Monday, October 29, 2012
10/24/12 Many proposed rentals could become condo conversions - Miami Herald If history is any indicator, South Florida’s next generation of residential condo conversion units are currently being proposed, financed, and built in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties under the auspices of rising rental rates. In a trend reminiscent of South Florida’s last condo boom and ultimate bust, rising lease prices are prompting developers to build – increasingly with bank financing — a new wave of apartment projects to capitalize on the spike in rents. If the South Florida condo market returns to any form of normalcy, where most residents users can actually purchase units, many of today’s newly proposed rental projects would be expected to be converted into condominiums and sold off for a premium. During the last South Florida real estate boom, several proposed and existing rental towers were converted under such a scenario into condominiums, including the Skyline and the Vue in greater downtown Miami, the Tides and the Wave in Hollywood Beach, and the Las Olas By The River and the Village East in downtown Fort Lauderdale. For the last six months, developers from various real estate specialties — ranging from office towers to industrial warehouses — have been rushing forward with plans to construct at least 3,000 new rental units scattered in locations from Kendall to Coconut Creek with everything in between, including Miami’s Upper East Side, downtown Fort Lauderdale, and Hollywood’s Young Circle neighborhoods. The proposed residential rental units are slated to be developed in a variety of projects, ranging from a pair of 20-story high-rise towers with 400 units on 79th Street at Biscayne Bay in Miami to nearly 400 units in a series of low-rise buildings on a 24-acre site in Coconut Creek. Construction of these projects — often on former condo development sites — is in the early stages of development but expected to begin by the end of 2012 with the first units scheduled to be ready for tenants by late 2013. The new residential rental units are targeted toward users who cannot — or choose not to — purchase in South Florida for a variety of reasons, including an inability to pay all cash for a property, credit problems, difficulty securing mortgages, or the fear that the market has not yet bottomed. Regardless of the reason for not purchasing, South Florida’s rental population is faced with lease prices that are rising at rates two and three times that of annual inflation. For example, the median price per square foot monthly for a rental property in the first quarter of 2012 was $2.01 in the greater downtown Miami market, $1.21 in the downtown Hollywood and the beach area, and $1.26 in the downtown Fort Lauderdale and the beach neighborhood, according to an analysis of the Southeast Florida MLXchange. Compare this to the first quarter of 2009 when the U.S. economy was on the brink of financial disaster, the median rental price per square foot per month at that time was less than $1.60 in greater downtown Miami, $1.00 in downtown Hollywood and the beach, and $1.05 in downtown Fort Lauderdale and the beach, according to the data. As the rents have increased, the operating expense for landlords has remained somewhat consistent or even decreased in condo projects as governing associations have used the foreclosure process to recoup unpaid fees, thereby, reducing or even eliminating special assessments. Adjustments in property taxes are somewhat mixed depending upon the specific market. For developers of the new rental projects, the financial returns have the potential to be even greater as apartment residents usually expect less in terms of amenities, finishes and service compared to condo owners. This translates into lower costs on the construction and the operations. Contributing to the potential upside for developers of today’s rental projects, the cost of the developable land – often times with the necessary planning approvals already in place from previous developers who failed to build – is significantly less than the price levels achieved at the height of the South Florida real estate boom. The unknown is whether today’s renters will ultimately become tomorrow’s owners given the financial and personal hardships that many experienced during the last real estate implosion.

 
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Posted on Fri, Oct. 19, 2012
Existing home prices up, sales down in Miami-Dade and Broward in September

By Martha Brannigan
mbrannigan@MiamiHerald.com


Tight inventory helped drive up existing home prices in Miami-Dade and Broward in September, as the shortage of residential properties on the market crimped sales.
In Miami-Dade, the median price for a condominium leaped 36.2 percent to $150,000 in September from a year ago, while the median price for a single-family home rose 8.6 percent to $190,000, the Miami Association of Realtors said.

Sales fell 3.4 percent in September from a year ago as inventory plunged 24 percent.

Those same trends held true for Broward County, where the median price of an existing single-family home rose 10.2 percent in September to $205,000 from $186,000 a year earlier, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said. The median price of an existing condo or townhouse jumped 25.4 percent to $89,000 from $71,000 a year earlier, the group said.

Sales of single-family homes in Broward dipped 1.2 percent in September to 3,017 from 3,053 a year earlier; townhouse and condo closings dropped 7.4 percent to 3,487 from 3,766 in September 2011, the Realtors group said.

