Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Heavy Hand on South Cocoa Beach

Some of you may remember the photo above in a post last year about my favorite beach crossover in Cocoa Beach, 24th St. It was a wonderful thicket of dense, mature sea grapes and the sandy trail to the beach wound through a long tunnel in the vegetation. Sadly, the developer of the new Ocean Cove Condominiums next door did not appreciate the beauty of the old dune growth as much as I and has laid waste to all the old plants right up to his property line, apparently to open up the views for the lower units. The new residents in the building (if there ever are any) will likely never suspect their role in this callous destruction of one of Cocoa Beach's little treasures.

The new "improved" crossover below. I am saddened by this remarkable lack of concern for the character of our neighborhood. I hope those responsible will re-examine their attitude about the community in which they hope to sell their units and take steps to make their footprints on the special place that is south Cocoa Beach as light as possible. This did not have to happen.

Well, I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away.
______Alanis Morisette

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Soon is Now?

Late afternoon vapor trail from the launch of shuttle Discovery last week.

In the week since my last post, five more condos have closed in the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach MLS. Out of the five, four sold within 19 days of being listed. That, ladies and gentlemen, is evidence of aggressive pricing. As I've been saying, price it right and it will move.

A few aggressively priced active condo listings selected from the MLS this morning. Several are short sales;

3 bedroom, 3 year old, 1562 sq.ft. no garage in Cape Canaveral - $132,500
3 bedroom, 3 year old, 2424 sq.ft. 2-car garage Cape Canaveral - $180,000
2 bedroom, 5 year old, 2055 sq.ft. 4th floor direct river Cape Can. - $239,900
2 bedroom, older 2nd floor, direct river, 1244 sq.ft. w/garage
__and boat storage in south Cocoa Beach - $150,000
4 bedroom, 7 year old, 1670 sq.ft.. 2 car garage Cape townhome - $230,000
2 bedroom, 2nd floor, nicely remodeled direct ocean Cocoa Beach - $245,000

In addition to these listings there has been a slew of price reductions on unsold new units this month, but, until the new complexes are down to the last remaining units, I can't recommend taking the risk of the related association uncertainty in these complexes. One developer added 16 new luxury units to the MLS in the last week at prices ranging from $399,000 to $1,700,000. We now have an inventory of 101 condos asking over $500,000 in the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach MLS. I expect price reductions to continue in this over-crowded and slow-moving segment of our market. Sales in the 11 weeks since Jan. 1 in this same (over-$500,000) price range total 3 units, 2 of them at the Meridian.

While prices continue to deteriorate in all price ranges, inventory, especially in the sub-$500K range, has dropped considerably from it's high three years ago. We are now over 30% below our peak inventory levels set in May of 2006. Deals are still there but they are disappearing quickly when the price hits the sweet spot. Competition for the deals in the sub-$400,000 range is keen.

The national average for 30 year fixed rate mortgages according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey dipped below 5% this week. That's good news for borrowers IF they can meet the ever-increasing requirements for a loan. If you're shopping for a condo, talk to your lender before you look at properties. That lender you've always worked with may not be able to write a loan for a Florida condo and/or your down payment requirements may be different than you think.

"If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians."
__________________Warren Buffet

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Locked Out

To take the closest route to the ocean by water from Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral or Merritt Island, a boat must pass from the Banana River through the locks above at Port Canaveral. The single lock system helps maintain water depth in the Port for the cruise ships and submarines and prevents strong tidal currents, a nice benefit for boaters. For impatient fishermen, there are multiple ramps and marinas in the Port east of the locks.

As of this morning, March 14, there have been 9 closed condo sales in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral posted in the MLS. There was 1 MLS-listed single-family home closed in the same period. Sales of note include the following:

These first three are interesting for their similarities but very different levels of appreciation over the years.

A 2/2, 2nd floor non-waterfront unit in Cape Shores on the river sold for $68,000. It was not a short sale or foreclosure and was first listed in July 2007 for $139,900. This unit last sold in 1982 for $56,000. It was built in 1973.

An almost identical sized 2/2, 2nd floor non-riverfront unit at Four Seasons on the river, built in 1980 closed for $133,500. It had a garage. It sold in 1980 for $56,000.

Another 2/2 at Four Seasons also closed this month. It was a 3rd floor, 2/2 direct river with garage and closed for $172,500. It also sold in 1980 for $56,000. Can you say location, location, location?

