South Florida has been a popular retirement spot for decades. The sunny beaches, spectacular golf courses, fantastic attractions and resort-style communities draw active adult retirees year after year. However, as in other parts of the country, South Florida’s housing market has been hit hard. As the economy begins to slowly rebound, is South Florida real estate showing signs of life?
According to a recent report by Zillow.com, about 45 percent of homes sold in September in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties went for a loss. Yet, despite this gloomy news, local real estate agents are seeing positive signs in some South Florida markets. Michele Harrison, a Realtor in the Naples area, finds that inventories in the Naples/Bonita/Estero market have continued to decline over the last 20 months and that, in some areas, equilibrium has been met. She says, “there are even a few pockets that have actually gone well below the 12 month equilibrium inventories.” Real estate sales in Florida often pick up during the winter months as retirees that held off on purchases come back into the market. As winter approaches, Harrison expects to have a healthy selling season. “Buyers that want to be in the Southwest Florida area understand that the market is stabilizing, and that the great deals are becoming more scarce,” Harrison explains. “While there are deals to be had, the deep cuts have been taken and the prices are more in line with where they need to be.” Wilma Pinstein, another South Florida Realtor who specializes in 55+ communities in the Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, feels that the active adult communities are faring well in a tough time. “These communities have taken a hit, as did all real estate,” she says. “Although prices have come down, homeowners in these communities are not giving their homes away—they are selling!” Pinstein notes that home buyers are often retirees who are relocating to the area or purchasing a second home. Potential home buyers in South Florida may be tempted by the idea of saving money on a foreclosed property. While foreclosures can be a steal, Harrison warns that buyers beware. “With the debacle in the foreclosure arena it is wise to have confidence in the bank holding the paper and ensure that the title is clear. Legal counsel is recommended. We are treading in unfamiliar waters with what is happening out there and I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing who you are dealing with, from broker right through to the bank.” Though South Florida’s housing market has been hit hard, there does appear to be signs of a life in some popular active adult markets. As winter begins, retirees and snowbirds will return to Florida’s sunny climate. For those looking to buy, this may be the right time to make a deal.