Bradenton Florida Real Estate News

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We made three sales yesterday!

Our team has made 5 real estate sales in the past 10 days! We have a feeling that our Bradenton - Sarasota market is turning the corner. It looks like 2007 may shape up to be a housing rebound for our local market.

Bradenton Real Estate

Monday, October 30, 2006

Who can afford a home in Sarasota - Bradenton?

The Florida Housing coalition offers a research tool covering 18 of Florida's largest metropolitan areas. You can visit their web site at to use the interactive tool to see which occupation's can afford to buy in the area.

By the way, we are seeing a flurry of activity from buyer's this week. Prices have declined in the Sarasota - Bradenton market to a point that buyer's are getting excited again. Also, mortgage rates are still quite low.
Bradenton Real Estate

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sarasota - Bradenton sales numbers still down

2005 vs. 2006




* Median price

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is it a good time to buy a home?

Is it a good time to buy a home? 'Maybe' means 'yes'

NEW YORK -- Oct. 25, 2006 -- Many homebuyers are asking themselves if they should buy a newly built home now, or wait for prices to fall, according to a new report on, The Wall Street Journal's guide to property.

Last summer, price appreciation rates ran at double-digits in many parts of the country and investors knew that in nine months or a year, when the project was finished, they could flip the unit to a new buyer at a profit. A year later, in July 2006, new-home sales were down 21.6 percent, housing starts decreased 13.3 percent and permits were down 20.8 percent. Inventories of unsold new homes are now at a 6.5-month supply -- an 11-year high.

"The recent downturn in housing prices may enable home buyers to negotiate extra incentives from new home builders," says Lauren Kim, senior editor, "Keep an eye out for ads … to see if the builder is offering any new buyer incentives, like buy downs on mortgage interest rates or free finished basements."

Buying a home is a major financial commitment and homebuyers in today's market are understandably worried that their new home's value will fall -- before they even move in. However, a report by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies notes that sharp declines of 5 percent or more seldom occur in the absence of severe overbuilding, dramatic employment losses or a combination of the two.

Homebuyers should balance the risk that home prices may fall with the reality that they'll never be able to anticipate the exact moment that prices will reach bottom.

"The best buying opportunities come when markets are down and sellers are a little more accommodating," says Kim. "Do your homework before you buy, and be prepared to hold the property for a long time if you want to realize large gains."

Source: Planet Realtor

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upbeat housing report

This article was just released today on Planet Realtor (our Florida Association of Realtors news and information source).

Is housing out of the woods?

WASHINGTON -- Oct. 24, 2006 -- Depending on whom you ask, the winds may already be shifting for the housing market. All year, economists have warned of a bursting housing bubble and its potential impact on economic growth. However, a recent stream of encouraging data has some prominent prognosticators changing their tune.

One of the first in line was Alan Greenspan. As recently as May 18, the former Federal Reserve chairman put an exclamation point on the housing slowdown when he declared, "The boom is over." But now, the "worst may well be over," Greenspan was quoted as saying Oct. 7, after mortgage applications posted their biggest weekly gain since June 2005.

A growing number of economists and analysts have come around to the ex-Fed chief's view. Some investors may see sunnier skies too, as homebuilding stocks such as Lennar (LEN), DR Horton (DHI), and Pulte Homes (PHM) have rebounded since touching 52-week lows in July. Reports on existing home sales for September, scheduled for release Oct. 25, and new home sales Oct. 26 could shed more light on housing's status.

Leveling out?

While the most bearish scenarios may be becoming increasingly unlikely, the housing market probably isn't out of the woods yet. Even the most upbeat forecasts call for new-home construction to keep declining nearly as much as it already has so far. Meanwhile, underlying economic figures may contradict their milder headlines.

Greenspan's assessment followed on the heels of Fed Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn's suggestion Oct. 4 that "[housing] starts may be closer to their trough than to their peak." The data since then could give bulls even more reason for guarded optimism. On Oct. 17, the National Association of Home Builders' housing-market index rebounded to 31 from 30 in September, snapping a 12-month decline from 68 a year earlier. A day later, a Commerce Dept. report showed housing starts rose 5.9 percent in September, to an unexpectedly strong pace of 1.772 million units.

