Three years and counting.
Sales of existing homes in Broward County declined in July, just as they have for 36 of the past 37 months. That dismal trend isn’t likely to change soon as lenders across the South Florida housing market make it tougher for consumers to qualify for mortgages.
Analysts don’t expect the housing slump to end until the second half of 2008 or later, in part because the recent credit crunch is thinning an already small group of would-be buyers.
The county had 559 sales last month, down 22 percent from 721 in July 2006, the Florida Association of Realtors said Monday. The median price dropped 2 percent, to $373,700 from $380,400 last year.
The market for existing Florida condominiums in Broward also took a hit in July. Year-over-year sales fell 19 percent, and the median price slid 10 percent, to $187,200 from $209,100 a year ago.
The median price is the level at which half sold for more, half for less.
Some lenders are reporting rises in Florida mortgage applications as people hedge their bets and shop around for loans, but actual approvals probably aren’t increasing because sales continue to lag, said Mike Larson, a housing analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter.
Existing sales and median prices could be even worse this fall in South Florida because those numbers will reflect the credit tightening that spread this month beyond risky borrowers to include people on solid financial footing.
“There’s more pain to go through,” said John Burford, senior vice president and chief economist with The International Bank of Miami.
Jim Mander still is trying to find a buyer for the four-bedroom Davie house he listed more than a year ago.
The property with a pool is set on an acre lot and has been renovated extensively. He originally was asking $789,000, but he’s down to $749,000 and getting frustrated.
“I’ve got a feeling it’s not the house, it’s not the location,” said Mander, 68, who works for a marine distribution company. “It’s just the market. My timing was wrong.”
If he doesn’t sell soon, Mander will try to rent the house. Real estate agent, Dave Magua of EWM Realtors, said exasperated sellers are having success as landlords.
“People have the money to rent expensive homes,” Anderson said. “They just don’t want to pay for them. I think they’re afraid that prices will fall even more.”
Looking back, Broward’s year-over-year home sales increased in October 2006 compared with October 2005, the month Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida and delayed home closings. But otherwise, existing-home sales have been declining since July 2004. Median prices began to fall in Broward last July.
On top of the Florida mortgage mess, many South Floridians are unhappy with state legislators’ new property tax plan, saying it will do little to improve the housing climate. They’re also not seeing the significant savings in their property insurance bills that Gov. Charlie Crist promised in January.
Dave Magua, P.A.
Weston Town Center