Friday, April 17, 2020

Essential Wrestling

Scene from the Ft. Lauderdale airport on March 15.

Suggestion: Restaurants that are taking measures to ensure that employees are healthy should be sharing their efforts with the public. Instead of a free roll of toilet paper with my pizza I'd be more inclined to order takeout if I knew that all employees were wearing masks and none reported for work with a temperature above 100°. Beneficial for the owner and the other employees and very reassuring for the customers. Cost? Minimal. Porque no?

April 16 Covid-19 report shows no new cases in Cocoa Beach or Cape Canaveral. Confirmed cases still stand at six and one respectively.

Inventory of homes and condos for sale in the two cities has contracted slightly with a total of 206 existing condo units and 55 single family homes for sale this morning. There are another 26 units and homes offered as pre-construction reservations.

Sales activity as measured by new contracts is declining rapidly with a 40% decline in new contracts in the last 30 days compared to the same period in 2019 and is off by more than 50% in the month of April so far; 32 contracts in 2019 from April 1 through April 17 versus 17 this year. Even though real estate has been designated an "essential" service by the Florida governor, buyers are reticent during uncertain times. For what it's worth, Governor DeSantis also included professional wrestling on the essential services list. Florida Man's reputation reconfirmed in the minds of the world.

The vacation rental market is at a full halt but, surprisingly, there hasn't been a new listing of one for sale in over four months. With over 1000 weekly rental units in our two cities, the collective lost rent during the shutdown is over $1,000,000 a week. The vast majority of these units don't carry a mortgage so the pressure to sell isn't as urgent for these owners even though rent is currently zero. I expect to see new listings of vacation rental units if the no-rent order persists. People will vacation again after the coronavirus shutdown so those with resources (and courage) who have wanted to purchase a short-term unit may have opportunities during the coming months. Note that mortgages are difficult if not impossible to obtain on most of these properties in the best of times.

There is a lot of discussion and disagreement going on in condo associations about whether pools and other common amenities should be closed during the shutdown. I would advise Boards to seek legal advice before relying on what the neighboring building may be doing or what may have been reported on Facebook. Coronavirus may be seen as a "known hazard" and actions taken or not taken relating to it may be judged on that basis. If there is disagreement within your association about this, seek guidance from your association's attorney.

Stay safe, wear a mask in public and please stand at least six feet from me. I appreciate it.

"If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined." _______King Pyrrhus of Epirus