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Posted: 11:25 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012
Proposed Tri-Rail service would take passengers into hearts of coastal cities from Jupiter to Miami
Short-hop commuter rail going into the heart of eastern cities has a better chance of happening as solid steps are taken toward a separate Miami to Orlando passenger rail, supporters say.
By Willie Howard
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Possible locations of coastal city rail stations in Palm Beach County:
Cities from Jupiter to Boca Raton are looking at locations for passenger stations on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks for the proposed Tri-Rail Coastal system. Some cities have designated locations, while others have conceptual plans. Where the stops could be:
Jupiter: Just south of Toney Penna Drive.Secondary stations possible near Indiantown Road and Frederick Small Road.
Palm Beach Gardens: PGA Boulevard near Old Dixie Highway.
Riviera Beach: 13th Street and Old Dixie Highway (west of the marina).
West Palm Beach: North side of Evernia Street just west of Quadrille Boulevard. (Same station would serve All Aboard Florida passengers.)
Lake Worth: South side of Lake Avenue (south of shuffleboard building). Secondary stations proposed south of 10th Avenue North and near Ninth Avenue South.
Lantana: Between Ocean Avenue and Lantana Road just west of Dixie Highway.
Boynton Beach: Along Fourth Street between Boynton Beach Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.
Delray Beach: North of Atlantic Avenue along Railroad Avenue.
Boca Raton: North side of Northwest Second Street (south of Palmetto Park Road).
2 rail passenger proposals
Tri-Rail Coastal - Short-hop commuter service that travels east of CSX tracks into heart of cities. Also would give passengers a way to get to All Aboard Florida.
All Aboard Florida - Passenger rail from Miami to Orlando, with stops only in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in between. Expected to begin in 2015.
Posted: 5:23 a.m. Thursday, July 12, 2012
West Palm Beach golf course could be transformed into major mixed-use resort and spa
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH —
The new owners of the President Country Club in the heart of West Palm Beach have crafted plans for a redevelopment of the residential golf community, with the intention of transforming the north golf course into a resort hotel, spa, homes and offices.
The President Country Club Resort Community, if approved by the city, would be the most ambitious mixed-use undertaking in the city since CityPlace, built in 2000.
It also would be another boost to the Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard corridor. The proposal alludes to the planned redevelopment of The Palm Beach Mall as a catalyst for new homes and a “flagship resort hotel.”
The President Country Club, north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, is surrounded by the Lands of the President community.
On the site of the north golf course, now known as the Patriot course, the country club’s new owners plan a mix of new development on about 119 acres of land, according to Rick Greene, West Palm Beach planning manager.
This includes a 400-unit hotel, a 30,000-square-foot spa, a new 30,000-square foot golf clubhouse, 10,000 square-feet of medical offices, a 50,000-square foot conference center, plus 200 condos. The complex will feature an adult pool, children’s lagoon and tennis complex. There also are plans to build 100 single-family homes, which could be used as timeshares.
The project will be done in phases, with the hotel slated as part of the first phase.
The hotel will be a five-story building, with views of the south golf course, known as the Eagle Course, plus views of an expanded lake. The lake will also be a buffer for neighboring residential areas.
Palm Tree Golf Management, a group led by Hardrives Inc. founder George Elmore, in 2011 paid $11 million for the club and its two golf courses. The club fell into financial trouble after it loaded up on debt to renovate the clubhouse and upgrade the south course, known as the Eagle Course, which was redone by noted designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. The club, once built as an amenity for homeowners, now is open to the public.
At the time of the purchase, Elmore said he was considering selling the north Patriot course for homes.
But in paperwork submitted to the city, Palm Tree said the creation of a “well-rounded resort community” is the best way to support the golf and country club. Elmore could not be reached for comment.
Greene said city planners “support the concept” but more work needs to be done. The project is at the point where a zoning change is being requested, from recreation and open space to commercial use.
Peter Reed, a principal with Commercial Florida Realty Services in Boca Raton, said there is some “synergy” with the redo of the Palm Beach Mall, and he said there is a demand for more hotel space. But he questioned whether more single-family homes are needed now. The ambitious plan could be one where “you ask for it all to get what you really want,” Reed said.
Getting the project approved could be no easy task, said Randall Greene, a developer who once lived in the community and led one of the homeowners’ associations.
The resort and housing could drive heavier traffic along Congress Avenue, Greene said, and the new owners could face the wrath of neighbors whose homes now overlook a golf course. He dubbed the project “a mini-Doral” next to an outlet mall, referring to the mixed-use community in Miami-Dade County.
“Some residents are going to go crazy when they see what could end up in their back yard,” Greene said.
This is despite Palm Tree’s conclusion that “the resort concept is merely an adaptation” to the property’s use as a clubhouse and golf facility. Residents would be offered membership in the new country club.
Rick Greene, of the city, said the developer is aware of residents’ concerns, which is why there are such expansive plans for lakes to provide water views instead of golf course vistas.