"The point of maximum deterioration in housing activity has probably passed," says Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs (GS), in an Oct. 20 report. "The sharp downturn of the past year seems to have brought total housing starts -- single-family starts, multi-family starts, and mobile-home shipments -- close to the level justified by the underlying demographics."

Permit plunge

Still, Hatzius comes up with plenty of caveats. Housing activity could drop by another 300,000 housing starts, he projects, as homebuilders work off unwanted inventory and buyers shift from single-family units to multifamily and mobile homes. That would come on top of a decline of 400,000 housing starts already, Hatzius says.

Others maintain that the housing downturn still has a long way to go. "Commentary suggesting housing demand is recovering, based on the latest homebuilder and mortgage applications readings, appears to be more wishful thinking than fact," says Keith Hembre, chief economist at First American Funds, in an Oct. 20 report.

Housing may have stabilized somewhat, but it's probably only temporary, according to David Rosenberg, North American economist at Merrill Lynch (MER). The unexpected September surge in housing starts came alongside a 6.3 percent drop in building permits to their slowest pace since October 2001. A decline in building permits has accompanied a rise in housing starts only six times since 2003, according to Rosenberg, and starts fell a month later on five of those occasions.

Grim futures

Rosenberg also differs with Goldman's Hatzius over demographics. "Our research suggests that this housing cycle does not bottom out until starts reach the 1.3 million mark," Rosenberg said in an Oct. 19 report. "So contrary to popular opinion, we are barely in the fifth inning of this down-cycle on the construction front."

So far, futures traders are sticking with the pessimistic view. In afternoon trading Oct. 23, investors were predicting declines over the next 12 months in all 10 markets covered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's housing contracts. The composite index is seen falling 7 percent by August 2007, when the one-year contract expires. That's roughly unchanged from what investors expected a month earlier.

Other derivatives traders may also be betting on a deeper slump for housing. On Oct. 11, the lowest-rated subset of the ABX home-equity index touched its weakest price level since it was launched in January, according to London-based Markit, which created the index with CDS IndexCo. The index tracks a basket of credit default swaps on subprime mortgages and home-equity loans.

Circumspect bears

In an Oct. 9 speech, San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen painted a possibly even gloomier picture. Yellen spoke of a major homebuilder who calls Phoenix and Las Vegas "the new 'ghost towns' of the West." According to Yellen, price cuts "appear inevitable."

Still, there are some glimmers of hope for housing demand. Peter Kretzmer, a senior economist at Bank of America (BAC), points to the University of Michigan's latest consumer-sentiment report, in which the share of respondents indicating that it was a good time to buy a house jumped to its highest level in 14 months.

Meanwhile, some economists are becoming more circumspect in their bearishness. In an Oct. 20 note, Richard Berner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley (MS), says he still believes the housing slowdown is far from over. "Nonetheless, the latest data suggest that the intensity of the housing decline may be fading somewhat, and with it some of the concurrent downward pressure on housing prices," he adds. "If so, one of the biggest perceived risks to the U.S. economy may be smaller than feared."

After years of defying naysayers' predictions, the housing market has finally cooled in recent months, by virtually all accounts. However, the debate over when the current slowdown will end may be just beginning.
Bradenton Real Estate

Friday, October 13, 2006

Four ways to a faster sale in a slow market

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Oct. 10, 2006 -- A tougher housing market means that real estate practitioners must take every opportunity to get their listings noticed. Here are some ways that sellers can work with their practitioners to foster a faster sale:

• Exposure, exposure, exposure. Sure, it may inconvenient to have buyers visit the home at unpredictable times. But limiting the times at which buyers can view the house may mean that they’ll look at other homes instead. “More showings equals greater interest equals greater likelihood for more money,” says David Martz, an associate with Re/Max Valley Properties near San Jose, Calif.

• Lookers come; sellers go. Sellers should leave the house when buyers arrive. Having the sellers around can make buyers uncomfortable. “Their very presence can be contrary to the merchandising experience,” says John Dozier, owner of Cupertino Properties.

