Miami Sets The Pace In Florida Say Market Reports
By Marilyn Bowden
Miami emerged as the state’s leading residential real estate market for first quarter 2000, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
In a round-up of Florida markets, the Miami statistical area showed a 20% increase in total homes sold in the first three months of 2000 over the same period in 1999.
Close behind were Naples and the Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie area, both presenting 19% increases.
"A strong economy continued to attract first-time and move-up buyers," the association’s researchers conclude, "who weren’t dissuaded by the higher interest rates averaging 8.26% for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage during the first quarter of 2000, which is up from the 6.88% average during the same period last year."
Local real estate professionals predict the numbers may rise even higher as the year progresses.
Arvida Realty Services reports a 45.4% increase in Miami-Dade first-quarter sales over 1999. Pat Dahne, regional vice president for Miami-Dade for Arvida, says the strong economy and the number of international buyers that continue to invest in Miami contribute to the increased activity.
"The other main factor," she says, "is the addition of agents. In November we acquired Framer Realty, plus we have hired 24 additional agents in the first quarter."
The South American market includes sellers as well as buyers, she says those who previously bought investment properties and are now putting them on the market in order to free some capital.
"Sales have continued to be ahead of our projections through April and May," she says.
Keyes Co. sales for the first quarter were up 21%, says President Michael Pappas.
"I think there’s no question that internationally and price-wise Miami-Dade is hot," he says. "When we look at its history over the past 20 years, we can take a lot of pride in what has become a new city. We have the Latin music, the international beat, the high-tech business, import-export and construction all coming to fruition.
"When you start seeing cranes everywhere, that has a strong ripple effect on the economy."
Sales that closed in the first quarter were contracted in the third quarter 1999, Mr. Pappas says before interest rates went up.
In May, he says, written business was up 26% and closings climbed 40% even though the interest rate was two points higher than in May 1999.
"I think the rise is making people make decisions," he says. "We’re also into the strong selling time."
Historically, he says, sales in May-August run 10%-15% higher because people want to move when their children are out of school.
According to Facts & Trends, a monthly market report prepared by Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors from county multiple listings services, an average of 884 homes a month were sold in first quarter 2000 up from 738 during the same period in ’99.
Ron Shuffield, Esslinger Wooten Maxwell president, says the first quarter is typically relatively slow for home re-sales which could mean even greater increases for the rest of the year.
As for the new-home market, a report from American Metro-Study, a Houston-based market advisory firm, calls Florida "one of the most resilient housing markets in the nation."
According to the study, Miami-Dade had 5,242 construction starts during the 12 months ending March 2000 a 10.9% increase over the previous 12 months. In first-quarter 2000, 1,094 single-family units were started 8.3% more than last year.
"Although Miami-Dade continues to experience strong demand," the report says, "a number of its larger communities are approaching build-out. The supply of new housing will decrease over the next three years; the absolute number of lots and the months of supply of lots has been dropping for more than a year.
"Based upon the annual rate, there is currently less than an 18-month supply of developed lots in this market."