While the housing market in many U.S. markets shows signs of a continued correction in prices, the market for properties in Southwest Florida continues to buck the trend with strong sales and rising prices, it was reported today (June 1) in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. See article for complete details:
Home prices take double dip
One of the most widely watched indexes of home prices in the nation plunged for the second quarter in a row, revealing continued weakness in the nation’s real estate market.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, which measures 20 major metropolitan markets across the U.S., declined 4.3 percent during the three months ended March 31 compared with the same period a year earlier. The quarterly drop follows a 3.6 percent decline during the three months ended Dec. 31.
Regional statistics of late have run counter to the nationwide data, however, signalling that Southwest Florida, at least, is beginning to rebound from a housing crisis that was worse than in many parts of the country.
But for much of the U.S., housing markets have failed to sustain a rally that began in 2009, when prices started drifting upward.
More significantly, the price averages now have dipped to their lowest levels since the nation’s housing bubble burst four years ago, a point many economists and real estate watchers believed represented the bottom for home prices and the worst of the housing crisis.
“This month’s report is marked by confirmation of a double dip in home prices across much of the nation,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee for Standard & Poor’s.
Moreover, the index does not seem to indicate that any sustained housing recovery is imminent nationwide without government intervention and assistance, which buoyed prices the past two years.
“Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight,” Blitzer added.
Though local markets continue to suffer from an abundance of foreclosures, the area’s housing appears to be bucking the nationwide trend.
The index does not provide any specific data about the Sarasota-Bradenton market — where the median price of single-family homes rose from $136,300 to $153,600 between January and March, or the Charlotte County-North Port market — where the median rose from $86,300 to $89,500 during the same period.
The Case-Shiller index focuses on the 20 largest cities in the U.S., with Miami and Tampa being the only Florida representatives.
Case-Shiller provides more of a macro picture of the real estate market, said Dennis Black, a Port Charlotte-based real estate consultant.
“That macro picture is simply that housing is very soft across the country,” Black said. “There are pockets of stability and certain strata are performing okay. But overall the housing market is weak because the job picture is weak.”
Florida’s unemployment rate in April was 10.4 percent, down from a high of 12 percent late in 2010 but still among the highest jobless percentages nationwide.
In April, Florida had the second-highest unemployment rate of the nation’s 10 most populous states.
Florida is also just ninth best in job creation, far behind the top producer, Texas. State employment experts predict it will be late into 2012 before Florida’s unemployment rate sinks below 10 percent.
That lack of job creation is also affecting residential real estate prices nationwide.
As of March, 19 of the 20 metro areas included in the index were down compared with March 2010.
Twelve of those cities — including Miami and Tampa — also posted new index lows in March.
Washington, D.C., the federal government’s base and home to a broad range of business interests, was the only city where home prices increased on both a monthly and annual basis.
“Since December 2010, we have found an increasing number of markets post new lows,” Blitzer said.
“The rebound in prices in 2009 and 2010 was largely due to the first-time home-buyers tax credit,” he added. “Excluding the results of that policy, there has been no recovery or even stabilization in home prices during or after the recent recession.”