Conservation Foundation Protects 543 Acres in the Myakka Region

Tatum SawgrassAs aggressive development continues throughout the region, it has become imperative to protect our waterways, fragile ecosystems, wildlife and resources for future generations.  The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has worked diligently to protect and restore the core of the 2,500-acre Tatum Sawgrass marsh.

The plan hopes to reduce flooding downstream, increase habitat for animals such as the wood stork, deer, snook and even the endangered Florida panther, and overall, improve the health and vitality of Myakka River. Protecting Murphy Marsh is critical to maintaining the region’s water quality, as water flows off the land into the Myakka River and through the more than 40 miles of protected lands that buffer the river before it flows into Charlotte Harbor estuary.

Permanent protection of the 543-acre Murphy Marsh within Manatee County’s Myakka River watershed region was recently announced by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.  This land is in the most threatened portion of the watershed and links three Myakka River conservation areas: the 1,143-acre Triangle Ranch, the 1,213-acre Lettuce Lakes property and Conservation Foundation’s newly conserved 38-acre Tatum Sawgrass Scrub Preserve. Conserving Murphy Marsh enables the core of the 2,500-acre Tatum Sawgrass marsh to be restored. This will reduce flooding downstream, increase habitat for animals such as the wood stork, deer, and snook, and improve the health and vitality of the Myakka River. The endangered Florida panther is documented as traversing the area.

Protecting large tracts of private property like Murphy Marsh is critical to maintaining water quality as water flows off the land into the Myakka River and through the more than 40 miles of protected lands that buffer the river before it flows into the Charlotte Harbor estuary.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided critical funding, and will hold the perpetual conservation easement and provide additional funding for restoration. This protection success was made possible by the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, The Gardener Foundation, the Felburn Foundation, the Myakka River Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation, the Disney Conservation Fund, Skip and Janis Swan, and the Everett W. Erdoesy & Gretha M. Erdoesy Foundation.

“This is a strategic addition to our protected lands and an outstanding example of how Conservation Foundation skillfully collaborates with federal, state, and private organizations, and people to accomplish large goals,” notes Charlie Hunsicker, Director of Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources.

The Conservation Foundation is facilitating a landscape-scale restoration plan based on comprehensive hydrologic modeling of the entire Upper Myakka River watershed. The protection of Murphy Marsh is the essential link in this restoration plan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided critical funding, and will hold the perpetual conservation easement and provide additional funding for restoration. This protection success was made possible by the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, The Gardener Foundation, the Felburn Foundation, the Myakka River Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation, the Disney Conservation Fund, Skip and Janis Swan, and the Everett W. Erdoesy & Gretha M. Erdoesy Foundation.

Scene Magazine – SRQ July 24, 2019

Sarasota Home Prices Near Pre-Recession Peaks

Sarasota Home PricesAfter wild swings before and after the economic downturn, home prices are inching closer to their pre-recession peaks in the Sarasota-Manatee County region.

Single-family homes and condominiums sold for a median $260,000 in the two-county area during the second quarter of 2019, a 4% increase over the year, according to a new report from real estate researcher ATTOM Data Solutions.

That price is just 3% off the pre-recession median high of $267,500 set in late 2005, just before the housing bubble burst. The Sarasota-Manatee area is one of 31 metro areas among the 108 largest in the U.S. where home prices still fall short of their pre-bust pinnacles.

That’s no surprise, given how deeply local home prices plunged during the downturn. The median price hit bottom at $127,000 in early 2011, a 53% dive from the peak, ATTOM’s report shows.

After the recession, local prices rebounded to double-digit annual gains, but those have slowed in recent years.

“In the general housing market, all indices have been pointing to modest appreciation in accordance with historical norms of 3% to 5%, but not the accelerated rates we have experienced since 2012,” said Robert Goldman, an agent with Michael Saunders & Co. in Venice. “If sellers failed to recognize this shift, then a tug of war of sorts would arise, wherein it would take longer, on average, to sell a home, the spread between final sold price and original list price would widen, and inventory would increase with the potential for stagnant pricing. There appears to be a growing body of evidence for this.”

Asking and selling prices are in a state of flux here, he said. Single-family homes are selling at 89% of original list price and condos at 90%, less than the customary 92% to 93%. Residential sales that used to take 60 to 75 days to close now need 90 days.

“All in all, barring unforeseen events, we should settle into a neutral market, with modest and sustainable appreciation, provided sellers have realistic expectations, in alignment with where the market is, rather than where one wishes it to be,” Goldman said.

