Tuesday, December 07, 2021

We Broke a Record

The pinkish/purple little flowers (above) that are seen on most local lawns this time of year are pusley or Florida Snow as it's more often called. It is invasive and, while pretty, not a welcome resident on most lawns. It is too low to effectively mow and resistant to almost all herbicides which we shouldn't be considering anyway because of runoff into the Banana River. I have embraced my infestation and it is thriving and providing an attraction for honeybees and butterflies not to mention it is pretty and hardier than my beleaguered grass..

Before dawn this morning an Atlas 5 rocket configured with five solid fuel boosters launched into the fog on the longest mission to date for the Atlas rockets. It will deliver two satellites into geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above the equator. 

More history was made yesterday morning when the 806th condo sale of the year in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral closed. Until yesterday, 2005 was the year of the most condo sales with a total of 805 units sold. That year our inventory of units for sale bounced around 800 units for sale at any given time. This year's inventory has been the lowest ever recorded at an average of around 50 to 60 units for sale most days. This morning, it stands at 70 existing total units for sale. That we set a sales record with this depleted inventory is remarkable. I see no reason to expect the pace of sales nor the inventory to change in the near future. Good hunting out there.

"Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use." __Charles M. Schulz

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Ghost Houses

Typical October beach crowd in south Cocoa Beach

The Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral MLS today is reporting 740 sold condo and townhome units in our two cities since January 1. Somehow, the monthly sales average (74 units) has exceeded the inventory almost the entire time (65 units for sale this morning). In addition to record numbers of sales, prices have been in record territory all year and continue to steadily climb. There have been 177 condo units closed for over $300 per square foot with 36 of those selling for more than $400 a foot. Despite the high prices on many properties there are a few units selling for less than their price at the peak of market mania in 2005. 

There have been 145 single family homes closed in our two cities so far this year, 27 of them over a million dollars. Among these 145 sold homes are seven million-dollar houses that don't exist but have been reported as closed in the MLS. They are supposed to be on a riverfront parcel in south Cocoa Beach but so far there are only a few piles of dirt where some of these ghost houses closed six months ago. There are 24 MLS-listed houses for sale this morning in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral including seven more of the previously mentioned ghost houses offered as pre-construction. The listings don't mention whether or not a buyer will be expected to close before the houses are built. 

Hope everyone is enjoying the cooler weather. The highest predicted temperature for Cocoa Beach in the next ten days is 79. Hurricane season officially lasts through November but if we make it to the end of October without a hit, I let myself cautiously begin to relax. Work on the new Surf oceanfront condo building in downtown Cocoa Beach is moving along at a brisk pace. I'm still hoping that the cylindrical cell tower by the new police station will be decorated as a rocket but so far nothing. In case anyone's wondering, there are 55 days until Christmas. Happy Holidays.

“To be wealthy and honored in an unjust society is a disgrace.” __Confucius

Monday, October 18, 2021

Going Up - Lucy and Condo Fees

Lucy ascends into the clouds pre-dawn last week on a 12 year mission to explore the Trojan asteroids.

The concept of condominium ownership began in Florida in 1963 and in the next 18 years over a half million units were built. Those units are now at least 40 years old and represent 38% of the over 1.5 million units currently existing in the state. After the deadly collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside in June this year, the Florida Bar assembled a task force to review Florida Condominium law related to management, maintenance and inspection and to determine if changes or additions to current law could prevent or minimize the likelihood of a similar tragedy. The Task Force has completed it's review and has drafted recommendations for the Governor and Florida Legislature. Their recommendations, if adopted into law will affect all existing Florida condominiums.

After reading the report, here are some of my big takeaways. These are my interpretations and may not be exactly as intended by the writers of the report but I think I'm close. 

Florida BAR Task Force Recommendations

Structural Inspections: Requiring a structural and life-safety inspection by a structural engineer or architect by December 31, 2024 for all 3-story plus buildings older than five years and every five years thereafter. Miami/Dade and Broward Counties currently require an inspection and structural recertification for buildings by the time they're 40 years old. Boards will be required to inform owners of the building/s' condition after inspection. As it currently stands Boards are not required to share building issues with the owners and, in my experience, some Boards actively discourage discussions of issues to preclude those appearing in meeting minutes which could discourage prospective buyers. The report also recommends a path for owners to engage the State should a Board not perform it's duties to inspect and maintain.

Special Assessments: Voiding any limitations in the condo docs that limits the Board's ability to levy special assessments or to borrow money to perform repairs including requiring unit owner approval or voting to perform those repairs. This means that unit owners can't vote down special assessments they don't want to pay. Also, establishing a source of long term loans for owners who may not be able to afford a large special assessment.

Reserves: Establishing a baseline for reserves. Currently a Florida condominium association may elect to have zero reserves and, instead, levy special assessments to cover maintenance as needed. Most associations in our area have some level of reserves but very few have 100% funded reserves and even those that do rarely have funds specified for concrete repairs included. The Task Force recommendations are for at least 50% reserves for previously mandatory items and, included for the first time, building components with greater than 40 year life such as concrete, the whopper expense for any coastal high-rise building.

Local Government: Establishing some responsibility of local government to be involved in, or oversight of, the inspection process.

Insurance: The recommendations are vague here but the practice of under-insuring and using very high deductibles needs to be changed.

Summary - More regulation of condos is required to ensure public safety. That regulation will include building inspections (by both public and private sources), more frequent maintenance, higher reserves with newly included reserve items and better insurance coverage among other things. The impact to unit owners will be reflected in higher monthly fees to cover these new expenses. The impact will be felt least in well-maintained buildings with good reserves but associations with low monthly fees and deferred maintenance are about to become much more expensive for their owners. This is without considering insurance premium increases that may result from reconsidered risk in older Florida condo buildings that has nothing to do with the Task Force.

As a prospective buyer of a unit in an older condominium I would proceed with the assumption that the monthly fee will be increasing substantially over the next three years and that concrete work, if obviously needed, will probably be happening during that period along with a special assessment to pay for same. If I owned a unit in an older building with low reserves and with deferred maintenance I would probably be considering selling. Hey, don't shoot the messenger. This has been brewing for a long time. Will unit values in these buildings be affected? Absolutely, but they will almost certainly continue to go up until the impact is widely known. There may be a considerable period of continued appreciation before the piper demands payment. Feeling lucky? Well, do you?

Here is the entire Task Force report for those so inclined.

"I missed it in 96 and I'm not gonna miss it again." Ben Gravy referring to the approaching Hurricane Larry swell last month

Thursday, October 14, 2021

We Had Our Offer Accepted. Now What?

