Friday, December 30, 2011

Economic Revival Afoot For 2012?

Willis (Sears)
and Trump Towers
Chicago!  City "where the fog comes on little cat feet..."  "Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders!"  Maybe I wouldn't have admitted it back then, but when I was a kid, I had a "favorite poet," and it was Carl Sandburg... and he nailed Chicago with his rugged, yet beautiful prose.

Today, I'm here to enjoy New Years with family and to take them all to a local hill for their first taste of skiing.  Come on, Chicago, we're here from Florida...  Give us some big time "lake effect" snow!  

Skating at Millennium Park
So I pick up the Chicago Journal yesterday and a business page header reads:  "Real Estate Revival Revs Up!"  New condos being built and older condos and apartments being re-furbished into new, modern condos!  Music to my ears!  From a Supply & Demand perspective, that is a huge indicator that the bottom has been found.  A bit of a contrast to my experience in Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, and Flagler County, FL, where last month I sold a gorgeous Yacht Harbor Village condo on the Intracoastal Waterway, on a bank short sale, for $145,000 to a cash investor.  Oh, did I mention that the seller, a mortgage banker friend of mine from Virginia, paid $640,000 for it in 2007?  And then there was the Ocean Hammock - Hammock Beach lot I also sold last month for $65,000... that the seller paid $510,000 for in 2005.  Ouch!  However, and it's really a BIG however... There is movement...  Things are selling...  Investors are back!

As I read the papers and the blogs here... and watch the business & financial news on local TV, I'm psyched to see lots of signs of revival and strong economic development efforts.  Why?  because when large, Northern, urban regions start to rev up... it begins the spill-over to smaller markets.  Also, if we compare the 4Q2010 to the 4Q2011 in Flagler County, FL, our real estate sales numbers were up nearly 30% and prices were down nearly 10%.  Again, the view from Econ 101, says this is good stuff... very good stuff!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Flagler Economic Development Dilemma

Flagler Economic Opportunity
Advisory Council
   There is a lot of chatter in Flagler County now, regarding "Economic Development," especially in light of the recently disbanded Enterprise Flagler private-public venture.  The newly established Economic Opportunity Advisory Council (EOAC), and its soon-to-be hired Executive Director, will surely be scrutinized, analyzed, and editorialized, till the cows come home (the closing phrase rendered in deference to Flagler's rich agricultural history).

So, the first conversation overheard goes like this:  "Why are we making all the fuss about growth?  Flagler County is plenty big enough now."  "We moved here from New Jersey to get away from all the traffic, noise, crime, and crowding... Now Palm Coast wants to become like Newark!"  "When we moved here, Flagler Beach was empty on the 4th of July and Belle Terre was like a rural road.  Now they're even talking about making the Matanzas overpass an interchange!"  "And another thing... why are my taxes so high?  And don't get me started about the schools... My kids are grown and gone... the young people should be paying for this."

You probably guessed where the second is going:  "Hmmmph!  My property values keep going down."  "Why doesn't the county pay more attention to fixing the roads, building sidewalks, and replenishing the eroded sand at the beach?  With the exorbitant salaries we pay these politicians, you'd think they'd take a voluntary pay cut to help out!"  "A Carrabba's in Palm Coast would be nice... and a Texas Roadhouse... and a PF Chang's - like in Orlando at the Mall of the Millennium... and a regional mall... and it would be nice if they'd just finish building out Town Center.  Then we could lure more large, well paying, green businesses to Flagler.  And maybe a Nordstoms in the old Bealls and a Ritz Carlton at the beach?"

When these two folks (above) talk across the fence, they probably don't agree on many things.  Therein lies
"The Dilemma."  We want to have all of the benefits that growth brings, without... ummmmm... growth!
It's all those sticky issues like, "Who's gonna pay for this?" and "Jobs would be nice, but I don't want commercial development near my home... (Think NIMBY)"  Because this has been in the news lately, the editorial commentary (and I use that term very loosely) has been none too complimentary (almost comical, really).  Check The Palm Coast Observer,, and the Daytona Beach News-Journal.  Various and many brave "Anonymous" souls have much to say on the Economic Development topic, such as the well-thought-out:  "These 8 bozos don't have a clue what they are doing!"  Which, by the way, was penned after the very first meeting, in which the members were being introduced to the county and to one another!  I'm thinking that takes a lot of insight!

