February, 2010:

February Update

The news of the day is the relocation of our office this month. We recently executed an agreement to lease our Main Street building to First Florida Bank. That building is 8,500 square feet and was originally built for specific use as a bank. With the vault, drive-thru lanes, night deposit and fire-proof rooms still intact, it was perfect for a bank that needs to move in a hurry.
So, we have moved our office into another building that we own at 725 Harbor Blvd, less than 2 blocks west of our former location. It is just less than 4,000 square feet and is perfectly suited for our use. This building was Destin’s first real estate office back in 1973 and was then called Cox and Young.
We are excited about the new location and the increased exposure we will gain from the Highway 98 frontage. We are easy to find — We are situated directly between Golden Corral and McDonald’s!
Also of note is the fact that Terri and I are ranked as the number 6 residential team in Florida by RE/MAX for 2009. The December stats will not be released until after the RE/MAX Int’l convention next month, so our final ranking may go up or down a little.

The Economic Front

Good news as interest rates continue their downward trend. 30 year fixed rates are now hovering around 4.75%. 5-year ARM’s are around 3.75%.
More good news … There are fixed rate jumbo products (stimulus) in the 5.25% range. These are loans that exceed $417,000 but are less than the established limit for the county within which the property is situated. The individual county limits may be viewed at:

With even lower interest rates and still declining real estate values nationwide, the housing affordability index is off the charts.

So, you would think that with housing affordability at an all time record high, homes should just be flying off the shelves, right?
Unfortunately, the credit markets are still tight and mortgage insurance is still non-existent, with the exception of course of government programs such as VA, FHA, and (Freddie Mac) Rural Housing. Consequently, cash buyers are taking advantage of the best deals out there on the market.
Condo financing (overall) is still about as tight as a vault door. A few portfolio programs are available and a limited number of investors are offering some end-user funding for certain individual condo units. The mortgage market has improved, but it still has a very long way to go.

The Local Trend
January was the fifth consecutive month of increased sales transaction numbers as compared with last year. As you can see from the reports below, single family, residential lots, condos and townhomes are all up.

There was a single $23,519,400 sales transaction for 116 condos at Waterscape on Okaloosa Island that skews the data. It appears to be a partnership buyout, so there is no significant resulting impact on market values.

Increased numbers of distress sales are expected, but 2010 should see continued improvement. Sales numbers are rising and appreciation may be slowly coming into focus.