Sarasota-Manatee homeowners are holding on to their properties longer, an average of 8.25 years before selling. That compares with two to three years during the frenzied buying-and-selling before the housing crash.

Those homeowners who sold in the second quarter realize an average price gain of $63,198, or 32.1% from their original purchase price. That was 5% higher over the year.

Nationwide, home and condo sales rose nearly 11% over the quarter and 6.4% annually to a median $266,000 — a new price peak. Homeownership also hit a new high at an average 8.09 years.

“As warmer weather brings a rush of house hunters to the market, the latest spike in median home prices marked the largest quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2015 and the third-biggest increase since the market started climbing out of the Great Recession in 2012,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM.

In Sarasota-Manatee, cash buyers are still major players. They accounted for nearly 43% of all home and condo sales during the April-June period, the eighth-highest ratio among the U.S. metros studied. Nationwide, cash sales were down to a 25% share.

Sarasota Herald Tribune July 18, 2019

Luxury Homes Sales Strong in Sarasota

Luxury

In luxury residential real estate, the first half of 2019 demonstrated the strength of the top-tier market. One of the things that Southwest Florida can usually bank on is people with deep pockets, usually stuffed with cash, buying multi-million-dollar homes.

 

The evidence:

• “It’s been a great year so far,” said Roger Pettingell, associated with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate and a waterfront real estate specialist based on Longboat Key. “With over $60 million in pending sales, we are on track to break the $100 million mark. … We are ahead of last year at this time. June has been particularly good for the upper end. We have been working with multiple buyers and have received three offers over $3 million in June. We put one of our $4 million-plus listings under contract in June.” Pettingell and his team reached a record $106 million last year, his first in triple million digits.

• “The luxury market has led the charge for our business,” said Joel Schemmel, associated with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty and based in downtown Sarasota. “Our sales overall have been great in the last six months. We closed $57 million in all of 2018. So far in 2019, we have closed over $45 million and have another $5 plus million pending. The showing activity in the last several months has also been solid in the luxury and ultra-luxury market. Therefore, I expect the sales to continue.”

• “Ultra luxury is selling. I track this market,” said Georgina Clamage, the manager of Michael Saunders & Co.’s Longboat Key office. “Our area is becoming more attractive to the affluent.”

Past headlines indicate the enduring allure of luxury living: In 2006, unlike the rest of the area’s real estate market, $10 million-plus listings remain a bright spot. Seven years later, in 2013, a $10 million home sales on Siesta Key were part of a luxury resurgence as the region continued to exit the effects of the Great Recession.

Quantifying luxury

A basement price point of $5 million defines the ultra-luxury market. Mere luxury starts at $3 million, though some quarters drop that figure to a pedestrian $1 million. During the first six months of this year, 41 homes sold above the $3 million threshold. Last year, that number was 56. While the number of luxury sales is down year over year, average prices are 5% higher and time on the market shorter, Clamage said.

In the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte region, ultra-luxury homes on the islands are an especially hot commodity.

Siesta and Casey keys are particularly popular, Clamage said, with seven sales on Siesta and five on Casey, both figures up from 2018′s first two quarters. Longboat Key, with a whole lot more pricey properties, claimed nine sales, down two from 2018.

Many buyers are coming from high-tax states — including California and New York — that got worse after federal tax laws clamped down on deductions for state and local taxes, including property tax writeoffs. “The tax impact is definitely helping us,” Clamage said.

June’s top sale

Deborah Beacham, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., scored a double victory in the $6.725 million transaction for the island residence at 2016 Casey Key Road on Blackburn Bay. She was both the listing and selling agent for the 7,508-square-foot home.

That monetary figure easily surpassed the second-place sale, $4.6 million for 7224 Point of Rocks Road on Siesta Key’s Gulf side. Judie Berger of Premier Sotheby’s listed the home, and Lisa Warren of Own SRQ LLC brought the buyer.

Beacham is having a good year, placing fourth, too, with the sale of her $3.35 million listing also on Casey Key Road.

All told, June saw 13 homes sell for $2 million or higher, with four of those surpassing $3 million. Single-family homes almost pitched a shutout, but one condo got on the list.

Cash paid off eight of those transactions. “That’s typical in that price range,” Clamage said.

2019′s winner (so far)

Debra Pitell-Hauge and Barbara May, come on down. The listing and buyer’s agents respectively, both with Michael Saunders, didn’t have to haggle over the price in their January transaction. The buyer paid full fare, $9.85 million for the residence at 1233 Hillview Drive, on Sarasota Bay, in the Harbor Acres neighborhood.

