Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fla. consumer confidence hits post-recession high


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – May 29, 2013 – Floridians’ consumer confidence rose another two points in May to 81 – a third straight month of increases for a post-recession high, according to a University of Florida (UF) survey.

“The last time confidence was this high was August of 2007 when it was 82, shortly before the Great Recession began,” says Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Three of the five components used to determine the Florida Consumer Sentiment Index increased. Respondents’ expectations that their personal finances will improve a year from now rose three points to 82. Meanwhile, their overall confidence in the nation’s economic conditions over the coming year increased two points to 81.

Floridian’s trust in the national economy over the next five years surged, rising eight points to 85.

The survey showed a decline in two components, however. Survey takers’ perception that they’re better off financially now than a year ago fell three points to 68. In addition, their confidence in the timing to buy a big consumer product right now, such as an automobile, fell one point to 89.

Overall, though, Floridians’ confidence shows an upward trend.

“(Last month’s) increase was largely due to increased confidence among respondents under age 60, who were optimistic about their personal finances and U.S. economic conditions,” McCarty says. But this month’s increase found that older Floridians are even more optimistic. Confidence among respondents 60 and older in the national economy over next five years increased 15 points to 88.

“As the headlines turn to news other than budget cuts and possible changes to Social Security, consumer confidence improves for Floridians,” McCarty says. “This is especially true for seniors.”

Meanwhile, positive statewide economic news also boosts confidence. The legislative session in Tallahassee recently ended with a budget increase for the first time in several years. April’s unemployment rate was 7.2 percent, a drop of three-tenths of a percent from March. Construction, retail trade and service sectors saw job increases. Home sale prices improved again by $5,000 to a median price of $165,000. Sales have been strong, and new home construction is under way in some areas of Florida.

The stock market also reached record highs in May.

So far, most Floridians have not experienced the negative effects of sequestration. However, this could change as wide-reaching cuts in services and jobs trickle into the economy, McCarty says.

That process may have already begun. Employment in leisure and hospitality is down from March, and Florida’s sales tax revenue in April was less than expected. McCarty suggested sequestration might have affected plans for vacations for workers in other states.

“Our expectation is that the effects of sequestration will be more fully realized as the summer progresses and confidence will likely stay the same or pull back slightly,” McCarty says. “For now, optimism among Floridians is growing.”

Conducted May 13-23, the study reflects the responses of 410 individuals, representing a demographic cross-section of Florida. The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2; the highest is 150.

Sunday, May 26, 2013




Release Date: Friday, May 24, 2013

  • Pending sales increased 27% in the $300K-$500K and 21% in the $1M-$2M category 12-month ending 04/2013
  • Closed sales increased 45% in the $300K-$500K and 48% in the $2M+ category 12-month ending 04/2013
  • Median Closed Price increased 18% overall 12-month ending 04/2013
  • Inventory decreased 14% overall 12-month ending 04/2013
  • Average DOM has decreased 14% overall 12-month ending 04/2013
View the April 2013 Statistics
View the Report (Print the Article)

NABOR says summer outlook good for home sales following robust April

—The housing market remains hot heading into summer.

It’s the result of a “trifecta factor” with overall inventory continuing to decrease, the average days-on-the-market declining and median home prices continuing to increase, the Naples Area Board of Realtors announced Friday.

“For the last few years, we have continued to see strong home sales in the summer,” said Mike Hughes, vice president and general manager of Downing-Frye Realty in a statement. “The notion of strong sales occurring only during traditional ‘season’ is no longer, and we are very bullish on the real estate market heading into summer due to the environment of low inventory, the tightening up of days on the market and the increase in median prices. If people have been waiting to list, now may be the time.”

The overall median price increased 18 percent from $186,000 in April 2012 to $219,000 for the 12-month period ending April 2013, according to a prepared statement NABOR released Friday.

The median is the price at which half the homes sell for more and half for less. The monthly report tracks Realtor sales through the Sunshine Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Collier County, excluding Marco Island.

Overall pending sales increased 5 percent from 10,166 units to 10,678 units for the 12-month period ending April 2013, NABOR’s statement said.

Overall, the total number of closed sales in all price categories increased in April compared to a year ago.

Meanwhile, pending sales rose in all price categories in April compared to a year before except in the under $300,000 category. During that time period, pending sales rose 27 percent in the $300,000 to $500,000 category from 1,405 units to 1,781 units; 13 percent in the $500,000 to $1 million category, from 1,070 units to 1,214 units, and 21 percent in the $1 million to $2 million category, from 450 units to 545 units.

The Realtors’ report said the average number of days on the market decreased 14 percent overall, from 183 days in April 2012 to 158 last month.

