Friday, October 28, 2005

Hurricane Impact on Prices

Is it possible for a hurricane to impact the value of property that was physically undamaged? In Louisiana and neighboring states after Hurricane Katrina, undamaged property, both commercial and residential, saw immediate increased demand and prices as people and businesses were forced to relocate. Another less obvious effect post-hurricane is the increase in the prices of building materials and labor. Florida builders have reported price increases in plywood and OSB sheeting ranging from 30 to 50% since the first of September. Asphalt shingles have been increasing steadily at around 5% per month with manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand and actually rationing some suppliers. Before the storms we were seeing cement costs rising about 20% every 6 months and similar moves in sheetrock. In addition to these rapidly rising costs, much of the construction labor force has shifted to the Katrina devastated areas. This has contributed to increased labor costs for Florida builders. How does this impact existing property value? It increases the costs to replace and the costs to build new competing properties. This increase has not shown up yet in the prices of MLS listed properties as we are in the middle of the seasonal slow season and we're on the heels of a big run-up in prices. However, the economic reality is that it must trickle down to asking prices at some point. I think this is bullish for existing Florida property values. As always, these are my own opinions based on reported facts and lots of creative thinking. Email me if you'd like to share your own thoughts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Change of sentiment

It's been a while since my last update. I thought, considering the slow state of the market, that I'd take the opportunity to get away with my wife, Kim, and spend a little time in the mountains of North Carolina. My trip was eye-opening for me. The pace of construction across the south seems as strong as it is here in Florida. In fact, after looking at prices and paces of other markets, I have changed my opinion on the near future trend of our Cocoa Beach market. Even with 30 year fixed-rate mortgages back up over 6% and increasing supply in our local market, I think that now is a great time to add properties to your portfolio. That is, carefully-selected properties.

As you can see from our stats below, our condo inventory is steadily increasing with a lot of new properties in the high end. Because of the slow season, it's taking longer to move units and buyers are in a powerful bargaining position. Consider a new listing from another office this morning;

View at River Lakes

1244 sq. ft. unit for $299,000 in River Lakes on the Banana River with boat slips available on request. I own a unit in this great complex that had zero damage during last year's storms and has healthy reserves and is 2 blocks from the ocean. This is exactly the type of investment property that I think makes sense right now. I'm still very bearish on pre-construction condos in the high end because of the over-supply. We are already seeing desperate sellers in a few of the luxury projects that are nearing closing and I suspect that there will be some very attractive deals in the coming months. If you'd like a list of my favorite current targets, email me at or call me at 321.917.5786. Until next time, be safe and get out and enjoy this great October weather before Hurricane Wilma interrupts.

MLS Stats for Oct. 20, 2005

contracts last 14 days

condos over $500,000____ 4
condos under $500,000__ 12

homes over $500,000____ 3
homes under $500,000___ 2

active listings

condos all prices_______558
condos over $500,000__ 156

homes all prices_______ 63
homes over $500,000__ 38