Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hurricane insurance rates need to increase 44%

The sun-sentinel reports today on the looming inevitable windstorm (hurricane) insurance premium increase.

"Citizens Property Insurance officials Tuesday proposed rate increases that would raise most South Florida home and condominium owners' premiums up to 10 percent a year for as many as five years, beginning Jan. 1.

State-backed Citizens estimates it needs to boost property insurance rates for homes, condos and businesses by a statewide average of 6 percent a year starting next year until the rates are about 44 percent higher."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

High-end buyers still willing to wait for more drop

The Case-Schiller index, which is the most reliable source of home values because it calculate same home sales, dropped again in March.

As the article in the new york times reports, in the lower half of the market, where homes have dropped 50% of peak, volume has picked up.

In other words, buyers buy when fundamental economic balance is restored to pre-bubble prices.

"Dan Greenhaus of Miller Tabak noted that “interested buyers have no reason to purchase a home if they believe prices will continue to fall and those that have to buy a home have every reason to take as much time as possible.”"

Palm beach has not seen LISTING prices drop much, though SALES prices have begun to drop off 30% from peak (i.e., currently at about 2003 prices).

Once prices drop to where the fundamental economics supports sales, buyers will hop back in.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Prime mortgages get tougher to find

An article in the NY times today describes the slight rebound in sales -- that rebound is only in places that have seen prices drop MORE THAN FIFTY PERCENT from peak.

In other words, when prices go back down to pre-bubble, sales happen.

In addition, it appears that regular high-quality people looking for a norml mortgage re having a very hard time getting finance:

"....Sales in the top half of the market remain slow. The Federal Reserve reported on Monday that half of all banks recently tightened their lending standards on prime mortgages. Many would-be buyers, here as elsewhere, simply cannot get financing.

Sellers, meanwhile, are reluctant to lower their prices, preferring to bide their time. New construction is nearly nonexistent.

What drives the market here, then, are all those foreclosures....."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Professor: "Even during the Depression, I’m not sure prices fell this quickly,”

The Case-Shiller data show that housing markets across the United States are still suffering: prices are down 45 percent in Miami from their highest levels.

The same bubble that drove UP palm beach is dragging it down.

Barey a half-dosen homes have sold this year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

House on Pendleton sells for 2003 price

The single family home at 250 Pendleton (Total feet Area Under Air : 4462) sold in March 2009 for 3 million.

It last sold in february 2005 for 3.5 million and previously for 2.5 million in may 2002, according to county records

So one more palm beach home sells for 2003 price. Is 2002 pricing next on the way??????

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Housing Slump Hits Manhattan - more than 40% price drops

The markets of Palm Beach and Manhattan are tightly linked and this should provide helpful guidance to sellers hoping to sell their Palm Bech homes at above 2002 prices:

As the NY times reports :

"the Manhattan real estate market has just begun a steep slide. It parallels the decline in New York’s financial services industry, and housing analysts say it may continue long after other markets heal....housing analysts are predicting a prolonged slump in prices and sales that could last as long as four or five years."

"The stress is most severe at the high end of the market. "

“For the last three years, it was the bigger the better,” said Dolly Lenz, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “Now the key words are smaller, livable and affordable. Before no one asked what the maintenance was. Now everyone wants to know.”

Referring to the former home of Harry Belafonte, now owned by Abigail Disney and first listed for $17.5 million " After a series of price cuts, Ms. Disney has finally found buyers for the property, for just under $7.5 million, a 46 percent discount from her initial asking price. But to make a deal she agreed to restore the walls and convert it back into two apartments and sell it to two buyers."

"Shaun Osher, the chief executive of Core Group Marketing, said he had begun to see more activity this spring, but at much lower prices, with luxury apartment prices off as much as 40 percent."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

30% is the new black: Palm Beach Spec home sells for 30% below asking

1620 S. Ocean Blvd. sold for $12.5 million early last month.

HOWEVER, the home was listed for 17.5 million up until 12/08. Then there was a price drop to 13.9 and a final reported sale of 12.5 In other words, the seller began to realize that we are no longer in 2006 or 2005 or even 2004 anymore.

Once again, the palm beach daily news runs its real-estate spin:

"Proving Palm Beach property is still a rare and highly desired commodity, two prospective buyers' bids recently determined the sales price of a newly constructed waterfront home, agents said"

HUH??????????? Look at the web and every week there are more and more of these "rare" properties are on the market: Palm Beach single family homes from 1 million on up to homes in the 10-20 million range.

Smart sellers are getting out now at 30% off. In a few months it will go to 40% off and finally settle in the 50% off range. These numbers come from objective economists, not from me and certainly not from listing real estate agents.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Record Drop in February - "2001 prices" will be bottom

As reported in the NY times today, February was the worst drop in history. This data is from same-home sales. It is clear that we are still nowhere near bottom.

As they report:

"Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist for MFR Inc., said in a note to clients that “it is unlikely that we are anywhere near a bottom in nationwide home prices.” He estimated the index was perhaps two-thirds of the way through its ultimate total decline.