The truth is that every municipality and county in the country has some form of "Economic Development" effort in place.  And they are all dealing with the global economic downturn.  To put it in nautical terms, if a boat is taking on water, it's wise to assign some crew members to bail.  A good friend of mine "up North" was hired last year to be the executive director of such a group.  I asked him to summarize the first year's effort, and he said:  "A fishbowl... Expectations much higher than can be reasonably met... With a budget too small to make many waves.  I'm the new coach and they want the Super Bowl now!"  

We all want things to be wonderful in Flagler, but we aren't ready for a General Motors Assembly Plant or a Microsoft Regional Headquarters.  We have an amazing quality of life here and it's our strong suit.  We also have a well organized political environment.  Yes, they squabble some.  And, yes, Palm Coast is the elephant in the room.  But for the most part it works as well as most.  It's important to consider that "economic development" is not just "jobs;" it's also "revenue generation."  Like a great football program, "wins" come from a fine coach, staff, offense, defense, special teams... boosters, and fans.  To get the jobs and the revenue, we need to work on refining our  current terrific quality of life.  Companies will come here, not so much because we have a "50,000 square foot industrial building with utilities, roads, and rail access" ready for them to occupy... But because management knows Flagler County is a great place to live!
In order to be successful, this effort needs to define "who" and "what" Flagler County is... and what it wants to become.  And like good parents encouraging their children, it's OK for Palm Coast, Bunnell, Flagler Beach, Marineland, Beverly Beach, The Hammock resort areas, and the agricultural Western County to be what they want to be... as long as the family gets along and encourages one another.  In all the Goal Setting models I've ever seen, the scenario starts with:  "Make sure your goals are challenging (lest they not inspire)... and achievable (lest they go undone)."  I'm hoping Flagler's new effort keeps this at the forefront.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Helping Buyers in Confusing Times

(These are helpful hints, from agents around the country, as culled from a recent piece in  They make sense right here in Palm Coast, FL, as well.)

1) Give them the Facts

Facts and numbers are an agent’s best resource when it comes to buyer counseling.  Know your market - Cold!  Know all the differences among "normal sales, short sales, and foreclosures."  There are significant nuances that can be game changers.  Don't get caught short, without knowing everything a buyer needs to know, to make a good buying decision!
A top NJ agent says “Very often the amount [buyers would] pay for rent is more than forecasted depreciation [for homes].” It’s important that agent point out these facts.
Garret says, “Recent comps, a “cost of waiting” analysis for first time buyers, and news articles” can be helpful as well.
Recent data shows that in many areas buying outweighs renting by large margins. To show consumers how your area shapes up, check out Trulia’s Quarterly Rent vs. Buy Interactive Index or the U.S. Census Burea’s American Community Survey Brief.

2) Explain the Tax Advantages and Fiscal Benefits

“The financial and tax benefits of owning a home vs. renting are very clear,” according to the National Association of Realtors Field Guide to the Social Benefits of Homeownership.
Real estate taxes, mortgage interest, and certain home improvements can all mean significant savings (and potential refunds) for homeowners. Agents can help their potential clients understand these benefits.
To get up to speed on the basics, check out NAR’s Guide or check out this free quick guide from the American Institute of CPA’s on the Tax Advantages of Home Ownership.

3) Show them Interest Rate History

To help her clients take advantage of today’s opportunities, an agent in Colorado Springs, CO, says,  “I talk to [buyers] about the record low mortgage rates”.
To make your own custom snapshots of long term interest rates, check out the interactive Historical Treasury Ratepublished by the U.S. Treasury.

4) Ask the Real Question

Serious buyers make serious moves. “It all boils down to their motivation,” says an agent in Illinois.
“One of the best questions I learned is ‘If I find you a perfect house within the next 2 to 3 days is there anything that would stop you from buying it?’” he says.
His question is an important one for agents to consider. Understanding the level and reasoning behind a potential buyer’s motivation can be valuable in helping clients make the best real estate decision.
At the end of the day, the decision to make the leap into home ownerships rests in the client’s hands. A smart agent’s job is to make sure prospective owners have the right information to make their assessment and understand the unique opportunities today’s markets presents.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Leadership, Please!