• Competitive commissions. Make sure the commission being offered to the buyer's agent is competitive, even if the seller’s agent is offering to take a smaller than usual commission. Otherwise, buyers' agents could focus on other homes first.

• No surprises. Don’t forget to mention things that could make a buyer or a buyer’s agent feel disappointed the first time they see the property: a bad roof, a foundation that needs major repairs. Disclose these flaws in the listing notes as well as the legal disclosures so buyer’s agents can prepare their clients before showing them the property.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, Margaret Steen (10/07/2006)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Poll on Real Estate Attitudes

A just released AP Poll reveals buyers attitudes about real estate. Here are a few questions and answers from the poll.

Poll Results on Real Estate Attitudes
Oct 12, 2006

The Associated Press-AOL Real Estate poll on public attitudes about shopping for homes was conducted Sept. 26-28 by Ipsos and is based on telephone interviews Ipsos conducted with 2,001 adults from all states except Alaska and Hawaii. That included 289 people who bought a home in the last two years and 401 likely to buy a home within the next two years.

Results were weighted to represent the population by demographic factors such as age, sex, region, race and income. No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 3 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all people in the U.S. were polled. The margin of error for those who bought homes within the last 2 years was plus or minus 6 percentage points, while the margin of error for those who are likely to buy a home in the next 2 years was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

1. During the past two years, did you buy a house or condominium, or not?
-Yes, 16 percent
-No, 84 percent

2. How likely is it that you will buy a house or condominium in the next two years? Is it almost certain, very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or will you definitely not buy a house or condominium during the next two years?
-Almost certain, 7 percent
-Very likely, 8 percent
-Somewhat likely, 10 percent
-Not too likely, 21 percent-Definitely will not buy, 53 percent
-Not sure, 1 percent
Total almost certain/very likely/somewhat likely - 26 percent
Total not too likely/will not buy - 74 percent

4. Do you think the housing market in your area is overpriced, under priced, or do you think the market is priced about right?
-Overpriced, 46 percent
-Underpriced, 5 percent
-About right, 45 percent
-Not sure, 4 percent

5. During the next (two years), do you think housing prices in your area will go up, go down, or stay about the same?
-Go up, 49 percent
-Go down, 18 percent
-Stay about the same, 32 percent
-Not sure, 1 percent

14 . How did you FIRST learn about the house or condominium you bought? Was it
-Through a professional real estate agent, 32 percent
-Through friends or family, 29 percent
-Driving or walking around looking for "for sale" signs, 19 percent
-On the Internet, 11 percent
-Through newspaper ads, 6 percent
-I built it, 3 percent
-In some other way, 2 percent

Join us on Oct. 27th at the Bradenton Real Estate Club where we'll be discussing the whole survey.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Homeowner's Survey

Via Barron's (print ed) comes this fascinating survey by RBC Capital. They asked over 1,000 U.S. Homeowners numerous questions. Here are some of the more interesting answers:7

5.6%: see their Home's value climbing over the next few years
46%: expect a gain of 5% or more annually
70%: said their home's value has risen 10% or more in the past 3 years
6% think their home's value will sink in the next few years
7.8%: worry that their mortgage might exceed the value of their home

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tips for buying a house in a buyers market

Now is a great time to buy a house. Prices are falling, and so are mortgage rates. Millions of houses are for sale, and sellers are getting anxious.

That's one way of looking at it.

Alternatively, you could say: This is a bad time to buy a house. Prices might be lower in a few months. Same with mortgage rates. With more than 4 million houses on the market nationally, and more being added daily, sellers are bound to become desperate. Why not wait them out?

In many places, it's a buyer's market in real estate, with sellers outnumbering potential purchasers. The resulting downward push on prices makes buyers happy. But it complicates matters for buyers, too. In some markets, there are too many choices to sort through. Even more bewildering, buyers wonder if they should wait a few months.

"They're worried that they're going to buy too soon, and the figures will reduce, and by the time they go through the transaction, they'll have negative equity," says Mario Villena, vice president of Homekeys, a Miami-based online real estate brokerage. But, Villena adds, in every market there are people who are serious about buying, and don't get sidetracked by market forces that aren't under their control.