Masked bandit at the Cocoa Beach Country Club.

This is an excerpt from a post five years ago. Those who haven't been involved in a Florida real estate transaction often don't know what to expect nor who pays for what. Here's a simplification of the basics. As always, the contract spells out the exact responsibilities for the parties involved. It is entirely possible to negotiate to have the opposite party pay for an item that is not customarily paid by their side.


A real estate contract is considered executed when all parties have finished signing. After that, the next step is to send the file to the closing agent which in Florida is usually a title company or, sometimes, an attorney's office that is also a title company. The title company then does the title search, co-ordinates with the buyer's lender if a mortgage is involved, determines tax liabilities and gets an estoppel letter from the association if the property is a condo. They then pull all this together and generate a settlement statement with exact numbers in enough time for the buyers to wire their funds for arrival by day of closing and then have all parties sign their respective documents (couriered or emailed to parties who will not be attending actual closing), disburse funds after closing and record the relevant documents. It's a complicated and under-appreciated job. The majority of closers I work with are legit rock stars at the process. I often think of them when I'm in one of those closings that has run past an hour and the closer is slowly reading every document before sliding it over for signatures. I see it like paper route math. As a paper boy if I've got 100 papers to deliver and can throw four a minute from my speeding bike, I can do my route in 25 minutes. Slow my pace down by just 21 seconds per paper or stop for  a couple of short discussions with customers and that same route takes an hour. A closer who can only do one signature page per minute is going to take at least an hour to do a 60 page closing. There are stars who can do a sixty page closing in 15 minutes. You know who you are and I appreciate you more than I can express.

Title insurance rates tend to be very close among the different companies and government charges are identical but the settlement and other fees paid to the title company can vary by several hundred dollars. In my experience, the slower and less efficient the title company, the higher these additional fees. Makes sense. A closer who can only close two or three deals a day needs to charge more to make up for inefficiency.

In Florida the seller typically selects the title company since they are the ones paying (usually) for the buyer's owner's policy. If the seller doesn't have a preference, their listing agent will suggest a title company that's, hopefully, conveniently located and good at what they do. Sometimes they are neither. I wish it were different because the difference in closing agent can be the difference in whether a transaction closes on time or actually closes at all. Since the buyer has very little influence in the selection I would encourage listing agents to recommend title companies that are good at what they do and to please use one somewhat close to the property and/or principals. It is a disservice to the seller and buyer of a Cocoa Beach condo when the listing agent selects a title company in Palm Bay because it's convenient to her office. Likewise for continuing to use a company that wastes everyone's time with closings that last way too long. I'm thinking specifically about a closing last month attended by nine people that took an hour and a half for no good reason. There were times when I expected someone to poke the closer to see if she was still awake. For the record, this was at an attorney's office and not a title company. 

On that subject, listing agents, please stop insisting that the buyer's escrow deposit be held in an attorney's or title company's escrow account. By doing that you are depriving your client of the free dispute resolution offered by DBPR should that be necessary and ensuring that your client will have to waste money on an attorney to recover a rightfully withheld deposit. All parties to Florida real estate transactions are better served by having escrow deposits held in a Florida real estate broker's escrow account. A buyer's agent who offers to hold the deposit in their broker's escrow account is doing everyone involved a favor. Any listing agent who insists otherwise has either forgotten or is knowingly ignoring one of the most important parts of her required licensing education and is exposing her seller client to unnecessary risk. 

The scent of mullet has been strong at my office two blocks from the ocean every morning this week as millions of these fish stream southward in the surf on their annual migration. The dense schools are being shadowed by predators; snook, mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon and sharks among others. It is the best time of year for surf fishing but like many years, long-period storm swells this year are making for challenging conditions. The chance of landing a legal snook makes the trouble worth it. Good luck to all the beach fisherpeople.

"“A theory may be so rich in descriptive possibilities that it can be made to fit any data.” ________Phillip Johnson-Laird

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Setting Records and Taking Names

Real estate sales in 2021 in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral are already in record territory and by the time the year is finished we look to have recorded the highest annual residential sales in history, eclipsing even the bubble years of 2004 and 2005. Here is a look at sales of all years, since I began keeping records in 2004, as they stood through the month of August.

The month of March 2021 set a new all-time monthly record for condo sales in our two cities with 103 units closed. That record was broken immediately in April when 113 units closed. That we've done this with the lowest inventory in history is nothing short of incredible. For context, condo inventory in 2004 and 2005 was hovering between 700 and 1000 units for sale. On January 1, 2021 inventory in our two cities was at 113 existing units for sale and dipped as low as 35 units for sale a few months later. We've closed more units most months this year than the average number for sale during the month.

Prices, likewise, have been record-setting. Here is an excerpt from one of my posts in 2015:

Prices paid for the 80 direct units that sold in 2015 ranged from $187 to $362 per square foot (if dropping the highest and the lowest). Pricing by the square foot is inexact but it's usually the best starting point in an exercise of estimating value. The median was $250/sf with only three units selling for more than $300 per square foot. Those properties that sold for more than $250 per square foot were generally newer or nicely remodeled and/or furnished. 

By comparison, in 2021 we have closed 95 direct ocean units so far at prices between $228 and $519 per square foot (dropping the high and the low). The median was $339/sf with 71 of the 95 selling for over $300 per square foot and 18 of those over $400/sf. Prices have been in uncharted territory for all of this year and are still climbing. Buyer appetite is still strong although we are going through typical fall slowdown in activity right now. Sellers are playing hardball and buyers are competing with one another for good properties. Multiple offers are to be expected on any desirable property. Knowing that some buyers are willing to knowingly overpay in a rising market will be beneficial knowledge for buyers who find themselves in multiple offer situations. Buyers and sellers need to remember that their estimate of value, no matter how they arrived at it, is an estimate. The opposing party will almost always have a different estimate. Sales happen only when the two parties can reach an agreement or compromise on that estimate. 

Speaking of multiple offers, a Sarasota listing agent is in hot water after being accused of presenting multiple offers in a biased manner to favor a buyer who also happened to be his customer, a fear every buyer harbors when notified of multiple offers.

I managed to slip away with a friend and put a few snook in the boat this week with Capt. Travis Tanner. All but two slots were oversize and released unharmed to continue to terrorize the mullet schools streaming through the Port. The snook will be following those schools into the ocean as the annual mullet run heats up and they move southward down the beach. Beach anglers fishing the trough right off the beach with artificials or live mullet in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral will be catching their share of one of the best-eating fish in our waters. Fish must be at least 28" and no more than 32" in total length to be harvested. All others must be released unharmed. Skin your fish if you don't want to ruin the taste. Good luck to all.