   As I follow the economic and political news, I see the Tea Party and I see the Occupy Wall Street factions... as the "outside edges" of our playing field.  I see the Left scream "Tax those rich fat cats!"  As the Right declares an "all out fight against Socialism" in our government.

I see a very predictable current administration, as well as a numbing "sameness" in the current GOP candidates.  It's a frustrating and tiresome, constant stream of blah, blah, blah from both sidelines in this game.  I suppose, on some level, that's OK, as it provides us with our coveted system of checks and balances.

Ah, but what I'm waiting for, or rather for whom I'm waiting... is a Game Changer!   Not an order taker, but a sales professional.  Not a play caller, but a Coach.  Not a manager, but a real, honest to God, Leader.  I'm looking for a Lincoln, Churchill, Jefferson, Kennedy, or Reagan.  I'm looking for a God fearing leader, who is not ashamed... or deterred by public opinion, regarding his or her relationship with our Creator.  I'm looking for that man or woman who can look us in the eye, assure us that it's going to be OK, take us by the hand... and LEAD us out of this mess and into something better than we've ever known before.

Someone who can instill the desire to serve, rather than the desire to work the system.  Someone who can speak clearly, without assessing blame.  Someone who can speak truth, without fear of reprisal.  Someone who knows how to both apologize and to forgive.  And please forgive me here for taking off my rose colored glasses... But someone who knows that in a world filled with evil and ill intent towards the US, that a powerful, efficient, effective, well equipped and trained military... is absolutely essential, without compromise.  Human nature will not be changing anytime soon.  I fantasize ideas such as "give peace a chance," yet I'm not sure how that plays in terrorist cells around the world.  Like it or not, the free world needs us to be strong and adaptable to the current chaotic global  situation...

I am reminded of the Colonel in Viet Nam... I was a green Lieutenant and a Platoon Leader with the 196th  Infantry Brigade.  We were on a lonely and foreboding hilltop, deep in the boonies, and our battalion was told to "dig in."  The Colonel came by to check our progress and I asked him, "Sir, just how dug in do you want us to get?"  In his wisdom (the man went on to become a 4 Star General and Commander of US Forces in Europe) he said, "Lieutenant, dig in like you'll be here for the rest of this war... but be ready to move out on a moment's notice!"  I got it.  That was leadership... Strong, yet flexible.  And so it gets said, it's easier to lead when the going is smooth.  Like this Colonel, we need a leader who can take decisive action, under extreme circumstances.  His leadership saved a lot of bacon...

The rules of the world have changed since our heyday in the 25 years after WWII.  We need a leader who can get off the status quo... adapt to the changes, as needed... and most importantly, create the changes required to assure our success for the coming generations.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bank Short Sale Policy? ROFL!


""Market Value" is a perfect example of the lack of order... and one of the wild aspects of the short sale process. There's no set percentage of market value a bank is willing to accept. Each property, location, bank, and negotiator combination is different; and when you add in investors and Private Mortgage Insurance carriers to the mix,  you have even more chaos to consider."  (excerpted from a Trulia newsletter article, by by Sarah Stelmok)

And this is just the tip of the Titanic sinking sized iceberg.  In the background, I want you to imagine the words and melody of, "Nobody Knows The Trouble I See..."  We here in Flagler County, Florida are awash in a sea of short sales.  You'd think that by now, after five full years of dealing with this beast, the banks would have the deal down.  If you live in Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, or Bunnell (Zip Codes 32137, 32164, 32136, 32110), chances are good that there's a short sale on the market on your street.  Whether you're in the Western County, Seminole Woods, or Hammock Beach - it doesn't matter.  No economic sector is immune, as we have $45,000 short sales and $1,500,000 short sales.  

Here's my beef:  It doesn't matter if it's Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Sun Trust, etc.  There is no discernible policy...  EACH DEAL IS DIFFERENT.  Honestly, it seems as if they make it up as they go.  I will say that the smaller and more local the bank is - the better their policy!  When (and "if") they ever get it together, the short sale disaster will be over in less than two years.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flagler Economic Advisory Council

(Posted on: October 4, 2011

County Seeking Volunteers For Economic Opportunity Council

Government Services Building

(Now that "Enterprise Flagler" is in the history books...)

