Thursday, November 10, 2016

Condos, Traffic, Turtles, Betrayal and Art

Thanks to Jim F. for the south Cocoa Beach sunrise photo
Somehow in a landscape of sparse resources my tribe has been able to find sustenance. Diligence has paid off and we have been able to pick off several excellent beach properties in the last month. Inventory of condos and townhomes in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral has been in a ridiculously low and shrinking trend for the entirety of 2016. We have not seen over 300 total units for sale since January of 2014 and by fall this year we were threatening to slip below 200 total existing units for sale. Overlay a few criteria on that number and the decent possibilities for some prospective buyers can quickly hit single digits.

Looking for a direct ocean unit in Cocoa Beach or Cape Canaveral? The MLS reveals 38 total existing units for sale at the moment. Budget of less than $500,000? Eliminate 20 of the total. Must have at least three bedrooms? Now we're looking at six possible units, two of them ground floor. How about the buyer looking for direct ocean with at least two bedrooms and two baths with a budget of $300,000? The MLS comes up with three hits but one is not actually east facing (listing agent dishonestly listed as "direct"), another is ground floor and the last is "direct" if you consider a distant horizon view over the pool "direct". Speaking of listing agent dishonesty, entering south or north facing units as "direct" is, I suppose, an attempt to get more showings with the thought that a buyer will decide that a south view is good enough in spite of having been deceived. Marketing and honesty are often at odds.

Those of you with similar criteria need to remember this when you find that awesome new listing  of a "direct" 2/2 for $250,000. I can tell you without looking that the listing agent exercised some level of poetic license when entering her $250K "direct" listing in the MLS. Ever wonder why so many listing agents' assistants are so muscular? It's so they can hang onto the boss while she's hanging off the south facing balcony with a telephoto lens craning left to get her shot of the "direct" view for the listing. It's not so difficult for those agents who describe the west building at Conquistador as direct. They only have to zoom over Ocean Beach Boulevard below separating the building from the beach to get a clean "direct" view shot of the distant ocean. Direct indeed.

In the month of October 41 condos and townhomes closed in our two cities. During the same time 14 single family homes closed. Highest price for a home was $399,000 for a beautiful two year old 3 bedroom 2.5 bath with 2219 square feet on Seminole Lane. Lowest price paid was $179,900 for a bank-owned 3/2 handyman special on Java Rd. It needed everything.

Closed condos included two more at the just-completed Cocoa Cabanas oceanfront in south Cocoa Beach. They went for $925,000 and $865,000. Both were 3/3.5 corner units with 2580 square feet and two garage spots. Prime oceanfront units with unobstructed views that are either new or totally and nicely remodeled continue to bring $300 a foot and higher. Despite the hurdles associated with condo loans half of the condo buyers in October used a mortgage to finance their purchase. A third of the closed units were listed for ten days or less, another persistent trend directly related to the super low inventory.

The strong onshore winds since the hurricane have been devastating for late season hatchling turtles. The wall of whitewater is virtually impossible for a freshly hatched turtle to punch through and hundreds of them have been found near death on the shoreline after swimming until exhaustion to try to get through the surf. Every surfer can identify with this. I can't imagine my first paddle-out being in quadruple overhead onshore slop. People finding these little guys have been dropping them off at Lori Wilson Park and other designated drop-off spots where they are collected and nursed back to health before being dropped off from a boat beyond the death zone for a second chance. Surfers in the southern end of town who've been jonesing for a good day were rewarded yesterday afternoon when the wind died down before sunset and the big, long period north swell cleaned up with smooth head-high plus lefts peeling down the beach.

In what can only be described as a cluster of royal proportions, the pain in the butt that is the Minutemen Causeway streetscape nightmare project with it's associated detours has been joined by the A1A resurfacing project topped off with the A1A sidewalk project further south. Traffic is worse than any Easter weekend in history and it's every day. The City has issued threats that they will be finished with the steetscape between Orlando and Brevard soon but they've fooled us before. Those who haven't heard might be surprised that the Space Coast Art Festival which turned it's back on Cocoa Beach for a tasty venue change at the Port finds itself without a venue this year and a whole bunch of pissed-off artists. It may never recover. On the bright side, the Cocoa Beach Art Festival which quickly filled the gap last year after the desertion of the SCAF will be continuing the tradition again this Thanksgiving weekend in downtown Cocoa Beach. Displays will be shifted around on Brevard Ave. to accommodate the afore mentioned streetscape nightmare. I look forward to seeing many of you there. Radio Romance will be hitting the big stage again this year.

"We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope."  __Martin Luther King, Jr.