Governor and Realtors Agree – Now is the Time to Buy

by April 17, 2009 • 18 comments

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.


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1 Rob N April 17, 2009 at 7:31 am

I could not agree more. I am closing on a two bedroom repo next week!!!


2 Concerned Owner April 17, 2009 at 9:38 am

“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,”

This probably refers to the new Fannie Mae requirements on condo sales which raises the bar for mortgages in which the Condo Assn can not have more than 15 percent of a building’s unit owners be delinquent by 30 days or more on association fees as a condition of funding home loans to new buyers. At my complex we have 46 owners are ‘past due’ (out of 168 units), this is 27% of the units which is well above the 15% that triggers the Fannie Mae loan conditions.

Also for new condo buildings and condo conversions, at least 70 percent of units must have been sold or put under contract. That’s up from 49 percent previously. Unfortunately at my Nautilus Cove complex only 65% of the NCC developer condos have been sold. So some complexes have a potential to being hurt by the new regulations.

While I do agree with the realtors that this is a good time to make a purchase, half of the recent sales are going to ‘vultures’ who are moving in to pick up bargain basement properties on speculation and not to be used as their own homes or condos. This artificially increases the statistics to show more of a gain than is realistic.

The ‘average’ potential buyer must have a good credit history and a bank willing to make a loan in order to take advantage of the market today. Either that or funds for a total cash purchase. Many potential buyers are in effect locked out of the market as they would under normal circumstances need to sell their existing property in order to buy a new one and the chances of making their own sale in this market, to free up cash for the potential purchase, are pretty slim.

Here at NCC we had the first sale in the last 11 months on 3/27/09. It was for a 4/3 upstairs unit which sold for $148,000, the next door unit, also a 4/3 went for $190,900 in April last year so you can see that the recent purchase saved the new buyer $42,900 or 22%. So these folks got a good deal and had a bank (Vision Bank in PCB) willing to write the mortgage.

I believe that almost all realtors would say that ‘this is the time to buy’, they work on commission so saying ‘wait another 6-12 months’ for the market to bottom out is not going to happen. My own ‘civilian’ opinion is that the market is NOT at the bottom yet and won’t be this year. In my complex we have 9 foreclosures in process (out of the 109 sold units), and judging from the stats on owners not having paid the quarterly dues I suspect there will be another 3-6 foreclosures filed this year.

So I opine the worst is yet to come and it is a buyers market for those who can put down cash and are realistic enough to not panic if the market continues to decline.


3 Concerned Owner April 17, 2009 at 11:12 am

For those who do not have AOL here is a teaser to the longer article which you can find on the AOL site:
Foreclosures Jump 24 Percent in Q1

WASHINGTON (April 16) –
The number of American households threatened with losing their homes grew 24 percent in the first three months of this year and is poised to rise further as major lenders restart foreclosures after a temporary break, according to data released Thursday.

Nearly 191,000 properties completed the foreclosure process and were repossessed by banks in the quarter.

In the coming months, Donovan said, there are still likely to be increased foreclosures, especially from vacant houses, second homes and those owned by speculators.


4 Chris April 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

The banks are forcing the prices of condos down so far with thier lending practices. They are shutting out people who could easily handle making payments on a condo. The upfront costs are criminal just like when the banks would lend to people with no money during the 2002 – 2006 boom. It is a SCAM. The prices are being forced artifically down right now just like they were being forced artificially up during 2002 – 2006 boom. It just proves the point there needs to be much more regulation on the banks.


5 Peter April 19, 2009 at 11:37 am

I agree with concerned owner. Lots and Lots of inventory and few buyers. In addition the few buyers who want to buy may not be available to receive loans due to the new restrictions on condo loans. Finally foreclosures are due to rise since moratoriums are expiring.


6 Bay County Fl April 19, 2009 at 2:07 pm

It seems that these days you can believe ‘realtors’ about as much as you can believe used car salesmen. Do they EVER say anything but “now is the time to buy”?

Obviously they want/need people to buy NOW so they can make their 3.5 to 7 percent commission. So they are not about to tell potential customers that they should wait another year to get a better price.


7 panama city beach resident April 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm

#6 you r right


8 Rob N April 20, 2009 at 10:00 am

I am happy with my deal, and will continue to try and find Really good deals. I hope that doesnt qualify me as a Vulture!!! Real Estate has a real value,, as long as you pay what something is worth, and can afford it you will always do well. I also have another guide that helps me pick properties. If I think something is cool then eventually someone else will think it is cool also. Good luck finding your “steal of a deal” out there..


9 Jason Koertge April 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

Rob, you are not a vulture, you are a sophisticated buyer looking for a good deal. And to Bay County FL, you are right in some instances, and in others, you are wrong.

I’m certain there are some Realtors that will tell you that you should buy something just so they can make a commission, but I have to beleive that most are NOT that way. Realtors are just like any other professional in that it is their responsibility to advise their clients based on what is best for them. Again, not all are perfect, and a few have created a bad name for many.

There are many factors involved in buying real estate, including price and timing. Depending on your own personal timing, now may or may not be a good time to buy. For me, I’m comfortable with waiting to buy any investment property. There are two reasons for this, the first is that I personally beleive that values are still falling, and 2, I’m broke, literally. In a year from now, I may have more money and may feel comfortable buying again, based on personal needs or desires. But, everyone is different.

With that said, if I did have some extra money right now, I may understand that I may not have that income in 1, 2 or 3 years down the road from now and my “timing” may dictate that now is a good time to buy. This is why when I write and tell anyone about buying now, I typically throw in the disclaimer that if you have the money and the “timing” is right, the market is that it is a good time to find a good deal. Everyone has their own requirements for necessity and desired use.