A crucial part of Flagler County’s new plan for economic development is an eight member board of volunteers to guide a staff of professionals working on economic development in the county.
Volunteers with a background in business and two at large members will meet monthly to help create the next step in economic development for Flagler County. The Flagler County Commission is seeking six individuals with background in one of the following areas: Finance (investment banking or angel investment); agriculture; marketing; real estate (industrial park developer, general contractor, commercial realtor) and high tech business.
Interested individuals are asked to complete an application on line at, under advisory board vacancies. The application and supplemental information can be sent via email, fax or regular mail to Christie Mayer at ( or call (386) 313-4094. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"2011-2012 Jobs Program"

Seen Any Factories Lately?
There are few times, like major presidential election years, to see what makes the good old USA tick!  All the rage right now is the President's "Jobs Program."  Now we don't have to agree with the content, to agree with the concept.  We are hurting and we need some leadership on the Jobs Front!  It's so much more than, "Let's fix our old roads and bridges..."

Seen Any Farms Lately?
I grew up in a factory town in the economic heyday years, following WWII.  Endicott, NY, was home to both the largest IBM manufacturing facility, as well as Endicott-Johnson Shoes.  We also had General Electric, Link Aviation, Ansco Film, and a host of others.  Everyone who wanted a job, with decent pay and benefits, could get one.

And then I blinked...  WE DON'T MAKE ANYTHING ANYMORE!  Chances are 95% + that the computer you are using to read this, the TV upon which you watched the morning news, the car you drove to work, the cell phone you used to check on your kids, the clothes you are wearing, and the orange juice you had for breakfast... are from Taiwan, Japan, Germany, India, China, and Argentina.

When times get really tough - "survival time tough," people get wildly creative, regarding the basics of "Food, Clothing, and Shelter"... which, by the way, includes the subsets of tools, transportation, and the items we need to make a living.  In other words, we need to start making and growing our own stuff again!
Seen Any Home Construction Lately?

Note to politicians:  You want a "Jobs Program?"  BRING BACK THE FACTORIES AND THE FARMS!  We used to be the envy of the world in this regard.  Is everybody now dead who knew how to do this?  Focus on breeding our own facilities - and allowing an economic climate for competition and growth - is where our efforts should reside.  We may live in a high tech, green conscious world, but every job can't be in computer chips and solar panels.  We need to make stuff and grow stuff, in order to equalize the balance of trade.  It really is the key element of our economic future.  Bill Clinton said it best:  "It's the economy, stupid!"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

You CAN Sell Your House in Today's Market!!!

     I'm meeting with a lot of would be sellers of real estate... who are running scared, in light of today's economic climate. (Note:  They are the polar opposite of those sellers who think it's still 2005, but that's another story for another day...)  

     The truth is, however, that as of today, 08/25/2011, we have sold and closed 1,814 houses, condos, lots, and commercial buildings so far this year... in our small Flagler County, FL Realtor MLS/Multiple Listing Service (mostly in Zip Codes 32137, 32164, 32136, 32110) -  One Thousand - Eight Hundred - Fourteen!  That's a lot of closings in an economy that's supposedly in the doldrums!  Now what's really different from 2005 is that 53% of these are distressed sales - those that are corporate or bank owned or short sales.  In that segment, the overriding factor is "price."  Many (if not most) of these are in some form of dis-repair.  It's not a lot of fun to show dirty, overgrown houses with bugs and mold in 98 degree heat with no lights or A/C!  If you're in a bad way and walking away from your home, it's unlikely that you'll cut the grass, paint, or look out for the bank's best interest...

     So let's focus on the 47% "normal" market segment.  You want to leave retirement paradise in Florida to be closer to your daughter and grandchildren in Endicott, NY.  Here's where you really can make a difference.  Although price is more important than ever, "location, location, location" and "condition, condition, condition" are huge players and will separate you from the pack!  Many times, just a few hundred dollars will be enough to get a home "market ready," however, sometimes it can be a more significant need.  And believe me, it's way more than painting and cleaning I'm talking about.  I am amazed that someone would put a $500,000 - $1,000,000 waterfront home on the market... and not detail it!    So often, we hear, "If it's meant to sell, it will sell."  Or, "There's a buyer for every house."  There's more, but you get my meaning.  If you wanted to sell a used car, you'd detail it before a buyer came to look at it, right?  I'll tell someone, "If you'll follow my advice and put $5,000 - $10,000 into market preparation, you'll be way ahead of the game."  And their response is always, "Will we get all our money back?"  

