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Outshining The Sunshine Markets

The Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, with its combined population of 5,523,032, has nearly eight times more people than the Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Statistical Area. Yet according to monthly sales recaps issued by the Florida Association of Realtors, Sarasota-Bradenton—with its population of 703,351—sold significantly more existing single-family homes during every month of 2007 than Miami, Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach.

Is it any wonder then why real estate economist, Jack McCabe—whose Deerfield Beach headquarters lays midway between Miami and West Palm Beach—came to Sarasota, stood before an audience and had nothing but the grimmest prognostication for the state’s real estate market? More than two years into a correcting market and sellers up and down his stretch of coastline have yet to be nudged from their pricing pedestals. They cling to boom-time prices while refusing to accept the new dynamics of a buyers’ market that put sellers in Southwest Florida on the right track some time ago. We would naturally expect someone from his part of Florida to remain a wholesale pessimist.

Meanwhile, with January 2008 now in the record books, Sarasota-Bradenton continues to outsell these much larger markets, besting West Palm Beach by 33 percent, Ft. Lauderdale by 60 percent and Miami by an astounding 78 percent. Only Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa sold more existing single-family homes in their respective markets in January than Sarasota-Bradenton. That being said, Jacksonville—with nearly twice the population—sold only marginally more homes than Sarasota-Bradenton. Orlando with nearly three times the population sold less than twice as many homes; and Tampa with four times the population sold only two and half times the number of homes sold here.

We mention these truths not to make light of the depth of the correction still being felt in other places. But clearly something of seismic proportions has happened during this latest real estate correction that keeps Sarasota-Bradenton selling at a far better pace than its much larger neighbors to the north and east. It’s something more than our growing reputation as Florida’s cultural hub; something more than the sum of our world-class beaches and recreational opportunities; something more than an upscale demographic that has attracted solid commitments from some of the most illustrious names in luxury retailing, fine dining and deluxe hotels.

More than anything else, the big “something” that has Sarasota-Bradenton consistently outselling Florida’s other major sunshine metros is the reality check that long ago persuaded sellers here to scale back on unreasonable pricing expectations fixed in their minds from a few years of wild and unsustainable appreciation. Realtors in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are among the first to admit that sellers in their markets have yet to experience a similar epiphany when it comes to setting realistic prices. They half-jokingly ask if we can send someone down to teach them how to do it.

Obviously, Mr. McCabe can be partially forgiven for expressing such a bunker mentality. After all, he’s been reporting from one of the deepest foxholes in the state.

But wait. Could McCabe have an interest in keeping the market infected with fear and pessimism? Two years ago, Forbes Magazine offered this tidbit of information regarding his other entrepreneurial activities:

“In the aftermath of every crash come a few fearless souls, intent on making money on the misery of others. Jack McCabe, the Miami consultant, is raising a $250 million vulture fund to buy condos. He aims to pick up $1 billion of south Florida apartments on the cheap. Lenders are already offering him blocks of condos repossessed from distressed homeowners.”

Inviting an “expert” like McCabe to offer “guidance” on the real estate market in Southwest Florida is something akin to asking a fox to guard the hen house.

  • User Gravatar Kevin Tomlinson
    March 10th, 2008

    So Funny.

    I said the same thing here: http://www.southbeachrealestateblog.com/2008/03/05/miami-real-estate-could-the-reality-lie-somewhere-in-the-middle/

  • User Gravatar ToddinFL
    March 11th, 2008

    A few past excerpts from your blog:

    December 8, 2006: “To put it simply, there’s NEVER been a bad time to buy in Sarasota. But there have been better times to buy. Like right now.”

    April 2007: “Anyone who has been waiting for a sign that the market has bottomed-out before they buy need wait no longer. This is your wakeup call. Like the ad campaign says, now is truly the time to buy!”

    And now this; you ripping on McCabe who has been one of the few commentators correct on this real estate debacle early on.

    You have been telling people to buy real estate all along as the market has continued to nosedive throughout 2007. It’s been VERY poor advice, by and large.

    And now you refer to McCabe as the fox guarding the hen house. I find that to be rather hypocritical, being that you and your firm have a vested interest in the local market.