Rick Greene said plans are to have the developers meet with residents. The redevelopment could come before the city’s planning board as soon as Aug. 21, he said. The approval process could take nine months, he said
After Years of False Hopes, Signs of a Turn in Housing
Published: June 27, 2012
Joe Niece, a real estate agent in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, said he recently concluded a streak of 13 consecutive bidding wars over homes that his clients wanted to buy. Each sold above the asking price. “I just had a home that wasn’t supposed to go on the market for two weeks sold before it even went on the market,” Mr. Niece said. “It’s definitely a lot different than what we saw” during the last few summers. Like the economic recovery that began three years ago, what happens next is likely to prove a little disappointing. The pace of recovery will probably be slow, and the prices of many homes will continue to decline. Millions of people remain underwater, owing more on their homes than the homes are worth, and unable to sell. Millions of families still face foreclosure. And a setback in the still-fragile economic recovery could easily reverse the uptick in housing prices, too. But roughly six years after the housing market began its longest and deepest slide since the Great Depression, a growing number of experts and people who actually put money into housing believe the end has come. “Our sense is that the market is recovering, and we’re extremely confident that it’s not going to get worse,” said Ronnie Morgan, a San Diego real estate professional who recently created a $10 million partnership to buy foreclosed homes. The group, Alegria Real Estate Funds, already has bought about 20 homes in suburban communities, most of which they plan to hold as rental properties. “It feels very much like we’ve hit a bottom and we’re starting to come off of that bottom,” said Stuart Miller, chief executive of Lennar, a major national home builder based in Miami. The company said Wednesday that second-quarter profits were higher than expected, and orders for new homes rose 40 percent. “I’m a little nervous,” Mr. Miller quickly added in a conference call with analysts, “about saying the word ‘recovery.’ ”
The trend is clear in the data. The widely respected S.&P./Case-Shiller index reported earlier this week that sales prices for existing homes rose in April for the first time this year. Several other measures, including a seasonally adjusted version of the index, show that price increases began in February. The pace of housing construction has increased. And the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that pending home sales climbed to the highest level since the end of a federal tax credit for first-time buyers in September 2010.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the housing market has shown signs of revival, and each previous episode ended with prices renewing their downward slide.
But with each passing year, an eventual recovery has grown more likely. Prices have continued to fall, and the economy has continued to recover, a combination that has expanded the pool of potential buyers. The population has continued to grow while few new homes have been built.
Basic indicators of market health that bulged during the bubble, like the ratio of housing prices to income, have returned to more normal levels. Government efforts to help homeowners have intensified, allowing more borrowers to refinance or avoid foreclosure. “All bets are off if anything happens to the economy, but apart from that, I think the fundamentals look better than they’ve looked in 17 or 18 years,” said Richard K. Green, a professor of real estate at the University of Southern California.
Professor Green cited the combination of rising rents and low mortgage rates as a powerful inducement to potential buyers, both renters who would prefer to own and investors who want to become landlords.
“Compared to a lot of other investments right now this looks pretty good,” he said.
The influx of investors is a major reason that the market is looking stronger. Mr. Morgan, 56, built apartments before the housing crash. In 2010, seeing a new opportunity, he and some friends started bidding at the foreclosure auctions then held on the steps of the San Diego County Courthouse.
At first they bought properties to renovate and resell. Now they are focused on potential rental properties in the kinds of gated, planned communities in suburban San Diego that once were populated almost exclusively by people who owned their homes. Some of their tenants are former homeowners.
And competition has increased. The auctions were moved from the courthouse steps last year because the crowds had grown too large.
“There’s not a whole lot of other places to put your money,” Mr. Morgan said.
There are still reasons for caution. An unusually warm winter seems to have given a temporary and misleading boost to a range of economic indicators.
The pace of economic growth remains slow and fragile, shadowed by the risk that politicians in Europe and Washington will fail to address looming problems.
And the rise in prices is happening despite the vast number of vacant houses awaiting buyers, up to two million more than the normal level, with several million more houses still at risk of being foreclosed.
But this “shadow inventory” is not distributed uniformly, according to a new analysis by Goldman Sachs. Even within metropolitan areas like Phoenix, the vacant houses are clustered in less desirable neighborhoods, while buyers are seeking homes in areas where there are few vacancies.
Under these circumstances, the researchers concluded, “It is possible for us to see both house price increases and excess housing supply at the same time.”
Indeed, in a growing number of areas demand for homes is outstripping supply.
The number of homes for sale has been falling for more than a year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Some owners are waiting for prices to rise; some of them must wait because they are underwater.
Mr. Niece, the Minnesota real estate agent, said he and his partner had seen their book of listings decline from about 120 properties to 70 properties, about 45 of which already are under contract.
“I have buyers every single day complaining that they can’t find houses,” he said.
Driving through a neighboring suburb last week, Mr. Niece said that he passed a sign outside another real estate office that read, “The market is great. We’ve sold all of our inventory. We need listings.”
The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that nationwide home prices posted their first gain in the first quarter since 2007. While the gain was modest at 0.6 percent, housing experts note it’s still another sign that the housing market is gaining momentum.
FHFA’s housing price index is calculated using home sales price information based off Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-backed mortgages.
FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index rose 1.8 percent in March over February, which is the largest monthly increase in at least 20 years. Year-over-year, home prices increased 2.7 percent, FHFA reports.
"Increased affordability and a somewhat smaller inventory of homes for sale are positively impacting house prices," says Andrew Leventis, FHFA’s principal economist.
