Friday, August 31, 2007

A Photo Cruise along South Cocoa Beach

I took a cruise down the Banana River shoreline of south Cocoa Beach yesterday and took photos of all the riverfront condos so that you readers can better visualize the buildings that I mention so often in this blog. Starting at the extreme southern end next to Patrick Air Force Base we have the brand new, super-luxury Villa Verde. Several units available from about $1,000,000.


Heading north the next building is the new Orlando Beach building, 4 units available from $499,000.


Past a few classic old Florida homes on the river like these two with great back yards.


Then we get to River Bend.


For perspective, just past River Bend, you can see Crescent Beach Club (on left) and the Constellation which are both directly on the ocean. The upper floors here have not only an ocean view but a western view across the wide part of the Banana River all the way to south Merritt Island. This is the most narrow point of the barrier island with just a sliver of land separating the ocean and the river. Two very nice units in Constellation went under contract last week at bargain prices.


Next we get to River Villa (on right) and Dockside, both with boat slips for all units. You can see Casa Playa on the ocean between these two buildings. There is a penthouse for sale at Casa Playa which could have the best views and layout of any unit in Cocoa Beach.


Continuing north past the old Dolphin Inn we get to River Place. That is Waters Edge on the ocean looming in the background. No boat slips here.


Immediately next door is Water's Edge West which shares a river dock with Water's Edge on the ocean. You can catch a glimpse of the massive new, three-story duplex behind the building.


Heading north we see The Carlyle (on left) and Riomar on the ocean. There have been two sales this year in the Carlyle for at least $1 million each. In the Riomar, each unit is an entire floor so you have windows on all four sides. There is a 3rd floor unit available for $899,000.


Next on the river we come to Crescent Palms (on the right) and Garden by the Sea, soon to be completed. 2650 sq.ft., 3/3 units available in Garden from $655,000. Pretty much the entire Crescent Palms building is available, one 2293 sq.ft., 3/3 unit for $455,000, $244,000 less than the owner paid 2 years ago.


Last condo on the river in south Cocoa Beach before the split in A1A is Magnolia Bay. No fire sales available yet.


From this point north there are only single family homes on the river until River Lakes and Harbor Isles which are about 1/2 mile away. Hope you enjoyed the tour. It was pleasant from the boat.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Florida Insurance Reductions

Cocoa Beach Sunrise, August 25, 2007

Even with the mortgage market in turmoil, sales are closing. So far this August, we've had seven closed sales of MLS-listed, single-family homes in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. Three of those were in the tiny Harbor Heights neighborhood in Cape Canaveral. The other four were in Cocoa Beach, two on canals and only one over $500,000.

We have had 22 MLS-listed condos close in the same area since August 1, on pace with the first half of the year, roughly one a day. (Actually, since today's Julian date is 240 and total condo sales so far for the year are 288, the exact number is 1.2 per day.) The only 2 sales over $500,000 were new units at Meridian on the ocean, one for a whopping $1,049,900. I understand that closings of pre-construction contracts there are in full swing although only a fraction were listed in the MLS and will not show up in the MLS data. So far, none have shown up on the Brevard Property Appraiser's site. Overall condo inventory continues to slowly shrink, down over 10% from the high point reached in May 2006.

MLS Inventory - August 28, 2007

  • Condominiums______900 all prices
  • __________________147 over $500,000
  • Single family homes__176 all prices
  • ____________________73 over $500,000
Owners of detached single-family homes in Florida are finally getting a break on their insurance rates. The Legislature has designated $250 million for free wind inspections that will qualify homeowners for insurance breaks with certain hardening features including hurricane doors, windows, roofs, shutters, etc. Some homeowners will qualify for assistance in getting strengthening done to their homes. I have personally heard of one homeowner getting a $4600 rebate. The program is called My Safe Florida Home. Check it out if you own a detached single-family home anywhere in Florida. Unfortunately, the program is not available for condos or businesses.

The Labor Day holiday weekend is coming up and my favorite season in Cocoa Beach begins again. Snook season opens September 1 and the mullet run starts soon with all kinds of action in the surf for anglers fishing with live mullet. This is a great time to visit as the summer crowds are gone, water is warm and the ocean is alive with fish and waves. Here's a sweet little rental condo in south Cocoa Beach if you'd like to visit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 14 update

Just a brief update this morning on two oceanfront condos previously featured in the False Realities post. Seller number 2 in that post with a 2278 sq. ft. corner ocean unit in Crescent Beach Club who had progressively dropped his price from $649,000 to $419,000 finally got an accepted contract as of yesterday. Seller number one who had a direct ocean corner unit in Wavecrest with 2000 sq.ft. closed his unit yesterday. Selling price: $385,000, quite a haircut from the $630,000 original asking price in April of 2006. A 15th floor direct ocean, 2/2, sand dollar floor plan with 1470 sq.ft. at Stonewood closed yesterday for $475,000. Original asking price was $575,000 last November.