“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” __George Orwell 1984

Monday, September 13, 2021

Money in the Bank

French kids enjoying the Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach. Happy Birthday Alesia and Bianca. 

What's happening with Cocoa Beach real estate and which property types are seeing the most interest? What has been the impact locally, if any, from the Surfside condo collapse and should I avoid older condos altogether? What is the future for Cocoa Beach property prices and property insurance costs? These are some of the questions I have gotten recently.

One hot property type has been vacation rentals. After being a small, relatively unnoticed segment of the local market, demand for vacation rental properties has exploded. There are only about a dozen oceanfront condo complexes in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral that allow weekly rentals and until recently, short-term rentals, with a couple of exceptions, were only allowed in those particular condos plus oceanfront homes and duplexes. The City of Cocoa Beach no longer aggressively restricts short-term rentals and that has blown up demand for non-oceanfront properties with vacation rental potential. As these other properties have entered the vacation rental market, demand has been surprisingly strong from holiday goers. Apparently, for vacationers, an ocean view is not the must-have we thought it was. Long term single-family rental homes in quiet Cocoa Beach neighborhoods are shifting to AirBnB rentals and the character of those neighborhoods is changing. I've heard a few nightmare stories about rotating beach party crowds in once-quiet neighborhoods. The City, so far, has been unresponsive. In the meantime, prices for properties with vacation rental appeal are soaring. At the moment, among all the oceanfront condos that allow weekly rentals, there is only one for sale, a 760 square foot one bedroom with no ocean view asking $299,900.

In south Florida, post-Surfside collapse, high-rise buildings are required to do a structural inspection and recertification by their 40 year birthday. That requirement does not exist here...yet. Many of our older buildings are putting off making needed repairs because of the expense. At least one oceanfront building in Cocoa Beach has been recently flagged by the City as unsafe and occupants of units above the ground floor are prohibited from entering their units. I can think of a few other buildings that could find themselves in the same situation if they don't take care of their issues. I have not heard of any increases in condo master policy insurance yet but I think it's safe to expect rising premiums as policies hit their renewal date. Buyers and owners of units in older oceanfront condos would be well-advised to anticipate increases in condo fees as a result of repairs that can no longer be ignored and more expensive master policies. If higher premiums don't materialize, the repairs still have to happen and be paid for. As always, there is value in buying in a building that has been diligently maintained. I hesitate to speculate what could happen if insurers decide that poorly-maintained older buildings are no longer worth the risk.

Waterfront Cocoa Beach single family homes have been money in the bank for the last ten years. Will that continue to be the case? Extremely short supply and zero land on which to build more supports the positive. The big question is insurance. Will the new flood insurance rates beginning in October affect values? I suspect that even higher insurance will not change the story. The limited supply can't change. There are only nine waterfront Cocoa Beach single family homes for sale today, only one of them asking less than $749,000. Four waterfront homes have accepted an offer since September 1st.

Condo inventory stands at 72 exiting units for sale in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. Thirty five units have gone under contract since September 1st which means, at the same sales rate, our current inventory will be gone in less than a month. Have questions? I'm happy to try to answer questions about Cocoa Beach real estate. My contacts are at the top of the page. 

Here's an excerpt from an older post that is even more relevant now and those looking to purchase will be better prepared having read it.

Buyers need to keep this low inventory in mind when looking and offering. The more stringent one's must-have list the more crucial it becomes to shoot for success when offering. This is not the time to offer low and work up to fair. If the perfect property becomes available now is the time to be aggressive. Considering the pace of new listings, it could be a long time for another acceptable listing to appear and by that time, prices are likely to have increased. If you hope to buy a property in this market at this point in history, be bold and quick with your offers or be prepared to never buy. I don't like it either but, as I heard a high-ranking figure recently say, it is what it is. Know that if you do have to overpay for your perfect beach getaway, the tight inventory and vigorous demand will likely push the value up to your purchase price and beyond in short order. 

SpaceX is scheduled to launch four non-professional astronauts on a private three day orbital mission on Wednesday night. Two of the astronauts won their trip in contests. Night launches, manned or not, are always spectacular. Don't miss it.

"If memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck." __Rick Nelson

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Tide Has Turned

Inventory of residential properties for sale in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral bottomed at the end of June at a low of 35 condos and townhomes. Around the same time there were less than 15 existing single family homes for sale. Supply has been steadily increasing since then as the rate of sales has slowed. This morning we have 79 existing condo units for sale with another seven pre-construction offerings. Speaking of pre-construction, work is well underway on The Surf oceanfront building downtown. There are three remaining unsold units available there at prices between $1.45m and $1.625m.

There are 24 existing single family homes on the market right now with another seven yet-to-be-built offered in south Cocoa Beach at the long delayed project at the Old Fisherman's Wharf location. Fifteen homes have gone under contract so far in August. During the same time, 37 condo units have received an accepted contract.

Prices being asked continue to astound. How about a small rundown Cocoa Beach duplex for $675,000? Or a 900 square foot, 58 year old, 1st floor oceanfront condo with no garage for $499,999? It is remodeled and furnished for what that's worth. I would advise some caution for buyers. It's been extremely competitive with multiple offers on almost every decent property priced anywhere near reasonable and some buyers have payed crazy prices to get what they wanted. I wouldn't mind overpaying somewhat to get a perfect property but there appears to be less pressure with increasing inventory and slowing sales. Someone looking for a rare specific property type may have to overpay to get it but those who have flexibility should be in no rush to jump on the next thing that comes close to their criteria. We are entering our typically slow season until Christmas so there is likely to be less competition and more supply. Decent deals are still being had for those who have been patient and diligent.

FEMA will be overhauling the National Flood Insurance Program and resetting rates this fall. They are taking into account rising worldwide sea levels in addition to flood history for specific areas. I have no idea what that will mean for rates in our area but the usual increase without an overhaul is around 10%. Reporting suggests that higher-risk areas like Florida may be in for much higher increases. This is in addition to the still unknown changes we're going to see for master policies for older oceanfront buildings as a consequence of the Surfside condo collapse in June. A big increase in premiums for either of these things could slam the brakes on the affected sectors of our already cooling market. 

It's a little over one week until snook season opens here, the anniversary of Hurricane Dorian destroying Abaco in 2019. If the surf remains as calm as it has been recently, this could be a good year for surf fishing for snook and all the other predators along the beach feasting on the annual mullet run. I haven't seen any schools of mullet yet in south Cocoa Beach but they are bound to be here shortly. Good luck and good eating to all the surf fishers.

