2011 is almost here and this is a time to reflect on the past year, and what is to come. The question that most buyers I see in the Sarasota and Bradenton real estate market is the big question.. Is this the time to BUY??? I SAY YES!!
No one can say when a real estate market has turned until after it has already turned. It is my observation of being an active real estate agent here in Sarasota and Bradenton that it time to buy, now, for most buyers.
I think that there are four kind of people that should be really buying now.
First time home buyers
Vacation/second home buyers
I have had the busiest fall in my 8 year career and fully expect a very active spring for Florida Real Estate. No one has that crystal ball, but it is my opinion that there is 11 really good reasons to buy a home in 2011!
1. LOW INTEREST RATES- Interest rates are at historic low levels. Actually they have been rising in the past 30 days. But, I have closed loans for buyers here in Bradenton with rates ranging from 4.0% to 5.0%. Now, they have risen, with the last buyer locking a a 5.5% rate. The government is giving under market rates to home buyers especially for conforming loans (under 417,000), and FHA programs allow for home buying with as low as 3.5% down. This can't last forever. Lower interest rates gives the buyer more leverage to borrow more money for the same payment. A really good thing! Getting qualified is more challenging, but with good credit, down payment money, and good job security getting a mortgage is fairly simple.
2. 5 YEARS OF HOME PRICE DROPS- The Sarasota and Bradenton Real estate market has lost value for the past 4-5 years. Sarasota and Bradenton had the fastest appreciation during the boom. 2004-2006 where a crazy period with homes doubling in value. Now, I am selling homes in east manatee county, and Lakewood Ranch for prices that were here 10 years ago. A home that was bought for 530,000 in 2006 was just sold for 199,000!! A home in Lakewood Ranch Riverwalk had sold for 385,000 in 2005 and now is appraised for 185,000. These prices are less than half of their original values.
3. GOOD SELECTION OF HOMES FOR SALE- Plenty of inventory of good short sales, and foreclosures- There is plenty of good deals out there, with motivated sellers. In our Sarasota and Bradenton real estate market more than 50% of the home sales are short sales, and REO or Bank-owned homes. Owners that are short selling are concerned with getting a buyer that can follow thru on the sale, and will sell at a fair market price, regardless of the prior mortgage balance. This is great for a home buyer because it gets rid of a lot of the haggling and that uncomfortable aspect( for some) of home buying.
4. YOU OWN A REAL ASSEST- Secure investment, in uncertain times. When you own your own home, with a payment that you can afford, you have a greater stability, and peace of mind. Especially with the volatility with the value of the dollar, stock market, and all time high gold prices. If you own a home, vs a Stock you have a real assets that you can live in, rent out, or sell if you choose. Just like a stock, home prices can adjust. Homes are a commodity vs a product, and therefore are subject to market demand. Jut like owning a commodity like gold or silver, owning a florida home as a second home, investment, or primary home makes sense.
5. DESIRABLE LOCATION- Almost everyone goes to Florida at least once now. Usually it is to go to Disney World, Orlando, or the beaches. Florida has a great climate, and no snow. There is a lot of people that can afford a second home, or the luxury to relocate to a more enjoyable climate like here in Sarasota and Bradenton. The buyers aren't just American, and Canadian buyers either. there is a noticeable increase in the european, and south american buyers recently. I suspect that there are many that are fearful of the further devaluation of the dollar and the stock markets, and are moving into fixed assets like a home in Florida makes a lot more sense.
6. SECURE, CULTURE, LIFESTYLE- Our location offers something for everyone. Here in Sarasota and Bradenton, but true for all Americans is world class security, as compared to other countries. Here you can call 911 and someone will rush to our aid with a bullet proof vest, and a gun ready to defend you, or rush you to a hospital. Shopping, and Culture are great aspects of our area. Whether it is theater, live sports events, concerts, nightlife. The Sarasota/Bradenton area has plenty to keep you entertained. Of course there is the beach, and boating too. I think our greatest assets here in Florida is our sunshine. I appreciate it anytime I have to go up north in the winter.
