Thursday, April 20, 2006

Manipulation, my brother

OK, I've been asked yet again about the practice of withdrawing a listing and then relisting so that it shows on the MLS as a brand new listing with no price history. Unfortunately, this practice is entirely legal and is widespread, especially now that properties are lingering for much longer than in years past. It's legal, but, is it ethical? By my measure of ethical, no. The only reason for withdrawing and relisting a property is to mislead a prospective buyer. Like hidden agent bonuses, this is the sort of thing that undermines the public's perception of realtors. I did a quick search this morning of recent activity and found 2 nice examples.

Condo A - 255 days on market, original price $829,00 withdrawn and relisted same day by same agent for $759,000

Condo B - 105 days on market, original price $449,900 withdrawn and relisted same day by same agent for $409,999

A consumer or a lazy agent would never know that these weren't new listings. Shame on the National Association of Realtors for not taking a stance on this practice.

How was your Easter weekend? Mine was great. Fun waves and a pretty-much deserted beach. You've heard me talk about uncrowded beaches in south Cocoa Beach and here's the proof. While the area north of us was blanket to blanket, the photo at the top of this post is how our beach looked at midday Saturday, a beautiful beach day, the day before Easter.

And just beyond the water's edge, your's truly leans into a fun one.

I didn't have a thought about the market all day. Until next time, stay hydrated, use sunscreen and question everything.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lies, damn lies and statistics

As requested, another photo from Cocoa Beach. Springtime means the oleanders at the Cocoa Beach golf course are blooming.

This post was going to be about manipulating statistics to serve a pre-determined purpose, but, in researching data for my examples I found so many errors from all my sources that the point seems moot. Here are the sales of residential properties in Cocoa Beach over the last 6 months according to Melissa Data. These are actual closed sales during each month and the average sales price. [note: the MLS reports 21 closed sales in March, not 18. Who are we supposed to trust?]

Month____transactions_____average price

02-2006 ________25____________$338,000.00
01-2006 ________28____________$443,000.00
12-2005 ________33____________$332,000.00
11-2005 ________49____________$406,000.00
10-2005 ________28____________$364,000.00

Differing agendas could claim a 28% rise in average selling price from February 2006 to March 2006 or a 24% decline from January to February. My point is that a reader should take all statistics relating to home prices and sales with a grain of salt and a little skepticism. And, as I have stated in the past, mistrust any numbers coming from the Brevard County MLS. I think I can now expand that to include all sources.

Now for a totally unscientific observation of our market; it's slow. With sellers clinging to last summer's prices and buyers looking for steals, finding an acceptable middle ground is difficult and often impossible. If you are selling, consider that your property may be worth less than you think. Buyers are scarce right now, so, consider every offer no matter how unattractive. Remember that an offer is an invitation to negotiate. If you are buying, don't become married to your lowball offer. It's not necessary to steal a property to make it worth owning. This is still the best little beach town in Florida and now is a great time to be a buyer.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

March 2006 activity

The March numbers are in and we've had a nice little uptick in action. Total number of March 2006 closed MLS-listed residential and condo units in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral was 67 according to the MLS. Digging into the numbers I see that 2 were errors and 8 others were pre-construction units that were contracted over 6 months ago, so, my adjusted total is 57, still a significant increase from February's adjusted total of 30. Of the 57 total sales, 34 were under $300,000. The hottest area of our market has been small condo conversions with units ranging from $134,900 to $200,000 in small buildings close to the beach. The high-end of the condo market continues to languish with only 6 sales over $500,000 in March with an inventory of 230. Some resales in Portside have started to move as additional buildings reach closing and investors lower their expectations and prices.

An especially busy segment of our market has been vacation rentals. I have had more requests for rentals this year than ever in the past. Last week alone, I had 24 requests for a rental condo. My unscientific observations of traffic and restaurant crowds tells me that this has been one of our busiest spring seasons. As the water temp has climbed over 70 degrees, giant manta rays have been cruising the surf and the cobia run has been as good as it gets. Massive schools of pogies are everywhere in nearshore waters and portend a great summer for fishing. We've had several days of fun small surf and the wetsuits are back in the closet until next winter. Cocoa Beach rocks.

I snapped the shrimp boat a few miles offshore last week.