Will prices continue to fall? yes, I do beleive so. Will you see appreciation in the next 5 years if you buy now? Again, yes, I do beleive so. I think a lot is going to happen in our area in the next five years that will change the dynamics of our local market.

Thanks for all the comments guys!


10 Terry April 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

I personally think most people who buy real estate as an investment do so for one of two reasons. One is they think the price is low and is likely to rise. This is a speculative reason that may or may not materialize.

Secondly, people can buy property based on the cash flow. If one can get a 5-6% cap rate or higher (cap rate is essentially net income/purchase price) and there is no reason to think this rate will negatively change, then I think the down side is pretty much minimized.

With condo-hotels being on beach front and having high monthly costs, this is pretty hard to achieve but give current conditions it may be possible.


11 Concerned Owner April 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

“Will prices continue to fall? yes, I do beleive so.”

I agree completely and for more reasons that it is worth going into.

I don’t even think it is a good time for condo speculators as the market is probably not going to recover for 3-5 years, so if they buy now they should NOT expect to be able to sell for a profit for years to come.

Speculators should take into consideration that they will have years of taxes without any homestead exemption, condo fees every quarter, insurance costs and general costs of utilities, and depreciation of the property. If you buy at 200k in todays market and have to pay all of the above for several years, then you would probably only break even for a sale at 212K in 3 years (and if you add in a realtors 7% commission make it 5 years) and that is if the market recovers in that time frame and does not continue to fall.

There is a wild card here called ‘renting’ your speculated property and it can both help or hurt a speculator. I will leave that for some other post and only note that the market today is called a ‘renters market’ and that there a load of properties out there competing for tenants.


12 Jason Koertge April 20, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Concerned Owner, thanks for your educated opinion. Great contribution!


13 Lisa Egstad April 21, 2009 at 7:29 am

I keep reading 3.5 – 7% commissions going to realtors which is a very exagerrated I list at 5 – 6% and 2.5 – 3% of that goes the the Realtor who brings a buyer. Sometimes I add a Bonus to the Buyer’s Agent out of my side of the commission. I also have a service that can show you how to pay a 30 year mortgage off in 10-12 years, Please let me know if I can help you. (850) 543-8033


14 Rob N April 21, 2009 at 11:37 am

I will still take real estate over the stock market ANY DAY!
You have absolutly no control over your money when you give it to those sharks up on Wall St. At least I have some control over what happens to my properties. I agree, Beach front condos are hurt the most because of two factors. The over supply, And the very high monthly fees. There are deals if you look off the beach, and those fees are at a point that you can actually make a dollar. One other thing, I dont do any short term rentals, only long term.


15 Terri April 21, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I am a Broker/Owner at a Real Estate Firm in Atlanta, and own 3 condos in PCB. Most Realtors are working 80+ hours a week right now, to make ends meet. Realtor incomes are way down, because prices have fallen, even if the commission is the same as it was in 2006. I don’t think many people would be willing to work as hard as Realtors work, especially knowing a paycheck is ALWAYS a gamble. We can’t draw unemployment either. We get paid when YOU qualify for a loan, when your house looks nice enough to sell, when your inspection goes well because you maintained your home, when your appraisal goes well, and when you are willing to price your property property so it will sell. Often these things don’t happen and we don’t get paid a thing. I am offended when people mention our “Pay”. I don’t know why people complain that we MAY get a paycheck. Real Estate transactions can include pay for the appraisor, attorney, inspector, contractors, builders, lenders, processors, banks, and more. We make it happen, and we represent our clients and customers well. About BUYING – if we have “Glass half empty” attitudes the world could stop spinning – I’m for realizing there are great deals now, and I’m for buying, and I’m for jumpstarting this economy. PS – Our business in Atlanta has been booming for 2 months – People are buying here, too.


16 Rob N April 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Atlanta here as well. Part time PCB resident.


17 Concerned Owner April 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Me 3 = Atlanta here as well. Part time PCB resident.

Of course ‘Atlanta’ paints with a large brush, I am outside the loop Atlanta.

Although I liked PC/PCB enough to return in retirement I have a few minor things to say about ‘realtors’ in the PCB area. I did NOT find those I dealt with in my PCB condo purchase particularly above board.

Several things presented to me before my purchase at Nautilus Cove turned out to be if not incorrect then at least misleading. Just for instance, I was told repeatedly that the pool was ‘heated’ A feature that I was very impressed with as I had prior 5+ year experience in S. Fla with a condo complex with a nice outdoor year around ‘heated’ pool and I was very pleased to find one here that was heated.

I purchased in May and when Nov came and I inquired when the pool heater would be turned on I was told that no one had ever said it was a ‘heated pool’ just that it was capable of being heated (which it is).

Even a year later realtors at Pelican were putting out info that it was a heated pool. I even emailed under another email account/name and asked about this feature and the unambigious reply came back from the Pelican realtor that it was a ‘heated pool’. That is just a sample but one that really gets me PO’ed.

I am not down on ALL realtors, the woman realtor who helped me get my nice 3/2 2 house 9 years ago was excellent, unfortunately there are some out there that just fudge things so they can get that commission. I have a very long memory for BS and if anyone were to ask me about using a realtor from Pelican (who sell for Nautilus Cove) I would tell them to avoid them.


18 Terry April 21, 2009 at 9:54 pm

A heated pool doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I own a place at the Boardwalk and I usually stay there in December. If the pool wasn’t heated I couldn’t use it and undoubtedly it would affect booking from the snowbirds as well as my enjoyment of the experience. So your point is well taken.