Price increases were the highest in Hawaii with a 10.3 percent increase, and in Washington, D.C., which saw a 9.8 percent gain, according to FHFA.
Still, Number of Underwater Home Owners Remain High
Despite recent improvements in home prices, the percentage of underwater borrowers has shown little improvement in the last year. More than 30 percent of home owners in the first quarter remained underwater on their mortgage, owing more on their home than it’s currently worth, according to a new Zillow housing report.
A year ago, 32.4 percent of all borrowers had negative equity on their loan compared to 31.4 percent during the most recent quarter, Zillow reports.
Yet, Zillow notes that nine out of 10 underwater borrowers are current on their mortgage payments.
"[It's] important to note that negative equity remains only a paper loss for the vast majority of underwater home owners," says Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist. "As home values slowly increase and these home owners continue to pay down their principal, they will surface again."
The highest share of underwater home owners continues to be in Las Vegas, where 71 percent of home owners are underwater, followed by Phoenix (at 55.5 percent) and Atlanta (at 55.2 percent), according to the Zillow housing report.
Source: “U.S. Housing Prices Rise,” UPI (May 23, 2012); “Home Prices Rose Most in Two Decades in March, FHFA Says,” Bloomberg News (May 23, 2012) and “More than 30% of Mortgage Borrowers Still Underwater,” CNNMoney (May 24, 2012)
Fiserv Expects Home Prices to Stabilize This Year Despite Price Declines
05/09/2012 By: Esther Cho
Analyzing the housing market through the perspective of 384 markets, Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes pointed to a slow, but steady pace toward recovery after dramatic prices declines.
According to the Fiserv indexes, in the fourth quarter of 2011, home prices in 18 percent, or 70, of the 384 metro areas tracked were either unchanged or had increased compared to a year ago during the same quarter. Also 32 percent of the metros, or 122, saw prices decline by less than 2 percent.
On the other hand, nearly one-half of the metro areas, or 191, saw prices decrease by more than 2 percent, including double-digit losses in Atlanta (-12.8 percent), Reno, Nevada (-10.8 percent), and Tucson, Arizona (-10 percent).
In the fourth quarter of 2011, the average price of a U.S. single-family home fell four percent from the year-ago period, and Fiserv Case-Shiller projects a further decline of 0.8 percent by the end of 2012.
“The year-over-year decline in average home prices does not tell the full story of stabilization and recovery,” said David Stiff, chief economist for Fiserv. “Nearly all non-price metrics – existing home sales, rising home order volumes, increased spending on home improvement, a jump in multi-family construction – indicate that the housing sector hit bottom last year and has started along a path of slow recovery.”
Stiff also added that they expect home prices, which tend to fall behind changes in sales activity, to stabilize by the end of summer, then rise at an annualized rate of 3.9 percent over the next five years.
Markets that showed improvement after large price declines include Detroit, Michigan (+9.8 percent), Cape Coral, Florida (+3.5 percent), and Port St. Lucie, Florida (+1.1 percent).
According Fiserv, some of the hardest-hit markets are expected to see the fastest growth during recovery, while home prices in markets that were not as adversely affected by the crises are expected to increase at a slower rate.
Twenty-two of the 25 markets that have seen the largest decline in home prices from peak to the end of 2011 are in California and Florida.
When distinguishing between the best-performing markets versus the worst, in the 2011 fourth quarter, 13 out of the 30 best had unemployment rates of seven percent or less and 14 had a median family income above the national average.
Seven of the 10 worst-performing markets in 2011 had unemployment rates higher than the national average and median family incomes below the national average.
When home prices do hit bottom, Fiserv said they will be 35 percent lower than their peak level in the first quarter of 2006.
With the prices declines and low mortgage rates, affordability is greater than ever. For a conventional mortgage, the payment for a median-priced home represents 12 percent of median-family income, the lowest percentage on record since 1971.
Fiserv Case Shiller anticipates the affordability will encourage more first-time and trade-up buyers into the market as apartment rents increase. The growth in demand will then put a floor under home prices.
Fiserv is a provider of financial services technology solutions. The indexes used data from the FHFA and include thousands of zip codes, counties, metro areas, and state markets. The Fiserv Case-Shiller home price forecasts are produced by Fiserv and Moody’s Analytics.
Housing Inventories Drop, List Prices Rise
In a growing number of housing markets, sellers are facing less competition now compared to a year ago.
Inventory of for-sale homes has dropped by about 23 percent compared to this time last year, and fell by 6 percent alone from December 2011 to January 2012, according to Realtor.com data.
The age of the inventory is also declining, and is nearly 5 percent below levels last January.
The median age of for-sale housing inventory is lowest — 69 days or less — in Oakland, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Denver; Fresno, Calif.; Stockton-Lodi, Calif. and Phoexnis-Mesa, Ariz., according to January data from Realtor.com.
Meanwhile, as inventory is falling, the median list price has been on the rise: up nationally more than 3 percent year-over-year.
“Over the past year, an increasing number of markets have registered year-over-year increases in median list prices while fewer markets have experienced year-over-year list price declines,” a statement by Realtor.com notes.
