Saturday, March 28, 2015

Contraction, My Brother

My old companion, the corn plant (Dracaen fragrens) bloomed again this year for the third time in the last four years. This hardy plant has been with me for over 20 years. It is apparently rare for an indoor specimen to bloom. According to Wikipedia this African native helps remove indoor air pollutants and is very tolerant of neglect. For the week or so that it blooms, my house smells like the Chanel facory.

Inventory of condos and townhomes is down to 240 units in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. Over half have been on the market since last year, many for years. Two thirds of the single family homes in the two cities have been for sale since last year or before. The new listings that are priced anywhere near fair market value are selling immediately. The overpriced ones stagnate and contribute to making the inventory numbers far less dire than the reality. The reality is there are very, very few properties that are attractively priced. Buyers need to accept that they may need to be patient and, at the same time, ready to move when a good target has been acquired.

Of the 64 single family homes for sale, a third of the offerings are above $500,000 and a third are asking less than $385,000. About half are waterfront. There have been four new listings since March 1. During the same time seven have gone under contract. Both definitions of contraction are at play here.

There have been 26 new condo listings since March 1 and 55 closed sales. In the same time there were 37 newly accepted contracts. Of the accepted contracts a third contracted within four weeks of listing. There are only thirteen foreclosed and five short sale units on the market today. The distressed property dynamic is all but finished in our market.

There were a few interesting, attractively-priced  new listings this week. They included:
  • A 14 year old 3 BR, 2.5 BA townhome on the Cocoa Beach Golf Course with a two car garage asking $235,000. 
  • A cute, remodeled and fully furnished one bedroom unit in an oceanfront building asking $135,000.
  • A ten year old 3 BR, 2.5 BA Majestic Bay townhome with 2307 square feet and a two car garage for $225,000.

Weather has been wonderful this month as we are winding down to the end of snowbird season. The first and largest wave of the northward migration begins Tuesday as those with leases ending March 31 hit the dusty trail for home. Spring break is finished for the majority of schools but we'll continue to see a few stragglers and a handful of lingering snowbirds through the middle of April. It will soon be possible to shop at Publix without protective pads and a drive to the Port for lunch won't take half a day (unless, of course, one wants it to).

Potential buyers, Drop the mouse! Do not click on the "More Information" button next to the listing on Zillow, Trulia, Homes or or any other real estate website. Your info is going to be sent to as many as four self-proclaimed "expert agents" or, even worse for you, the listing agent. Some sites will send your info to an agent who has agreed to pay a huge chunk of the eventual commission to the company operating the website as a referral. That much reduced paycheck in no way is good for you.

You do NOT want the listing agent or one of her staff  writing an offer for you. You'd be better off with some dufus who paid Zillow for your info representing you than the listing agent or another agent from her office. They are prohibited from advocating for you in the deal. That dufus (or me) can battle for the best deal for you with no regard to what is best for the seller. Dufus might not have the experience or skills to do the best job but the law doesn't stop him (unlike the listing agent) from trying. A buyer's strongest play is to have a buyer's agent who is representing only them. We are not hard to find but Zillow or the others are not the place to look.

"A man who doesn't care about what he looks like, he's applauded. We say, 'Oh, he's not superficial.' I, myself, am deeply superficial."  __Fran Lebowitz