Ten Realtors from across Florida met with Gov. Charlie Crist this morning to discuss increased home sales and other positive trends in their markets, as well as offer insight into some current issues facing the real estate industry. It’s part of this year’s Great American Realtor Days, April 14-15, when about 1,000 Realtors from throughout the state join forces at the state capital to meet with their legislators and discuss concerns affecting all Florida residents.
Representing markets from Miami to Jacksonville and all points in between, Realtors reported an upswing in existing home sales in the past three to six months, when comparing year-to-year activity and also month-to-month sales figures. John Sebree, vice president of public policy for the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR), kicked off the Real Estate Roundtable meeting with Gov. Crist by noting that February’s statewide existing home sales rose 20 percent over the same period last year, according to FAR data. He also reported that February’s home sales were about 17 percent higher than January’s statewide sales activity.
Realtors also told the governor about other positive indicators such as: mortgage interest rates under 5 percent; reduced housing inventory levels as buyers take advantage of current, more affordable housing opportunities; and encouraging market reaction to the federal economic stimulus package, especially the new $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.
Upon hearing these reports from around the state, Gov. Crist said, “It doesn’t get much better than this. [Housing] supply and demand is going to come into balance here. Two to three years from now, people will be saying, ‘Back in April 2009 I could have gotten that home for so many dollars’ – so you don’t want to wait.
“Prices have gotten as low as they can. Now is the time to buy, while the deals still exist,” the governor said.
Discussing some of the challenges in today’s market, many Realtors pointed to difficulties with so-called “short sales,” where the bank or lender agrees to accept less money on a home sale than the seller owes on the mortgage. They said that short sales are problematic not only because of how long it actually takes to finalize the sale, but also because of the inconsistencies in information and documents required by lenders. Streamlining the short-sale process and providing consistency in required documentation among the lenders would boost the recovery of Florida’s real estate market.
Solutions to ease lenders’ restrictions on the state’s condo market are also needed, said Edgewater Realtor Robert Clinton. “Not only is the prospective condo buyer having to be approved for a mortgage, but the condo owners association itself has to be approved and qualified, which is causing problems,” he said.
Largo Realtor Alan Riley told Gov. Crist that 50 percent of buyers involved in recent home sales in the Tampa Bay area paid cash for their purchases, a strong indicator that investors have returned to the housing market.
“Savvy investors have returned to our market as well,” added Eric Sain, a West Palm Beach Realtor. “But we’re also seeing a lot of young families buying a home to settle down and establish roots in the community. That’s a sign that people aren’t leaving the area, aren’t leaving Florida.”
Gov. Crist agreed, saying, “Of course they are [establishing roots] – it’s Florida. Why would they go anywhere else?”
Not only is it a great time to buy a home in Florida, it’s also a great time for businesses to move to the Sunshine State, noted Suzanne Sherer, a Fort Myers Realtor. Commercial and business properties are readily available in a range of price options, she said, providing prime opportunities for entrepreneurs. She asked the governor and state leaders to take steps to encourage the relocation of businesses and industries to Florida.
At noon today on the steps of the old Capitol, Gov. Crist addressed the crowd of nearly 1,000 Realtors participating in Great American Realtor Days, applauding their perseverance and dedication to their profession despite challenges posed by the economy and the marketplace. Amid reports of increased home sales and other positive signs, the governor said that the “changing landscape” for Florida’s real estate markets is “nothing short of remarkable.”
Other participants in Gov. Crist’s Real Estate Roundtable included: Jacksonville Realtor Millie Kanyar; Fort Lauderdale Realtor Jesse Acevedo; Miami Realtor Carlos Cruz; Port St. Lucie Realtor Scott Wingfield; Panama City Realtor Katie Patronis; and Orlando Realtor Les Simmonds.
Source: http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/n1-041509.cfmPrint Story