The metro areas with the highest increases to median list prices year-over-year, from January 2011 to January 2012 are:
1. Miami, Fla.: 32.75%
Median list price (in January 2012): $265,500
2. Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla.: 21%
Median list price: $229,900
3. Punta Gorda, Fla.: 19%
Median list price: $179,000
4. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Fla: 18.6%
Median list price: $224,150
5. Boise City, Idaho: 18.15%
Median list price: $151,228
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News
Housing Inventory Down 22% Nationwide
Have Prices Really Hit Bottom?
Top 10 markets for rising list prices (West Palm/Boca#9)
Realtor.com finds list prices up nationwide in MarchBy Inman News, Thursday, April 26, 2012.
The spring homebuying season continues its brush with optimism with median list prices of homes for sale nationwide up 5.56 percent over the last year, according to Realtor.com data updated through March 2012. The jump to $189,900 brings the national median list price close to what it was two years ago.
Continuing a distressed-market turnaround trend, the Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., metro took the No. 1 position on the list with a 23.5 percent jump from a year ago, to $179,000. The Miami metro made No. 2 on the list with a 22.27 percent list-price increase from a year ago, to $269,000. Both Phoenix and Miami were among the top 10 metros for year-over-year reductions in for-sale inventory, ranking No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.
Florida showed especially strong in median list-price growth in the last year, with five of the top 10 metros located in the Sunshine State. In addition to Miami, Punta Gorda made the list at No. 4 (17.5 percent), along with Daytona Beach (No. 8 at 15.47 percent), West Palm Beach-Boca Raton (No. 9 at 15.38 percent) and Naples (No. 10 at 15.38 percent).
Although they didn't make the top 10 list, strong growth in median list prices in other Realtor.com-tracked Florida and Arizona metros like Fort Myers-Cape Coral (up 15.31 percent), the West-Ariz. rural statistical area (up 13.64 percent) and Fort Lauderdale (up 8.39 percent) suggest a bottom has formed in these hard-hit housing markets.
However, Realtor.com analysts noted that the large shadow inventory of potential foreclosures in these states could undermine this optimism and keep prices low as supply floods the market.
The Phoenix metro area has had a particularly notable shift in fortunes. In March 2011, it was No. 4 in the top 10 metros Realtor.com tracks for year-over-year median list-price declines. The median list price was down 14.2 percent from March 2010. List prices are a leading indicator, and may reflect optimism about a market that doesn't always translate into actual sale prices.
The current median existing-home price in the Phoenix metro area is $124,500, less than half of the metro's peak list price of $267,000, seen in the summer of 2006 at the height of the housing boom.
Location: Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
|Year-over-year median list price increase (%)
|Median list price
Phoenix airport and city skyline at sunset via Shutterstock
Is Fla.’s shadow inventory a rebound threat?
ORLANDO, Fla. – May 1, 2012 – The term “shadow inventory” hangs over the real estate market, suggesting a thinly veiled catastrophe seen through the mist, just as the passengers of the Titanic watched an iceberg draw closer. However, a white paper written by Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo finds the fear of a shadow inventory overrated.
“The fear … is that the inventory of delinquent and foreclosed loans (will be released onto) an already weakened market,” says Tuccillo. “(But) the reality, even in Florida where distressed properties make up a significant portion of the market, appears to be different.”
Tuccillo says lenders have no reason to flood the real estate market with more homes if doing so would drive prices down and impact the lender’s profit. While some observers worry that lenders were holding back on purpose, Tuccillo says that’s not so – that the large number of distressed properties on hold was “largely the result of confusion over the rules of the game, and thus missteps by the lenders.”
In conducting an analysis, Florida Realtors Research looked at data from MLSs around the state and data provided by CoreLogic, a statistical analysis company.
“We looked at the recent history of distressed property listings and transactions relative to normal market data, as well as estimates for the shadow inventory, and came to some conclusions about the likely course (for the) future,” says Tuccillo.
• Florida remains one of the nation’s hardest hit states for distressed property sales.
• Distressed property sales and listings have declined since late 2010, except for single-family-home short sales.
• Average prices for distressed and normal property sales have been stabilizing.
• In general, Realtors and lenders have learned how to cope with distressed properties in a way that stabilizes the market.
• Florida’s highest percentage of distressed property (compared to total listings) occurs in the I-4 corridor and Southeast Florida; the lowest percentages occur in Northwest Florida.
• Currently, Florida’s shadow inventory was 550,000 units at the end of 2011, a decline of about 9 percent from its peak in the first quarter of 2010.
• Currently, the flow of new seriously delinquent (90 days or more) loans moving into the shadow inventory is offset by the roughly equal flow of distressed sales (short sales and REOs).
• The number of foreclosures and REOs was significantly lower in February of 2012 than one year earlier, suggesting slower shadow inventory growth.
Tuccillo predicts that distressed properties will be a significant feature of the Florida real estate market over the next ten years, but it will be considered just one property type a buyer can consider – one that has its own unique sales techniques and documentation.
© 2012 Florida Realtors®
March pending home sales rise, market recovering
WASHINGTON (April 26, 2012) – Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, another signal the housing market is recovering, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1 percent to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February, and it’s 12.8 percent above March 2011 when it was 89.9. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3.
“First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good. The housing market has clearly turned the corner. Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses.”
The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.8 percent to 78.2 in March but is 21.1 percent above March 2011. In the Midwest, the index declined 0.9 percent to 93.3 but is 16.9 percent higher than a year ago.
