Existing housing sales may have declined nationally in September, but it was a banner —perhaps even phenomenal – month for the Florida real estate market, according viagra the most recent statistics released by the Florida Association of Realtors.
“People have become confident of our real estate market again,” observed ECAR president Anita Williams, after reviewing the FAR numbers that showed sales of existing single-family homes across the state picked up 34 points and locally, 33 percent.
Sales of existing condos showed even larger gains, with the state increasing by a lofty 77 percent while sales along the Emerald Coast more than doubled, reeling in a whopping gain of 107 points, as compared to last year.
While attractive financing terms and incentives such as the $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers may have persuaded many real estate shoppers to sign on the dotted line in September, overall, buyers seemed to be a mixed crowd nonetheless.
Williams, broker-owner of The Realty Firm Inc. in Destin, observed that buyers were a mix of traditional first-timers and move-ups, as well as seasoned investors and cash purchasers looking to invest in a rental or vacation home.
“There’s a lot more people coming in from out of state to buy condos here,” she noted. “Once they visit, they want to come back. And they want to buy a place of their own to come back to.”
While not as high as the local area, neighboring Panama City Beach also saw a sizeable leap in sales of existing condo units of 86 percent, as did Pensacola at 41 points.
Sales of existing single-family homes were up in virtually all markets throughout the state, ranging from a modest 1 percent increase in Tallahassee to a 77 percent jump in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral market.
The Emerald Coast’s neighboring markets, Panama City and Pensacola, were up at 27 and 3 points.
Much of the existing single-family home market’s gains of late is owed, at least in part, to the $8,000 tax credit — an incentive that may be extended, if approved by Congress. The extension, which the U.S. Senate has already approved, also broadens the playing field by upping income limitations and clarifying its new deadline; homebuyers would have until April 30, 2010, to sign a sales contract and until the end of June to close the transaction.
In addition to the now familiar first time homebuyers credit, another new tax incentive is pending a nod from Congress. If approved, the repeat homebuyer’s credit will allow qualified buyers who have owned their homes for a minimum of five out of the past eight years to reap up to a $6,500 tax credit.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that the $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit — currently transactions must close by Nov. 30 unless its extension is approved — may have prompted as many as 350,000 “first time” homebuyers to purchase a home in recent months.
“The $8,000 tax credit incentive has indeed brought buyers to the table,” said ECAR 2010 president-elect, Mary Anne Windes, broker-owner of Real Estate Professionals of Destin Inc., referring to the local market.
“It’s encouraging to see the market surge and expect more good things to come.”
However, even in a good market, Windes, like other seasoned real estate experts, advises that now is the time for buyers and sellers to rely on a Realtor.
“It is more important now than ever to rely on a Realtor, upheld to the association’s high Code of Ethics, to help you navigate your way,” Windes cautioned, pointing out that while all Realtors are licensed real estate sales associates, not all licensed real estate sales associates are Realtors.
“I cannot stress strongly enough,” she continued, “how much integrity, experience, and knowledge can make — or the lack of those qualifications– can break a transaction.”