That represents the highest sale in Sarasota County since 2014.

Second place, in a tie, went to Pettingell as listing agent for a Longboat Key beachfront estate in Regent Court. The $7.5 million sale in April came with a distinction — as the highest Longboat Key sale recorded through the Multiple Listing Service in eight years.

Ian Addy and Gail Wittig of Michael Saunders brought the buyer for the sale of the off-market beachfront estate, portending a possible trend in transactions where a property does not enter the open market.

Schemmel also recorded a $7.5 million sale — for the residence at 8218 Sanderling Road on Siesta Key. That transaction, though, came with its own distinction — extra dollar signs since Schemmel earned both buyer and seller commissions.

As far as real estate companies, Saunders stands head and shoulders above the competition in representing either buyers or sellers. So far this year, the regional brokerage handled 40% of the market. Of the 82 sides in the 41 transactions (either buyer or seller), Saunders brought 33 home.

Four of those sales took home 100% of the asking price. The majority of buyers pitched counter offers that landed in the 80s and 90s. One of the two outliers only fetched 58%, plunging from $10.9 million to $6.235 million. A property is only worth what someone will pay for it.

Billionaire buyers

This puts luxury real estate in a perspective of extravagance gone wild.

The most expensive sale of an American home occurred in January for an unfinished 79th-floor penthouse on Billionaires’ Row in Manhattan. Imagine paying $238 million for a residence you’re unlikely to use as anything more than a palatial hotel room instead of a primary residence.

American hedge fund multi-billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin — founder and CEO of the Chicago-based global investment firm Citadel and one of the richest men in the world — padded his pad holdings with this purchase. Griffin already owns a $60 million penthouse in Miami, and a $122 million mansion in London, among other trophy homes. That Miami deal set a record for a Miami-Dade residential sale. His January 2019 purchase of the top four floors of a Gold Coast condo tower for $58.5 million eclipsed the previous high mark in Chicago. And the London acquisition broke the city’s old record.

During recent years, Griffin has spent more than $750 million on homes in Chicago, New York, Miami, Palm Beach and London. He owns $230 million in Palm Beach property alone, various media outlets have reported. The New York Times described the 50-year-old’s latest acquisition as setting a “new standard for conspicuous consumption.”

That $238 million would pay the price for almost every single affordable house on the market in North Port, equaling the 1,133 homes in that Florida city priced at or below $216,388. Redfin’s analysis calls homes priced at that mark affordable, employing various data points.

While the luxury market is robust in the city, the Wall Street Journal described New York City’s top-tier condo market as “reeling,” with few indications of a rebound this year. Prices for condos $5 million and up plunged 28 percent in 2018.

Overall, though, New York City reigns as home to the most billionaires in the world — 85 — and that point is driving the city’s luxury housing prices higher, according to a report from the research arm of Savills, a global real estate services provider. Billionaires have helped propel ultra-prime property prices up 15% over the past five years.

Fun fact: In the global billionaire population, New York is followed by Hong Kong (79), Moscow (71), Beijing (61) and London (55).

Sales across Southern California are slumping, too, accompanied by price cuts. “After seven years of jaw-dropping growth, L.A.’s real estate market — including its luxury sector — has officially slowed,” the Hollywood Reporter stated in March.

Developer Bruce Makowsky built what looks like a five-star resort atop a Bel Air hill, but it’s a spec home that he dubbed Billionaire. It was listed in January 2017 as the most expensive in the country, with the asking price setting a record at $250 million. Today, the empty residence — which the Los Angeles Times described as “an extravagant mega-mansion doubling as a monument to opulence” — now lists for $150 million.

Who doesn’t need 21 bathrooms, five bars, three kitchens, a 40-seat movie theater and a four-lane Louis Vuitton bowling alley? And an auto gallery jammed with a $30-million fleet of glamorous cars and motorcycles — including a custom Rolls-Royce. Should it sell for $150 million, it would become the most expensive home ever sold in Los Angeles County.

The current record holder, a chateau in Holmby Hills built by film and television producer Aaron Spelling, sold for $120 million in an all-cash deal, according to reports. The transaction closed last month. Another fun fact: The interior covers about an acre. That eclipsed the previous record. An oceanfront property in Malibu’s Carbon Beach sold last year for $110 million.

Closer to home

The emperor of home sales in the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte region? Nowhere near those deals. The home at 1067 Westway Drive in the Lido Shores neighborhood on the northwest side of Lido Key went for $13 million in a March 2006 all-cash transaction.

