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South Florida Real Estate Market: What is Going On?

question_mark2The following were all topics in the news last week and all of them have an effect on our real estate market:

South Florida home sales surge, prices plunge, mortgage rates fall to lowest levels since May, Florida’s unemployment rate is up, Florida foreclosures are up and may be increasing, another condo developer files for bankruptcy, developers selling in downtown Miami for $200 per square foot, the first-time buyer credit is expiring, school starts Monday,  Miami-Ft. Lauderdale real estate market is ready for a rebound, pending sales in Miami-Dade County up over 96% in July over same time last year, Florida loses population for the first time since World War II.

So just what is going on?  In short, there have been a lot of positive signs that our real estate market is at or near its pricing bottom, but that doesn’t mean we are going to see appreciation any time soon.  Closed sales are up and pending sales are up even further.  The fact that housing prices in Miami-Dade are at their most affordable levels in years, coupled with the government’s first-time homebuyer tax credit, has helped move a lot of the lower priced inventory.  The high unemployment rate will result in more foreclosures and our tourism and real estate dependent economy will take longer to recover from the recession than states with more diverse economies.  All this means is that the real estate market will go through up and down spurts from month to month, similar to what the stock market is doing, and that prices will stagnate for a while instead of appreciating.  Some months are going to see more sales than others.  Certain areas are going to continue to see decreasing inventories.  I suspect that with the start of school and the end of the first-time homebuyer credit at the end of November, the rate of sales is going to taper off a bit.  If you are buying, there are going to continue to be deals and you will still be in the driver’s seat.  If you are selling, pricing will be the most important factor.