Fla.’s Housing Market: More Sales, Higher Median Prices in Feb. 2021

By Marla Martin

Florida Realtors’ data: Single-family home sales rose 15.7% year-over-year, median sales price up 16.6%; condo sales up 28.7%, median price up 16.6%. Chief Economist O’Connor: Fewer new listings and a tight inventory means a strong seller’s market.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amid increased COVID-19 vaccinations and hopeful signs for the future, Florida’s housing market in February reported more closed sales, higher median prices, more new pending sales and increased pending inventory in February 2021 compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors® latest housing data. Single-family existing home sales rose 15.7 % compared to February 2020.

“Florida’s housing market continued its momentum in February, but higher interest rates could be a factor going forward,” says 2021 Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert, broker-owner with Only Way Realty Citrus in Inverness. “While rising rates could potentially slow the pace of home sales, rates remain relatively low by historical standards. Record-low inventory is continuing to put pressure on home prices to rise and creates challenges for buyers. However, new pending sales rose 10.9% for single-family existing homes last month compared to February 2020, while new pending sales for condo-townhouse units increased 35.4% year-over-year.”

Closed sales of single-family homes statewide in February totaled 23,947, up 15.7% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 11,379, up 28.7% over February 2020. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $314,900, up 16.6% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $233,240, up 16.6% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor notes that Florida’s current housing market is a strong seller’s market, with fewer new listings and a very tight inventory (active listings), particularly for single-family existing homes.

He says, “The statewide inventory of active single-family home listings, which Florida Realtors has been tracking since January 2008, is currently at an all-time low. At the end of February, single-family inventory was down 56.3% compared to a year ago. Most of this decline has been a result of our ultra-high rate of sales.

“However, so far in 2021, new listings of single-family homes have not kept up with their pace of 12 months ago. In February, they were down 4.9% year-over-year, which is an improvement over January, but still represents a move in the wrong direction. There’s a likelihood that much of this decline has been due to some sellers, who in normal times might have listed in January or February, instead listing ahead of 2021 in response to the unusually strong market in the second half of 2020. But there’s also the possibility that a small but increasing number of homeowners, who have been thinking of selling their current home and buying another one, are starting to get turned off by the lack of available inventory and the rising prices that have resulted from it.”

The condo-townhouse category shows a slightly different picture, O’Connor says.

“In February, closed sales in this category rose 28.7% year-over-year, which is consistent with the growth rates we’ve been seeing each month going back to September,” he says. “Some of this growth is likely being fueled by frustrated buyers who had their hearts set on a single-family home finally giving up and settling for an attached unit instead, but we’re also seeing high demand from folks with the typical condo- and townhouse-buyer profile, as well. And while inventory in this category is still high relative to what we’re seeing in the single-family home category, it was down 34.4% compared to a year ago.”

On the supply side of the market, inventory (active listings) remained constrained in February. Single-family existing homes were at a very restricted 1.3-months’ supply while condo-townhouse inventory was at a 3.4-months’ supply.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.81% in February 2021, significantly lower than the 3.47% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

Rough quarter: Resi sales fall in Broward, increase slightly in Miami-Dade

It was a rough quarter for residential sales in Miami-Dade and Broward County.
Sales either fell or rose marginally in the second quarter, year-over-year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Home prices kept rising, but at a slower pace than before.
Total residential sales in Miami-Dade increased ever so slightly, up 0.6 percent, year-over-year, to 7,861. Single-family home sales rose 1.8 percent to 3,854, and condo sales declined 0.6 percent to 4,007.
Residential sales volume totaled $3.6 billion in the second quarter. Both single-family home sales volume and condo sales volumed fell year-over-year.
The median price of single-family homes in Miami-Dade increased 2.9 percent to $360,000. The median condo price increased 2.5 percent year-over-year to $247,000
Broward County
Single-family home sales rose by 2.7 percent year-over-year, to 4,666 closings, while condo sales declined by nearly 6 percent to 4,805 sales. Total residential sales came out to 9,471, a 1.8 percent drop year-over-year.
Total sales volume in the second quarter totaled $3.3 billion.
The median price for single-family homes increased to $365,000, up 1.6 percent. Condo prices rose as well, up 3.26 percent to $175,000 year-over-year.
Original content The Real Deal

