’s improving economy should avoid recession, even as the recovery fights significant headwinds from a devastated real estate industry. www.ScottSorensonRealEstate.Com

That’s the conclusion from the latest outlook for the Sunshine State by Wells Fargo, which sees South Florida and Tampa leading the rebound in hiring this year. Both markets have seen modest job growth in recent months, and payrolls are up about 1 percent in both regions during the last three months.

“Florida is slowly battling back from its worst recession in modern times,’’ the report reads. Wells Fargo expects economic growth to hit 2.2 percent next year in Florida, despite growing anxiety that the nation is heading for a second recession.

The Wells Fargo report credits a strong rebound in foreign tourism for Florida’s improving fortunes, with South Florida and Orlando enjoying outsized boosts from their popularity with travelers from Europe and Latin America.

Still, South Florida gets special mention in the report as a particularly troubled region. “South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession has been painfully slow,” the report reads. Among the biggest problems Wells Fargo cites: nearly 40 percent of the region’s mortgages are either in foreclosure or at least 90 days overdue, compared to the national average of 11 percent.