Martin County Real Estate Continues Positive Trend

Martin County Florida Real Estate Market Report for July 2008

Martin County Florida’s single family home inventory in July declined for the sixth consecutive month, continuing this year’s trend of an improving market.

There are 2342 homes available through the Multiple Listing Service, a decrease of 67 homes from the previous month and 562 home decrease since January 2008. The month-to-month inventory declined 20 percent since January.
The current inventory reflects a 16-month supply at the current sales pace.
Martin County had 148 single family home sales in July, a slight decrease of 4 homes from the 152 home sales in the month prior, but 32.5 percent above the 116 homes sold in July 2007.
Through July 2008, 902 homes have been sold by Realtors so far this year, a 7.6 percent increase from the 838 sales posted in the same period a year ago.
The median sales price of a home in Martin County in July fell to $233,225, a slight decrease over Junes’ $234,950, just under 15 percent below the July 2007’s $273,520.
Condos sales in Martin County decreased by 9 units from June 2008, to 36 sales and 7 Units more than in July of 2008 with 29 sales. Condo median prices fell 11.5 percent from $160,000 in July 2007 to $141,500 for July of 2008.
There are currently 1147 condos available for sale in the MLS as compared to 1239 in July of 2007, resulting in an absorption rate of just under 32 months.
These numbers show signs of positive activity in home and condo sales while showing that we’re not at quite at the bottom of the ‘bubble’ yet. If inventory levels continue their decline, we should see a leveling of prices when absorption rates reach less than 9 months. Real Estate remains very local and some neighborhoods are seeing very good activity, while others lag.

If you require any additional information, please call us and we’ll happily share our knowledge with you. Direct Line: (772) 323-6996 or visit us on the web at and Our office is located at 1121 SE Ocean Blvd. in Stuart, Florida (Sewall’s Point); please ask for Gabe Sanders or .


You’ve certainly heard and read many reports about defaults on mortgage loans. There are many reasons homeowners face such situations, some of which are completely beyond their control. There are also several solutions, but each carries a consequence.

In one example here in Stuart, Florida, a family had to relocate for an attractive job offer. The home they were selling languished in a slow market for over six months, and they defaulted because they couldn’t continue the mortgage payments.

Their agent negotiated a “short sale,” whereby the lender accepted an offer that was $25,000 less than the loan balance (rather than begin unpleasant foreclosure proceedings). In this case, it’s important to understand that the shortfall is considered “debt relief” and is reported as taxable income to the IRS.

Since the sellers didn’t have to repay that $25,000 to the lender, the IRS considered it the same as $25,000 income. This debt relief from a short sale is considered taxable to the borrowers, and the corresponding Form 1099 must be reported.

This is one of the simpler scenarios created by defaults or foreclosures, which are becoming more common as market corrections and rising interest rates prevail. No matter what reason you or someone you know might be facing default, it is absolutely critical to consult with a tax adviser and a trusted real estate agent before deciding how to proceed.

Understanding real estate dilemmas and their solutions is our business, and we’ll happily share our knowledge with you. Why not give us a call at (772) 323-6996 or come by the office at 1121 SE Ocean Blvd. in Stuart, (Sewalls Point) Florida. Or visit us on the web at

More South Florida homes on the market longer

The number of houses and condos sitting on the market with For Sale signs and lower prices continues to grow in South Florida, according to the latest survey by

The company, a real estate advisory firm in Bal Harbour, tracks homes for sale where the asking price has fallen 10 percent or $100,000, or has been on the market for at least 100 days. It follows properties east of Interstate 95 in Miami-Dade and Broward counties – areas with significant new construction.

The report, tracking activity to April 30, found 1,744 properties with significant price dips or more than three months on the market in the two counties, up from 1,493 in March. The properties included 1,060 condos and 684 houses.

