Today’s Real Estate Report: Florida

Florida Real EstateToday we’ll take a look at the Florida real estate market. Things are improving there slowly – in Southern Florida, underwater mortgages have dropped from 47% of all homes last year to 39.6% now, the Sun Sentinel reports:

In the fourth quarter, 39.6 percent of mortgaged homes across Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties were worth less than what’s owed, down from 47 percent during the same period a year ago. Rising prices lifted 70,484 South Florida homes from so-called negative equity during 2012. Of the nation’s 30 largest metro areas, only Phoenix and Los Angeles had more. Still, there were 373,556 South Florida homes underwater by a combined $37 billion, according to the Seattle-based real estate website. And the 90-day delinquency rate for all mortgaged homes in the three counties is 25.1 percent — far above the national rate of 8.9 percent, Zillow said.

And investors are snapping up foreclosures in Florida, The Palm Beach Post reports:

Hedge funds and investment firms are buying up Florida foreclosures, beating out homebuyers and local flippers, while steering the state into what some fear is another real estate bubble. The companies, including New York-based Blackstone Group and Lake Success Rentals, a partner of Toronto-based Tricon Capital Group, purchased an estimated 5,300 Florida homes last year that were in some stage of foreclosure, according to a report from RealtyTrac.

But as Millionaire Corner reports, Florida still has the highest foreclosure rates in the USA:

For the fifth month running, Florida has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation and in January became the state with the highest number of properties with foreclosure filings, a position California had held since January 2007.

Looking at things locally, Miami reported a surge in prices and home sales at the end of 2012, Property Wire says:

The latest figures from the Miami Association of Realtors show that limited supply is helping the residential market to experience double digit price growth. The median sales price for single family homes in Miami-Dade County rose 13.7% to $199,000 in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2011, and 5.3% compared to the third quarter of 2012. The median sales price for condominiums was $155,000, an increase of 27% year on year and 6.9% compared to the previous quarter.

In Orlando, condo sales were slow throughout 2012, according to the Sentinel:

During the year, 8,455 condos sold in the four-county metro area, down 9 percent from 2011. The state as a whole, on the other hand, experienced a 2 percent increase in 2012 condo sales, the statewide trade group for real estate professionals reported Monday.

Fort Lauderdale and Broward County saw a 10% increase in the median home price in 2012, according to Broward Net:

The median price of an existing single-family home in Broward County rose 10.1 percent to $208,000 in 2012 from $185,900 in 2011, according to statistics released today by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors(R) (GFLR), the largest professional Broward-based association of licensed real estate brokers and sales associates. The number of closed single-family home (SFH) sales increased 10.1 percent from 12,811 in 2011 to 14,101 in 2012.

RealtyTrac listed a number of good places to buy forclosures in Florida, including Jacksonville, Orlando, Lakeland, Miami, and Palm Bay, reports:

Topping RealtyTrac’s list of best places to buy foreclosures in 2013 was the Palm Bay metro area in Florida. It had a 34-month supply of inventory, with foreclosure sales representing 24 percent of all sales, an average foreclosure discount of 28 percent and a 308 percent increase in foreclosure activity in 2012 compared to 2011. Jacksonville ranked the 7th best place for foreclosures in the Sunshine State, surpassed only by Lakeland (No. 5) and Tampa (No. 6); and ahead of Orlando (No. 9) and Miami (No. 12).

And reports that Tampa Bay home prices continue to climb, and just reached their highest point in two years:

Tampa Bay home prices have climbed recently to their highest point in two years. Local prices in November rose nearly 7 percent over the year before, and 5.5 percent in 20 of the country’s major cities, according to Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price indices released Tuesday. In Tampa Bay, a typical home sold in November for $145,000, Multiple Listing Service data show. That’s well off the median price above $240,000 at the peak of the boom in 2006, but also off the bottom of about $110,000 in 2011.

Florida remains a tough market, with high foreclosures and an uneven housing recovery, but there are some great bargains out there for folks ready to buy.