That would bring big city prices back to where they were in late 2001 or early 2002..."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Millionaires are 27 % fewer = less buyers for palm beach

With 28% fewer people able (even if good times returned today) to consider buying a home in Palm Beach, it is no wonder that the inventory continues to rise.

Add to that that the remaining people who could potentially buy in the Island of Palm Beach are reconsidering the widsom of buying a second home in (hurricane-prone, high real estate tax, eroded) Palm Beach then one has a good understanding of why there are so many little white for sale signs in front of Palm Beach homes increasig every month.

As quoted in the article:

"The financial crisis has taken a serious toll on millionaires, with their ranks falling 27% in 2008 from 9.2 million at the beginning of the year to 6.7 million by year-end, Spectrem Group found. That brings the total down to 2003 levels, when there were 6.2 million millionaires in the nation.

Ultra-high-net-worth households, that is, those with a net worth of $5 million or more, fell in lockstep, with their ranks declining 28% from 1.16 million to 840,000, as did affluent households, or those with a net worth of $500,000 or more. They declined 28% in 2008 from 15.7 million to 11.3 million.

“America has a lot fewer millionaires than when this economic crisis began,” said George H. Walper, Jr., Spectrem president. “In fact, the 2008 declines to 6.7 million, which reduced the millionaire ranks by 2.5 million households, shrinks this important population close to levels seen in the last recession. The culprit is not just the stock market, which we all know has dropped precipitously, but broad declines in the asset classes available to the nation’s wealthiest investors.” "

Monday, March 2, 2009

Palm Beach's eroded beaches

Along with the popping real estate bubble is the dramatic erosion of the beaches on palm beach. At high tide, there is virtually no beach left. Notice how all photos of the beach are of low tide (seaweed marks high tide line)?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Prime palm beach land value drops below $100 / sq ft

A very large (more than 100 x 100 ft) lot with a 1980's home recently sold for 2 million. This home is "in town" and "on the lake block" which is more expensive than other parts of the island on a per foot basis. Assuming that this size lot lends itself to being a tear-down, then the land value is well below $90 per square foot.

This may help sellers realize the simple caclulation:

home price = land value + structure value.

This sets the bar for home values.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mortgage tax deduction to get cut dramatically under Obama tax increase on the wealthy

True to his word, taxes are going up on those able to consider buying a single family home in Palm Beach.

While mortgage is only deductable up to 1.1 milllion, there will be a large loss for those in the upper income brackets, making the true monthly cost of owning a home rise by 20% :

"The tax increases would raise an estimated $318 billion over 10 years by reducing the value of such longstanding deductions as mortgage interest and charitable contributions for people in the highest tax brackets. Households paying income taxes at the 33% and 35% rates can currently claim deductions at those rates. Under the Obama proposal, they could deduct only 28% of the value of those payments.

The changes would be phased in gradually over the next few years. For the 2009 tax year, the 33% tax bracket starts with couples with taxable earnings of $208,850, when adjusted for personal exemptions and various deductible expenses. A taxpayer in the top bracket paying $1,000 of mortgage interest, for example, would see a tax break worth $350 reduced to $280."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taxes to rise for wealthy

As quoted in the NYtimes on 2/26 and on 2/28:

"The combined effect of the two proposals, on top of Mr. Obama’s existing plan to roll back the Bush-era income tax reductions on upper-income households, would be a pronounced move to redistribute wealth and reimpose a substantially larger share of the tax burden on the most affluent taxpayers."

"And Mr. Obama’s tax plan would affect people — mostly those with high incomes — who work for hedge funds or private equity firms and pay only a 15 percent capital gains tax rate on much of the money they take home. Now, they would pay ordinary income tax rates, as much as 39.6 percent, on everything."

A large part of the housing bubble was certainly due to the tax cuts on the wealthy. As these will now be reversed, there will be les money to support high home prices for "second home" destinations.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Single family homes on palm beach for ....Under 1 million??

Well as this article in the Palm Beach Post points out, homes can be found for under 1 million . This is the lowest price range for tear-downs. As the previous level was 2 million, this does not bode well for overall values.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Palm Beach homes go for $305 - $646 per square foot

Palm Beach County has terrific transparency for home sales and assessed values from a great website:

From the palm beach county tax records of transactions, it is clear that current price per square foot is NOT anywhere near the $1000 / sq ft that is quoted by real estate agents in palm beach:

$544 per sq. ft. 695 S County Road (Dec. 2008)

$438 per sq. Ft. 280 Orange Grove (Dec. 2008)

$357 per sq. ft. 402 Primavera (Jan. 2009)

$366 per sq. ft. 2267 E Ibis Isle (Dec. 2008)

$646 per sq. ft. 166 Everglades (Nov. 2008)

$561 per sq. ft. 4 Lagomar (Oct. 2008)

$305 per sq. ft. 222 Cherry Lane (Oct. 2008)

Evans Report for Palm Beach Home sales is wrong

Every seller is prepared to sell for fair market price.
Every buyer is prepared to buy for fair market price.