An interesting price reduction today is an 11th floor, southwest corner in 2100 Towers that has been reduced to $287,000 from $316,000 in April. Other than a ground floor unit with no view that sold last month for $265,000, no 2100 Towers unit has sold for less than this since 2003.

Another smoking deal hitting today is a bank-owned 4/3 canal home in Cocoa Beach for $339,000.

I'll leave you with a shot of a few of the Australian pines or casuarina trees slated to be cut down on the Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach. Whatever the science behind the removal, I'll miss these trees.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More Deals and Steals

Two weeks into August and sales are plodding along even as the credit markets try to adjust to the changing conditions. The fallout directly affected me this past week when one of my wife's pending deals had to quickly shift gears when the lender that supplied the pre-approval abruptly stopped lending. Things appear to be back on track with another lender but, with things changing daily, it's not done until it's done. Like this little gator I shot yesterday at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, lenders are wary of biting off more than they can handle.

Eleven closed sales have recorded through the MLS since August 1 in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral and the prices are all over the map. Click on the highlighted listings to see photos. A gorgeous 2120 sq.ft. pool home on the golf course in Cocoa Beach closed for $375,000 after being first listed for $525,000 last September. On the same day, a new 2180 sq.ft. unit in the Meridian condo on the beach closed for $659,900. A one bedroom unit in Villages of Seaport that sold in July 2004 for $131,000 closed for $110,000. At Sandcastles condo on the ocean in Cocoa Beach, prices are showing remarkable resilience. A 5th floor, 1286 sq.ft., 2/2 unit sold for $400,000. Sandcastles, like the few other condos that allow weekly rentals, can command a higher price because income can be substantially higher with short-term rentals. A non-waterfront 2/2 unit at Cape Shores on the river that was aggressively priced at $139,000 got a contract in 3 days and closed for $137,000 4 weeks later.

A 2158 sq.ft. 4/2 home on the open river with unobstructed views of the islands and with a dock closed for $550,000 after only 14 days on the market. It was listed for $575,000. My office sold a 2/2, 2nd floor Four Seasons overlooking the pool for $159,000. Rounding out the good deals was a Jamaica Cove 2/2 that cracked the $200,000 barrier for waterfront condos and closed for $195,000 after being first listed for $259,900 last October.

Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral MLS Inventory - August 12, 2007

  • Condominiums_______935 all prices
  • ___________________150 over $500,000
  • Single family homes__171 all prices
  • ____________________72 over $500,000

Another of the locals at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, a Florida soft shell turtle crossing the fairway looking for a better lake. These guys lay their eggs in the sand traps in the summer.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Crisis and Opportunity

August 3rd will likely go down as the definitive "line in the sand" day for mortgage lending in the US for this cycle. The trouble that's been brewing for a few years peaked yesterday as over a dozen major lenders either stopped or temporarily suspended some or all funding. The over-100 subprime lenders that have imploded this year were joined early this week by the 800 pound gorilla, American Home Mortgage, who ceased all operations and left over $750 million of in-progress loans without funding and over 7000 employees in limbo. Some of the other very big names appear to be in serious trouble as well.

The immediate impact for buyers of real estate will be much stricter lending standards and far fewer mortgage products. Those with good credit and verifiable income are in good shape although there will likely be far more hoops to jump through to get the loan. Especially impacted are non-conforming or "jumbo" loans (over $417,000) . Marginal borrowers have probably missed their window of opportunity. The good news for those with good credit and/or cash will be greater bargaining power as the pool of buyers is now much smaller, especially for properties requiring a mortgage over the $417,000 "jumbo" threshold.

Sellers, if you're paying attention, it's time to make your plan if you hope to sell. Either price your property right or hit the bench until this game is over. Throwing a hopeful price out there waiting for that mythical buyer who will pay your too-high price is an exercise in futility. It's become obvious from these latest developments in the credit industry that the bottoming that NAR called in 2006 is not here yet. Waiting for next spring to sell will almost certainly be a very expensive decision. Aldous Huxley was talking to you when he said, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

I shot this last week from the Banana River looking east into Edwards Bay in Snug Harbor down in south Cocoa Beach. This is one of the great things about Cocoa Beach. Beautiful places like this on the river are usually just a short stroll from the beach. In some cases, as in extreme south Cocoa Beach, the Banana River is across the road from the ocean.

If you'd like an informed and realistic agent to help you sniff out a bargain in this dynamic market, email me at I enjoy going to battle for my buyers. Remember, crisis and opportunity arrive hand in hand. And, we can always work in a little fishing during our search.