For those buyers, experts have some advice: If you find the right house at the right price, buy it.

Negotiate effectively.

Avoid gimmicks.

If you find the right house at the right price, buy it

If you're serious about buying a house, this is both the first step and the final goal. To put it more precisely, you have to decide whether you will actively shop and then negotiate a fair deal, or if you'll just passively browse houses, hoping to stumble on a steal.

You're more likely to succeed with the active approach instead of waiting (possibly in vain) for prices to fall further. You can't predict when the local market will hit bottom. Even if prices do fall, someone could buy your favorite house out from under you. Diane Saatchi, a real estate agent with the Corcoran Group on Long Island, N.Y., draws this analogy: "It's like when you find a dress that you like, and you wait for it to be on sale, and then the sale comes and they don't have your size. Theoretically, you saved 20 percent. But you don't have your dress."

There's always the possibility that you'll buy a house and then the value will fall. In the 1990s, Southern California and South Florida had housing slumps in which it took years for prices to recover their previous levels. It could happen again, there or elsewhere. For that reason, "buy a home that can grow with you if necessary," says Elizabeth Razzi, author of "The Fearless Home Buyer."

"Look to the long term, because you don't know how long you'll be there," Razzi says. "You might have to ride out bad market conditions for a while." True to her book's title, Razzi says you shouldn't let fear dictate your timing.

"You should not wait if you find the right property, because, for one thing, you're not looking solely for the best price. You're looking for the best home."

And keep in mind that mortgage rates have fallen about three-quarters of a percentage point in the last three months. "Right now is a perfect time to buy, because of a real sudden increase in buying power," says Bill Christiano, loan officer with MortgageIT's office in suburban Westchester, N.Y.

Negotiate effectively

Right now, "there's more room for negotiation" in most housing markets because the sales pace slows in autumn, and prices have been falling, says Steve Habetz, president of ARCServ, a network of real estate attorneys.

Villena counsels buyers to avoid the temptation to toss out lowball offers, because sellers won't negotiate if they feel insulted. "You have to be able to defend that offer as much as the seller has to be able to defend the asking price," he says. "If you're not making a full-price offer, it's not enough to pull a number out of the air. You should be able to show that this neighborhood has 20 comparable homes for sale, and, although I like your property, it's priced 6 percent above the other properties. That gives you a better footing for establishing an objective and reasonable negotiation."

Don't just negotiate with the seller. "Most people think that only sellers pay commissions," Villena says. "They think that buyers are being serviced for free. Most people are not yet aware that there is a commission component reserved for the buyer's agent. And that, too, just like the seller's commission, is negotiable."

Avoid gimmicks

You're shopping for a house, not for a Caribbean cruise or a car lease. Recently The New York Verdana,Arial reported on a condo seller who was offering to give the buyer a year's use of a leased Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. Razzi says you'll find all sorts of gimmicky incentives from condo sellers. They offer flat-screen TVs or weekends at vacation homes, or more creative inducements. "That has nothing to do with the transaction at hand," Razzi says. If there's an incentive, make sure it has something to do with the dwelling -- upgraded countertops, decorating allowances, payment of mortgage closing costs, that sort of thing. "If they're willing to subsidize it with a $500 TV, ask for $500 off the asking price," she says.

There's another gimmick to avoid: what O'Connor calls "magic loans." This is the time to avoid mortgages such as pay-option ARMs and interest-only loans, she says. If you can't afford it with a more mainstream loan, such as a 30-year fixed or a 5/1 ARM, you can't afford it. Not in this market, where house values could drop and mortgage rates are almost sure to rise.

© 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Manatee Housing Market Update

Don't just take our word on what's happening in the Manatee market. Below are two articles that bears reading.

Here's a snapshot of what they say:
First, the bad news:
1. The housing market will get worse before it gets better.
2. The Manatee area and all of Southwest Florida is in for a hard landing.
3. We have already experienced a 17.6% price decline from the high in 2005 and might only be halfway to the bottom which may happen summer of 2007.
4. Our Manatee market may languish for the next 4-5 year.

