Winter is coming and autumn is fading away. Usually, this is just another very mild season change in sunny South Florida. However, I am READY for this change. Winter brings cooler air and open windows. It also brings cooler water to the Gulf and Tropics which, hopefully, will stop the stirring beast that continues to blow red, pulsating storms at our peaceful peninsula.
If I never hear the word “millibar” again, it will be too soon. I don’t know the difference between an eleven millibar storm and a nine millibar storm but every newscaster can certainly make the number nine scary with a low voice and the constant phrase, “never seen one like this before”. Having grown up in Florida, I am very used to the threat of hurricanes. There have been many, many landfalls over the past 25 years. However, the news coverage on some of the 24 hour news networks has made each and every storm out to be the worst ever. After all, if it didn’t have that possibility, would we watch?
Even though the worst that this area received this year was a rough Monday morning as Wilma zoomed by, the news coverage has frayed many local nerves. If we look back, this hurricane season has been quite peaceful in our area once you take the news coverage of potential threats out of the equation. Unfortunately, our buyers up north watch the same news channels.
Week after week, the coverage of existing and potential storms flooded the news channels. If you lived in Boston and were thinking of retiring to Florida, would you have hopped on a plane and flown down here to buy a house in August? Most people make their airline reservations two to four weeks in advance. Which week this season would you have guaranteed no storms? The sheer number of storms and news coverage has slowed the number of buyers coming to our area. It has slowed the number of home sales dramatically and as reported by the Sarasota Herald Tribune on October 26, 2005, the prices of sold homes in SW Florida dropped 4% in the month of August alone. There is a silver lining to this cloud however.
Last year, we actually got hit by a hurricane and the news coverage was just as prevalent. Sales were very slow during August, September and October - the blue roofs did not help. And, then a funny thing happened – the buyers came back in droves. We found out last year that the hurricanes did not scare people from moving, it just scared them from coming when they could be stranded in an airport trying to escape. Our winter sales last year were GREAT. One-day hurricanes don’t look so bad when compared to 5 months of 15 degree temperature and turning your car on 15 minutes before you want to actually go anywhere (remember that fun experience?).
Based on the notion that our winter will bring buyers from the north, I wanted to provide some hard numbers as to the inventory levels, average days on market (DOM), average negotiation level and average sales price in comparison with some other times over the last years. You will see that our inventory levels are high in all communities as we have had 4 months of homes hitting the market and very few selling. We have not seen a significant decrease in prices due to this heightened inventory but the appreciation that we have been enjoying has stopped. Here are the numbers. Please feel free to call us at The Andreae Group at anytime to discuss.