That comes from MLS records dating back to 1900.

Of the top 24 listings, all sold for $7.5 million and above, and cash completed 15 transactions. Nothing earlier than November 2004 made the sold list, though a home built in 1938 did.

It’s only up from here

“Today, $1 million won’t get you a luxury home in most major markets,” Javier Vivas, director of economic research for Realtor.com, stated in one of the Luxury Home Index reports from last year.

In another report last Tuesday, UCLA real estate professor Paul Habibi told the Los Angeles Times that the $120 million sale is a good sign for developers seeking massive sums for their estates because of the precedent it sets. “If $120 million is the new benchmark, that makes it more plausible to sell a home for $75 million or $100 million,” he said. Must be just California, or wherever billionaires want to hang out.

Up and up we go. That kind of astronomical money puts the luxury market here in a somewhat sensible perspective and less outlandish.

Herald-Tribune July 9, 2019

Retirement Options – What’s Your Strategy?

retirementSarasota
Recently Recognized by TopRetirments.com as one of the best places to retire in the U.S.  Sarasota, FL.
Some consider this thriving city midway down the Gulf Coast to be the cultural capital of Florida, after Miami. Sarasota has a great downtown with many interesting neighborhoods. An impressive array of cultural facilities is available in Sarasota. Barrier islands like Siesta offer great beaches and developments where retirees can put their feet up.

Retirement Strategy
One of the most important aspects of retirement planning is making housing plans. The reality is that you need a place to live in retirement and there are a lot of different options. Furthermore, even if you decide to just keep the status quo and age in place, there are a lot of factors to consider.

The home is often a retiree’s largest asset, with the median wealth in homes for a 65-year-old couple at $192,552, according to the U.S. Census data. This represents about two-thirds of the median retiree’s assets. Furthermore, the home comes with a cost, which is often the largest expense for retirees at nearly $20,000 a year. So let’s look at 10 different retirement housing options, ranging from aging in place all the way through nursing home care at the end of life.

Aging in place
What is it: Roughly 83% of retiree homeowners want to stay in their current home for as long as possible.

Pro: The homeowner gets to keep consistency in their life. They know their house, understand the costs associated with it, have an emotional attachment to it, and know the surrounding area. In many cases this can be the most enjoyable and stress-free way to live in retirement.

Con: Often retirees have outgrown their current homes. Perhaps they raised a few kids and have a lot of extra maintenance, rooms and costs associated with keeping up the house. While it might work early in retirement, it could become a burden as they age. The current home also might not be friendly for aging in place. The home could have too many stairs, not a lot of senior amenities, and be far away from senior services like health care.

Home sharing
What is it: For some homeowners, the desire to age in place is there, but the finances just don’t make sense, especially if the person is single. So one option is to take on a roommate. Home sharing is mostly engaged in by women in retirement, with over 4 million senior women sharing a home with at least two other women. There are home-sharing services that help pair up homeowners with potential roommates, both from a financial and compatibility standpoint.

Pro: Home sharing can be a great way for a homeowner to age in place, add companionship to their life, and improve their finances. The homeowner is able to charge rent and likely split utilities, which can add much-needed cash flow. Additionally, it allows the homeowner to have someone else live with them who is in a similar stage of life.

Con: Not everyone wants to share their home with a stranger or another person. Furthermore, the decision to bring someone into your home carries a bunch of risks. For one, you might not get along. Additionally, there can be a lot of headaches from renting a room if the renter is unable to meet their payments. It can be hard to evict a person, especially a senior.

Relocating/downsizing
What is it: When you are working, living close to work is important for many people. However, once you retire, that need is gone. All of a sudden, location desires change. Additionally, the house you were living in might no longer fit your needs, so relocating to a better fit can make sense.

Pro: Relocating can help free up home equity and reduce expenses if the homeowner downsizes. It is also possible to move to an area with a lower cost of living or to a state that has lower taxes. Additionally, a benefit of relocating in retirement can be to move closer to family or to improve one’s quality of life by moving to warmer weather or closer to recreational activities.

Con: Relocating means getting used to a new area and home. Moving always has costs associated with it also, whether it is hiring movers, closing costs or just travel costs. Lastly, if the decision to relocate eventually does not work, it is very hard to undo.

Renting
What is it: If you are already renting this would be the status quo. However, for homeowners, one option is to sell the home and rent. In some cases, you can engage in a sale-leaseback agreement and sell your current home and continue to rent it back. In other cases, you can sell and move to a new rental location.