The condominium market increased in all price categories. In the $1 million to $2 million category, sales increased 40 percent from 169 to 237 for the 12-month period ending in April. In addition, condominium closed sales increased 13 percent from 165 to 187 for the 12-month period ending in April, the report said. “These are encouraging statistics indeed,” said Phil Wood, president and CEO of John R. Wood Realtors.

Statewide, single-family home sales were up 17.4 percent from a year ago, Florida Realtors reported this week.

The statewide sales mark was trumped in some markets. Single-family home sales jumped 32 percent in Jacksonville in April compared with April 2012, 24.5 percent in the Tampa-St. Petersburg region and 46 percent in Tallahassee.

Sales increases weren’t as high in the southern half of the state, where median sales prices are higher than the $165,000 statewide level.

In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market, with a median price of home sales at $250,000, the market recorded a 13 percent increase in single-family home sales, according to the Florida Realtors’ report.
Statewide, there were 20,662 single-family home sales in April. Florida’s median single-family sales price continues below the national mark of $185,100.

Florida Realtors chief economist John Tuccillo credited the sales increases to a stabilization of the distressed property market with the number of short sales dropping, while foreclosures and real estate-owned property sales remained steady.
“Because the government is selling foreclosed properties in bulk and also using online auctions, our sales numbers actually understate the vigor of the market,” Tuccillo said in the Florida Realtors’ statement.
__ The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

Monday, May 6, 2013



NEW YORK – May 6, 2013 – Home prices in 10 percent of the nation’s top 200 housing markets have recently hit new peaks or are only a hair away, new data show.

Another 24 of the top markets are within 5 percent of their peaks, according to data provided to USA TODAY by real estate tracker Lender Processing Services. Many of those cities are likely to hit new peaks this year, economists say, given projections for continued price increases.

The data show how far prices in many cities have rebounded since the historic housing bust after mid-2006 – and how far they still have to go in most cities. It also underscores the uneven impact of the housing bubble, and the bust, in different regions.

Dozens of markets where prices peaked by 2006 are still 25 percent to 58 percent below those highs, LPS says.

Many cities now at or close to previous highs never saw the price run-ups leading up to the bust that others did. Afterward, they didn’t drop as far, so they have less of a climb back.

Of the cities within 5 percent of their previous peaks, none saw more than an 11 percent decline in home values from mid-2006 to the market’s bottom in early 2012, LPS data show. Nationally, prices fell almost 28 percent during that time.

“We didn’t get invited to the party, so we never had the hangover,” says Ron Croushore, CEO of Prudential Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh.

Denver, which was up almost 1 percent in February from its 2006 peak, suffered almost a 10 percent decline during the national housing bust. Honolulu, which was 2 percent from its 2007 peak in February, had been hit with an 11 percent decline.

Job growth is another factor in recovered markets.

Austin, Denver, Baton Rouge, Houston, Oklahoma City and Knoxville, Tenn., are at previous highs or within 5 percent, LPS’ data show. In March, all posted stronger annual job growth than the national average of 1.4 percent, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Austin’s job growth was 4 percent year-over-year. Home prices there are up 9.7 percent from mid-2006, LPS says.

The strong job market “has helped our housing market recover rather quickly,” says Angelos Angelou of the Austin-based Angelou Economics.

In the past year, U.S. home prices rose faster than many expected. LPS shows a 7.3 percent gain in February year over year.

Some cities have done better. Home prices in Phoenix and San Francisco were up 19 percent.

Even so, Phoenix is 36 percent off its 2006 peak. San Francisco is almost 25 percent off its peak, LPS says.

Copyright © USA TODAY 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Is the quick house flip making a comeback?


NEW YORK – May 1, 2013 – More Americans are again on the hunt to snag a home at a bargain price, fix it up, and then try to resell it for a quick profit. These home flippers mostly vanished during the housing downturn, but flipping is starting to return thanks to slowly rising home values.

RealtyTrac says flipping increased for the second year in row, rising a slight 0.33 percent in 2012 from 12 percent in 2011. The company defines flipping as buying and selling a property within six months.

According to RealtyTrac, the average gross profit in a flip was $37,375 in 2012; and some of the best places to flip homes in 2012 were Orlando, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Charlotte, N.C.

For example, Orlando home flips were purchased for $100,397, on average, and then sold for $174,895 – earning a gross profit, on average, of nearly $75,000.

Flippers are more cautious this time around, however. They tend to come in with an all-cash deal, and many also hold onto properties longer than they once did. On average, the flipping time from purchase to resale stands at about 106 days today, according to RealtyTrac.

“That seems to be the sweet spot for a profitable deal,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Back in the housing bubble, many flippers were solely relying on price appreciation, sitting back and selling for big profits within a month or two.”

Source: “The New Rules of House Flipping,” Reuters (April 18, 2013)