As the home-buying season begins in earnest in many parts of the country, Southeast Florida – which enjoyed an unusually mild winter, to the dismay of many including me – continues on its path of odd market behaviour, namely rapidly shrinking inventory accompanied by mildly rising asking and selling prices.
As dramatic as the numbers for single family home sales are, looking at the Tri-County area won't tell the whole picture, so I will briefly point out some of the differences between Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade... please read on at the blog The Modernist Angle
Lyrics from Cole Porter's famous "I've got you under my skin", written in 1936, came to my mind this month. I admit that I have Nicole Henry's lovely version of that song constantly in my ears and on iTunes. To me, uptempo–and perhaps the great American Songbook–just seems to be her forte.
So, is Nicole singing to or even for home buyers?
I doubt it. But the February numbers for single family homes (condos, coops and townhouses not included) should get prospective buyers thinking of Cole Porter.
In essence, more or less stable asking prices and (year-over-year) slightly soft selling prices created a very very active market in February–with dramatically falling inventory (may I say "dramatically" when it's 50 percent or more?) and a hefty spike in the number of sold houses.
As always, the table is accompanied by a lovely graphic:
Coming back to Nicole Henry and her Cole Porter interpretation: time for buyers to wake up. True, not every buyer is flexible in his or her plans, but those who are should get off the benches. Now.
Table: Single family home data per month’s end for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade (Florida) counties. Chart: Single family home data Mar 2011 to Feb 2012. Red: median list price, green: median selling price, blue: inventory in months. – Data compiled from SEF-MLS. Also published at http://www.TheModernistAngle.com._
Several regular readers have suggested to post the monthly market data for home sales also on my blog. I'd be happy to: Starting this month, they will appear here as well as on http://www.themodernistangle.com To business: January mostly continued the December trend – a dwindling number of houses on the market, increased asking prices overall but softer asking and selling prices for those homes that actually closed.
Are sellers asleep at the wheel? Because why would anyone increase the asking price, when in actuality prices are giving in (4.5% month-over-month and 6.8% year-ver-year)? Doesn't make much sense.
What I suspect is typified by a modernist seller in North Broward: the property is on the market with different four agents since 2008, so they just raised the price again by $100k. Clever; they must know something no one else knows ("my property is so much better than the rest"). Too bad buyers are too dumb to see the light. I don't see it, either.
In general, the market is far from homogeneous: trophy properties as well as those sectors most in demand – say $200,000 to $500,000 – are rapidly disappearing, and there is no sign this will change. In modern architecture, the availabilities are even tighter (as regular readers know, I compile but do not publish monthly market data for modern home sales anymore. They are available for clients and appraisers on request).
There is also a distinct incline heading north from Dade to Broward to Palm Beach, both in regards to asking as well as to selling prices, absolut and per square foot.
The January numbers:
Single family home data per month’s end for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade (Florida) counties.
And the matching chart:
Single family home data Feb 2011 to Jan 2012. Red: median list price, green: median selling price, blue: inventory in months. – Data compiled from SEF-MLS
If you have any questions, or would like more detailed data pertaining to a purchase or sale you consider, please let me know – I look forward to hearing from you.
The MLS data for April for Southeast Florida show a slight increase in selling prices for single family homes in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade county, while Broward county remained stable in volume and prices. Inventory is steady at seven months, very close to the normal range for a balanced market.
But the data raise two questions: with a plethora of short sales and foreclosures available (the latter often not on the MLS), it makes me wonder how small then must the non-distressed inventory be?
And secondly, as everyone has access to the same data set from the MLS, I am not quite sure where some of the exuberant reported data on our regional market in April comes from. Perhaps condos and townhomes? There certainly is activity and even selling price increases (6% m-o-m in Dade, 5% in Palm Beach), but it’s not exactly a firework either.
The overall single family house market in Southeast-Florida in April:
* Houses for sale: 23,241 (–0.2%) * Inventory: 7 months (no change) * Median list price: $291,333 (+0.8%) * Median list price per sf: $142 (no change) * Houses sold last month: 3126 (–4.6%) * Median selling price: $178,450 (+3.3%) * Median selling price per sf: $99 (+3.5%)
Table: all single family homes per SEF-MLS; data per month’s end. Percent changes are month-over-month. – Chart: SFH data Apr 2010 to Apr 2011. Red: median list price, green: median selling price, blue: inventory in months. – Data source: SEF-MLS
THE MODERN HOME MARKET
A much much tighter spot is the modern home market.
That inventory is shrinking weekly – not even monthly – all the while demand for modern architecture is increasing, to a point where I am running out of modern houses in certain price categories.
My database of modern architecture for sale – and I know of and catalogue practically everything that is available – is down to 236 properties in all three counties. This is the lowest it’s ever been since five or six years. In the first three weeks of May alone, there was an inventory drop of 12.7%.
In addition, when a home’s value equation fits a buyer’s expectation, sellers can realise price increases, as the April data show.
So for modernist buyers, it is rather important to be prepared and to be able to react quickly when the right home comes along. Waiting for falling prices and an increasing selection will leave the stragglers on the street, and judging from the inquiries I receive, this situation will get worse as schools start again in August.