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