     The answer to that loaded question is, "Maybe."  HOWEVER, if the effort causes your home to sell (at whatever the market will bear), while your competition sits "For Sale" - isn't it worth it?  Here is what I'm saying:  Don't shotgun your effort at market prep... be more like a laser.  Give a lot of thought to a real plan of action.  I mean, if you went the extra mile and put $10,000 of market preparation into a $500,000 house, you just might put real distance between you and the competition...  You may even create a dynamic that could cause it to sell near, at, or over asking price!

And what you need to do, may be quite different than what you might expect!

     Here is the "Three Legged Stool" for your Home Sale success:

  1. Call me and I will come to your home and help you with the prep plan.  I have a dozen or more focused suggestions that will make your home outshine the others.
  2. Listen to price advice that can be backed up with hard data... It's fair to say that the stainless steel nails you used on your garage shelves project are not worth $20,000.  Look in the mirror and practice saying, "I will not say that we "don't want to give our house away"..."
  3. Allow me to prepare a "success oriented" marketing plan for you.  Once you've done steps 1 & 2, we'll want to let the buyers know about it!
(You can reach me in Palm Coast / Flagler Beach, FL at 386-931-1987)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Economics of Attitude

This is my actual Econ 101
"Equilibrium" chart
from my notes in college:-)
   Well, the DOW took a huge plunge yesterday (8/4/11) and the related article in today's Daytona Beach News Journal screamed:  "Markets Gripped By Fear."

     It then went on to explain how "desperate traders" were trying to find safe havens for their money, as news of economic woes swept through Italy and Spain.
Gold spiked at an all-time high...  Unemployment figures were disheartening...  GDP numbers were less than we hoped for...  More manufacturing jobs went to China and Malaysia.  O! M! G!  "Run, Chicken Licken, the sky is falling!"  Surely, the world is coming to an end!

Economics, I believe, is nothing more than our reaction to a set of circumstances.  It has been said that, "Nothing is, that our thinking does not make it so."  The life expectancy of a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange can't be very long, because they say that stress can kill you.  Back during the Vietnam War, we Lieutenants used to take sick pride in the legend that:  "A Platoon Leader's life expectancy in combat is only 15 seconds!"  It must be the same sort of thing for traders on a bad market day!

   Now I'm not a preacher, but I sure appreciate what the Bible has to say about everyday life issues.  On the topic of "worry," the evangelist Matthew wrote:

  • "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
  • and  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
   Terrific advice, I'd say.  But maybe they were blessed 2,000 years ago, by not being overwhelmed by Facebook, Twitter, Text Messages, FOX & MSNBC and constant/instant Cable coverage of the minute details of life?  I wonder if Matthew had his own QR Code? 

NEWS FLASH:  The media makes great sport of whipping breezes into tornadoes.  News reporter: "Do you believe that today's market losses will PLUNGE THE ENTIRE WORLD INTO AN ENDLESS DEPRESSION... AND POSSIBLY WORLD WAR III?... WELL, DO YOU!!!???" 

The modern day evangelist, Yogi Berra, would say, 
  • "Hey, 90% of economics is half mental!"
I say this:  "The measure of an economy is not what happens to it, but rather how we react to what happens!"  Or, as my brother used to say, "S--t Happens.  So what.  Now what?"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rent With Option To Buy

Through the past 25 years of my real estate career, the term has come up many times: "Rent With Option To Buy."  Almost always from a prospective tenant customer, who had no idea what it really meant, yet sensed it would be a cool thing to ask about, because it was mentioned around the water cooler at the office.  

In a nutshell, renting with an option is a deal struck between a tenant and the landlord, which could lead to the tenant buying the home in the future.  It can be a great thing for a renter, who is having current difficulty with a divorce, job change, credit score, etc., but has a favorable future.   Usually, a non-refundable deposit is made to secure the deal.  If the tenant does not follow through, the landlord keeps the money.  Also, the deal can be crafted to put a portion of the monthly rent toward the future down payment.