"I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own." _Andy Warhol

Monday, August 09, 2021

Just Say No

I had a closing last week in which the seller, in addition to paying a high commission, suffered the indignity of having an extra $295 nibbled out of her pocket by her agent in the form of a transaction fee. This is a sore and often discussed subject for me. There is zero justification for a transaction fee in a deal where the brokers are being payed commission in a more or less customary way. If that's true, then where do these fees come from and why do consumers continue to pay them?

The fees are charged by unscrupulous agents to squeeze a few more dollars out of every deal, at least those deals in which they can get away with it. Agents often justify these fees to their clients as necessary to pay the office personnel who handle the paperwork of the transaction. That seems reasonable and many consumers agree to it because they don't know that the vast majority of real estate agents and brokers pay their office staff out of the already substantial commissions being collected. My advice to anyone being asked to pay a transaction fee whether as a buyer or seller is to Just. Say. No. Your agent is not going to walk away from the thousands of dollars he stand to make off your deal over a few hundred dollar junk fee.


From an older post on this same subject:

Thanks for the feedback from those of you with knowledge of this ripoff. It didn't take me long to find several more examples of the same local brokerage charging their clients the junk fee. The "Broker Only Commission" is exactly the same as the infamous "Regulatory Compliance Fee" that used to be charged by another local brokerage. It's a junk fee that has no place on the vast majority of settlement statements. One reader was kind enough to forward me a portion of their contract that showed the fee disclosed and pre-printed on the last page, presumably to make it seem legit. In two other cases that I looked at, that line was omitted from the contract but the fee was inserted on the settlement statement.

People, do not pay a fee to your agent or broker above the commission they are receiving unless it's a case of reduced or no commission and you want them to be paid an appropriate amount for their work. If you are presented with a contract or settlement statement showing a "Broker Only Commission", "Regulatory Compliance Fee" or any other fee paid to your broker by you, refuse to pay it unless you previously agreed to and are OK with paying it. No agent or broker is going to let the deal die because you refused to be robbed of $345 at closing.

Agents, don't be bullied into ripping off your clients. This is a shady practice and it won't continue without your complicity. There are plenty of good brokerages that don't encourage you to treat your clients poorly. Do the right thing.

Check out this preparation of a very unusual seafood ingredient by the very talented Chef Jason at the Flavour Kitchen and Wine Bar in downtown Cocoa Beach. 

"You said I'm full of diseases. Your eyes were full of regret and then you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet." from A Change of Heart by The 1975

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mango Season

It's that time of year in Brevard County again. We typically have alternating good and bad mango seasons and 2021 is turning out to be one of the really good ones. Everyone's trees are producing in such quantity that those with trees in their yards are sharing bags of fruit with friends, neighbors and strangers much to everyone's delight. I am forced this time of year to eat an unadvisable amount of sweet fruit that I rationalize with the thought of the waste should I not do my part. Consuming several ripe mangoes every day may not be the healthiest dietary decision but it does make me a happy person during the weeks that the fruit are ripening.

In lieu of any interesting agent interactions I'm posting a previously shared account of a weird transaction from 2017. These strange interactions happen more frequently than one would imagine. I am the listing agent in this story.


This is the true account of an interesting and perplexing transaction last month with a mysterious buyer and his communication-impaired buyer's agent from another city.

November 3, 2017: A buyer's agent calls the listing agent of a condo in Cocoa Beach asking to show. The unit is vacant and available to show anytime, but, being from Orlando, the buyer's agent doesn't have access to the local electronic lockbox system so he asks if listing agent can unlock the unit for him. No problem.

November 8: After no contact for five days after showing, the buyer's agent delivers a very low offer contingent upon a mortgage. The listing agent presents the offer to the seller who doesn't want to counter as the unit is in a condotel complex where a mortgage is impossible to acquire unless it is from an unconventional source. The listing agent suggests countering without a financing contingency. Done.

November 9: Buyer counters at a lower number, cash, close in 30 days.

November 10: Negotiations ensue and buyer and seller verbally agree upon a higher number, cash purchase with a 30 day close and buyer's agent asks listing agent to write it up and he'll get buyer to sign. Written, signed by seller and delivered to buyer's agent same day.

November 11: Buyer's agent sends a lender's condo questionnaire but no signed contract. What? This was a cash offer. Buyer's agent says don't worry, buyer is just exploring his options. OK, management company completes the questionnaire three days later and listing agent forwards it to buyer's agent. Buyer's agent goes radio silent. 

December 7: The buyer's agent hasn't responded to any emails, texts or phone calls from listing agent for three weeks. Suddenly,  26 days after last contact, he emails listing agent to say that buyer is moving forward if the property is still available and is sending the signed contract shortly. Listing agent informs seller that the dead have arisen but neither holds their breath.

December 8: Signed contract is received from the buyer's agent with escrow deposit due in three days and a ten day inspection period with a close date of Dec. 30. Buyer's agent returns to his Faraday cage and relights the "Do Not Disturb" sign. Listing agent marks the MLS listing as "Backups" rather than "Contingent" and notes in the narrative that the contract is "shaky" and encourages backup offers. Fingers are crossed but seller's and listing agent's expectations remain minimal.

December 14: Escrow deposit is received, three days late. Buyer's agent surfaces briefly to acknowledge receipt and reenters suspension chamber blithely letting the inspection period expire four days later with zero contact..

December 26: After a two week disappearance buyer's agent notifies listing agent that inspections will be done Dec. 27 three days before closing. Inspection period expired on Dec. 18.

December 27: late night: Buyer's agent emails inspection report with a demand for all items to be repaired prior to closing on the 30th.

December 28: Seller refuses to do repairs but offers $300 credit at closing for the small items found. and buyer responds that he is willing to delay closing to give seller time to repair. Seller says, no dice, and closing will still happen on Dec. 30 or he will keep the deposit which became non-refundable ten days earlier at the expiration of the inspection period.

December 29: Buyer wisely agrees to the $300 repair credit, signs closing documents and initiates wire of funds late in the day which does not arrive until Jan. 3 for unknown reasons.

January 3: Buyer's agent who has been absent since demanding repairs the previous week sends his last text to the listing agent "Did you receive commission yet?"

While frustrating, this all-too-common level of incompetence from some of my fellow practitioners does provide entertainment and makes for lively discussions when the used house salesmen gather round the table for refreshments. I'd like to thank this buyer's agent and his peers for making the rest of us look better than we would sans the contrast. A hearty toast merry fellows.

