12 April 2013

South Florida Housing Market, 1st Quarter 2013


Really – if you don't have a lot of time, you don't need to read any further. For a bit more of an analysis, stay a little.

At least in the Tri-County region – encompassing the coastal area from Jupiter to Homestead, excluding the Florida Keys – it feels, as a colleague said during a viewing this week, "like 2005 all over again".

Not a fond memory, indeed.

What is happening is uncommonly tight inventory with rising prices:

     20.6% decrease in available single family homes
     8.9% decrease in inventory (absorption of available homes in months)
     18.9% increase in median list prices
     25.7% increase in sold homes
     24.8% increase in median selling prices
     18.6% increase in median selling prices per sf 
     (all changes year-over-year for single family homes)

What are the main reasons behind the low inventory?

  • Underwater sellers: certainly they are not putting their houses up if they don't have to. With recent price increases, they hope the market will come to them. And the WSJ estimates 22 percent of home owners with a mortgage owe more than their home is worth
  • Lack of equity: many home owners rely on the equity from their home to make a down payment on their next property. With fewer owners seeing equity in their houses, they may not have enough money to move up
  • Investors: many of them do not flip – that market is pretty much cleared out for now – but renovate and rent out
  • Banks slowing down foreclosures: with tighter rules in the foreclosure process, banks are moving at a slower pace in foreclosing. They also lean more towards short sales and loan modifications
  • Builders are building less: Housing starts were at record lows from 2009 through 2011 so there’s less inventory being added to the market. A rebound in the new-home market has only recently started to occur. 

So why is this development not really good?

  • South Florida needs a new housing bubble like a sharp pencil in the neck
  • Unreasonable price increases attract speculators (vs. users)
  • An overheated market seriously hampers the region's attraction to "hard" buyers (those who live and work here)
  • Lack of inventory discourages "casual buyers" (vacationers, snow-birds, second home buyers), which are also vital for Florida real estate
  • The fallout of the last crisis is still lingering, and the economy is not ready to handle the next debacle
  • Sellers may not resist "greed is good", and start racing to the top again
  • Contrary to the overall belief, real estate agents make less money and close less transactions in overheated than in normal healthy markets

But I suppose asking for cool heads to prevail is about as efficient as offering the fox in the hen-house a marzipan egg.

What is your opinion – are you selling or buying sooner, later, or not at all now?

Photo: Train wreck at Gare de L'Ouest, Paris, 1895. Source: wikimedia

01 April 2013

Revolutionary Real Estate Service Takes Off

In an enlightened twist to traditional real estate services, a boutique brokerage firm in South Florida added a revolutionary service for potential buyers: FACAFUNDS (Future Appropriation of Clients' Advanced Funds).

The boutique firm, Kaiser Associates, Inc, has successfully specialised in an unusual niche in South Florida: the market for contemporary and mid-century modern architecture. A second division of the office focuses on buyer representation in triple-net investments.

Founder and principal Tobias Kaiser, an affable German with a US Master’s degree and 22 years experience as an independent broker, explains his newest client service which is to be introduced today:

“When a buyer contacts a real estate broker, client and broker sort of sniff each other out and then establish property criteria and a price corridor. Often though, these criteria are a moving target."

"Consequently, clients have to constantly adjust their budget and their expectations, which can be very frustrating for both parties.”

Kaiser goes on: “With FACAFUNDS, select clients now have the possibility to transfer all of their earmarked acquisition funds into our escrow account – even before we identify one or more matching properties. The funds stay in the designated account until either we have found a property or until they are earmarked for other purposes and cleared out by the client or by us.”

Typical acquisition budget flow in a FACAFUNDS application; here a nightly refresh cycle.

Only select clients will be invited to participate in the program, and fees for the service are kept on purpose at an affordable monthly 0.9999% of the parked deposit to cover all sorts of expenses.

“FACAFUNDS is not meant to generate a profit for the brokerage while the funds – with a minimum US$130,000 – are parked, which can be as long as 13 years ” explains Kaiser. “Any profit is generated through the acquisition, or when the funds are transmogrified and withdrawn by the authorised parties”, which only include the client and the broker, whoever comes first.

“With FACAFUNDS, the question ‘It’s 11 pm - do you know where you money is?’ has become obsolete. The client has total budget transparency as long as the funds stay in the account, and to a certain extent even after they are gone.”

As much as the new service sounds like a forehead-slapper for consumers and dead-simple to imitate by brokerages, title companies or attorneys, it should be noted that working closely with loan experts from Madoff Bank NLC, Kaiser has spent considerable time and espresso to develop FACAFUNDS, virtually ensuring it will be a huge success for someone.

If you are interested in learning more about Kaiser Associates, Inc. and their FACAFUNDS program, contact them here.

©Pookeeboo Real Estate Times, April 1st, 2013.