7. SHORT SALES ARE GETTING FASTER- Short sales have been a major part of my real estate business for the past 3 years, and I can say that in the past 60 days the speed, and efficiency of most lenders has improved dramatically. A short sale decision would typically take 60-100 days for a bank of america short sale. Now, the time frame for response is typically less than 30 days! That's a huge improvement. Some lenders, like Suntrust, are actually getting slower. Selling a home here in Sarasota or Bradenton if you are upside down, and have to move or can't afford your home makes a lot of sense right now.
Short sale homes here also have the added benefit of usually being a better condition home than the rough, REO-Bank-owned homes.
8. SALES ACTIVITY IS PICKING UP- A lot of people are jumping off the fence and deciding to invest in real estate in Bradenton, and Sarasota FL. The last quarter of 2010 was one of my busiest in 8 years of selling real estate. Sales numbers have been up, inventory has been staying steady with no big surges of homes, and absorption rates are decreasing.
In 2008 we had over 35 months of inventory. Tons of sellers, with very few buyers. Now, we have mostly motivated home sellers, short sales, and bank owned homes. Our absorption rate for Manatee county has been averaging around 10-12 months. That means that if no new homes went on the market here in Manatee county, that it would take 10 months to sell ALL the homes active on the real estate market. A balanced market, one that prices are stable, is supposed to be 5-6 months. We are very close to that flat market. The market has to go flat before it can go up!
Another sign of the market improving is that multiple bids, and over full priced offers are becoming much more common. In 2010 I had many homes that sold with multiple offers being considered, and 4 homes actually selling for over the listed price. This did not happen very often in 2008-2009.
9. HOME MORTGAGE PAYMENT COULD BE LESS THAN RENT- Rent rates here in Bradenton, Sarasota, and especially east manatee county have been on the rise in the past year. Single family homes that would have rent for 1,600 in 2004 would have rented as low as 800-900 a month, in 2009. Now that same home rents for 1300 a month, and could get probably 1500-1600 a month in 2011.
I sold a customer a home in October here in West Bradenton for a little more than 100,000. She had been renting for the past 5 years a home in Bradenton, and that landlord had plans to raise her rent. She closed with a FHA mortgage at 3.9% fixed 30 year mortgage. The total of all her down payment and closing costs where about 12,000. Her total payment including principle interest, taxes, and insurance was only 570 a month!! That just makes sense. If you are planning to stay in the sarasota bradenton area for 3 years or more, buying a single family home could make a lot more sense than renting. If you need to move quicker than 3 years, then renting may make more sense.
10. INVESTMENT REAL ESTATE WORKS- The return on investment (R.O.I.) for investment single family homes, commercial rentals, duplexes, and multi-family are now at a point that they make sense. In the crazy days of the boom buyers were all buying to flip. Rentals would be considered for purchase that had a NEGATIVE R.O.I.!!! A real estate purchase that has no income makes no sense.
Fast forward to today, and getting a 6-12% return is easy to accomplish. This is for annual Single family homes in desirable areas. There is a lot of people that are doing strategic defaults, short sales, or gone through foreclosure, and they have been used to living in a HOME, not an apartment, or condo. If you have been used to living in a neighborhood, in a home, that's what you will want to rent. People that are looking for this kind of rental are usually awesome tenants who are looking for a long term, stable rental.
Condos are attractive too as some are at almost give away prices. One deal this year on a Sarasota Condo that I sold for 52,000. It was a short sale. The owner had paid over 190,000 for the condo in 2005. The complex had a waiting list for renters of that type of unit. Rental rates are 1000 a month. Buying that for cash, you could get a 500 dollar a month return on that investment after paying taxes, condo fees, and management charges. That means in 11 years the entire investment had paid for itself and you would have a nice income source for long term. Plus, the potential future appreciation too.