Saturday, February 25, 2012

So far this year

An Atlas V rocket lifting off yesterday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a monster 15,000 pound military satellite.

As I was expecting, the rate of property sales so far this year lagged the same period in recent years. Since January 1 there have been 15 sales of single family homes in Cocoa beach and Cape Canaveral as reported by the Cocoa Beach MLS. In the same period there have been 50 condo and townhome sales. The two biggest dynamics in play in our market are the depleted inventory (372 condos and 73 homes) and the rapid decline of the number of distressed properties. In the period of January 1 through February 25 last year, distressed sales (short or foreclosed) represented 37% of the single-family home sales and a whopping 47% of the condo sales. In that same period this year the numbers of distressed sales declined to 27% for single-family homes and 26% for condos. This trend of reduced distressed sales will continue as this morning's MLS inventory shows only 17% distressed condo listings out of 372 total and a mere 5% distressed homes. There is a total of only 20 foreclosed properties in our two cities, none of them single family homes. Over half of the foreclosures are at two complexes, nine at Pier Resort and two at Mystic Vistas. There are 42 short sale condo offerings and four single family.

What do these stats mean for participants in our market? With over three quarters of this year's condo sales so far closing with cash, mortgage availability is not a factor. Almost certainly, without high numbers of low-priced distressed listings, we should expect to see stabilization or increases in closed prices. I'm already seeing some indications of this. Obviously it's not the same in all complexes. Until the foreclosures get flushed out at the Pier Resort complex, we won't see any improvement there. With Mystic down to the two last foreclosures I expect that the days of sub-$200,000 sales will shortly be a thing of the past there. For sellers, the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to show. Those with the flexibility to wait it out may at last be rewarded. For buyers, the low-hanging fruit is almost entirely picked and expecting to pay the same or less than the recent comps is likely to be less successful than in the last few years. There are still deals to be had but one needs to be realistic and understand the dynamics.

On another subject, when researching property and agents on the Internet, be skeptical of all you see. False claims on agent websites like "expert this, that or the other" or "specializing in ..." and search engine manipulation are at an all-time high as are domains designed to trick the public into thinking they are actually on our public MLS. We have a broker in our area who maintains a site/s with almost-the-same domain name as our association site even though our association has repeatedly warned members that this is unacceptable (not to mention unethical). The obvious intention is to trick consumers. The puff adder I profiled in the post from earlier this week claims to be a beautiful peacock on the Internet. If you won't believe that a stranger is holding $15,000,000 from your deceased relative that he needs to transfer to your bank account you shouldn't believe that an agent you never met is an expert at anything but claiming to be an expert. This includes me. I could be a clever monkey with a broadband connection harvesting leads to sell to other less-resourceful agents. Trust your gut and ask questions of your agent.

I am frequently asked why lists of property listings from sites like Zillow,, Trulia, etc. almost always contain listings that are no longer active and often already sold. I suspect these sites intentionally leave sold listings up to increase page views. That is their business model after all. If you want real-time accurate MLS data for Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral use the public MLS site maintained by our association at  No need to wade through lists that are arranged according to how much a listing agent paid or full of already sold properties.

"He who would search for pearls must dive below." __John Dryden