Across Florida, existing home sales rose 2.1 percent in September as the median price climbed 7.4 percent to $145,000 amid a 31.5 percent drop in inventory, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

Cash-rich foreign buyers continue to drive sales in Miami-Dade, particularly in areas like Brickell Avenue and Miami Beach, where according to Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell, some 60 to 65 percent of recent sales went to foreign buyers.

“People from every corner of the globe enjoy coming here, and more and more they are now buying here,’’ said Shuffield, who on Thursday hosted brokers from Spain, Ireland, Uruguay, and Hong Kong at his Coral Gables headquarters to acquaint them with the Miami market.

Among recent buyers is Ian Runnalls, a 37-year-old portfolio manager from Toronto. He and his wife recently closed on a one-bedroom, 1.5-bath condo at downtown Miami’s Marina Blue, for $320,000 cash, capping a five-month search. The unit seller was from Italy.

“The prices were much firmer than I expected,’’ said Runnalls, who plans to keep the unit at 888 Biscayne Blvd. as a rental and perhaps use it as a vacation getaway sometime in the future.

“As an investment, it makes a lot of sense. The price per square foot is a lot cheaper than Toronto. And the rental yields are much, much stronger than Toronto,’’ Runnalls said.

Jenny Huertas, a broker with CVR Realty, said Runnalls previously lost out to a higher bidder on a unit in the same building, so when another one became available, “I told him you’ve got to put an offer at the full price if you want to get it.’’

“People are paying above list price, just to ensure they’re getting a property,’’ said Anthony Askowitz, an agent with Re/Max Advance Realty II.

Askowitz said rock-bottom interest rates of about 3.375 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and 2.875 percent for a 15-year fixed-rate loan help make buying attractive for those who qualify.

Home prices have risen for 10 consecutive months in Miami-Dade, which has been among the hardest hit markets in country in the housing crisis. In recent months, multiple offers and bids over asking price have returned, at least for properly priced properties in desirable areas.

A 2-bedroom, 1-bath house in the Roads section of Miami drew more than a dozen offers within a week of its listing at $325,000 on Sept. 24. The vintage-1941 house went under contract Oct. 3. “We priced the house right, and it’s in a great pocket, a very desirable area,’’ said Melissa Schack Stone, an agent with Coldwell Banker. “And there was no inventory [for sale] in that area.’’

In the Kendall area, empty nesters Andrew Reeves and his wife “had five offers in the first four days’’ of putting their 4-bedroom, 3-bath house on the market. “We got the asking price plus some,’’ he said. “My wife was freaking out, [saying] ‘What if we can’t find something to buy?’’’

Eager to clinch a deal on the Kendall home, the buyer agreed to a contract provision allowing the Reeves to stay up to three months after closing if necessary. But Reeves said they won’t have to: “We found a brand, spanking new home in Homestead,’’ a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom Lennar home for under $200,000.

In September, distressed sales, including foreclosures and short sales, totaled 47.4 percent of transactions in Miami-Dade, down from 59 percent a year earlier. Distressed sales also constituted a smaller share of deals in Broward.

The inventory of single-family homes on the market in Broward plummeted 48.7 percent in September to 4,872 from 9,495 in September 2011; the number of existing townhouses and condos for sale fell 43 percent to 6,143 in September from 10,774 a year earlier.

Those inventory levels constituted just a 3.4 months supply of single-family homes and a 3.7 months supply of condos and townhouses. An inventory of six to nine months of the sales volume is generally considered a balanced market.

A key reason for the tight inventory: Many homeowners are underwater or have little equity, creating little incentive to sell, especially in a market that is showing signs of improving.

Another sign of a firmer market: Single-family homes in Broward fetched 93.2 percent of their asking price in September, compared with 90.7 percent a year earlier. Broward condos and townhouses sold for 94.3 percent of their asking price, up from 90.2 percent in September 2011, the Realtors’ group said.

In a statement, Stephen B. McWilliam, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said: “There’s a strong support base for home prices now compared with a year ago. The number of months of supply of inventory is lower and sellers are still receiving most of their asking price.’’

Sally Forstadt, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Hollywood, said the market has been steadily improving. “I think generally buyers are feeling more confident,’’ she said.

In most of the transactions, Forstadt said, buyers are plunking down big down payments. “It’s not all cash, but they’re putting a significant amount of cash down, over 20 percent.’’



