Sarasota Bradenton
The Herald Tribune is reporting a 48% home sales drop in Sarasota-Bradenton.

The high season peaked in mid-February but so far there is little evidence of a long-awaited and often-predicted real estate recovery.

In fact, the Sarasota-Bradenton market had the dubious distinction of being the Florida market with the biggest decline in sales during January: a precipitous 48 percent drop when compared with the same month a year ago — more than double the state’s 19 percent decline.

The Charlotte County-North Port market saw its sales drop 18 percent during the same time frame, the Florida Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

But values held steady. Sarasota-Bradenton posted a 23 percent increase in median sales price to $353,500 while its neighbor to the south climbed 16 percent to $227,400 when comparing January with the same 2005 month.

“I can tell you the buyers are here,” said Scott Sosso, president of Sarasota-based Prudential Palms Realty, which saw its closings dip 10 percent during January. “The problem is with the sellers who don’t have their homes priced correctly.”

Sarasota-Bradenton saw sales of existing condominiums drop 41 percent, though, as in homes, prices continued their upward momentum, rising 29 percent to $305,400 when compared with the same month last year.

In Charlotte County-North Port, the condo action was far more anemic, dropping a whopping 92 percent as prices swooned 18 percent to $165,000.

“You have to look at the bigger picture,” said Felix Power, president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors. If you compared last month’s sales with those in the same month during 2003 and 2004, things look pretty “normal.”

Budge Huskey, Coldwell Banker’s Sarasota-based Florida president expects things to get better, soon. “You can’t keep Florida down for long.”

Palm Beach County
The Palm Beach Post is reporting Palm Beach County has a mini-blood bath going.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Maybe the housing bubble hasn’t burst, but it’s losing air fast.

The median price of an existing home sold in Palm Beach County in January fell to $393,700, well below the November peak of $421,500 and the first time the typical home has sold for less than $400,000 since July.

Meantime, sales volumes plunged as buyers — wary that prices will keep falling and a better deal could be around the corner — waited out the slowdown. The number of sales in Palm Beach County plummeted 39 percent compared with a year ago, the Florida Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

“Palm Beach County has a mini-blood bath going,” said David Dweck, a Boca Raton real estate agent and investor who heads the Boca Real Estate Investment Club.

Dweck expects home prices to continue to fall in the coming months as the number of sellers outstrips the number of buyers. Yet Dweck predicts a correction rather than a crash, and he said South Florida real estate still makes sense as an investment.

“People are going to keep coming here from the Northeast, from Europe and from South America,” Dweck said. “When the dust settles, there’ll still be 10 percent to 12 percent annual appreciation.”

The price dip in the Treasure Coast was less dramatic. The median home price in Martin and St. Lucie counties was $261,500 in January, down slightly from December and 3 percent below September’s record high of $269,400.

Sales volumes also fell in the Treasure Coast, dropping 44 percent compared with a year ago.

Broward County
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting The boom is gone: Home sales fall 36% in Broward.

South Florida’s five-year housing boom is over.

Prospective home buyers are finding prices falling to more affordable levels. Sellers are waiting impatiently as their houses sit on the market for weeks and months, only to receive tepid interest before reducing their asking prices.

“We’re entering a new part of the cycle,” said Brad Hunter, a West Palm Beach housing analyst. “We’re in the process of returning to reality.”

January sales of existing single-family homes declined dramatically in Broward and Miami-Dade counties compared with January 2005, the Florida Association of Realtors said Tuesday. The number of home sales fell 36 percent in Broward to 552 — the fewest used homes sold in the county in one month since the Orlando-based state Realtors group started tracking home sales and prices in 1994. In Miami-Dade, home sales in January dropped 28 percent from a year ago to 580.

The real estate slowdown also has spread to the once-frenetic condominium market. The state Realtors association Tuesday reported monthly condo sales for the first time. Existing condo sales for January dropped 21 percent in Broward and 13 percent in Miami-Dade, compared with the same period last year. The median price rose 31 percent to $211,500 in Broward and 11 percent to $259,000 in Miami-Dade.

Despite the slowdown, Hunter doesn’t foresee a bubble bursting and said the housing market should remain strong through the rest of the year.

Naples
Naples News is reporting Naples home sales down 31 percent.

Naples home sales down 31 percent
Hardly surprising, and certainly not devastating.
Naples home sales plunged 31 percent in January 2006 compared with January 2005, while condominium sales dropped 41 percent in those same months.

