Orlando home prices up 37% since start of 2012

Home prices in the core Orlando market during May were up 23 percent from a year ago and 3.1 percent from a month earlier, a new report shows. The median sales price for the month was $148,000 – up from $108,000 at the beginning of last year.

Orlando-area home-resale prices have risen more in the past 12 months than they would typically increase during five years of steady appreciation.
Existing-home prices in the core Orlando market during May hit a median of $148,000 – up 23 percent from a year ago and up 3.1 percent from just a month earlier, according to a report released Monday by the Orlando Regional Realtors Association. Perhaps more remarkably, prices have increased 37 percent since the start of last year.
“I can tell you from the listings I am putting up for sale, they are not lasting more than two to four days on the market – and people are willing to pay more than the asking price,” she said.

Even though homeowners may celebrate the robust price growth, which comes on the heels of a five-year housing bust, the run-up in price since January 2012 raises questions about whether the local market is headed for another letdown. Some experts cautioned Monday that prices will soften as banks release more foreclosure properties onto the market.
One indication that house prices may continue to appreciate, though, is that they are still far below where they would have been if the housing bubble had never occurred and values had instead ticked up at their long-term average rate of 3 percent a year, said Stan Smith, a finance professor at the University of Central Florida.
“Until we get up to around 2004 price levels, I’m not sure these increases are a problem,” said Smith, who studies housing appreciation. “We are probably at about 77 percent of where we would be if we had never had a bubble and it appreciated at 3 percent a year.”

One of the main factors driving the fast-escalating prices is simply the type of house that has been selling. For years, distress properties defined the market, with foreclosures and short sales accounting for more than half of all sales in the Orlando Realtors’ core market, which consists mostly of Orange and Seminole counties.

But by May, the market had shifted so much that distress sales accounted for only 40 percent of the month’s closings. That decline in sales of “underwater” homes meant that those lower-priced properties were less of a drag on the area’s median sales price.

“The relative good news about inventory is that there was a 10 percent increase in the number of new listings that came on the market in May, the majority – 65 percent – of which were ‘normal’ sales,” said Steve Merchant, chairman of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association and the broker-owner of Global Realty International Inc. in Orlando.

The faster the market works through its supply of distress properties, the sooner prices overall will reflect the value of conventional properties. Last month, the median price of the conventional deals was $180,000 – more than $30,000 higher than the median paid for the underwater houses, which sold for a discount.

According to Smith, the gap between current prices being paid for conventional homes and estimates of where those prices would have been had never been a bubble remains wide – a difference of about $53,000, according to his calculations.

May’s price increases did little to deter sales. Members of the Orlando association closed on 2,855 homes last month, an increase of 15.6 percent from a year earlier and 3.1 percent from a month earlier. Single-family home sales rose 17 percent, while condos sales increased 8 percent compared with May 2012. As a result, the supply of homes available for purchase was enough to last only 2.55 months at the current pace of sales – less than half what is considered healthy for a market. A month earlier, the area had enough listings to last 2.6 months.

May’s home purchases closed in an average of 68 days – the smallest sales window since August 2006, when the housing market was about at its peak. The homes that sold in April had been on the market an average of 76 days. In contrast, during the Great Recession, in March 2008, Orlando-area houses had sat on the market for an average of 128 days before selling.

The current fast-paced sales environment and slim supply suggest there is room for banks to add more of the region’s many foreclosed properties to the market without tamping down prices, Smith and others said. They have also cautioned, however, that this “shadow inventory” – houses headed to foreclosure or already repossessed by the banks – could soften prices if properties are dumped onto the market too quickly.

Florida Home Sales: Buyers can’t take their time anymore

Prospective homebuyers used to go slow, considering the size of the investment they were making. They wouldn’t sign a contract until they visited the home two or three times, chatted to neighbours and checked with local police to make sure the area was safe.

Who has time for that these days? …….. Hardly anyone.
The housing market has soared past recovery and is bearing down on chaos. Buyers in control during the bust now are on the defensive, racing from home to home and making offers on the spot before somebody else swoops in with a better deal.