Ask a child to draw a car, and certainly he will draw it red.” - Enzo Ferrari

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Summer Doldrums

Back to my regular posting after an enjoyable summer break to my favorite islands. Nothing works quite like fresh conch to retune my taste apparatus.

Inventory in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral has reversed it's slide and is slowly increasing with a total of 66 existing units for sale this morning. We dipped as low as 34 total units for sale a couple of months ago. It appears that the increase is due in part to slowed sales. Thirty condo and townhome units have gone under contract in the first two weeks of July after closing a remarkable 84 units in the month of June. Sixteen of those sold for at least a half million dollars. There are only 12 existing units for sale in that price range at the moment. That is good news for the developer of The Surf oceanfront condos downtown Cocoa Beach. Buyers looking for a new luxury oceanfront unit can choose from the three remaining units left there at prices between $1.45 MM and $1.625 MM.

Single family home inventory has recovered somewhat with 27 homes for sale today in our two cities. There are another eight offered as pre-construction in the mysterious riverfront development in south Cocoa Beach. Several new houses there have already recorded as closed in the MLS yet none have been built nor has construction begun. Anyone?

Eighteen single family homes closed in June, all but two of them in Cocoa Beach. Highest price was for a massive, new non-waterfront home on the Cocoa Beach Country Club golf course that closed for $1,300,000. Lowest price paid was $390,000 for a little 1957 vintage 3/2 in south Cocoa Beach with 1213 square feet.

I am being asked almost daily about my thoughts on the condo market after the tragic condo collapse in Surfside. I have more questions than opinions. Will insurance companies continue to renew policies for older buildings and if so, at the same prices? Will condo associations become more forceful in timely assessing for and initiating needed concrete repairs? Will buyers avoid older buildings? Will this affect demand and thus prices for units in older buildings? Will prices for units in newer buildings go up? I welcome readers' thoughts on this. You can email me anonymously with your thoughts.

“Thanks to everyone who came into my life and made it better. And thanks to the ones who walked out and made it amazing.” __Kate 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Not So Fast

I received a call this week from a worried Cocoa Beach condo owner. He had just been notified that his condo association was about to vote to change the rental minimum from one week to one month. The ability to do vacation rentals was the reason he bought the unit a few months ago. I've addressed this in the past and the segment below is from an old post. 

In short, if your condo allows weekly rentals, they can't limit your right to do so in the future without your affirmative vote on the change. Don't be bullied by a condo board trying to restrict your property rights. They often get away with these bluffs because owners don't know that the Board doesn't have that right.


I've recently heard about two local condo associations trying to change rental restrictions via rule changes. As we found out in an outrageous incident a few years ago, an association can't merely add a new rule to change property use. That particular incident was a Cocoa Beach association that attempted to limit how many units a person could own by burying a new rule in the existing rules and regulations. It doesn't work that way. Property use can only be changed by a properly announced and voted amendment to the condo docs. Any properly administrated new amendment that changes property usage does not apply to owners who vote no or abstain from voting on the new rental restriction. The condo docs determine the process and majority required for such changes. As always, I am not a lawyer and unit owners should seek qualified legal counsel if they think their Board is operating outside the law. Rogue Boards are not an uncommon occurrence in the Sunshine State.

From the Florida Statutes:
The Florida Condominium Act, in Section 718.110(13), Florida Statutes, limits the ability of a condominium association to amend its documents to impose new rental restrictions. The statute states that “an amendment prohibiting unit owners from renting their units or altering the duration of the rental term or specifying or limiting the number of times unit owners are entitled to rent their units during a specified period applies only to unit owners who consent to the amendment and unit owners who acquire title to their units after the effective date of that amendment.”

I'm always interested to hear stories of condo association shenanigans. Feel free to send me an anonymous email of shady goings-on at your association. I can share them or not, your call.

All art is unstable. Its meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings.” __David Bowie

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Do You Remember?

In lieu of any interesting developments worth writing about since the last post, I'm reposting an old story that I was reminded of when I walked in a convenience store in south Cocoa Beach this week and saw an old familiar face behind the counter, Gary. He was one of the victims in the original story about the impact of the Magnolia Bay development in which I was unfortunately involved. 

I, in a moment of poor judgement, agreed to plead to the Brevard County Commission on behalf of the developer. The Magnolia Bay development was being opposed by the upscale River Falls neighborhood to the north on what I believed were unfair grounds. Thus my misguided appearance at the Commission meeting in which I was passionately villainized by the neighbors as a proxy for the developer. In retrospect, I regret supporting the development because of the unintended consequences to so many people. My only compensation was an attaboy from the developer. He won his case and the condos were built with the concession of one less story on the building closest to River Falls. The finished development is beautiful but many lives were changed to make way for it. Sorry, Gary, Sam and all the unnamed others. Here is my post from 2013 quoting the original from 2007.


Another One Bites the Dust (originally posted October 4, 2007)  In 2013 we saw almost all the remaining Magnolia Bay units finally sell. It's been a long hard road. I thought the readers who may not remember the drama of 2007 during the construction might appreciate this look back at the time of construction and some of the unintended consequences. There is a new store in the old Express Grocer spot now and they seem to be doing OK. The site of the old trailer park is occupied on one half by a self-storage facility and the other half by nothing. I have no idea where Sam and Gary are these days.

Oct. 4, 2007 - This unwinding of the housing bubble has touched many lives. Besides the flippers who were too late to the party and people who bought more home than they could afford with exotic mortgages, some innocent victims have been dragged down, too. A deadbeat homeowner in my building has decided to walk away from her mortgage and will be leaving the remaining owners with thousands in unpaid assessments. My life will go on even though it riles me to have to pay for someone else's bad choices. It may hurt more for my retired neighbors. More heartbreaking is the impact on the decent people who run the small grocery store close to my home. They didn't speculate on pre-construction condos or try to flip houses and yet their lives have been changed forever.

It all began when construction began on the big empty parcel of land that was to become Magnolia Bay. Business picked up as workers walked over for lunch, snacks, cigarettes and so forth and the promise of all the new families that would be moving in made the future look bright. Shortly thereafter, the trailer park next door that housed the biggest part of our grocer's customers was purchased. With plans to build townhomes on the site, the trailers were progressively moved out or torn down until the property was empty. Things were still looking good even with the loss of the regulars. With 77 new half million dollar plus Magnolia Bay units and 18 new townhomes right next door, the customer base was growing and being upgraded and the construction workers were providing business in the interim. Life was good.