Pending home sales in the South rose 5.9 percent to an index of 114.1 in March and are 10.6 percent above March 2011. In the West, the index increased 8.7 percent in March to 108.0 and is 9.0 percent above a year ago.
© 2012 Florida Realtors®
Price Plunge "Hits Bottom"
By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
April 25, 2012
There are three little words South Floridians have longed to hear since the housing slide began: "We've hit bottom."
Analysts at the online real estate database Zillow are declaring just that for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties in a report to be released today that shows tri-county home prices bottomed out in the latter part of 2011.
Although the first quarter Zillow Home Value Index was down 2.3 percent in Palm Beach County on a year-over-year measure to $140,600, small increases in monthly and quarterly measures were enough for senior Zillow economist Svenja Gudell to predict an end to free-falling prices.
"The last two years we've seen the rate of decline slow and now we're seeing this uptick for the first time, where instead of sloping down, the curve is sloping up," Gudell said.
Of the 30 largest metropolitan areas measured by the Seattle-based Zillow, 14 were declared to have hit bottom either at the end of 2011 or between January and March of this year, including Orlando and Tampa.
The optimism was echoed by Florida International University real estate economist Ken Johnson, who began predicting a bottom in November when prices hit 2002 levels.
"It just makes really strong financial sense to buy right now," Johnson said. "We can't go down anymore."
Zillow's index considers the value of all homes, not just those that sold during the measurement period, and South Florida Realtors are often skeptical of the company's South Florida data. Zillow's website states that as of February, its estimates were within 5 percent of the actual sales price of a South Florida home just 27 percent of the time. About 49 percent of the time the estimates were within 10 percent of the price.
Zillow estimates the national home value during the first quarter of 2012 was $146,200, a 3 percent decrease from the same time in 2011, and predicts the country as a whole won't hit bottom until the end of the year.
That's more in line with some other reports released this week that offered mixed signals on the state of the housing market.
Nationwide, new home sales in March fell from the previous month, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report released Tuesday, while the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index was down 3.5 percent in February from the same time in 2011.
South Florida, however, was a bright spot in Case-Shiller, showing a 0.6 percent bump up from January and a 0.8 percent increase from February 2011.
Gudell said investors are driving South Florida's price increases, which Zillow estimates will climb 5.6 percent in the next year.
Still, there are 373,550 foreclosure cases backlogged in Florida's courts that could depress prices once they hit the market. Johnson said he's less concerned about the so-called shadow inventory because people are finding creative ways to dispose of current foreclosures, such as with bulk sales.
"They may hinder the speed of the bounce-back, but I don't see prices coming down anymore," Johnson said. "My hopes and intuition tell me it will be a slow but steady recovery."
Inventory of For-Sale Homes Posts Big Drop
The nationwide inventory of residential homes for-sale dropped 21 percent in March compared to a year ago, according to newly released housing data from Realtor.com, tracking 146 metro markets.
In fact, all 146 markets posted a drop in their inventory, except for two — Hartford, Conn., and Philadelphia.
The nationwide median list price in March also saw improvement, increasing more than 5 percent last month compared to last year at this time.
The housing picture is much different than last year at this time, when inventory was up 26 percent and list prices were down 4.81 percent.
“If the market continues to hold its own, 2012 could well mark the beginning of a broad-based housing recovery,” according to Realtor.com.
The metros that posted the biggest drops in listings of for-sale homes in the last year are:
1. Oakland, Calif.: -51.91 percent year-over-year drop in total listings
2. Bakersfield, Calif.: -50.35 percent
3. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.: -48 percent
4. Fresno, Calif.: -45.56 percent
5. Miami: -42.34 percent
6. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: -39.66 percent
7. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.: -39.38 percent
8. Atlanta: -39.26 percent
9. Orlando: -39 percent
10. Portland-Vancouver, Ore.-Wash.: -38.79 percent
11. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.: -37.35 percent
12. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: -36.18 percent
13.Washington DC: -14.73%
14. West Palm Beach- Boca Raton FL: -21.61%
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News
Is housing bubble possible again?
By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 12:04 a.m. Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Posted: 9:04 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, 2012
WEST PALM BEACH — There is little to prevent another housing run-up and subsequent bust as long as there are people who want to get rich quick, said the chief economist of AIG during a business conference Tuesday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
Ardavan Mobasheri, who spoke to about 100 people gathered for a real estate discussion at the International Economic Forum of the Americas, said the financial crisis that began in 2008 can "easily trace its roots to the excesses of the housing market" but can't as easily be stopped from happening again.
"So long as individuals have the liberty and freedom to be greedy, the speculative bubbles will be inevitable, and we'll have to deal with the outcome of the bursting of that bubble," Mobasheri said. "There is no measure we can take to prevent investors who want in a short period of time to become rich."
AIG, a multinational insurance company, was a major contributor to the economic crisis when it imploded in September 2008. A credit rating downgrade required it to put up billions of dollars in cash collateral, which triggered a lack of liquidity. Its federal bailout package of $182.3 billion was the single largest of any company in U.S. history. AIG has paid back billions of dollars. Its remaining debt to the Troubled Asset Relief Program is about $35.7 billion.