The insanity has even created a new sales category of sorts: Flash sales. It’s a home that gets listed in the morning, and is under contract by nightfall.

“We’re literally running to houses and as soon as you get there, there are three other people,” said Terry Story of Coldwell Banker in Boca Raton. “Buyers are very anxious to get something quickly.”

The flash sales are becoming more common, practically out of necessity.

Pembroke Pines resident Angela Medina and her husband were driving north to look at two homes in Palm Beach County when her smartphone buzzed with a text alert about a three-bedroom home that had just been listed in Palm Beach Gardens.

The couple toured it, made an offer and signed the contract, all within 24 hours.

“From the time it hit my phone to the time we saw it, maybe an hour passed,” said Medina, 36. “You’ve got to be proactive.”

The sale of the Medina’s own four-bedroom Pines property went the same way. It was listed and under contract in one day. Both deals are scheduled to close July 1.

Stiff competition from investors and a shortage of properties for sale have cut the number of days a home stays on the market.

In April, the typical single-family home in Palm Beach County went under contract in 78 days, down from 90 a year ago, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
Broward County’s days on market declined to 34 from 45 during the same period, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said.

Real estate agents say many other attractive homes are getting snapped up sooner than that. Not every quick sale happens overnight, but in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, 1,503 homes have gone under contract within two weeks during April, a 149 % increase from a year earlier, according to the Redfin real estate brokerage.

From March to April, the tri-county region had a 45 % increase in contracts within two weeks, the highest percentage of Redfin’s 22 markets nationwide. Overbuilding, speculation and easy financing combined to cause the housing crash. The recovery has been fueled by investors paying cash, a dwindling inventory and historically low mortgage rates in the 3 % range.

In the past week, rates have inched up to over 4 %, which will cause even more people to jump into the market, said Jim Heidisch, broker at Campbell & Rosemurgy in Deerfield Beach. “There’s a sense of urgency,” he said. “I always tell people, ‘You’re not buying a house, you’re buying money, and you want to get the cheapest rate you can.'”

Robyn Jackson, Redfin’s South Florida area manager, said the increase in quick home sales is not just a function of the market. The text alerts and other technology have empowered buyers, giving them access to listings and other details that used to be available only through a real estate agent.

Most buyers Jackson works with have found homes they want to see even before they meet with her.

“With all the information out there, we have more educated, savvy buyers today,” Jackson said.

Miami one of top global cities for prime property growth

The average price of luxury homes in the world’s key cities fell by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2013 although the annual rate remained positive at 3.6%.

Cities in Asia, North America and the Middle East continue to dominate the top half of the results table while seven of the bottom ten rankings are occupied by European cities.

On a regional basis, cities in the Middle East recorded average annual price growth of 11% while Europe was the weakest performing region with prime prices falling on average by 2.3%.

A typical prime property is now worth 21.3% more than it was in the second quarter of 2009 when the Prime Global Cities Index hit its post-Lehman low.
Overall eight cities recorded double digit price growth in the year to March. Jakarta, Bangkok and Miami topped the table this quarter, recording annual price growth of 38.1%, 26.1% and 21.1% respectively.

The measures aimed at cooling residential price growth in Jakarta and Bangkok have been less stringent than those applied across many neighbouring Asian cities, allowing new middle class wealth to fuel demand and push prime prices higher.
In Miami’s case, Latin American wealth is a key driver of the luxury market, with the flow of capital from Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina proving influential.

Cities in Asia, North America and the Middle East continue to dominate the top half of the results table while seven of the bottom ten rankings are occupied by European cities.

In Europe, however, the price of luxury homes in Monaco increased by 10% in the first three months of 2013 as international interest swelled and the supply of apartments, particularly above €10 million, proved limited.

Tokyo, recording a 17.9% fall in prime prices, was the weakest performing city in the year to March 2012. However, after nearly 15 years of deflation, the Bank of Japan has announced radical monetary easing measures, and as a result business sentiment as well as demand for prime property is now strengthening.