Let's say there is such a deal here in Flagler County, Florida.  We have many rental properties in Palm Coast  zip codes 32137 and 32164... also in Flagler Beach zip code 32136.  If a home has a current market value of $250,000 and rents for $1,500/month, one scenario could look like this:

  • Purchase agreement is entered into for $265,000, to close in two years on 08/04/2013.
  • Tenant/Buyer gives a $15,000, non-refundable deposit to the landlord.
  • Monthly rent is set at $2,000 and $500 of that goes toward the purchase price.  That's $12,000 over the 2 years of the lease.
  • At closing, the $15,000 deposit and The $12,000 accumulated funds, reduce the purchase price of $265,000 to $238,000.
  • If the tenant does not qualify for a mortgage at that time, or does not follow through, those monies are the seller's.  On the other hand, if it goes, the tenant stays in the house and enjoys the benefits of the forced discipline of the process.
There are a host of considerations, such as "where the market goes."  If it screams upward to $300,000, the seller will feel pain... On the other hand, if it falls to $200,000, the buyer will be trying to walk away and cut his losses.  Then there are little things like, "If the rent is late, that month's contribution does not count," etc., etc.  As always, whether you are the buyer or the seller, it may be a great idea to have an attorney review your lease-option contract... before you sign it... so you go in with your eyes wide open!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flagler County, FL Waterfront Property

Waterfront property in Flagler County, Florida is positioned to SELL!   Many waterfront homes are now selling for less than the lots they are on sold for in 2005!

"Waterfront" here is defined as "directly on a Salt Water Canal, the Intracoastal Waterway, or the Atlantic Ocean."  They are all located in Palm Coast, or Flagler Beach areas in the 32137, 32164, and 32136 zip codes.

They range from a modest 1,276 square foot (under A/C), 3BR/2BA, ranch on a salt water canal (access to the Intracoastal), at $165,000... To a monster 3 story, 6,500 square foot, 4BR/7BA, custom directly on the Atlantic Ocean, at $3, 998,000.  Surely something for every taste and wallet...

If you want to be on the water - it's time!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Corruption Hurts The Housing Industry

Corruption won't go away, unless we figure out a way to legislate human nature.  We can, however, limit the negative impact it has on our economy.  I'm mostly a "limited government conservative," yet can't quite grasp multi-million dollar "bonuses" for the fat cats at the top of the government housing agencies...  
Check this great (2 minute) video:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Federal Budget Fix - So Obvious!

The Budget Fix!

(by Frank Zedar on Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 1:06pm)

The Fix: 
Cut the banks a sweet deal, so they can hoard cash and not lend it to small businesses, who then cannot hire because they cannot expand. Then levy from those who have it and distribute it to those who don't and then when they spend it, tax it again. Then give that to the banks again in the form of incentives, so they can flood the market with shadow inventory foreclosures and stifle the new growth the government said we had going. Then apologize to the fat cats for messing with them and ask for campaign contributions, so all the awesome politicians can get re-elected... and bend over, so they can do it to us again! Perfect!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Palm Coast, FL Real Estate Heating Up?

  Back in the day (1986-1990 and 2000-2005), when the market was "hot," multiple offers were common.  Properties sold for more than the asking price all the time.  Sellers were happy!  Buyers were happy, because if they paid a lot, it didn't matter.  Everyone "knew" (we were all so very wise) that it would keep going up anyway!

   Then 2006 happened.  Everyone sort of knew what a foreclosure was, but what the heck was a "short sale?"  And then when we found out, a lot of us said things like, "I'm not going to do short sales or foreclosures... They're complicated and a lot of work... blah, blah, blah."  And then time went by... and the market fell further... and the distressed market became 60% of total sales (which were precious few to begin with).

   But guess what?  The bottom of the market is now "hot."  These things are selling.  If you find one that is low and priced correctly, it will fly.  Anything under $100,000 that is clean... and not a short sale... is like a diamond.  People will fight over them.  And, unfortunately, it often brings out the worst in many.  Ethics get cloudy.  It used to be that if we asked, "Is this unethical?" the answer was, "Probably."  Now the answer to that question is often, "Whatever!"  I guess it's that old adage, that "desperate times create desperate people."

