Recovery in Sight in the Sunshine State of Florida

This week Forbes Traveler magazine named Orlando Florida as North America’s top vacation spot in its newest ranking of destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The USA’s most popular holiday destination is also seeing increased demand from buying foreign propertys as Florida property prices also happen to be at rock bottom right now.

“Both enquiries and sales are up”, says Lee Weaver of the Orlando-based British Homes Group, a company set up by Brits for Brits considering buying property in Florida. “These are clear indicators that the market is recovering. While the national housing bust has devastated property values, it has also created some outstanding bargain opportunities for would-be home buyers – if you know where to look.”

British Homes Group is not the only specialist claiming that recovery is at last in sight in Florida, America’s Sunshine State. In a recent independent national poll by IHS Global Insight’s Regional Estate Service, two destinations in Florida appeared in the top five most undervalued places to live in the US. The housing bust in the US has seen property values fall to 32% lower than their 2006 peaks but it has also created some fantastic bargain opportunities for buyers. Jeannine Cataldi, Senior Economist of IHS Global Insight’s Regional Real Estate Service comments, “What we have seen is that those markets that became significantly overvalued during the housing boom such as Florida, California and Nevada are right now very undervalued.”

The first Florida destination to appear in the poll is the upmarket retirement community of Naples, located on Florida’s southwest coastline. Home prices here have fallen by nearly 50% from the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2009. IHS Global Insight now considers the average home price in Naples ($200,000) to be 33% undervalued.

Similarly, house prices in Sarasota – an upmarket, artistic community on Florida’s west coast plunged by 44% from the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2009. HIS Global Insight now considers the average price in Sarasota ($141,000) to be 28% undervalued.

The Florida Association of Realtors states that the average sales price for existing Florida homes was $148,000 in June 2009, a 28% decrease from June 2008’s $205,300. The average condo price fell 37% from $180,400 last June to $112,900 this year.
British Homes Group has many examples of bargain properties on its website. For example a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom home with swimming pool on the Lake Berkley Resort just 12 minutes from Disney in Kissimmee, Florida which is on sale for $215,000 (£133,207). In 2005 this property was valued at $438,850 (£271,592) which represents a 51% drop in price.

Lee Weaver of the British Homes Group comments, “We have an increasing number of Brits requesting bargain-priced holiday homes in Florida and this property is a perfect example of what is available. This a brilliant time for Brits to buy in Florida. Although house prices are so low at the moment. There are indicators that the property market is recovering. We think prices will ‘bottom out’ later this year after three years of spiralling downward and now is the time to buy before prices rise.”

The Federal Housing Finance Agency stated last week that single-family home prices nationally rose by 0.9 per cent from April to May in the US as a whole, marking the biggest jump this year. Signs of life in the housing market lifted shares of homebuilders such as Lennar, DR Horton and KB Homes as much as 6% last week. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, commented that “the decline in housing activity appears to have moderated” and mortgage applications had swelled for three weeks running.

However, economists warned that the real estate market remained fragile. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index, home prices have dropped by a third since peaking in 2006, and the latest figures from RealtyTrac show rates of foreclosure have reached record highs this year. And year on year figures are still nothing to sing about – home prices nationwide dropped 17.1% in May 2009 compared with May 2008.

Average prices in Florida are still dropping, sales are up, indicating that it won’t be long before prices rise accordingly. The Florida Association of Realtors recently stated that existing single-family home and condominium sales grew in June – by 28% from 12,339 sales in June 2008 to 15,850 sales in June 2009. Similarly, a total of 5,241 condo units were sold in June 2009, a 39% increase from the 3,771 units that were sold in June 2008.”

Lee Weaver continues, “The supply of housing is another important measure. A market with six months of supply is considered by housing economists to be balanced between buyers and sellers. In Orlando, June’s inventory had 17,831 homes available through the Multiple Listing Service, which reflects an 8.4-month supply at the current sales pace. In January, the Orlando MSA had an inventory level that reflected a 23.6-month supply and it has steadily decreased since. It is definitely heading in the right direction towards the optimum level of 6 months.”

Randall Guttery, Professor of Real Estate at the University of North Texas added, “We are finally working through this excess inventory. Once we get that excess inventory taken off the market, we can get back to a more healthy supply-and-demand-driven market.”

Lee Weaver concludes, “For those thinking about buying a property in Florida, now really is the time to act before prices increase.”

About the British Homes Group

The British Homes Group guarantees impartial, professional advice on the current Florida market, on sales and mortgages and much more. BHG’s aim is to make the buying process for the UK purchaser completely smooth and hassle-free.
The British Homes Group is in a unique position in the Florida property market.

Based in Florida, it is staffed by a team of British and American professionals, experts in both UK and US property purchase and financing procedures. Through Florida’s ‘Multiple Listing Service’ and co-brokerage arrangements, BHG’s ‘British Homes Sales’ department has access to one of the largest selections of dream home and investment properties available in Florida.

The British Home Loans division is dedicated to providing personalised, private and unbiased Florida home loan advice on fixed and flexible mortgages from numerous competing lenders and in a variety of currencies.

The British Homes Group also provides excellent customer service up to and beyond completion including ongoing mortgage advice and advice on tax, insurance, immigration and visa matters. It will even help buyers to select furniture packages and interior design services and provides a free villa listing on one of the largest villa rental websites in the area.

For further information, please call Lee Weaver at British Homes Group on 0800 096 5989 or (+1) 407 396 9914 or visit www.britishhomesgroup.com

Kerry Clark, Tideway Communications, +44 (0)20 8878 0787 kerry@tidewaycommunications.com

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