Second, the good news:
1. Short term rates are likely to hold steady and might even fall. This will lower home equity line payments.
2. Mortgage rates are likely to fall below 6% in 2007.
3. Most people have owned their homes long enough to have a sizeable amount of equity.
4. Other economic factors look good and a recession is not in the picture.
5. It is great time to buy a home.

Please read the two articles below:"Big downturn seen for some home markets""'Soft Landing' not happening"

Big downturn seen for some home markets

Big downturn seen for some home markets
Analysis of 379 metro areas forecasts double-digit declines for nearly 20 markets.

By Lex Haris,
October 3 2006: 8:05 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- The housing market will get worse before it gets better - that's the finding of an analysis by Moody's to be released Wednesday.

In the survey of 379 metro areas, the study's authors concluded that nearly 20 areas eventually could experience a "crash," or a decline of more than 10 percent from peak to trough. The most hard-hit areas will be in California, alongside the Southwest coast of Florida, and in Arizona and Nevada.In addition to 30 areas already experiencing declines, the study predicts that 70 others will soon experience measurable declines, with drops extending into 2008 and even 2009.

Using a separate analytical approach, the study's authors found that more than 100 markets have a significant probability of experiencing declines by this time next year. The authors considered home affordability, the local job market, supply/demand, and overall values.

Those 100 areas represent nearly half of the country's housing stock. As a result, the authors write, "odds are high that national home prices will decline in 2007; the first decline in nominal national house prices since the Great Depression."Of the 100 largest markets with forecast declines, Cape Coral, Fla., is forecasted to post the biggest drop in home prices - 18.6 percent from the peak in the fourth quarter of 2005 to the trough in the second quarter of 2007.

Moody's forecasts that home prices in Reno, Nev., will drop 17.2 percent by the fourth quarter of 2008.The authors note that the housing boom has already begun to unwind, driven by the increase in adjustable mortgage rates - putting homes further out of reach of buyers - and the decline in "flippers" who had pushed prices higher hoping for quick sales.

'Soft Landing' not happening

Here's a timely article from Inman News:
'Soft landing' for housing 'no longer in the cards'

The housing market downturn looks rougher than the soft landing housing analysts had been expecting, but some economists are saying the downswing will unlikely lead the economy into recession.

Historically low interest rates, an overall economy that is still pushing forward, and efforts by the nation's home builders to control their unsold inventories will keep the real estate slowdown from causing a recession, according to economists participating in a teleconference last week hosted by the National Association of Home Builders trade group.

NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders said that he is forecasting an 11.5 percent decline in housing starts this year, followed by another 11.7 percent drop in 2007. Housing should hit bottom by the middle of next year, and will be approaching a demographically based trend production level of about 2 million units in 2008 (including manufactured homes).

Following an unsustainable boom in housing starts, sales and price appreciation in 2004 and 2005, "we need a period of below-trend performance to work off excess inventory and improve housing affordability," said Seiders. "

Mortgage rates are dropping; builders and sellers are offering all sorts of incentives and upgrades, energy costs are retreating and the national economy is moving ahead, making it a very good time to buy a home."

Seiders said he is assuming that rates on 30-year mortgages will average about 6.5 percent for some time, pointing out that long-term interest rates have been "performing beautifully" since mid-year. He expects the Federal Reserve to hold the federal funds rate at the current 5.25 percent into the first half of next year, and likely move it down to 5 percent by mid-2007.

Noting that housing is now a major source of weakness for the economy, Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for Global Insight, said that the "good news is that other sectors are doing reasonably well and will continue" to do so. Corporate cash flow is at record levels, and that capital will be used to invest in equipment and structures and create some new jobs, he said.

Although a soft landing is "no longer in the cards" for housing, Behravesh said that type of outcome most likely awaits the U.S. economy, with the gross domestic product growing 3.4 percent for this year, 2.2 percent next year and possibly slipping below 2 percent for a few quarters ahead. He agreed with other teleconference participants that a slowdown, or even a decline, in home price appreciation will reduce the wealth effects from home equity, but the impact on consumer spending and the spillover to the rest of the economy should be relatively modest.