Although there is no cure for greed, changes in mortgage application requirements and underwriting guidelines will help thwart a repeat of the multitude of bad loans granted during the housing boom, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, who spoke during the same session as Mobasheri.
"Back in 2005 investors came in with exotic mortgages and liar loans, but that's not the case today," Yun said. "These investors are coming in solidly with cash deals."
Yun was optimistic about a housing recovery, predicting Florida existing-home prices will jump 10 percent by the end of 2012.
Several Realtors in the session said bidding wars are again commonplace and that they are having trouble finding homes for traditional buyers, especially those getting a loan instead of using cash. One Realtor told the panelists she worries that another mini-bubble is forming.
"The home is on the market for $115,000 and people are bidding $150,000," she said. "It's not a fair game for people trying to purchase with financing."
In February, there was a six-month supply of homes for sale in Palm Beach County, down from nearly 14 months during the same month last year, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
Yun's pricing prediction was buoyed Tuesday by a Realtor.com report that found Palm Beach County listing prices were up 15 percent to $225,000 in March compared to the same time in 2011. Nationally, the list price was up 5.5 percent.
A backlog of homes in foreclosure will eventually expand the housing supply, a development welcomed by Florida Realtors President Summer Greene .
"When you put a foreclosure on the market you have, two, three, four offers coming in," she said.
While real estate may be bouncing back, other speakers Tuesday were more reluctant to forecast a rapid overall fiscal recovery.
"Risks remain high and the path forward is shrouded in uncertainty," said Lisa Shalett, chief investment officer of Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, during her keynote speech. "The global economy is far from out of the woods."
No longer swamped in foreclosures,
Florida dominates list of “Turnaround Towns”
February 01, 2012 03:45PM
Thanks to the massive wave of foreclosures that swept across Florida, the state claims eight of the National Association of Realtor’s top 10 “Turnaround Towns.”
The report looks at which local markets experienced the greatest appreciation in median price and largest reductions in inventory age and inventory levels from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the same period in 2011.
Miami took the top spot.
“They say the first to hit bottom are the first to get up and that’s exactly what we have been seeing in Miami,” said Ines Hegedus-Garcia of Majestic Properties
Fort Lauderdale, which took the eighth spot on the list, was the other South Florida market to crack the top 10.
Elsewhere in the Sunshine state Fort Meyers-Cape Coral placed fourth, Sarasota-Bradenton placed fifth and Naples finished seventh. Rounding out the list were Lakeland-Winter Haven and Punta Gorda. – Adam Fusfeld
South Florida resale inventory down nearly 60 percent since 2008
November 23, 2011 11:15AM
Residential resale inventory in South Florida is down 58 percent since Thanksgiving in 2008, according to a report from Condo Vultures. There were almost 108,000 properties on the market in South Florida in November 2008, but that number has been reduced to less than 45,000 as of this week, according to analysis by Condo Vultures' CVR Realty brokerage. The number of residential properties under contract in the region has jumped to 22,000, despite a gloomy economic picture nationwide. That has come for a number of reasons, including the presence of international buyers and a foreclosure freeze that saw lenders hold back bank-owned properties from the market. -- Alexander Britell
Tags: condo vultures cvr realty
Canadians "endvestors" looking for cheap Florida real estate
November 23, 2011 09:45AM
The increasing number of Canadians buying Florida real estate on the cheap has earned them a new name: "endvestors," or those who buy properties in Florida looking to rent them until they retire. "These are people who get it," said Wayne Levy, who runs Florida Home Finders of Canada. "They understand that if they don't get a foot in the water now, there's a good chance they won't be able to afford a second home when they actually want it." Joe Waddell paid $120,000 for a three-bedroom, 1700-square-foot condominium in Fort Myers, and said he won't be using it for several more years. He's one of many Canadians doing so in Florida, particularly in South Florida. [Toronto Star]
Realty Times December 10, 2011
Housing and Economic Forecast Points to Rising Activity
Home sales are expected to stay on an uptrend through 2012, although the performance will be uneven with mortgage constraints weighing on the market, according to experts at a residential real estate forum today at the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo here.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said existing-home sales have been underperforming by historical standards and will rise gradually but unevenly. "If we just hold at the first-quarter sales pace of 5.1 million, sales this year would rise 4 percent, but the remainder of the year looks better," Yun said. "We expect 5.3 million existing-home sales this year, up from 4.9 million in 2010, with additional gains in 2012 to about 5.6 million -- that's a sustainable level given the size of our population."
Mortgage interest rates should rise gradually to 5.5 percent by the end of the year and average 6.0 percent in 2012 -- still relatively affordable by historic standards.
"A huge volume of cash sales, supported by the recovery in the stock market, show that smart money is chasing real estate. This implies that there could be a sizeable pent-up demand if mortgages become more readily accessible for qualified buyers," Yun said. "The problem isn't with interest rates, but with the continuation of unnecessarily tight credit standards that are keeping many creditworthy buyers from getting a loan despite extraordinarily low default rates over the past two years."
Yun said that if credit requirements returned to normal, safe standards, home sales would be 15 to 20 percent higher. He added that some parents are buying homes with cash for their children, and offering them loans which provide better returns than bank accounts or CDs.