   Remember studying "Supply and Demand" in school?  And the concept of "Caveat Emptor" (Let the Buyer Beware)?  I'd advise reading up on both if you are jumping into the real estate market - as a buyer or a seller.  And shop around for a good Realtor.  Ask hard questions about how they handle bank and short sale issues and multiple offer scenarios.  Listen well and their answers will tell you a lot about them...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Waterfront & Golf in Palm Coast & Flagler Beach, FL

   It's another gorgeous Saturday, here in the Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, and Ormond Beach, Florida area... 

      I just showed a nice guy from New Jersey (currently living in Central Florida) one of our amazing listings on Oceanshore Blvd (A1A) in Flagler Beach.  I got there early, turned on all the lights, and sat on the upper deck porch, being lulled into peacefulness by the waves, the breeze, and the blue-cloudless 82 degree day...

     Our potential buyer pulled up in a convertible - good choice for a great day in a beach town.  Unless I'm losing my touch, I think he loved it... and what's not to love?  4 Bedrooms, 3 Full Baths, Pool, Lots of Tile, Metal Roof,  2 Car garage (a Big Deal on the beach to protect your Bentley... or whatever), 2 levels, Huge Porches and Ocean and River views, 2,465 feet under air/heat, and on a half acre lot with pristine lawn and landscaping... for $489,000!  Are you kidding me?  It's crazy, because just the LOT would have been way more in 2005!  I'm hoping he calls me back and says his wife and family want to see it...
     Here are some Real Estate facts about Flagler County, Florida that should get your attention:

  • There are lots of Ocean properties, all the way up to $7,700,000 right now, however, there are 27 single family homes today that are either "Oceanfront," or "Ocean View,"  for between $179,900 and $499,900.
  • How about over 300 homes on "Saltwater Canal, Intracoastal Waterway, River, or Lake" ... with 100 of them being below $300,000!
  • Or over 100 homes on our area's beautiful Golf Courses, 31 of which are priced between $105,000 and $299,000!
     If you have a "Florida Itch," or more specifically, a "I Want a Great Buy on a Florida Ocean, Water, or Golf Course Property Itch" - We'd love to hear from you!
  • Frank Zedar or Maritssa Vazquez
  • Parkside Realty Group, Flagler Beach & Palm Coast, FL
  • Cell/Text:  386-931-1987
  • email:                                            

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Palm Coast, FL, Housing is Back!"

For those of you who read this blog, you know I watch the "S&P Case-Shiller Index," as the most perceptive peek at where the real estate and housing markets are trending.  In a 3/28/11 CNN-Money piece, these are the snippets that jumped out at me:

  • If all the noise you're hearing about housing has you totally confused, join the crowd! One day you'll read that owning a home has never been more affordable. The next day you'll see news that housing starts have plunged to nearly their lowest level in half a century... (as headlines announced in March)... After four years of falling prices and surging foreclosures, it's hard to know what to think. Even Robert Shiller and Karl Case can't agree. The two economists, who together created the widely followed S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indices, are right now offering sharply contrasting views of housing's future. Shiller recently warned that the chances were high for a further double-digit drop in U.S. home prices. But in an interview with Fortune, Case took a far brighter view: "The lack of new home building is a huge help that a lot of people are ignoring," says Case. "People think I'm crazy to be optimistic, but housing is looking like "The Little Engine That Could."
  • Foreclosure markets: The outlook is brightening
The true disaster areas for housing since the bubble burst have been Sunbelt cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, AND MOST OF FLORIDA -- places that boasted great job and population growth in the mid-2000s, only to suffer a housing crash that swamped them with empty homes and condos and crushed their economies. But people always want to live in those sunny locales, and their job markets are starting to recover, albeit slowly. In foreclosure markets the inventory problem is far greater because it includes not just traditional resale homes but millions of distressed properties. Fortunately those houses are now such a screaming deal that investors, including lots of mom-and-pop buyers, are purchasing them at a rapid pace.
  • Even with investors jumping in, buying activity in foreclosure markets hasn't yet increased enough to bring inventories down. But, it will soon... Prices will fall a couple of percentage points lower in the distressed markets in the short run. "But that will be overshooting," he says. "It's like an elastic band (Remember The Elasticity of Demand, from Econ 101?) - If prices do drop this year, they will need to bounce back because they'll be far too low compared with rents and replacement cost." Renters will come off the sidelines to purchase homes in the years ahead, precisely the opposite trend of the past few years.
  • So let's state it simply and forcibly: Housing is back!  Think about it.  The trend has been down for five and a half years in most of Florida.  It's time...