During the recent boom, inflation-adjusted housing prices rose to record levels, and the market is paying the price for that rapid ascent now, with "prices coming down off their own weight," Behravesh said. The current housing downturn "was not triggered by a substantial increase in mortgage rates, which didn't go up that much and are down now and low by historic standards, putting a floor on the housing market."

Looking at fundamentals such as demographics and income growth, housing prices in 70 of the 300 metro areas that his company and National City Bank survey quarterly are overvalued, Behravesh said, by an average of 30 to 35 percent. Located primarily in the Northeast, Florida and California, these markets can expect to see some downward price adjustments. In Boston, for example, prices could drop 15 percent over the next year or two.

At the same time, such cities as Chicago or Houston, where the large run-up in home prices didn't occur, might see continued appreciation at low levels.Behravesh predicted that prices could drop 5 percent nationally over the next year. "

To bring the markets back into equilibrium," he said, "we need sluggish growth in prices for three, four, five years. We have to have home prices rising less than the rate of inflation to get things back into equilibrium. In the last boom and bust, overvalued markets generally were in the same place and it took them the better part of the decade of the 1990s to see real prices get back to levels that preceded the boom years."

Behravesh said that housing starts will fall into the 1.5 to 1.6 million-unit range as the downturn progresses, "but nothing worse than that." Seiders is looking for a bottom of 1.6 million in mid-2007.

Jim Glassman, managing director for JPMorgan Chase, said that the current housing downswing could proceed faster than expected, and "things could bottom out faster than you see in the numbers. A rapid adjustment in prices and the rapid adjustment builders are making in production" could reverse the speculative excesses of the boom market. Annual "housing starts shouldn't go below 1.75 million for long," he said, "and the long-run trend for housing production is about 2 million units per year."

Strong global economies, record levels of corporate profits in the U.S., a healthy stock market, unraveling energy prices, and falling interest rates are among the "safety nets" for housing during the adjustment period, he said. "Don't be surprised if 30-year mortgages fall back to the 5.75 percent level," he added."Most of us will be grateful if housing prices flatten out for a couple of years. ... This is not your classic interest-rate story, so it won't be long before we work though this, recognizing that we are in a transition now."

Mike Moran, chief economist for Daiwa Securities America, complained about how the news media are portraying housing market conditions as the industry is "going through a correction that's badly needed. The key issue is whether the correction is orderly or disorderly, and the correction looks orderly even though it's portrayed as a catastrophe in the press."

New-home sales are "right in line with where we were in 2003, which was then a record year for housing," he said, "and we have squeezed out the exuberance that was in place in 2004 and 2005."

Taking a look at single-family housing starts compared to new-home sales, Moran pointed out that the former are slowing more sharply than the latter, another indication that the industry will adjust fairly quickly. "

We are in line with the 2003 average for sales, but far below that average for starts," he said, "showing that builders are taking the steps they need to take in order to get inventories under control."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Propety Tax Solution

Save Our Homes on the move
Author of amendment proposes change that would make homestead cap portable

NICHOLAS AZZARAHerald Staff Writer

MANATEE - Fed up with your property taxes? Reluctant to move to a bigger home in state because you'll assume a new, loftier homestead cap?

Tax relief may be on the horizon, but it may take collecting more than 600,000 signatures on a petition and a statewide voter referendum to turn the expensive tide.

The author of Florida's Save Our Homes amendment, Lee County Property Tax Appraiser Ken Wilkinson, is leading the charge to amend it.

During tax reform meetings throughout the state this fall, Wilkinson will be touting Save Our Homes Part 2, an idea to allow homesteaded property owners to transfer a portion of their original Save Our Homes cap to new homes. It's part of a statewide grassroots campaign to amend the Save Our Home amendment, which Wilkinson championed in the late 1980s.

Part 2, or Save Our Homes Portability, is designed to allow Florida residents more freedom to relocate within the state without having to give up sheltered homestead status. The current amendment limits the annual increase of taxable value for all homesteaded properties to 3 percent, or the increase in the cost of living, whichever is less.

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