Then, Magnolia Bay sales slowed and the planned 4 buildings got scaled back to 3. Scheduled closings failed to happen and the construction workers finished their work and moved on. Today, the grand buildings at Magnolia Bay are mostly empty and dust blows in the sea breeze on the site of the old trailer park. The only townhomes there today are in the picture on the "coming soon" sign. Business at the grocer who stocked my favorite beer in a corner of the walk-in cooler at my request dried up to a trickle and, this week, he told me that this is his last month there. He can't make it any longer.

There are multiple losers in this story; the developers of Magnolia Bay, the trailer park residents, some of whom had lived there for decades, the owners of the trailer park property, the customers of Express Grocer including me and, most of all, Sam, the grocer and his family, and Gary, his long-time employee, who has been known to extend credit to a down-on-his-luck customer or two. Sam, your family, and Gary, you will be missed by many. You are good people.

My favorite Express Grocer memory will always be the sign that appeared on the door one day. It read:
Do not ask Gary for credit. He is not allowed to give it anymoreSam

Friday, May 21, 2021

Expiration Date Unknown

Anyone looking to build their dream home in an island paradise close to Cocoa Beach? I can hook you up. The waterfront lot to the right of the dock above facing Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay and Tilloo Cut is about to hit the market. From your dock to over 1000 feet of water in ten minutes. It's possible to fish for less than an hour dock to dock and return with mahi and/or tuna.

My comment in the last post about having reached an apparent "sustainable" inventory of 50 to 55 units can be filed under "bad predictions". Since May 1 sixty two condos and townhomes have gone under contract in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. That doesn't include any of the non-MLS sales of which there appear to be many. Two of my last six transactions did not record on the MLS and I imagine I'm not alone among local agents. Three weeks into May and we've had 62 MLS contracts and this morning our remaining MLS inventory of existing condos and townhomes in the two cities is 40, enough to get us to the end of the first week of June with no new supply.

Prices continue to confound and astound. A buyer today making their first offer is unlikely to win against a buyer who has lost out on previous offers. Those who have come up short in previous multiple offer situations are not shy about offering over asking and waiving contingencies. The practice of getting repair concessions after inspections has gone away except in the most critical of inspection findings and even then, if the seller is holding an attractive backup contract, she is unlikely to repair anything. Once prospective buyers accept this unfortunate fact the closer they get to being able to write a winning offer. If a buyer's agent is even slightly slow to act, they can cost their client a property as happened in a multiple offer scenario I was involved in recently. The highest offer came in after the deadline and after the seller has already accepted another lesser offer. I sincerely hope the fault lay with the buyers being slow to sign the offer and not the agent's fault in getting it in late. It's the World Series of real estate sales right now and every effort needs to be productive and efficient. Choose your representative carefully.

"There's no such thing as safety, only degrees of risk." __Sparrow

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Last Condo Standing


For those who think of Outback Steakhouse when they hear the term, blooming onion, behold the actual item to the left. This is one of several spring onions from Publix that I plugged into a pot on my porch two years ago. They have prospered and produced a steady stream of green onion shoots over those years and this one decided this was the year to flower. Onions are biennial plants that typically flower in their second year. Most are harvested at the end of the first year after they've produced the onion bulb in the ground and never get the chance to bloom. For those who like to grow stuff, I heartily recommend cutting off a few root ends from grocery store green onions and dropping them into the ground or a flower pot. Mine have been productive and seem to prosper on neglect all while producing tasty green shoots that I cut off with scissors with no apparent negative impact to the plants.           

Our inventory seems to have reached a short-term sustainable level. The drastically depleted number of properties for sale has slowed sales enough that the stream of new listings is replacing solds at a nearly matching rate, at least for now. For condos and townhomes in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral the magic number is between 50 and 60 total units. Single family home inventory has been stuck in a range between 15 and 20 total homes for sale since beginning of the year. That is a four week supply of homes at the current sales rate. Condo inventory this morning is 53 existing units for sale in our two cities. We have closed 91 units since April 1. At that rate, we have a 16 day supply of condos left. Uncharted territory although we have been steadily headed this way for years. I never dreamed I'd see the day that we had such little supply but here we are. I'd love to hear readers' thoughts on how they think this might play out. It doesn't seem sustainable but we've been imbalanced for a long time now with little effect other than rising prices and bidding wars. When we get down to the last property for sale, that multiple offer situation should be interesting. 

Speaking of multiple offers, which we're seeing a lot of recently, maybe agents will start asking for sealed bids when there are multiple offers and live stream the bid openings to all participants. I'd watch a TV show that did this. I remember listing agents asking for sealed offers on a few popular listings in 2005-2006 that had received multiple offers so it isn't a new thing. I would prefer that to the way many agents handle multiple offers. After having lost in a multiple offer scenario buyers are often suspicious that details of their offer were revealed to the winning bidder or that there weren't actually any other offers to start with. Sharing of competing offer details is sometimes done with the seller's permission but a listing agent lying about a competing offer is extremely rare. Anyone offering on a nice new listing should expect there to be other offers and prepare for how they want to respond to the call for best and highest. Twice in my career I've had buyers tell me after losing in a multiple offer situation that they would have paid more. It is foolish to think you'll get a chance to improve your offer after delivering your "best and highest". Keep in mind should you find yourself asked to make your best and highest offer that there is a better than 50/50 chance that the other buyer will be offering cash. For best chances of success, keep your offer simple and as attractive as possible.

"It's easier to fool people than it is to convince them they've been fooled." __paraphrased Mark Twain

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Objection Your Honor

This repost of an article I wrote in 2015 was prompted by a couple of recent conversations about condo boards overstepping their authority. There are a few condo boards in our area that are notorious for making the owners' lives miserable and they often overreach in their zeal to annoy. Enjoy.

Has Your Condo Board Gone Rogue?

Here we go again. Condominium boards exceeding their authority (or shirking their duty) is so common that I am no longer surprised when I hear crazy stories about a Board, officer or management company making up procedures to suit their own agenda. Without enforceable guidelines it would be next to impossible for a group of people to fairly share ownership and maintain reasonable living conditions in a property. If that group doesn't understand the laws and guidelines they are at the mercy of the overreach or indifference of the Board.

The State of Florida was kind enough to enact a long and detailed Statute (The Condominium Act) that spells out how condominiums shall be formed and run. You can read the entire Statute here. Each individual condominium also has a Declaration and By Laws detailing governance and use restrictions for that condominium. Condo owners are advised to read and understand the Declaration and By Laws for their association. Note that the separate Rules and Regs issued by your Board may not be legal nor enforceable.

With all the legalese of the governing documents, it can be confusing as to exactly what rights owners and Boards have. Not surprisingly, Boards and management companies routinely act in ways that violate the Act. Often unintentionally, sometimes not.