Pro: By selling and renting, you can free up home equity for other needs and possibly reduce your expenses. Renting also provides more flexibility in that you can move more freely than if you owned. Additionally, renting can take some of the home upkeep and maintenance off the table. This can be very valuable to seniors as they age. While it might have been enjoyable to mow the lawn and take care of the property at an earlier age, as one ages it can become difficult and expensive to hire out, so renting can be a way of controlling the costs of living.

Con: One of the biggest downsides of renting is just that most homeowners don’t want to do it. A survey of retirement age homeowners found that only 5% wanted to sell their home and rent. For many Americans owning their home is part of the American dream, so renting just doesn’t fit their vision of a successful retirement, even if it is the best financial outcome for them.

Village concept
What is it: The Beacon Community near Boston is often credited as being the first official “village model,” but communities taking care of seniors together have been around forever. The village model is about allowing seniors to age in place in their homes but with the support they need. In many cases, the village model is set up similar to a homeowners association where dues are paid into the “village” or “community,” which in turns provides services like transportation, events and some basic care.

Pro: The village model can help reduce costs as seniors share services and costs with others needing similar assistance. By allowing seniors to age in place for longer, they can avoid having to move into more expensive senior housing like assisted living facilities before they need to.

Con: While there are a few hundred village models in the country, that is not a lot of options. For many seniors there is no village model option in their area. Additionally, services are limited, so the retiree might still need to move as their needs for services grows. Furthermore, there is a cost associated with the village model, so that could impact cash flow.

Age-restricted (active adult) communities
What is it: Generally in the United States, you cannot discriminate based on age, gender or race when it comes to housing options because of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. However, The Housing For Older Persons Act of 1995 allows for communities to restrict housing options to older individuals as long as certain parameters are followed. Essentially, there are two forms of age-restricted housing options. The first requires that at least 80% of the occupied units have at least one person who is 55 or older living in the home. The other type is a bit more restrictive as it requires all residents to be at least age 62, including both spouses.

Pro: One of the biggest benefits is companionship. Seniors decide to live near and around those going through a similar part of their life and retirement. The communities often provide a variety of services, clubhouses and recreational activities.

Con: There can be additional costs associated with living in such communities, so it is not always the cheapest housing option. Furthermore, with a 62-and-over community, adult children cannot move in if they don’t meet the age requirement. Additionally, for spouses with large age gaps, they can be prohibitive also.

Continuing care retirement communities
What is it: Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a continuum of care throughout retirement, often starting with independent living. Most of these communities require the senior to move in when they are in good health and can live independently. Over time, the senior can stay in the same community but receive different levels of care and senior housing, ranging from assisted living to long-term care to end-of-life care.

Pro: CCRCs allow a senior to age in place in the same community but receive services and long-term care as their needs change. This is also a way to control and, in some cases, prepay your long-term care costs. The communities also often provide food, transportation and recreational activities.

Con: The biggest concern with CCRCs is whether the entity will be able to fulfill its promises over time. CCRCs are typically for-profit businesses that can run out of money and go out of business. Additionally, many require down payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, if the entity goes bankrupt, seniors could lose these down payments.

Assisted living
What is it: Assisted living offers a combination of housing and care services. Typically when someone moves into an assisted living facility they need help with some activities of daily living and are in the early stages of needing long-term care services. However, the person can still live mostly independently.

Pro: For many, assisted living facilities offer the care required to maintain a standard of living desired by the senior. They could need some help with bathing, dressing, mobility or cooking.

Con: Cost. According to 2018 numbers in Genworth’s Cost of Care Study, the average assisted living cost is roughly $48,000 a year. Furthermore, Genworth predicts that this cost will balloon to roughly $86,000 a year by 2038. Additionally, it can be hard to choose the right facility. Plan ahead to determine how you will pay for assisted living and the type of facility and care that you want.

Nursing home
What is it: Nursing homes provide housing and full-time care for individuals needing significant levels of long-term assistance. Nursing home care is less about making a housing decision and more about receiving the level of care you need.

Pro: Care can be significant and help the person live a better lifestyle than they would if they tried to manage alone at home. Additionally, nursing homes can provide skilled care services that might be difficult for family members to provide or expensive to hire out for at home.

Con: Nursing home quality ranges significantly, and so does cost. Furthermore, most people do not look forward to or choose to move into a nursing home, but instead, it is typically driven out of necessity. According to Genworth, a private room in 2018 cost over $100,000 a year on average. Plans for how to fund your care should start well before retirement.