© 2012 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miamiherald.com

 


 
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Housing stages weak rebound - USATODAY.com Home sales kept up their recovery in July, but the market's slow progress makes some economists question why record-low mortgage rates aren't having a bigger impact. The National Association of Realtors said sales of previously occupied homes rose 2.3% from June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47million. That was still the second-worst pace of the year and followed a decline in June. A 5.5 million rate is considered healthy. The median price of homes sold rose 9.4% from a year ago -- the sharpest increase since January 2006 -- but the gain may be deceptively large. The Realtors association says that higher median prices are due to fewer sales of small, less-expensive homes. The price gains also reflect a smaller percentage of foreclosure-related distress sales, Moody's Analytics economist Mike Zoller said. Distressed homes -- including foreclosures and other properties sold at steep discounts from market value -- accounted for 24% of July sales compared with 29% a year ago. Another reason lower-priced homes are in short supply is many owners are still in financial distress five years into the housing bust, said Stan Humphries, chief economist of real estate website Zillow. Almost half of homeowners younger than 40 owe more on their homes than they are worth, keeping cheaper homes off the market. That skews statistics by making the Realtors' median sales price, which reached $187,300 last month, reflect a different mix of homes than it once did. "Appreciation will go flat once people are out of having negative equity and put their homes on the market," Humphries said. "As people sense a recovery is afoot, they may price their homes higher and be disappointed." July's sales pace missed economists' expectations for an annual rate of about 4.52 million home sales, says UBS economist Drew Matus. One reason is that credit continues to be relatively tight, as former homeowners who consented to short sales or lost homes to foreclosure are largely unable to get loans for new properties. Lawrence Yun, the Realtors association's chief economist, said sales could be stronger if not for "unnecessarily tight lending standards and shrinking inventory supplies." "Mortgage interest rates have been at record lows this year while rents have been rising at faster rates," Yun said. "Combined, these factors are helping to unleash a pent-up demand." The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record-low 3.55% in July compared with 4.55% in July 2011, according to Freddie Mac. Worries about jobs also may be keeping some home buyers on the sidelines, after job growth slipped in the second quarter, said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight. "These are not great numbers," Newport said. "We have record-low mortgage rates. Something is going on." Economists have predicted the housing market will begin slowly reversing its more than 30% slide in prices since the 2006 peak, though most do not expect substantial price gains until at least 2013 or 2014. © 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

 
Monday, October 22, 2012

 

10/19/12 Foreigners responsibile for a fifth of Florida home sales - Business - MiamiHerald.com

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Posted on Tuesday, 08.28.12 17 email print comment reprints REAL ESTATE
Foreigners responsibile for a fifth of Florida

home sales

Foreign buyers, long credited with breathing life into Florida’s real estate market, spent $10.71 billion during the year ended June 30, accounting for 19 percent of total residential sales volume, according to a study by Florida Realtors.

Miami and Miami Beach remained by far the favorite spot for international buyers, totaling 31.3 percent of all sales, with Fort Lauderdale coming in second with 11.6 percent.

Non-resident Canadians accounted for 31 percent of foreign purchases, down from 39 percent last year, but remained the No. 1 nationality to buy in Florida, the report said. Brazilians ranked No. 2, totaling 9 percent of purchases, up from 8 percent last year.

Buyers from Latin America and the Caribbean together made up 35 percent of all foreign purchases, while Western Europeans amounted to 22 percent, down slightly from 23 percent a year earlier.

Some 82 percent of foreign sales were all cash, down from 86 percent in 2011, said the study. which noted many foreigners have trouble getting mortgages in the United States because of a lack of credit history.

“Among recent foreign buyers in Florida, the use of mortgage financing was much less frequent than the overall national average,’’ the study said. “Overall, 17 percent of foreign buyers reported financing their purchase with a mortgage.’’

By contrast, 87 percent of U.S. homebuyers used mortgage financing, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

Among Brazilians, 49 percent picked a place in Miami-Dade, with Fort Lauderdale emerging as their next favorite spot, with 18.6 percent share, the report said.

Canadians bought across the state, with the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice area ranking as their favorite with a 14.4 percent share, followed by the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area with 12.9 percent, and Naples- Marco Island area with an 11.9 percent share.

Buyers from the United Kingdom totaled 5 percent of all foreign purchases, down from 7 percent in the year-earlier period.

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