I saw a Cocoa Beach condo board run a sales contract through first right of refusal when no first right existed. In that case it was a misunderstanding not an illegal conspiracy. I have seen a management company insist on offering a contract out for first right contrary to the procedure in the Declaration. That case was also a misinterpretation not intentional misbehavior.

Now on to outright conspiracies. There is a condo in Cape Canaveral that has for years tried to keep sales contracts secret from owners who have first right of refusal. This has gone on with cooperation from the management company. They recently stepped up their illegal activities and skipped the first right process altogether in clear violation of their Declaration. Another Cocoa Beach oceanfront condo added an illegal use restriction to it's Rules and Regs and backdated the document to make it appear as if it always existed. They should have made sure there were no former copies still in existence. Busted. 

The incident that prompted this post occurred at an otherwise beautiful Cocoa Beach condo that just happens to have a particularly nasty management company. The management company has been a fairly constant source of grief for owners and tenants and I have heard many stories over the years. The Board tolerates the manager's actions and possibly supports it. I was sent a copy of one letter from the manager threatening to fine an owner. The threat was not illegal, but the manager did not have the authority to levy a fine. That is a clear violation of the procedure spelled out in the Act. Hopefully, the Board will follow the law if they start following through on the manager's frequent threats of fines. If not, and no one stands up to them, the grief will continue.

The Condominium Act is very clear about fining procedure. Neither the management company nor the Board can fine an owner or a tenant without first issuing a 14 day notice of a hearing before a committee of owners who are NOT Board members nor residents of a Board member's household. The committee can either confirm or reject the fine. The Board can't levy a fine without following this procedure and receiving the committee's confirmation. If you receive notice of a fine absent the procedure, inform the Board and manager that they have violated procedure and do not pay it until procedure has been followed. Your non-Board committee members may stand up to a bullying Board or manager and reject the fine. Not all fines are undeserved nor are all Boards and managers bullies. The procedure is there to give some check and balance to the fining process. Use the privilege wisely should the chance arise. As always, knowledge is power.

From the Florida Condominium Act Chapter 718.303 (b):
A fine or suspension levied by the board of administration may not be imposed unless the board first provides at least 14 days’ written notice and an opportunity for a hearing to the unit owner and, if applicable, its occupant, licensee, or invitee. The hearing must be held before a committee of other unit owners who are neither board members nor persons residing in a board member’s household. The role of the committee is limited to determining whether to confirm or reject the fine or suspension levied by the board. If the committee does not agree, the fine or suspension may not be imposed.

"If you smell something, say something."  __Jon Stewart

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Some Magic, Some Tragic

A quick flashback: I was reading old posts and found the one below from eleven years ago and it was such a great story I thought I'd share again for those that may have missed it. An update; Humphrey is happily retired in Australia and while he's done plenty of roads trips in Oz, none have been solo.

In a much-circulated article this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that there are more real estate agents than properties for sale in the US. It's been that way for a long time in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. If I search for a Cocoa Beach agent on Zillow, I get 250 hits. That is 200 more than the number of agents who have listings in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral and 165 more than the total number of residential listings in the two cities. How can this be sustainable? It's actually worse than it looks. In addition to the 250 there are agents like myself that aren't part of the Zillow scrum so the number of pigs at the trough far exceeds the capacity of our tiny and shrinking feed bucket. Except for a handful of super agents and teams, the majority of the agents who do manage to list or sell a property here will only record one or two transactions in a year. With total residential inventory of 85 properties that is rapidly shrinking, I think we can safely expect many agents to reach a crisis point this year. Many of them already work out of offices off the beach so they can shift their focus to their home markets. Those working out of beach offices will have to either accept lower income or start crossing bridges to Merritt Island and mainland markets. Those markets are experiencing similar inventory drawdowns so competition among agents will get even more intense. I see no reason not to expect hungry agents to begin offering discount services to keep food on the table. Compete or eat is an easy decision.

Prices. They're ranging between high and ridiculous. We've had ten units without garages sell in oceanfront complexes since January 1 for over $300 per square foot. We're at and above 2006 peak prices in many older buildings. Conditions are different now but I would still advise buyers to be cautious. As I was writing this a new listing for a small oceanfront one bedroom unit hit the market at the incredible price of $459,900. Successful buyers will probably have to pay above fair value if they hope to purchase something but there is little need to blindly pay asking price or above without first knowing what fair value is. In the case of the $459,900 unit, the comps suggest fair value as possibly six figures less than asking. Having said that, there may be someone willing to pinch their nose and pay it.

I watched two surfers on foil boards being whipped into waves by jet skis way offshore last Sunday during the big beautiful north swell and get rides that were several blocks long at speeds that a regular board can't achieve on the same waves. When I caught my first small wave on a heavy 10' rental several decades ago I never dreamed that one day I'd see surfers flying along on tiny boards that didn't even touch the water while riding wave after wave for over a quarter mile. I feel old. Happy Easter everyone.

"Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way." __Jimmy Buffett

Monday, March 15, 2021

Sweet Sixteen

When I began writing this blog sixteen years ago in March of 2005, the Space Shuttle was still flying, the national average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 5.77% and anyone, regardless of income, assets or employment, could qualify for multiple mortgages. New condo construction was happening everywhere and investors were reserving pre-construction units as fast as they were announced. Some developments used a lottery system to allocate units to prospective buyers. Most developers were allowing reservations on newly announced units for 10% of asking price and were imposing no restrictions on flipping prior to closing. It was not uncommon for early investors to make five or six times their initial investment when flipping their pre-construction contracts. It seemed everyone was a real estate investor and many people were holding multiple pre-construction contracts on new projects anywhere they could get their hands on one. Mortgages were readily available and holding contracts obligating one to purchase millions of dollars of new condos seemed perfectly normal nevermind that some of those investors were making less than the mortgage payment on even one of their reserved units. It worked out very well until it didn't.

In the short section of south Cocoa Beach between Patrick Air Force Base and the fork in A1A there were over 200 new condo units either under construction or slated to break ground shortly. Cheapest asking price was a lower floor Magnolia Bay for $549,900 which hadn't yet broken ground. The delay they experienced pushed their completion past the beginning of the crash and almost all investors walked away from their deposits without closing. That became common with projects that didn't close before 2006 and we saw several defaults from developers including several of those projects in south Cocoa Beach. When the buyers disappeared, some developers began renting unsold units to keep a little cash flowing with one converting an entire oceanfront building into vacation rentals. That latter one worked out quite well from what I can tell with the developer still holding and renting the majority of the units in the building fifteen years later.