Charity
What is it: Charity housing can mean a few different things. First, there are charities and religious organizations that provide free or reduced-cost housing options for low-income seniors. Another form of charitable housing can come from family members. Many will take in relatives to help them out.

Pro: Charity is going to be in many cases the cheapest form of retiree housing. When it comes to family members taking in a senior, it can also be a great way to spend time with family.

Con: Most people do not want to rely on family members or charities for their housing or other needs. The desire for most people is to live independently. However, living with family and using charitable housing is a viable option for millions.

FloridaRealtors.org  June 12, 2019

Florida Is the Big Winner as the Wealthy Move Out of Northern States

Florida Wins the Wealthy Relocation

Roughly 5 million Americans move from one state to another annually and some states are clearly making out better than others.

Florida and South Carolina enjoyed the top economic gains, while Connecticut, New York and New Jersey faced some of the biggest financial drains, according to a Bloomberg analysis of state-to-state moves based on data from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Connecticut lost the equivalent of 1.6% of its annual adjusted gross income, as the people who moved out of the Constitution State had an average income of $122,000, which was 26% higher than those migrating in. Moreover, “leavers” outnumbered “stayers” by a five-to-four margin.

Florida Big Winner

Bloomberg’s analysis included all 50 states and the nation’s capital to provide a fuller picture of aggregate income flows from migration. About 10% of the population moves annually, or about 35 million people, according to the Census Bureau. Most moves are within the same county.

Florida posted a net income influx of nearly 3% of the state’s adjusted gross income in 2016. South Carolina, Idaho and Oregon were also among the largest gainers in the interstate shuffle.

Bloomberg’s tally also included analysis by absolute net gain and loss of income.

New York’s annual net loss was the highest, with a net $8.4 billion leaving the state. Exiting incomes of $19.1 billion were replaced by people who brought in $10.7 billion less in income. Illinois and New Jersey were next with net outflows of $4.8 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively.

Those three states also had three of the four highest proportions of outbound versus inbound residents last year, according to the United Van Lines, the largest U.S. household goods mover.

Florida nets $17.2 billion from inbound moves vs outbound

Florida Wins Wealthy Relocation

Florida was the top financial magnet, reeling in $17.2 billion more than it lost, about seven times the amounts netted by each of the runner-ups Texas, Washington and South Carolina. The Sunshine State was the No. 1 recipient of the wealth exodus from 18 individual states — with New York, Illinois and New Jersey combining to contribute about $8 billion to Florida’s income base.

While long a haven for retirement, Florida’s effort to lure Wall Street executives has gained traction thanks to a provision in the federal tax law passed by the Trump administration that hits residents of high-tax states by putting a lower cap on state and local tax deductions.

Florida is also one of seven states that collect no income tax. The others are Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. While New Hampshire and Tennessee don’t have a state income tax, they do collect taxes on dividends and income from investments.

Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper, once ranked as New Jersey’s richest resident, moved his main address and the headquarters of Appaloosa Management LP to Florida a few years ago. Real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht told employees of Starwood Capital Group that the firm’s headquarters will shift from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Miami Beach by 2021.

Florida Housing Report: Sales, Median Prices Rise in April

florida housing market

Florida’s housing market reported more sales, higher median prices and increased inventory (active listings) in April compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 26,992 last month, up 6.2% over April 2018.

“Still-low mortgage interest rates and a strong jobs outlook are positive trends for Florida’s housing market,” says 2019 Florida Realtors President Eric Sain, a Realtor and district sales manager with Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach. “Another strong sign: New pending sales for existing single-family homes in April rose 4.4% year-over-year, while pending sales for existing condo-townhouse properties remained at about the same level (-0.8%) as April 2018.

“Buying or selling a home can be a complex process; however, working with a Realtor who understands local market conditions enables consumers to have an expert on their side.”

In April, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties rose year-over-year for the 88th consecutive month. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $259,470, up 2.6% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $194,050, up 2.1% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in March 2019 was $261,100, up 3.8% from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $244,400. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in March was $565,880; in Massachusetts, it was $390,000; in Maryland, it was $285,000; and in New York, it was $270,000.

Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market in April, statewide closed sales totaled 11,817, up 3.2% compared to a year ago. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“April was easily the strongest month we’ve seen so far this year for home sales in the Sunshine State,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “Prior to April, single-family closed sales for 2019 were actually down year-over-year, but with April’s little surge (up 6.2%), sales in 2019 are now up by 1% compared to where we were through the first four months of 2018.