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Ormond Beach & Flagler Beach, FL - Ocean Condos"

The following will give you a peek at the current condo market in Flagler Beach, FL and Ormond Beach, FL, to include Ormond By The Sea.  For purposes of this blog post, I have included ONLY those condos which offer an "Ocean Front or Ocean View" frontage:

(*Financing Note:  It's more difficult to obtain financing for condos in these challenging financial times.  It's not as tough as Miami, yet not a piece of cake either.  Because of high "Rental to Owner Occupant" ratios, as well as condo fee defaults, short sales, etc., "cash is king."  FHA loans are very tough and often require 35% down (well above the old 20% norm).  Your mortgage professional can guide you, regarding these matters.)

Flagler Beach:
Flagler Beach is a great town in Flagler County and offers a waterfront and beach counterpoint to the "old Florida" County Seat of Bunnell and the newcomer/fastest growing US city of Palm Coast.  Because of zoning and city ordinances, high rises are few, limited to one North of the pier and a small handful South of the pier, near the landmark water tower.
  • There are currently 170 ocean front - ocean view units For Sale.
  • They range from $99,000 (a 425 square feet, 1BR and the lone unit under $100K) to a high of $2,800,000.
  • The upper end units tend to be at the Northern Peninsula end of town in exclusive gated, golf course communities.  They are often referred to as "Flagler Beach," but are actually a Palm Coast mailing address.
  • A challenge to investor buyers (and a perceived blessing to some full time residents) is that renting a unit can be a city ordinance violation.  One must be in possession of a coveted "Rental License."  If your unit is not grandfathered, they are tough to come by... perhaps easier if you are in the city's "Tourist Commercial" area, between 9th Street, North and 9th Street, South.
  • There are 24 units listed below $200,000.
  • Past six month statistics:  
    • Sold Prices
      • Low = $101,000
      • High = $1,150,000
      • Avg = $343,000
      • Median = $273,000
    • Price Per Square Foot
      • Low = $90
      • High = $300
      • Avg = $177
      • Median = $169
    • Days on the Market
      • Average = 272 days
Ormond Beach - Ormond by the Sea:
Ormond Beach is a great beach town which basically extends South from Flagler Beach and ends at Daytona Beach.  For our purposes, we'll say that the "Ormond Beach Peninsula" extends a short way up A1A from Route 40 (Granada Blvd.) and comprises the direct beach front high rise condos.  "Ormond by the Sea" condos are low rises and are on the West side of A1A, with access to the beach by way of "dune walkovers."

  • There are currently 88 condos For Sale.
  • They range in price from $95,000 to $699,000. 
  • 55 of them are under $200,000.
  • Generally, with the exception of some of the pricier high rises, these units are easier to rent than their Flagler Beach cousins.  Most have a rental restriction of a 1 week to a 1 month minimum.  How strictly these are enforced, varies from condo to condo.
  • Past six months statistics:
    • Ormond by the Sea:
      • Sold Prices:
        • Low = $79,000
        • High = $319,000
        • Median = $139,000
        • Average = $150,000
      • Price Per Square Foot:
        • High = $150
        • Average = $108
        • Median = $108
      • Days on the Market:
        • Average = 192
    • Ormond Beach (North of Rt. 40):
      • Sold Prices:
        • Low = $82,000
        • High = $240,000
        • Median = $170,00
        • Average = $165,000
      • Price Per Square Foot:
        • Average = $124
      • Days on the Market:
        • Average = 385                                                    
...So there you have it!  What does this mean?  You can get a great condo with a great ocean view... or direct ocean front, for under $200,000.  Many of these were selling closer to $500K in 2005/2006. Call me if you have questions... or want to go see property for yourself:
Direct: 386-931-1987  or  email: 

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