South Florida foreclosure filings jump in first half of 2019

Signs of distress increased in South Florida’s housing market in the first half of 2019 as there were more foreclosure filings, according to Attom Data Solutions.
The Irvine, California-based company tracks foreclosure lawsuit filings, notices of auction and repossessions across the nation. There were 10,258 such foreclosure filings in the tri-county area in the first half of 2019, up 7% from the same period a year ago. That was primarily driven by a 23% increase in foreclosure filings in Palm Beach County.
Most troubling, the increase in filings came because of new foreclosure lawsuits, as opposed to older cases seizing houses. There were 5,663 foreclosure lawsuit starts in South Florida in the first half of 2019, a 32% increase.
Only 36 of the 220 metro areas Attom tracks had a year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity.
“You still have pockets across the nation where foreclosure activity is seeing some flare-ups,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at Attom. “Foreclosure starts is a good indication of markets to watch. For instance, in looking at the largest markets across the nation with the greatest annual increase in foreclosure starts, four out of the five markets were in Florida.”
Orlando and Jacksonville both had greater increases in foreclosure activity than South Florida.
The metro market with the highest foreclosure rate was Atlantic City, New Jersey with 0.92% of all housing units with a foreclosure filing. Jacksonville was second at 0.54%. South Florida had the 16th-highest foreclosure filing rate at 0.41%.
Original content The Real Deal

Lower Rates already hit housing. They’re not helping much.

Cheaper mortgages are usually a boon to the housing market. But this year, a sharp drop in mortgage rates has not provided much of a lift, and that could bode poorly for the Federal Reserve’s efforts to shore up economic growth.
To see why, consider what has happened in housing since mortgage rates began a sharp decline late last year.
Consumer borrowing costs, including mortgage rates, are heavily influenced by the market for government bonds, and yields on those bonds have been falling this year. Similarly, the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is down more than one percentage point, to 3.75% last week, according to Freddie Mac.
Over the last 30 years, the rate has averaged about 6.25%. So the current rates might reasonably have been expected to spark a flurry of refinancing and home buying.
But, because of rising home prices, there has been no boom so far. Through June, sales of existing homes were down 2%t from a year earlier, and investment in residential structures had declined for six straight quarters. Sales of newly built homes remain well below their recent peak in late 2017. And while home prices are still rising nationwide, the gains have slowed sharply in recent months.
The lackluster response to lower mortgage rates highlights a broader challenge facing the Fed as it tries to nudge the U.S. economy along by cutting interest rates.
Lower rates usually encourage borrowing by consumers and corporations, lift stock and bond markets, and reinforce consumer and corporate confidence. All of which gives a bit of gas to the American economic engine.
But 10 years into an economic recovery, American interest rates are already low by historical standards. Prices for stocks and bonds are already high. And corporations are having little trouble finding places to borrow money. Such loose financial conditions mean it might take a sustained program of rate cuts — rather than a couple of reductions, as many analysts expect — for the Fed to have a true impact on the economy.