“The statewide inventory of active listings continued to rise on a year-over-year basis in April, but the rate of this growth continues to slow somewhat. As of the end of April, there were about 95,000 single-family homes listed in Florida’s MLSs (Multiple Listing Services) or 6.6% more than were listed at the same time last year. The total of active listings of condos and townhouses was closer to about 58,500, up 6.4% compared to last year.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.47 percent in April 2019, compared to the 4.14 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.

FloridaRealtors.org May 21, 2019

Lemon Avenue Streetscape Project

The city is undertaking a seven-month effort to redesign a downtown Sarasota street and park.

Construction on a Lemon Avenue streetscape project is set to begin Monday, a process expected to continue through December as the city invests $3.5 million into redesigning the downtown road and a nearby park.

Lemon AvenueThe project will include the segment of Lemon Avenue between Main Street and Pineapple Avenue. Plans call for the installation of bricked streets and curbless sidewalks, mirroring the look of the Lemon Avenue mall to the north. City officials have called the project an opportunity to improve the pedestrian experience along the street.

During construction, the city will close two intersections to vehicular traffic for extended periods. The intersection of Lemon Avenue and Main Street is scheduled to be closed from mid-June to mid-July, and the intersection of Lemon Avenue and State Street is scheduled to be closed from August to September. In a newsletter, the city said the project timeline is tentative and subject to change.

‘The Lemon Avenue Streetscape project is led by the City of Sarasota to make a more vibrant downtown. Streetscape improvements will stretch from the existing Lemon Ave. mall to Pineapple Avenue and will include replacing the asphalt street with brick pavers, removing the curbs to create a more open, pedestrian-friendly experience and transforming the public area surrounding Paul Thorpe Jr. Park into an attractive, welcoming space.”

Partners

Jon F. Swift Construction is recognized as one of the area’s leading commercial contractors, serving Sarasota and Manatee County public and private sector clients for nearly 40 years.

David W. Johnston Landscape Architects (DWJA) has extensive local experience in planning and implementing streetscape/landscape projects.

Infrastructure Solution Services (ISS) provides consulting engineering services to the Southeastern United States, focusing on Florida.

More information on the Lemon Avenue project is available on a city website.The city intends to provide updates on the project every two weeks once construction begins.

Observer May 8, 2019

Floridians’ Consumer Confidence Hits 17-Year High

consumer confidenceConsumer confidence in Florida reached its highest level in 17 years, increasing 1.4 points in April of 2019 to 102 from a revised figure of 100.6 in March.

These levels of confidence have not been observed since March 2002 when consumer sentiment reached 102 points.

Among the five components that compose the index, one decreased and four increased.

 

Current conditions
Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions were mixed. Views of personal finances now compared with a year ago increased eight-tenths of a point, from 96.7 to 97.5. Conversely, opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big ticket item such as an appliance decreased 1.2 points, from 107.5 to 106.3.

Future expectations
The three components representing expectations for future economic conditions improved in April. Expectations of personal financial situations a year from now rose 3.2 points, from 106.8 to 110 – the highest level for this component since May 1999 when it reached 110 points.

Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year increased 2.3 points, from 97.6 to 99.9. Similarly, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased 2.4 points, from 94.2 to 96.6.

“Overall, Floridians are more optimistic,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “April’s confidence boost stems from the positive outlook regarding national economic conditions in the short- and long-run. It is worth noting expectations are split among the population by gender, with women reporting less-favorable views.

Other economic indicators in Florida continue to be favorable. In March, economic activity expanded and the Florida unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5 percent. Compared with last year, the number of jobs added statewide was 209,700, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Among all industries, professional and business services gained the most jobs, followed by education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. The information industry was the only sector losing jobs.

Additionally, personal income in Florida increased 5.2 percent in 2018 compared with 4.5 percent for the nation, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Net earnings, which is the sum of wages and salaries, supplements to wages and salaries, and proprietors’ income, contributed most to this increase in personal income. Professional, scientific, and technical services and construction were the leading contributors to the earnings increase in Florida.

“Looking ahead, given the economic outlook and the current levels of confidence, we anticipate consumer sentiment to remain high in Florida in the following months,” Sandoval adds.

Conducted April 1-25, the UF study reflects the responses of 539 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida. The index used by UF researchers is bench-marked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.

Florida Realtors® April 2019

Florida Cities See Greatest Percentage of Price Cuts as Housing Market Cools

The housing market is tipping in favor of buyers, with a significant percentage of homes on the market selling for less than their original listing price.

This is according to real estate startup Knock, which reveals which markets have the highest percentage of homes that will sell below asking in its second quarter Deals Forecast.