Peter Zalewski, principal at, said the sluggish market is reaching a point where so-called vulture funds – investment groups looking to buy condos in bulk and at discounted prices – may start jumping in. “Big, bulk buyers are starting to come off the perch,” he said. “If we are not there yet, we are just around the corner.”

Please contact Gabe for the most recent Condo aborption rates for the Treasure Coast

U.S. housing prices fall in January year-over-year

The latest national reports on home sales are not particularly encouraging. Please remember not to use national reports to determine what is happening in your local area. Here in the Treasure Coast, we are probably worse off thean the national average due to the double whammy of Insurance and Tax problems and the rampant investment of the past few years that raised local prices to unsustainable levels.

Prices of single-family homes across the nation depreciated in January compared to a year ago, the worst results in more than 13 years, a housing index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s showed.

The data underscored disappointing sales data released by the government on Monday.
The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index showed a drop of 0.7 percent from a year ago in the price of a single-family home based on existing homes tracked over time in 10 metropolitan markets. Growth has not been that slow since January 1994 when it dropped by 0.9 percent compared to January 1993, S&P said.

For its 20-city composite index, prices fell 0.2 percent. That data has been collected since 2001.

Government sales figures reported Monday showed that the number of home sales in February fell to the lowest level in seven years, and followed an even larger drop of nearly 16 percent in January.

On a year-over-year basis, eleven of the 20 cities in the S&P index show negative annual returns in their prices.

All cities in the survey, except for Charlotte, N.C., showed either flat or negative returns in January when compared to December.

MacroMarkets LLC Chief Economist Robert Shiller said the composites clearly show the “dire” state of the real estate market across the nation.

“The dismal growth in the 10-city composite is now at rates not seen since January 1994,” Shiller said in a statement.

The downward trend is reflected in data across the United States while certain cities such as San Diego, Detroit, Boston, Phoenix and Tampa, Florida, have done worse. Seattle and Portland, Oregon, meanwhile, show some resistance to the downturn.
Federal Reserve governors watch housing as one of the most important indicators of the health of the overall economy. Economists fret that the slump in housing will drag down growth as the slowdown affects consumer spending and the construction industry.

Last Wednesday, Fed governors held the benchmark interest rate in place at 5.25 percent, meaning that the prime interest rate used by commercial banks will stay at 8.25 percent. It was the sixth meeting in a row the Fed has held steady.

On Monday, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes fell 3.9 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 848,000, the slowest sales pace in nearly seven years. The February decline followed an even larger 15.8 percent drop in sales in January, which had been the largest one-month plunge in 13 years, another sign the market has not yet found a bottom.

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Area home sales, prices tumble; is a rebound near?

Home sales in the Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie market were off 37 percent in February from the same month in 2006, while median sales price dropped 9 percent, according to numbers released Friday by the Florida Association of Realtors.

Yet Scott Wingfield, president-elect of the Realtors Association of St. Lucie, said the market could be stabilizing.

Wingfield said he’s coming off some of his office’s strongest weeks of showings since mid-2006.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a whole lot more deterioration,” Wingfield said. “People might not be ready to jump in the game, but they are certainly looking.”

A regional housing expert said Friday that Wingfield’s experience at his Coldwell Banker-Thomas J. White Realty office is reflective of what’s happening across the market.

“I am hearing that there’s more traffic and more showings,” said Brad Hunter, director of the housing research firm Metrostudy in West Palm Beach. “So, there is some cause for optimism.”

Although there are more people looking, Wingfield added that there are more discerning shoppers who are “taking their time to investigate all that is available.”

With the large inventory on the market, Wingfield said there might still be room for some softening in the median home price.

Hunter added that an uptick in foreclosures in the next year could put further “downward pressure on prices.”

“The next wave of issues we have to deal with is people who bought homes they couldn’t afford,” Hunter said, adding that sales will likely stabilize before prices do.

While Stuart is included in the Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie data, the Realtors Association of Martin County reports its own figures. There, existing single-family home sales and median home prices both dropped about 19 percent last month compared with February 2006.

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