Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Slow and Content

For your entertainment, the cashier's check pictured is a very good fake. It looks and feels legit. It has the micro-perf edge and all the expected printing on both sides. I received it from a scammer trying to book a vacation rental and then using the old "travel agent wrote check for too much money, please return the overage through Western Union or Moneygram". I get a few of these attempts every year and always try to play along long enough to get another check for my collection.

Inventory is slowly creeping back up in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, mainly because sales activity has slowed. There have been 44 new condo listings since October 1, with 7 of those already under contract and another 2 already closed. Eight of the remaining 35 are asking above $500,000 and two top the million dollar mark. Twenty eight units have closed in the same period leaving us with 197 actively for sale condos in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.

Single family home numbers are less as always but following the same trend; five closed in October and another six under contract. A total of 57 for sale with ten new listings in October.

Most agents I'm talking to are reporting slowed activity but we are still on track to clock the highest annual number of units sold in any year since 2005. Hopefully we'll get a fresh surge of new listings after the holidays. Fingers crossed. Temps have been pleasant in the 70s and low 80s for a couple of weeks and expected to continue in the same range. The ocean has been very rough for a week with hard onshore winds. Not good conditions for surfing or fishing. Protected lee shores in the rivers are still producing fish for those willing to make the windy run to find those protected spots. Five and a half weeks remain in the 2015 hurricane season. Nothing but a good run of surf for us here.

"Real G's move in silence like lasagna"  _______Lil Wayne

Friday, October 16, 2015

3Q - The Year On The Beach So Far

How is the real estate market doing in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral? I get this question more often than "How have the waves been?" or "Catching any fish?" Based on personal observation I would say the market is the most active it's been in ten years. After crunching the numbers, that impression is confirmed. Comparing sales in the first three quarters of the year for the last ten years, 2015 tops the list with the highest number of closed MLS-listed residential properties. What other trends are we experiencing? Let's dig a little deeper.

The number of property sales in our two cities peaked in 2005 with a sharp dropoff in 2006 that continued until flattening in 2008-2009. I graphed condo and townhome sales only because they make up the majority of residential properties in our cities. Single family homes sales mirrored the trend in condos. Prices continued to fall for most properties for a little longer before stabilizing. From 2009 sales activity began rebounding and has increased every subsequent year.  Note that 2014 finished higher than 2013 even though we were lagging at the end of September that year.

Prices have been steadily creeping upwards for most properties since around 2010 although there are pockets that haven't moved as much as others. Condo complexes that experienced heavy investor buying during the boom years took longer to stabilize. The years of distressed sales in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral have ended. There are no bank-owned nor short sale single family homes for sale in either city this morning. Only nine of the 190 condos and townhomes for sale are bank-owned AND all of us; buyers, sellers, real estate agents and title companies, should be celebrating the fact that there is but one short sale listing of any kind here today.

In the first three quarters of 2014 there were 118 single family homes closed in the two cities. Only two were short sales and 17 were bank-owned. Fifteen houses (13%) closed for $500,000 or more. This year sales increased by 14% with 135 closed through September. None of them were short sales and 16 were bank-owned. Thirty houses (22%) brought $500,000 or more. There are 55 houses for sale this morning with zero short or bank-owned offered.

From January 1 through September 30 of 2014 there 523 closed condos and townhomes. Distressed sales (short and bank-owned) made up 17% of the total. Seventeen units or 3% of the toal sold for $500,000 or more. 2015 saw activity increase by 8% with 564 units closed in the first three quarters. Distressed sales accounted for 13% of the total and $500,000 and above sales held steady at 3% (19 units) of the total. Inventory this morning is 190 units which is just over three months supply at the current sales rate.

Our takeaways:
Sales are increasing even as inventory shrinks (two thirds what it was just two years ago). New listings are being sold as fast as they are coming on the market propping up the activity for the moment. As is to be expected, with demand exceeding supply, price momentum is upward. Let's hope new lsitings don't dry up.

Short sales and bank-owned properties are no longer a factor in our beach market. Price direction (up) is reflecting the absence of these properties. Sellers are in the power position at the moment so buyers should negotiate accordingly. As is the case in any market, many are unrealistic about the value of their property and those will have to be ignored until they accept reality. The sales numbers tell us that many others are realistic. Those buyers and sellers who understand fair value and are willing to accept it can complete a successful sale/purchase. Any agent familiar with our market can approximate fair value for a property here. Speaking of; Beware the expert from afar. Zillow may be willing to sell an agent space on the "Search for a Cocoa Beach Agent" page but it's safe to say that three quarters of the 250 "Cocoa Beach Experts" displayed there probably can't distinguish high tide from Tide detergent and would have to consult Google maps to find Indian Creek Drive on their drive over from their office in another city. How's a consumer to know? Easy. Where is your office? If there is a bridge between that office and the

"When kids hit one year of age it's like hanging out with a miniature drunk. You have to hold onto them. They bump into things. They laugh and cry. They urinate. They vomit."  __Johnny Depp

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Ah, October

There has been good surf every day in Cocoa Beach for almost three weeks now. We had two different overlapping swells under our belts by the time the first pulse from Hurricane Joaquin peeked around the corner of the northern Bahamas last week. That swell was manageable the entire duration with several perfect days of waves a few feet overhead with glassy conditions. The last remnants of the swell are still pushing in out of the north this morning as Joaquin chugs towards southern Europe with the promise of good waves for the Quiksilver Pro in Landes, Aquitaine France.

Property sales remained strong in September with 17 single family homes and 51 condos and townhomes closed in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral in the month. Of the 68 sales, five were bank-owned and one was a short sale. Eight of the single family homes were over $430,000 and only five sold for less than $337,000. Highest sale was $700,000 for a remodeled waterfront 3/2 on Danube River. Lowest price paid was $195,000 for a handyman special on Park Dr.

Condo sales were concentrated in the lower price range with over 70% of units closing for less than $186,000. Only two units closed for more than $400,000, both direct ocean units above the third floor. Direct ocean units above the ground floor in good condition in older buildings have been commanding $240 to $295 per square foot depending on condition and size. When we begin to see sales of pristine units in newer buildings again (built since 2000) we can expect those units to bring considerably higher dollars per square foot, up into the mid-$300s.

Inventory of condos and townhomes in our two cities this morning stands at 189 units with another 69 under contract awaiting closing. Eight of the condo listings are bank-owned and one is a short sale. There are 53 single family homes for sale with no short sales and only one bank-owned.

We can probably expect the good surf to persist through the month as more storms pass offshore. The mullet are still running along the beach although the waves have made for challenging surf fishing. Fishing in the river is on fire with redfish, snook and trout there for the taking. Get out and enjoy some or all of it. This is the best month of the year in Cocoa Beach with no crowds, warm water and pleasant air temps. I am remined every day why I love this place.

According to Morgan Housel there are four types of investment returns:
  • Consistently bad.
  • Mostly bad and occasionally good.
  • Mostly decent and occasionally good.
  • Consistently good and fraudulent.