Our inventory in March of 2005 was around 450 condo units (including pre-construction) and 50 single family homes in the two cities of Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. That inventory would go on to more than double in the next twelve months as the party started to wind down and new investors raced for the exits. Their departures began the wave of short sales and foreclosures that took more than five years to unwind. The inventory contraction that began as those distressed sales worked through the system didn't stop when the distressed inventory was depleted in 2012 and has continued right through into 2021. This morning I see that we have 65 total existing condo units and 14 houses offered. Fourteen houses for sale in an area with a population of over 35,000 people. We had more than three times this inventory just one year ago. We have been in uncharted waters for some time now and I have no idea how this is going to work out although we are getting into extreme shallows now. Agents who have been used to executive-level incomes will probably need to be making some consumption adjustments. I predict we'll lose quite a few of the agents we've seen working this tiny market. It happened before and is sure to repeat as sales fall with the inventory. It's as natural as poor mango years following a good one.

The Cape Spaceport has been busy with a couple of launches in just the last few days. SpaceX now has over 1200 satellites deployed in their Starlink constellation which is bringing fast internet to remote areas worldwide. The Falcon rocket from yesterday's launch landed on the drone ship offshore completing it's ninth space mission. It's amazing to see the rapid advances in space flight and research and I feel fortunate to live in a place where I get to see some of it firsthand. 

"I would exercise caution with pre-construction condos and be aggressive (low) with offers. We have shifted from a seller's market to a buyer's market in high-end condos in a very short time." __Larry - March 4, 2005

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Destination Unknown

In 2020 we had the 2nd highest number of closed sales of condo units in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral since 2005, only four closings less than 2018's record sales of 734 units. That we did that during a pandemic and with about half the inventory of 2018 is a head-scratcher. We averaged about 140 units for sale at any one time in 2020 and are sitting at 84 existing units for sale this morning March 3, 2021. Can we do it again in 2021? If January and February are any indication the answer is yes. We closed 121 units in those two months this year compared to 91 in the same two months last year. We had sold a number of units equal to the entire inventory by February 12, just six weeks. Prices being paid continue to confound and I have promised myself to never again say "Good luck getting that" when I see a new overpriced listing. Having said that, as I look through the available listings I see a high floor direct ocean unit in Cocoa Beach with a garage asking $250,000. Even needing updating, that seems quite fairly priced considering the recently closed sales. Homework, y'all.

How about single family homes? In the first six weeks of 2021 there were 17 closed sales. Inventory of existing single family homes this morning in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral is 13. Thirteen! 

Good luck to everyone looking to buy. It's as competitive as it's ever been and the good listings are going to those who are able to react quickly. I just closed a sale with a young agent who called immediately after a new condo listing hit the market and went to preview for his out-of-town clients and wrote an offer on their instructions site-unseen before the rush of other agents and buyers had been in the unit. They have an oceanfront unit today only because their agent was proactive and they trusted him. Out of town buyers need to find a buyer's agent they can trust and be prepared to offer on her recommendation without having physically toured the property. Inspections can be done after the unit is under contract. Obviously a buyer needs to determine what features they must have and convey that to their agent and have some flexibility should not all the boxes be checked by a particular property. Did I say find an agent you can trust? Paramount.

"Jazz students will study these key changes for decades to come." __@Elimatas1 on the National Anthem as sung at CPAC 2021

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Rental Restrictions Follow-up

As a follow-up to conversations I had with a couple of prospective condo buyers this week, I'm going to repost an article below that I wrote in 2009 about rental restrictions in condos and how they affect an owner's use of the property and her potential income. It is just as relevant now as it was when I wrote it twelve years ago. 

How about that moonrise Friday night? As seen in south Cocoa Beach (left). ___________________________

In this post I'm going to address an often-overlooked, yet very important issue that condo buyers need to understand before they begin their search for the perfect condo at the beach. If you're already a client, you know the drill and have heard the sermon, so, you can just skip to the quote.

In addition to amenities, view, association health, building condition, parking and all the other items that a condo purchaser should review, a prudent buyer also needs to understand the implications of rental restrictions and how they will affect his use and cost of ownership. Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral condominiums evolved in a different direction than many coastal Florida communities with the vast majority of condos here restricting rentals to a minimum of at least one month and ranging up to 12 months. The number of ocean complexes allowing weekly rentals in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral is only about a dozen. The rental habits of our visitors makes these particular complexes the overwhelming best choice for owners who want the most flexibility for mixing personal use with income or for investors who want the maximum income possibility.

We have two distinct visitor seasons here, snowbirds in the cold months and vacationers in the summer. Our snowbird visitors typically stay for periods from a month to several months. Our summer guests are predominantly one-week vacationers. For condo owners in a 3-month minimum rental building, chances are high for finding a renter for three months or more in the January through April period, but finding a 3-month renter during the rest of the year can be difficult if not impossible. An owner of a weekly rental can usually count on renters during the entire year although much slower in the Labor Day to Christmas period. For owners of units with a six month or longer minimum, the choice is usually between a long-term tenant, which takes away the personal use option, or not renting at all to leave it open for personal use, which takes away all income.

For those not wanting or needing income, complexes that have longer rental periods may be preferable as they are typically quieter with more permanent residents and less visitors and the facilities like pools and tennis courts are less crowded.

If you're looking for a condo, determine in advance what your needs are for income and/or personal use and narrow your search to those complexes that match rather than finding out after purchasing that your plan of having a great beach getaway that also spins off a little income isn't realistic. If your buyer's agent hasn't asked you about your needs in regard to use and income or hasn't briefed you on the implications, fire her immediately. Why work with Eliza Doolittle when you can have Marie Curie?

You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people. ___Billy Ray Valentine

Friday, February 12, 2021

Depletion Impending


That didn't take very long. This morning we have a total of 107 existing residential properties listed for sale in the Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral MLS. Ninety of those are condo or townhouse units and 17 are single family homes. Median price of available condos is $339,000 and buyers looking for a single family home in our two cities for less than $500,000 have three from which to choose. Fifteen homes have closed since January 1. I have no idea how this rapidly worsening inventory crunch will resolve itself but the immediate effect is rising prices. 

Cocoa Beach residents age 65 or above are able to receive a Covid vaccination at one of the Publix supermarket in Cocoa Beach with an advance appointment. Appointment reservations are usually available at 7 AM Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at this website. The website will refresh every 60 seconds until a position is available at which point a screen will appear asking for information. Medicare recipients will need their Medicare number which is on the red, white and blue Medicare card. It may take several tries as Brevard County only has a couple of thousand doses available on each day. Good luck.

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."  __JFK