In Lee County, sales of existing homes fell 9 percent in January compared to the same month a year ago. The $287,200 average price of Lee County homes sold in January was 31 percent higher than 12 months ago, but down almost 11 percent from the $322,000 average price in December.

But seasoned Southwest Florida brokers and residents said the sales slowdown was inevitable.

“Tell them the sky is NOT falling,” said Jo Carter, president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors and Association of Real Estate Professionals Inc., a 5,000-member professional group. “We are not at all discouraged.”

Downing-Frye Realty broker Joe Ziegler was nonplused by the sharp statistical decline but agreed that some of the older, higher-priced homes might not sell too quickly.

Add the fear that newspapers strike in the heart of potential buyers, and one is bound to see numbers decline, Ziegler said, and laughed.

“As interest rates go up, less people qualify for (increased) level (of borrowing but) secondly, people are a little more cautious right now,” Ziegler said.

The headlines in the media are responsible for that, he said.

“Last year we had a hard time finding anything to sell,” [Carter] said Tuesday of her real estate practice, Jo Carter & Associates. Also, Carter said statistics can be easily manipulated. “I hate statistics. They can be so deceiving,” she said.

She prefers to gauge business by looking at her current multiple listing service system. Those are numbers she believes. Naples is always going to be in demand,
“We live in paradise,” she said.

Lee County
The News-Press is reporting Lee existing-home sales, prices drop in January.

Prices and the number of sales for existing single-family homes in Lee County fell sharply in January as the inventory of unsold houses soared.

The median sales price was $287,200, down 10.9 percent from December’s $322,300. Sales declined 30.7 percent from 1,084 to 751.

Compared to a year ago, Lee County’s January median price was up 31 percent and the number of sales declined 9 percent.

Meanwhile, said Fort Myers-based real estate broker Denny Grimes of Denny Grimes & Co., “The inventory’s still climbing. There are more than 11,000 houses on the market, triple what it was at the low point in the second quarter of last year.”

Summary

  • Sarasota-Bradenton – 48 percent drop in home sales
  • Sarasota-Bradenton – 41 percent drop in condo sales
  • Charlotte County North Port – 18 percent drop in home sales
  • Charlotte County North Port – 92 percent drop in condo sales
  • Palm Beach County – 39 percent drop in sales
  • Martin and St. Lucie counties – 44 percent drop in sales
  • Broward County – 36 percent drop in sales
  • Broward County – the fewest used homes sold in the county in one month since 1994 Miami-Dade County – 28 percent drop in sales
  • Naples – 31 percent drop in sales
  • Lee County – 9 percent drop in sales

Denial

  • “You have to look at the bigger picture,” said Felix Power, president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors. If you compared last month’s sales with those in the same month during 2003 and 2004, things look pretty “normal.”
  • Budge Huskey, Coldwell Banker’s Sarasota-based Florida president expects things to get better, soon. “You can’t keep Florida down for long.”
  • “People are going to keep coming here from the Northeast, from Europe and from South America,” Dweck said. “When the dust settles, there’ll still be 10 percent to 12 percent annual appreciation.”
  • “We’re entering a new part of the cycle,” said Brad Hunter, a West Palm Beach housing analyst. “We’re in the process of returning to reality.” Despite the slowdown, Hunter doesn’t foresee a bubble bursting and said the housing market should remain strong through the rest of the year.
  • “Tell them the sky is NOT falling,” said Jo Carter, president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors and Association of Real Estate Professionals Inc., a 5,000-member professional group. “We are not at all discouraged.”
  • “As interest rates go up, less people qualify for (increased) level (of borrowing but) secondly, people are a little more cautious right now,” Ziegler said. The headlines in the media are responsible for that, he said.
  • “Last year we had a hard time finding anything to sell,” [Carter] said Tuesday of her real estate practice, Jo Carter & Associates. Also, Carter said statistics can be easily manipulated. “I hate statistics. They can be so deceiving,” she said. She prefers to gauge business by looking at her current multiple listing service system. Those are numbers she believes. Naples is always going to be in demand, “We live in paradise,” she said.
  • “I can tell you the buyers are here,” said Scott Sosso, president of Sarasota-based Prudential Palms Realty, which saw its closings dip 10 percent during January. “The problem is with the sellers who don’t have their homes priced correctly.”

There are so many “pearls of wisdom” in the above collection of comments but this following just has to be one of the all time classics:

“I can tell you the buyers are here. The problem is with the sellers who don’t have their homes priced correctly.”

Mike Shedlock / Mish/