    Criticize McCabe for his ideas or prognostications if you wish (even though he’s been correct), but save the character assassination. It’s unbecoming.

    regards/Todd

  • User Gravatar Jack McCabe
    March 21st, 2008

    In an advertorial insert in the Sunday, March 9, 2008 Sarasota Herald Tribune, and on this web blog, Michael Saunders Realty published an attack on the credibility of my analysis and expertise of the Sarasota real estate market.

    While I expect attacks from some real estate vested interests for my analysis and predictions of the current downturn, Ms. Saunders rather offensive opinions should notably be judged as coming from someone who runs an area real estate sales company, as well as heading the local chapter of the Realtors Association. It is also rumored and noteworthy that Ms. Saunders is angry with competitor Sotheby’s International Realty, the sponsor of one of my recent speaking engagements in Sarasota, for promoting residential auctions.

    I wonder if Ms. Saunders will now attack experts Lew Goodkin and Ken Thomas for their comments in the recent Herald Tribune story regarding the hyper-foreclosure activity (“08 foreclosure rate is on way to record”). I’m sure Ms. Saunders will point out that like me, Goodkin and Thomas also reside in Southeast Florida so their expertise must also be incorrect about a market so “distant” and “different” as Sarasota.

    Evidently, Ms. Saunders has taken it upon herself to attack anyone, including nationally respected experts and economists, that presents an accurate, honest, and realistic analysis of the Sarasota real estate market, because it directly conflicts with the mirage she continually attempts to convey.

    It is my opinion Ms. saunders has been one of the most prolific providers of real estate hype, propaganda, and fairy tales in an effort to misinform the general public to maximize company sales commissions.

    In the near future, the public will have ample ammunition to determine who are the vested interests that facilitated and profited by the artificial run-up in housing prices; who it was that made a fortune selling to speculators (now foreclosures) at other homeowners expense; and who gave into rampant greed with little regard for future ramifications when opportunity came knocking on their sales office door.

    I’d like to see the Herald Tribune publish my quotes and comments in a side by side comparison to Ms. Saunders quotes beginning with the pinnacle of the boom in summer, 2005. Considering the direct attempt to discredit my market review and predictions, I’m confident a comparison would be a great service Sarasota residents.

    So….Ms. Saunders, you obviously feel strongly that my analysis of the Sarasota market is incorrect, and you have further inferred in your advertising supplement and your web blog that my views may be skewered or tainted for financial gain.

    Now…..I challenge you to a debate, or point/counterpoint. I’ll be happy to arrange my schedule to accommodate this event anytime you’re ready, willing, and able. Let’s give Sarasota residents the opportunity to determine who has done the research, told the truth and accurately predicted the Sarasota market changes, and who has not.

    Here’s your chance to show who the tainted vested interest really is. Your opportunity to back up what you say in a public forum.

    It will be my pleasure to make my case in person. Face to face. Otherwise, I suggest you return to your forte of running ads and huffing and hyping homes for sale.

    It’s always a “good time2buy”, like the multi-million dollar marketing campaign says, right Ms. Saunders?

    I’ve informed the Herald Tribune I would be making this chaallenge to you.

    Jack McCabe
    CEO
    McCabe Research & Consulting LLC
    Deerfield Beach, FL

  • User Gravatar Tom
    March 24th, 2008

    It may come as interest to Mr. McCabe, who fancies himself the master of all facts regarding Sarasota real estate, that Ms. Saunders is no more the head of the local chapter of Realtors than he is. That distinction belongs to one, Ms. Helen Sosso, the current president of the board, who is also President of Prudential Palms Realty. She’s doing a great job. Such information is simply verifiable at the web site for the board (www.sarasotarealtors.com).

    What else don’t you know about Sarasota Mr. McCabe? The news is not good about real estate everywhere. But we’ll take good news wherever we can find it. Like, for example, in February Sarasota realtors sold more existing homes than both Miami AND Ft. Lauderdale put together. Stay closer to home Mr. McCabe, they need your “expertise” there.

  • User Gravatar ToddinFL
    March 24th, 2008

    Not knowing Jack McCabe from the next guy on the street, and then reading his response to your blog, I’ll give you credit for publishing both of our posts. They don’t agree with your previous viewpoint, but I’ll give credit to you for at least publishing them on your blog.

    Any press is good press, I guess. Especially in this market … 🙂

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