Tuesday, April 16, 2013

From the Trenches, April Halfway

After blowing the doors off in March, the property market in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral continues at a blistering pace in April. As of tax day yesterday 32 condos and townhomes had closed in the two towns according to the Cocoa Beach MLS. Of those 32 not a single one was a short sale. Three were foreclosures, all under $80,000. Almost half of those sold, 14 units, sold in less than 30 days on the market. There were multiple offers on several.

The high end of the range continues to be strong with two units closing at the oceanfront Meridian for $725,000 and $685,000. A 3rd floor direct ocean unit at the Constellation in south Cocoa Beach closed for $459,900. A 4th floor direct ocean Spanish Main weekly rental 3/2 closed for $323,000. Other weekly rental units closing included two 2 bedroom units at Cocoa Beach Club for $195,000 and $200,000, a Diplomat 3rd floor direct 2/2 that sold for $198,500 and a Royal Mansion first floor 1/1 that sold for $110,000.

In other oceanfront buildings a Marko Villas top floor 3/2 and a Sea Oats 2/2, 2nd floor direct closed for $287,500 and $255,000 respectively. A ground floor Windrush direct ocean NE corner 3/2 with 1623 square feet and garage sold for $193,000. A fully furnished 3rd floor south facing Ocean Oaks 1 bedroom 1.5 bath with garage sold for $175,000. Another one bedroom unit, this one a nicely remodeled 5th floor at Ambassador Shores in south Cocoa Beach closed for $164,000. No garage. A nicely remodeled NW corner facing Beach Villas 1/1 with a nice ocean view in south Cocoa Beach closed for $92,000.

A newer Harbor Isles lakefront 3/2 with 1401 square feet and two garages sold for $152,500. A remodeled top floor corner Treasure Island Club sold for $250,000 after 17 days on market. Three bedrooms two baths, 1827 square feet and open parking.

There were also sales in Rock Pointe, The Saturn, Villages of Seaport, Bayside, Ocean Woods and Atlantique among others. The trend remains the same; fewer days on market, lower inventory, higher percentage of asking price realized and multiple offers for the good ones. As always, cash offers are better received than those with financing contingencies.

I have been and am currently involved in short sales in complexes with first right of refusal. This is a tricky situation. The exact procedure varies but owners in a first right condo complex have the right to take a contract away from an outside buyer and buy it themselves at exactly the same terms as the original contract. This first right offering usually happens as soon as a seller accepts a contract. With a short sale, the seller signs an offer not knowing whether the bank will actually accept the offer. If it is put out to the owners before sending to the bank, an owner exercising their first right might find themselves in a situation with the bank asking for more than the contract. Should that owner accept the bank's counter, in some situations that new contract would have to be put out for first right again.

An even bigger problem involves transfer of short sale approval to a new buyer. If a listing agent doesn't put the contract our for first right until short sale approval is received from the bank, the bank may refuse to allow a new buyer to substituted for the original buyer. In this situation, the first right negotiations with the lender have to start over at square one. I am involved in exactly this situation right now and it is bordering on insanity with all involved losing. I'll cough up the details in a future post after the smoke has cleared.

I've forgotten how to worry
And I don't know how to run
Against the odds I realize
This struggle could be fun!
          __________The Clash

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Meet the Buyers

Who's buying in Cocoa Beach these days? The media would have you believe that foreign buyers are buying sizable amounts of property in Florida. While that may be true elsewhere in the state, it's never been true here. Our buyers are, surprise, overwhelmingly Floridians. I looked at the 25 most recently recorded sales on the property appraiser's site which today includes sales between Feb. 21, 2013 and March 20, 2013. As is usually the case, most of those 25 buyers of property in Cocoa Beach last month, six, already live in Brevard County and are buying for reasons other than primary residence. Another five, current residence location unknown, bought for primary residence. Of the remaining buyers, three live elsewhere in Florida and there were two each from Canada and Colorado. Another six were from eastern seaboard states with a last lone buyer from Michigan. Welcome to all our new neighbors.

"“Without music, life would be a mistake." ___Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, April 05, 2013

Reviewing March 2013

March 2013 was a blockbuster month for residential property sales in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. Monthly condo sales of 71 units in the two cities tied the highest month since 72 units sold in March 2006. In addition to the 71 condos there were 13 single family home sales. Of the 84 closed sales, 22% were distressed, either short sales or foreclosures. Of the remaining 355 properties for sale, 8.5% are distressed.

Twenty six of the condos sold were in oceanfront complexes with 17 of those in direct ocean buildings. Ten of the closed condos were in riverfront complexes. The highest priced condo sale was a 3rd floor south ocean view Sol y Mar with 3020 square feet that sold for $455,000. There were 13 condo sales for $300,000 or above and 17 for less than $100,000. Three single family homes closed above the $600,000 mark, all riverfront.

The ratio of condos closing with financing is rising with the cash/mortgage ratio for March at 4/3. Our meme of swift action and aggressive offering prices continues to be rewarded. Multiple offers have become the norm again for attractive properties. For buyers wanting a specific property, do not let the dreaded multiple offer scenario deter you. I know it's common to think the seller and their agent are playing games but that fear is just background noise in the grand scheme. Proceed with the strongest offer you're comfortable with and hope for the best. Cash, as always, is more attractive to a seller as it removes all the uncertainty of an offer contingent upon a mortgage. A contract contingent upon a mortgage can fail for several reasons including low appraisal or condo association issues. Issues that underwriters frown upon can include low reserves, not enough cash in the association's accounts to cover insurance deductibles, unacceptable ratios of investor owners and too many delinquent owners to name a few. Then there is the all-too-common occurrence of the lender just not having it all together by scheduled closing date.

All the moving parts of a mortgage conspire to delay or kill the closing. Early in the process there is required documentation from the borrower and the association, then the appraisal and underwriting. A delay of any of these will domino the delay down the line. If you're getting a mortgage it is vital to deliver requested documentation on time and prudent to ask your lender if everything is on track. It is not uncommon to close exactly on time but it is unfortunately not uncommon to have to request an extension because the loan did not receive final approval in time to hit the contract closing date. Sellers should be asking their agent to monitor the buyer's loan progress.

The first big wave of departing snowbirds has taken flight and the flock has been reported moving slowly northward through upper Florida and Georgia. Their places in the sun have been partially filled by wave two of spring breakers who will be gone next week. They will be replaced by the last and smallest wave of out-of-schoolers who will arrive to a mostly deserted town and beach. The third week in April Cocoa Beach will officially roll up the sidewalks and turn off all traffic signals. Restaurants will cut menu prices in half and golfers will be paid $10 per nine holes to keep the golf course in use. The ocean water temp will jump to eighty degrees in just a couple of days and residents will have to start raking jumbo shrimp off the sand every morning before taking the first swim of the day. We don't complain as this just a part of the drudgery of small beach town living post season.

"If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship,
you don't ask what seat. You just get on."
_____________________Eric Schmidt

Monday, April 01, 2013

Balcony collapse Villa Verde South Cocoa Beach

4th floor NE balcony collapsed this afternoon 4/1/2013

It just folded onto the 3rd floor balcony

Early reports say no injuries