A top floor (5th), 3/2 short sale at Puerto del Rio closed for $176,000. This 3 year old beauty with big wrap-around balcony sold new in August 2007 for $335,000.

A top floor (5th), 3/2 lakefront unit at Harbor Isles on the river in south Cocoa Beach closed for $199,900. Sold new in 1993 for $114,600.

A big, 2/2, 5th floor, direct ocean unit at Emerald Seas closed for $290,000.

The highest price condo sale of the month so far was a short sale of the entire 2nd floor of Riomar in south Cocoa Beach. This building has only 6 units total with each 3008 sq. ft. unit occupying an entire floor. The upper floors have magnificent views in every direction from the sweep of the beach north and south to Merritt Island across the Banana River. Selling price was $550,000. Sold in 2004 for $740,000.

"I didn't say this had to be, you can't blame these things on me."
__________________Lou Reed

Friday, March 06, 2009

Miracle on 28th Street

Early this Wednesday morning my friend, neighbor and long-time south Cocoa Beach resident, Roy Scafidi awoke to a house full of smoke and furniture in flames. He, his wife and two teenage daughters escaped moments before the house was completely engulfed in flames. The good news is they are all alive and uninjured. The bad news is they lost everything. If you'd like to express support, you can email Roy at roy@waveski.com or if you'd like to offer assistance it will surely be appreciated. Gift cards are a good way to help if you are so inclined as they must now begin the process of replacing everything from flip flops to school books. Roy's mailing address is:

Roy Scafidi
Oceansports World
3220 S. Atlantic Ave
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931

I don't know who took the shots above. They were sent to me and were apparently shot from Waters Edge condos to the south. If they are your photos, let me know if you have a problem with me using them and I'll remove them or, if you prefer, I'll give you credit.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cocoa Beach MLS February Wrap-Up

March has arrived and Bike Week begins in Daytona. We usually see quite a bit of spill-over bike traffic here in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral as riders make day trips away from the Daytona area. The combo of snowbirds, visiting baseball teams at the Cocoa Expo, spring breakers and the Bike Week crowd makes March our busiest month of the year.

Rates have turned back down after spiking up briefly in January. Chart below is the average for Florida 30 year fixed rate mortgages courtesy of bankrate.com.

The MLS is likely not completely updated for February sales but as of today we're showing 26 closed MLS-listed condos in the month, down from 32 last February but a nice increase over January's meager 16 sales. Prices ranged from $37,000 for a small bank-owned unit in Cape Canaveral to $655,000 for a brand new, top floor 3/2 at the Meridian, the only sale for over $500,000 in the month.

Notable sales included a 5th floor Crescent Beach Club unit that sold for $374,000 or $24,000 more than the last three identical floor plan sales in the building last year. The increase in selling price probably had more to do with the already-paid $32,000 assessment than with an upturn in the price trend.

Another good one was a 3rd floor, 2/2 southeast corner at Canaveral Sands that went under contract within days of listing and closed two weeks later for $295,000.

A gorgeous, tastefully furnished south facing, 3rd floor unit at the 10 year old Sand Dunes in Cape Canaveral sold for an amazing $245,000. That qualifies for "smoking deal" status.

A 2nd floor, direct ocean 2/2 at Hacienda del Mar in south Cocoa Beach in original condition and with a wide open ocean view closed for $240,000.

A big (2044 sq. ft.), direct river, 2/2 on the 4th floor in a four year old building at Solana on the River sold for $217,000 or $94,900 less than it sold for new in 2004.

Drama continues at Mystic Vistas in Cape Canaveral with a 2nd floor, no-view unit in the C building selling for $195,000. This same unit changed hands twice before; first in 2005 and again last year for $359,900 and $358,800 respectively.

A second floor 2/1 (not direct ocean, no view) at the very popular Diplomat closed for $139,900 after being on the market for just 11 days.

There has been a surprising lack of good new listings appearing on the MLS in recent weeks. Like the Diplomat unit mentioned above, the desirable ones that are priced right are moving quickly. Attractive new listings and price drops this week included a couple of weekly rental units in popular buildings on the ocean, one below $300,000. My favorite right now is a short sale condo on a canal with a boat slip and garage, a short stroll from the beach and downtown, asking $159,900.

There's a party in my mind...And it never stops

There's a party up there all the time...

___________Talking Heads