Friday, May 23, 2008

Take me out for sushi

This post will be short and sweet and potentially worth thousands to owners of single-family homes in Florida. In a radical departure from typical government inefficiency, the governor has set up a wonderfully useful website for homeowners to compare insurance rates for all companies that write in each of Florida's counties. Click on your county on this map of the state and see actual rates and links to each of the insurance companies. The range for the same house in Brevard County is from a low of $1034 to a high of $3213 annually, not insignificant. You can take me out for sushi with some of your savings.

You're takin' me down with a home field advantage.
And you're callin' me out with a home field advantage.
________________________Drive-by Truckers

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cocoa Beach Bunnies

This is a true beach bunny. He lives in the dunes between my back door and the ocean and ventures out into the back yard daily for a little snack of St. Augustine grass. You can see a blade in his mouth in the photo above. He is actually a marsh rabbit, a smaller darker version of the eastern cottontail rabbit with strong swimming skills. Marsh rabbits have shorter ears and no cottontail. This guy or one of his relatives strolled into my living room one evening when I had the door open. Just another in my long list of reasons why I love this town. Now on to this week's train wreck.

I was looking at a foreclosed river condo yesterday. As always, I investigated it's sales and listing history. What I found was not pretty. This particular unit sold new at the peak of the hysteria in June 2005 for $429,900. It was resold in June of 2007 for $344,000 and is now for sale once again for $254,900 by Fannie Mae, the less-than-enthusiastic new owner. That is some serious evaporation of wealth with the pain spread among the previous owners and lenders. At the new price, this unit is priced at $124 per square foot, approaching replacement cost. I predict that it will sell quickly. Hopefully, the new owner will get more enjoyment of this unit with a beautiful river view than the previous unfortunate owners.

Another interesting couple of sales recorded this month in Chateau by the Sea. Both units were owned by the same seller and both were offered as short sales . One unit closed for $323,000 and, three weeks later, the slightly smaller unit next door in similar condition closed for $390,000. Somebody got a raw deal. I can't say this enough, people. Do your homework or work with a good buyer's agent who will do it for you. Question everything. There are good deals going down almost daily but there are also buyers paying too much who could have saved thousands of dollars by doing some research.

Two Waters Edge three bedroom units on the ocean sold this month. Both were in great shape, one on the forth floor and one on the second. The forth floor sold for $348,000 and the second floor much-nicer unit is scheduled to close soon for slightly more. Click here for a slide show of one of these units. This is what the mid-$300s will get you in Cocoa Beach these days. Until next time, keep your hand firmly on your checkbook and question everything you read about the housing market.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Make me an offer....please!

I show dozens of properties in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral every week to prospective buyers. I screen for available properties that fit the buyers' criteria and then sort for best value among the fits. Some can't be shown for various reasons; uncooperative tenants, incomplete or incorrect directions, keys elsewhere, and on and on. The ones that actually get shown inevitably generate a few phone calls from the better of the listing agents asking for feedback. Here's a typical call;

listing agent, "Larry, just calling to get some feedback on my Best Condo in the World listing that you showed Saturday."

me, "It's a beautiful unit. The Rockefeller's loved it except for the price. The comps are telling us that it's over-priced by at least $80,000."

listing agent, "Well, bring me an offer."

me, "Sorry, with a price so far out of the game my clients don't want to waste their time with an unreasonable seller. They chose to offer on another unit in the building that is priced closer to recent sales. I appreciate the call."

Lesson for sellers: Pricing way too high and praying for an uninformed buyer is only hurting your chances with the active buyers who are informed. Get real with your price and you have a good chance of selling.

Condo sales, though increased in the last month, continue to lag last year's numbers. Through April there were 127 closed condos sales in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral compared to 153 in the same period last year. Of the 39 closed sales in April only four were for more than $400,000. A full half of those condo sales were under $200,000. Inventory of properties for sale is shrinking in all categories except for over-$500,000 condos. Supply in that troubled sector of the market continues to creep upward while sales are plodding along at the brisk pace of about one every two weeks. Sellers of luxury condos take note.

MLS inventory May 14, 2008 Cocoa Beach & Cape Canaveral

Condos, all prices_____798
over $500,000________119 - 11 sold since New Year's Day
Single family homes___131
over $500,000_________46

Welcome to the new readers in Portugal, Algeria, Pakistan, Jordan, Macedonia, Albania, Latvia, Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Bermuda, Cuba and Venezuela. I would love to hear from you and what your interest in Cocoa Beach is.

"Putts get real difficult the day they hand out the money."
Lee Trevino

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


In the ever changing landscape of south Cocoa Beach, another landmark is gone. After eighteen years, Natural Art Surf Shop has closed it's doors and morphed their operation from a bricks and mortar hangout and popular weekend contest venue to an internet only retailer. Their boards and products can still be found online at and I suppose the weekend contests can still be held if the eventual new resident will tolerate the surfers' cars. I'll see you in the water.