Knight Frank points out that unlike Japan, the governments of China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore face the opposite challenge; trying to restrain growth. ‘Asia’s policy makers are not only introducing more lending restrictions, taxes and regulations, but the strength of these measures has been stepped up in recent months,’ said Kate Everett-Allen, head of international residential research.

‘In each year since 2009, our Prime Global Cities Index, has repeatedly recorded its weakest rate of growth in the first quarter of the year,’ she explained.

‘As a result, we expect stronger growth to emerge in the second quarter as buyers continue to search for luxury bricks and mortar as a way of sheltering their assets from the Eurozone’s continuing turmoil and the fragile global economy,’ she added.

Pinewood Shepperton to build US studio near Atlanta

UK film studio Pinewood Shepperton has announced plans to build its first sound stages in the United States.
The Pinewood Atlanta complex will be built on 288 acres of land south of Atlanta, Georgia, as a joint venture with a US investment company.

Georgia has been among the US states drawing film-making away from Hollywood with tax incentives in recent years.
The deal is the latest sign of expansion at Pinewood, the home of the James Bond franchise.
Earlier this month it announced a joint venture with a Chinese media group, potentially giving it access to the fast-growing Chinese market.
‘Fiscal incentives’
In a statement on the company’s website, Pinewood’s chief executive Ivan Dunleavy said the agreement to build Pinewood Atlanta was “another step forward for the Pinewood brand internationally”.
“This new studio will target US productions,” he said. “Georgia has excellent fiscal incentives and a great crew base.”
In a bid to lure film making, Georgia introduced hefty tax incentives for production companies five years ago.
Since 2008, film and television productions in Georgia have been able to receive a tax credit of 20-30% if they spend $500,000 or more, and a further 10% if they feature a Georgia-peach logo.
That has led to a boom in productions. According to state figures, productions filmed there generated more than $3bn (£1.9bn) last year, compared with just $244m five years ago.
Pinewood Atlanta will feature multiple sound stages, and will be used to produce films, television, music and video games.
It is being built in conjunction with investment firm River’s Rock, and Pinewood said it expected construction to begin immediately.

USA accounts for 1 in 4 property enquiries

US property is the most popular it has ever been on TheMoveChannel.com, according to the latest Top of the Props report, accounting for 1 in 4 of all property enquiries last month.

America’s popularity surged by 5 per cent in March 2013 to account for 25.95 per cent of investment activity – the largest share ever recorded by any country on the site.
The country became investors’ property market of choice in October last year, when it seized the top spot from rival Spain with 20.91 per cent share of enquiries. Since then, demand has continued to increase, hitting 21.44 per cent in December before slipping back to 20.58 per cent in February. But America marched forward to new heights last month, as buyers were won over by the country’s recovering market.
Cape Verde and Hungary also proved popular, climbing back into the top 10 as Cape Verde leapt 10 places from 17th, but neither could compete with the steady demand for the usual favourites. Indeed, the top five destinations among investors remain USA, Spain, Brazil, France and Portugal, with Brazil breaking new records to attract 8.17 per cent of enquiries.
Other familiar destinations were less fortunate: while interest in Spain, France and Portugal stayed high despite the eurozone recession, demand for Italian property dropped to record lows.
The traditionally popular lifestyle destination, hit hard by the financial crisis, fell four places in the TheMoveChannel.com chart to 10th place. Italian real estate accounted for 2.31 per cent of all property enquiries on the site, down from 3.38 per cent in February 2013. The figure marks the country’s lowest share of activity since Top of the Props records began. Its previous record low was recorded in November 2012, when Italy attracted 2.91 per cent of all enquiries.
“It has been a completely different story for the USA. With recovery now well underway for US real estate, America’s popularity continues to build momentum. The latest concerns surrounding Cyprus’ bailout are likely to drive even more buyers across the Atlantic, securing the USA’s dominance of international real estate for the foreseeable future.”