“Financial conditions are just easy all around,” said Priya Misra, head of global rates strategy at TD Securities in New York. “So it’s not clear what a cut can do.”
The housing market has traditionally been one of the most important channels by which the Fed’s rates can influence the economy because it can spur construction employment, sales of appliances and furniture, and services such as landscaping, all of which multiply the economic impact of a home’s purchase.
But the math facing prospective American homebuyers is daunting. Since June 2009, when the U.S. economy started its current expansion, the median price of existing homes has risen nearly 60%, far outpacing the 24% gain in median weekly earnings.
The divergence means the national housing market — while incredibly varied on a local level — has become increasingly unaffordable. And it will take more to trigger a significant wave of home buying than clipping a percentage point off mortgage rates.
“At this point, they don’t matter as much as people think,” said John Sim, an analyst who covers housing and the mortgage market for JPMorgan Chase. “Even at this current level of rates, it’s pretty unaffordable to most renters.”
The housing bust a decade ago is partly to blame. Since 2008, homebuilders have largely cut back on building more modest starter homes, which would be attractive to first-time buyers but are less profitable for the builders. Historically, banks might have filled the gap by loosening lending standards so people could pay higher prices. But financial firms have, for the most part, stuck to stricter guidelines they put in place at the urging of regulators in the wake of the crisis.
The result has been a sharp downturn in homeownership, to 64% from an elevated level of 69% during the subprime-lending-fueled frenzy in the middle of the last decade.
“In general what we’ve had is just not enough lower-priced homes and sort of a vicious cycle, where that limited supply has continued pushing prices up,” said Jody Shenn, an analyst at credit rating firm Moody’s who covers the housing and mortgage industry.
It’s not that the decline in interest rates doesn’t matter at all. The drop since late 2018 to 3.75% has knocked about $160 off a monthly mortgage payment on a $286,000 home — the median price of existing single-family homes in June, according to the National Association of Realtors — after a 20% down payment.
Applications to buy homes and refinance mortgages, which were slumping late last year, have recovered somewhat since mortgage rates began declining. It is possible the drop in mortgage rates might simply need more time to influence the housing market.
But the market response so far seems muted compared with past instances of falling rates.
After a recession hit in 2001, for example, a series of rate cuts brought the Fed’s target for the its funds rate down to 1% from 6.5%. Mortgage rates followed, dropping from 8.5% to around 5% by mid-2003.
The low rates set off home building, consumer spending and financial activity that helped drive economic growth up to a nearly 7% annual pace in late 2003. The U.S. economy has not matched that level since.
If the reaction of the housing market to lower rates remains lackluster, it suggests the Fed may be less effective at fighting the next economic slowdown.
“The old view of the world, where housing is one of the key transmission mechanisms, is much less important than it used to be,” said Frederic Mishkin, a Columbia University finance professor and former Fed official.
Original content the SFBJ

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4 Things to Know About Miami Property Tax Payments in 2018

Owning a property or several properties is a financial commitment that takes proper planning. One annual expense that’s guaranteed is property taxes. It’s imperative that homeowners in Miami are aware of their responsibility in paying these taxes appropriately and on time.

Here are four important factors to know about paying property taxes in Miami.

1. Tax Year and Annual Notices
The tax year runs the same as the calendar year, from January to December. At the end of 2017, there was some confusion in the media about whether 2018 property taxes could be paid prior to the beginning of the New Year. This is not an option, as tax rolls are not open until November first of 2018. Meaning, as a property owner, you will not receive your assessed tax amount until November first at the earliest. Therefore, it is not possible to pay your 2018 property taxes until that point. This is generally the case, and property owners should be aware to expect their tax notices on November first of each year.

2. Discounts Available for Early Payment
Property owners should know that they are eligible for discounts on property taxes if they are paid by certain deadlines.

If taxes are paid in November, you will save 4%.
If paid in December, you will save 3%.
If paid in January, the discount is 2%.
If paid in February, the discount is 1%.
If a property owner waits until March to make a payment, then the entire gross tax amount is owned. All property taxes must be paid by April first. If this deadline is missed, owners will be penalized with a 3% interest penalty added to the initial tax amount, plus advertising costs and fees. It’s also important to note that delinquent taxes must be paid by cashiers check or money order.

3. Payment Options
Property taxes may be paid in three different ways.

Online payment can be made by searching for the property on the Miami-Dade property tax site. If you choose this option, you may pay by e-check or credit card. Note that if you pay by credit card, 2.2% of the tax amount will be added as a convenience fee.
The second option is to pay by sending check or money order through the mail. You will need to make your check payable to the Miami-Dade County Tax Collector. You cannot send cash through the mail.
The third option is to pay in person, but only cash is accepted as these sites. Credit card payments are not accepted as an in-person payment.

4. Value Adjustment Board Petitions
If a property owner petitions the assessment of the value of their property, the owner must still pay 75% of the petitioned property’s assessed Ad Valorem Taxes, and 100% of the property’s Non-Ad Valorem Assessments, which include services on the property based on the assessed value, by March 31, 2018. If this payment is not made by the March 31, deadline, the petition to reassess the value of the property will be denied by the Value Adjustment Board.
Original content Miami Real Estate.com

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