From deluge to dearth, South Florida’s real estate market is shrinking as the number of homes for sale drops to its lowest amount since the economic bust of 2008.
About 49,900 residential properties in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties were listed for resale as of June 13, according to a report today from the Miami-based consultancy group Condo Vultures.
That’s less than half of the nearly 108,000 homes for sale in November 2008.
Peter Zalewski, a principal with Condo Vultures, said the reduction is attributable to several factors such as investors picking up cheap homes and paperwork problems that continue to hold up foreclosure proceedings.
“Buyers, especially foreign investors with strong currencies, are scooping up South Florida properties at dramatic discounts due to the lack of financing available for domestic buyers,” Zalewski said.
The inventory report includes single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums.
While the report offers some good news for South Florida real estate – fewer homes means more competitive pricing – it notes that the 1.3 million-resident Palm Beach County carries the largest share of the inventory with 17,800 homes.
But that may not be for long. Another report released today by Realtor.com found that Palm Beach County was the 10th most searched real estate market in the nation in May.
The Tampa-St.Petersburg area was the only other Florida region to make it into the top 10 most searched areas, ranking 5th nationwide.
“As downtown Miami has stabilized, investors started looking to Broward and as that stabilizes, they will make Palm Beach their end destination,” Zalewski said.
Bill Richardson, president of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, said he’s been watching the inventory of homes fall for the past six months.
“I think this is good news, but we’re not out of the woods,” said Richardson, who is managing broker for the Keyes Company in Boca Raton. “We don’t want to be totally dependent on cash buyers and foreign investment. That’s not a long-term solution.”
And does the dwindling inventory mean now is the time to buy?
Not necessarily said Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant in Deerfield Beach.
He predicts banks will soon rebound from the fall’s robo-signing scandal, pushing more distressed homes on the market and causing further pricing tumult. Of the 40,050 South Florida homes that have sold so far this year, 46 percent were either short sales or bank repossessions, according to the Condo Vultures report.
Also, there are more than 300,000 foreclosure cases backlogged in Florida’s court system.
“If you’re buying a home for the right reason – because it’s near your work, in a good school zone, or near worship and recreation areas you enjoy – buy it,” McCabe said. “Don’t look at a home as solely a good investment.”
Available homes for sale by county, includes single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums
Palm Beach, 17,792
By KIMBERLY MILLER – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 7:49 a.m. Friday, June 17, 2011