So, what is the market doing in palm beach? What is fair market price in palm beach?

According to the recently released "Evans Report" as reported in the palm beach daily news, the median sale price jumped up more than 10% in 2008 when compared from 2007.


How can the Hamptons, Fisher Island, Aspen, Manhattan, Europe, Russia, South America, Asia all be going down (let alone Boca Raton & Jupiter & Palm Beach Gardens), and the Island of Palm Beach is supposedly going UP?

I did a back of the envelope calculation:

We are talking about the "average" home in palm beach. Something that might sell in the 2-50 million dollar range.

The problem is that 3 gazillion dollar transactins closed in early 2008. BEFORE the DOW collapse. Before the bank meltdown. Before Palm Beacher Madoff's scandal.

So, of the 3 transactions that went for 95, 68, and 81 million dollars each, that represents a total sales of $244 million. Divide that by the remaining 101 reported transaction and you have an "extra pad" of 2.3 million per sale. so, subtract 2.3 million from Evans padded number of 3.875 and you are left with 1.6 million.

Now, if 2007 had average sale of 3.5 million according to Evans, then we have a year to year drop of.....about 40%.

Palm Beach Post Reporter smells rats out the inflated Palm Beach home market

What a breath of fresh air. Independent journalists do exist in south Florida.

If you look at the amount of revenue newspapers (especially the glossy and "shiny" ones) generate from the real estate industry, it is no wonder that any "reporting" is skewed to the newspeak that the real estate agents and their enablers would like to perpetuate.

So, along comes the Palm Beach Post reporter Jeff Ostrowski who correctly points out the fundamental flaw of the very incorrect "report" that the real estate lawyer (i.e. makes money from doing closings referred by real estate agents) Les Evans, author of the "Evans Report."

fourth quarter (i.e., after the dow tanked) plummeted. Not just dropped.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Hamptons Half-Price Sale of Mansions

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Hamptons homes are going for 50% off.

...."There were properties that were overvalued more than in your wildest imagination, they were being built and sold for double the price in a couple of years," says Paul Brennan, regional manager for Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Then last summer, he says, sales stopped. Now, "it is blacker than anyone thought it was going to be." In Southampton, the number of fourth-quarter sales plunged 45%, according to The Real Estate Report Inc...."

....Prudential's Bridgehampton office, Broker Lynda Ireland spends much of her time now dealing with offers from individuals she calls "investors." "They are putting $1 million to $1.5 million offers on homes that are $3 million to $4 million," the 25-year Hamptons resident says....."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skewed report claims Palm Beach homes values rise in 2008

The Palm Beach Daily News reports today that an analysis of home sales reveals that median single family prices have gone up. Huh?

First, that is "median" as compared with "mean". The median is the number at which half of the homes sold for less and half sold for more. The mean is actually what most people understand as the "average". In other words, mean is created by adding up all home prices and divide by number of sales.

There is a reason why they report only "median" an not "mean": 3 gazillion- dollar properties skewed the market upward in 2008 (like Trump's 100 million dollar home ) dramaticaly as they report:

"As listed in The Evans Report, the median and average sales prices for single-family homes could be skewed by three exceptional sales in 2008: 1236 S. Ocean Blvd. for $81.5 million in April, 60 Blossom Way for $68.5 million in June and 515 N. County Road for $95 million in July."

So, if one factors OUT these three outliers then we have a tremendous DROP in mean and median sales prices for 2008.

Second, condos are a better indicator fo the market as condos tend to be more similar in price, size and condition than the tremendous variety of single family homes. Condos dropped in median price by....27%....!!!!!

"....Another concern is that the median sales price for Palm Beach condominiums dropped 27.3 percent from $825,000 in 2007 to $600,000 in 2008, Evans said...."

The palm beach home market clearly dropped in 2008 and for 2009 is already down further. Good buying opportunity if you don't mind buying "on the way down"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Palm Beach Island homes selling BELOW assessed values

Most homes for sale on the Island of Palm Beach Florida are Listed for 50% above the assessed price.

The assessed values are generated by Palm Beach County and are based on recent sales, square foot, lot size, and the specifics of the construction. Because there are no state income taxes in Florida, local governments rely heavily on high property taxes. Consequently, homeowners do whatever they can to try to keep this assessed value as low as possible.

Now, we can see that homes are actually (2009, not 2008) selling for BELOW this assessed value.

Some recent ones are:

A three-bedroom, 3.5-bath home at 402 Primavera Way in Palm Beach $2 million on Jan. 14. *** Assessed Value $4.13 ***

280 Orange Grove - Sold Dec. 2008 - Sold for just over one million ***Assessed Value $1,600,000 ***

301 Garden - Sold Dec. 2008 for just over 2.5 million *** Assessed Value $3,000,000 ***