Homebuyers are increasingly likely to score a deal, Knock says, forecasting that 75% of current listings will sell below their original listing price in Q2, and pinpointing the average number of days on the market as 25 and the average price reduction at 3.3% below asking.

The best deals, it reveals, can be found in the South.

Among the top 10 cities that had the greatest percentage of houses sell for less than asking, seven were located in the South.

Florida took the lead, with four cities in the sunshine state making the list, including Miami, which nabbed the No. 1 spot for both the size and the frequency of price reductions.

 

Florida Price Cuts

HousingWire.com April 5, 2019

Sarasota Bayfront Project Progress

City approves bayfront conservancy agreement

Sarasota BayfrontBay Park Conservancy plans to build out the bayfront project over the next 15 to 20 years.

In a unanimous vote, the City Commission approved an agreement outlining a partnership with a private group that will be responsible for leading a public park project on more than 50 acres of city-owned bayfront land.

City staff drafted the partnership agreement alongside The Bay Park Conservancy, a nonprofit formed specifically to oversee the implementation of the bayfront master plan the city approved in September. The Bay Park Conservancy’s leaders include members of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, the group responsible for producing the master plan after holding a series of community workshops.

Monday’s vote came after more than two hours of input from commissioners and the public. Questions at the meeting focused on aspects of the partnership concerning financial obligations, community representation, dispute resolution and transparency.

At the end of its discussion, the commission felt comfortable moving forward alongside The Bay Park Conservancy on the development of the waterfront around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

“I think it’s a great start to a very fruitful partnership for not only the city, but the community,” Commissioner Hagen Brody said.

City Attorney Robert Fournier worked to revise the partnership agreement to address concerns raised at a March commission meeting. Fournier said his priorities included clearly outlining the city’s oversight authority and funding obligations should the commission adopt the agreement.

Conservancy Agreement

The agreement creates a phased approach for approving different elements of the project. The conservancy is responsible for creating an implementation plan for each phase that includes details on design and funding projections. The City Commission must approve an implementation plan before obtaining other development approvals and beginning construction on each phase.

The conservancy must provide an updated financial plan for the project on an annual basis. The conservancy will be responsible for negotiating leases and creating a naming rights policy for elements of the park project, but the commission must approve those documents before they go into effect.

The agreement includes an initial term of 15 years with two 15-year extensions. Either party would have the opportunity to terminate the agreement by providing written notice ahead of a scheduled extension.

The partnership agreement includes some provisions pertaining to the city’s financial commitments for the project. City responsibilities include providing “all basic infrastructure” and “municipal services and routine maintenance to the site.” The agreement lists examples of those responsibilities, including streets, sidewalks, utility service, waste collection and landscape maintenance. The city would also be responsible for constructing a parking garage on the site if one is incorporated into the project.

Project Cost Provision

Fournier said the agreement was structured so the city would only have to allocate additional money toward those causes as each phase of the project is approved. Still, he said he did not want to minimize the scale of the city’s commitment as it proceeds with a project expected to cost up to $200 million.

“We shouldn’t kid ourselves; this is a massive undertaking,” Fournier said. “… I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. It’s just factual.”

Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie asked about the financial information the conservancy planned on providing as it sought approval for each phase. Conservancy representatives said the implementation plans would include a breakdown of intended private and public funding sources.

After some members of the public suggested the city should not approve construction until the conservancy had collected the money necessary to proceed with a given phase, conservancy board member Jennifer Compton said the group would be careful about putting together its budgets.

“We’re not anticipating using funding that we’re not pretty confident is coming in,” Compton said.

Conservancy Board

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said she was concerned about the city’s inability to appoint voting members to the conservancy’s board. The agreement states the conservancy will include between 7 and 15 members, including three non-voting members. The city would appoint two non-voting members, and Sarasota County would appoint the third.

Although conservancy representatives said there would be other avenues for input, Ahearn-Koch advocated for the active, explicit inclusion of a broad cross-section of the community on the board.

“I think it’s essential the citizen’s voice is represented on the board, and a voting voice,” Ahearn-Koch said.

Conclusion

Despite those questions, all five commissioners voted to approve the partnership agreement, which will include some revisions Fournier drafted today ahead of the meeting. Throughout the discussion, conservancy officials attempted to assure the commission — and the community — the group would be acting in the public’s interest as it leads the development of a landmark civic destination.

“Going forward, this is only going to succeed if this is a true partnership,” Compton said.

Observer Sarasota April 14, 2019