Yun projects the Gross Domestic Product to grow 2.5 percent this year and 2.7 percent in 2012, adding 1.5 million to 2 million jobs yearly over the next two years. The unemployment rate should decline to 8.8 percent by the end of 2011 and average 8.6 percent next year, returning to a normal level of 6 percent around 2015.
Housing starts are forecast to rise but remain below long-term trends, reaching 603,000 in 2011, up from 595,000 last year, and continue growing to 908,000 in 2012. New-home sales are seen at a record low 320,000 this year, rising to 487,000 in 2012. "A recovery in new homes will be slow because of the extra price discount in the existing home market," Yun noted. In March, the typical new single-family home cost $53,300 more than an existing home.
Inflation appears to be relatively modest for now, with the Consumer Price Index rising 2.9 percent this year. "We'll be closely watching the impact of fuel costs on consumer spending and inflation -- that would slow economic growth, job creation and home sales," Yun said.
Apartment rents are trending up, and are likely to rise at faster rates as vacancies decline. Following the correction in home prices, it has now become more affordable to buy in most of the country. "Twice as many renters had enough income to buy a home in 2010 in comparison with 2005, so we have a much larger pool of financially qualified renters," Yun said. "Rising rents and excellent housing affordability conditions will encourage potential buyers who've been on the sidelines."
Yun expects the median existing-home price to remain near $170,000 over the next two years, which would mark four consecutive years of essentially no meaningful price change.
Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac, holds similar views on the outlook. "Economic activity will accelerate this year -- there will be no double dip in the economy," he said. Nothaft is more optimistic on job growth, expecting 2.0 million to 2.5 million jobs created in 2011 with unemployment dropping to 8.4 percent by the end of the year.
Nothaft expects the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to trend up to 5.25 percent by the end of the year, and for home sales to rise 5 percent. "National home price indices are close to a bottom and prices are likely to bottom sometime this year," he said.
Refinancing activity in 2011 will be only half of what it was last year. "As a result, banks may become more willing to lend to home buyers," Nothaft said.
The National Association of REALTORS®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Florida Realtors hosts 2012 real estate & economic forecast event
ORLANDO, Fla. – Dec. 1, 2011 – The real estate market plays a vital role in Florida’s economy, and figuring out what may lie ahead in 2012 is a key question for policymakers, residents and Realtors alike.
Several nationally known economists will share their insights on the state’s real estate market and economy during Florida Realtors® 2012 Real Estate and Economic Forecast Conference on Dec. 6, 8:30 a.m. to noon. The conference takes place at Florida Realtors headquarters, 7025 Augusta National Drive, Orlando, FL 32822.
“Florida Realtors is bringing together expert economic forecasters to discuss what they see happening in Florida and nationally in 2012,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “It’s an opportunity to find out what may be in store for the real estate sector and the economy in general.”
While the event’s Orlando location has filled to capacity, Realtors in Florida can still participate, via a live feed, at many of the state’s local associations and boards. The event will also be recorded, and Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department will send a DVD of the event to all local boards and associations in the state.
Speakers include Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research at the National Association of Realtors; Mark Vitner, a managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo; and Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors. Dr. Yun’s remarks will start the conference.
Following the featured speakers, a panel of Florida real estate professionals will discuss the outlook for several sectors of the real estate market. Panelists include Clark Toole, president and COO, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc. in Florida, covering residential real estate; Cynthia Shelton, 2009 president of Florida Realtors and a director at Colliers International in Orlando, discussing the commercial market; and Dean Saunders, accredited land consultant and broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate in Lakeland, covering the market for land and undeveloped property.
“This is the first event of its kind hosted by Florida Realtors,” says 2011 Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. “It’s definitely going to be exciting to hear what trends may be developing for next year.”
© 2011 Florida Realtors®
November 14th, 2011 by Carolyn DiPaolo
The Palm Beach Mall is the home of a planned outlet center.
The first tangible evidence of change coming to the Palm Beach Mall has sprung up in the last few days. A sign touting the planned Palm Beach Fashion Outlets has appeared in front of the property on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard east of Interstate 95.
It lists a website – pbfashionoutlets.com – which is just a shell for now.
Here is the latest Palm Beach Post story, published after the deal closed in October for a total of $35.5 million.
Fashion outlets on their way to neglected Palm Beach Mall, developers say
By Emily Roach
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 5:02 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, 2011
Posted: 6:04 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011
WEST PALM BEACH — The Palm Beach Mall will be redeveloped as the Palm Beach Fashion outlets, bringing construction and ultimately hundreds of jobs to the mostly shuttered retail center.
Once revamped, it will offer an open-air outlet center beside a shopping center, according to a news release from New England Development, Eastern Real Estate and Lubert-Adler, all of which partnered to buy the 80-acre property.
Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and other luxury retail outlets have shown early interest in the location, New England Development Chairman Stephen Karp told The Post earlier this year. Marketing materials released at a retail conference showed premium outlets, including Nordstrom Rack, Bloomingdale's Outlet Store and Neiman Marcus' Last Call.
That scope of project could become a shopping destination for people from outside the county, said Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.
"If it's anything like what we've seen in other parts of our state, it really is an attraction for people to come and visit," she said. Those shoppers tend to spend an overnight or weekend, and money could trickle into West Palm Beach's CityPlace and Clematis Street corridor, she said.
Mayor Jeri Muoio said the developers have worked with the city as they explored concepts. She was unsure how soon construction would begin. "I think they're trying to decide to rehab it or start from scratch," she said.
The fashion outlet center is expected to open in 2013.
Palm Beach Mall was the first regional mall in Palm Beach County and has some of the best interstate access in South Florida, as it is easily seen off the Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard exit of Interstate 95.
The deal - which includes purchase of the majority of the mall from ORIX Capital Markets and parcels owned separately by Macy's and Dillard's department stores - was initially reported in a news release as worth $40 million. The representative who released the information, however, later backed off of that figure. Neither Karp nor representatives from Eastern Real Estate and ORIX returned messages today to provide more information.
Multiple owners had been considered an obstacle to pulling the main property out of foreclosure, filed in April 2009 on $55 million in loans.
The court-appointed receiver, Madison Marquette's Chuck Taylor, was traveling today and unavailable to comment, but his assistant said the property was still under contract and had not closed. Wells Fargo Bank financed the acquisition, according to the news release.
Dan Lynch, managing partner of Atlantic Retail Properties' Jupiter office who brokered the deal, said J.C. Penney Co. would be "part of the future of the project." The retailer, as well as George's Music, stuck it out at the mall, even posting a sign earlier this year that says: "Here to Stay."
Once construction starts, whether it's demolition of the million square feet of space opened in 1967 or renovation of the existing buildings, Muoio said city leaders and neighbors will be relieved to see the "dead space" revitalized.
Palm Beach Lakes South association President Bernard Macon said a new mall will bring back jobs for young people in his neighborhood, which lies just to the west of I-95. And it will give people, young and old, a place to go again.
He and his wife used to walk at the mall, Macon said.
"There's nothing exciting in there," Macon said of the mall now. "You want to see things to make the walk interesting."
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Alexandra Clough contributed to this story.
CoreLogic: Fewer U.S. homes have negative equity
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Dec. 1, 2011 – CoreLogic released data yesterday that showed 10.7 million residential properties with a mortgage, or 22.1 percent, had negative equity at the end of third quarter 2011. That’s down slightly from 10.9 million properties, or 22.5 percent, in the second quarter. Florida ranks third in percentage of homeowners with negative equity behind Nevada and Arizona.
An additional 2.4 million borrowers nationwide had less than 5 percent equity, referred to as near-negative equity, in the third quarter. Together, negative equity and near-negative equity mortgages accounted for 27.1 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide in the third quarter, down from 27.5 percent in the previous quarter.
Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside-down,” is the condition in which borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.
“Although slightly down, negative equity remains very high and renders many borrowers vulnerable when negative economic shocks occur, such as job loss or illness,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic. “The nearly $700 billion mortgage debt overhang has touched many corners of the market, and this overhang is holding back the recovery of the housing market and broader economy.”
• Nevada has the highest negative equity percentage with 58 percent of all of its mortgaged properties underwater, followed by Arizona (47 percent), Florida (44 percent), Michigan (35 percent) and Georgia (30 percent). This is the first quarter that Georgia entered the top five, surpassing California which had been in the top five since tracking began in 2009.
• The top five states combined have an average negative equity ratio of 41.4 percent, while the remaining states have a combined average negative equity ratio of 17.6 percent.
• There are nearly 22 million borrowers, or 45 percent of all borrowers, that have mortgages with an 80 percent or more loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and 69 percent of those mortgages have above-market interest rates of 5 percent or more. Conversely, only 54 percent of borrowers who have less than 80 percent LTV have above-market interest rates. While above-market interest rates make refinancing at today’s historically low rates a cost-effective step for qualified homeowners, it can be more difficult for borrowers with above-average LTV ratios to qualify for refinancing.
• Of the 10.7 million borrowers in negative equity, there are 6.3 million first liens without home equity loans that have an average mortgage balance of $222,000. They are underwater by an average of $52,000, which equates to an average LTV ratio of 131 percent. The negative equity share for the first lien-only borrowers was 18 percent, and 40 percent had an LTV of 80 percent or higher.
• The remaining 4.4 million negative equity borrowers hold first liens and home equity loans with an average mortgage balance of $309,000. These borrowers are underwater by an average of $84,000 and have an average LTV of 137 percent.
• The negative equity share for first lien borrowers with home equity loans is 38 percent, or twice the share for first lien-only borrowers. Over 60 percent of borrowers with home equity loans have combined LTVs of 80 percent or higher.
• Of the total $699 billion in aggregate negative equity, first liens without home equity loans account for $329 billion aggregate negative equity, while first liens with home equity loans account for $370 billion. CoreLogic estimates that of the $370 billion first liens with home equity loans, $190 billion is due to the first lien component.
• There are 8.6 million conventional loans in a negative equity position that have an average mortgage balance of $272,000 and are underwater by an average of $70,000.
• There are 1.5 million FHA loans in a negative equity position that have an average mortgage balance of $170,000 and are underwater by an average of $26,000.
• Given that bank portfolios account for 15 percent of all first lien mortgage loans, CoreLogic estimates that 1.6 million properties valued at $105 billion of aggregate negative equity are in bank portfolios.
© 2011 Florida Realtors®