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You Go, Girl

They account for 20 percent of all potential homebuyers, are 42 years old and prefer two-bedroom homes. And they’re the fastest-growing segment of the homebuying market, according to a recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Who are they?

They’re unmarried females, and their demographics are ripe for Florida’s residential market.

According to the study, “Buying For Themselves: An Analysis of Unmarried Female Home Buyers,” 15 percent of single females prefer to live in condos while 34 percent wish to buy a small two-bedroom home. They’re more likely to buy in urban areas and can afford homes in the $200,000 and less price range.

For more information, go to:
Survey Says
How Do You Compare?

If your firm is like most Florida real estate firms, you operate one office, made a bigger investment in technology in 2005 compared to 2004, and increased spending on training.

These are just a few of the facts about Florida real estate firms from a new study commissioned by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) and conducted by the National Association of Realtors®. Other findings:

  • Six percent of firms charge sales associates a technology fee, mainly for the use of shared computer workstations, e-mail and business software.
  • Forty-five percent of Florida’s residential firms offer relocation services in-house. Nationally, only 29 percent of residential firms offer such services.
  • Affinity relationships with financial organizations, professional associations or fraternal/benevolent organizations improved sales volume for 59 percent of firms.
Have License, Will Travel

Real estate professionals are still inquiring about “mutual recognition” agreements with other states, namely North Carolina. Florida has such agreements with 10 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee—but not North Carolina.

“Mutual recognition” doesn’t mean your Florida real estate license is automatically valid in these 10 states. It simply means you can get licensed in these states through a simplified process. The specific requirements of each state vary. For more information, go to:
"Home from Work"

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has launched a campaign to create more affordable housing opportunities for public- and private-sector workers. Called “Home from Work,” the program encourages and trains employers nationwide to work with businesses to develop employer-assisted housing (EAH) benefit plans for their workers.

An EAH plan could include homebuying workshops, one-on-one housing counseling led by real estate professionals and company-backed financial incentives. NAR will provide assistance, at no cost, to employers who want a customized EAH plan.

The campaign helps position Realtors as community leaders who work hard to ensure their cities and towns have an adequate housing supply, both in the rental and the homeowner markets, according to NAR.

“The Home from Work campaign has the potential to change the way employers think about employer-assisted benefits,” says NAR President Thomas M. Stevens. “No longer will EAH be viewed as an expense associated with hiring a new employee, but rather as an investment in the employee and the future of their company.”

More information about the Home from Work campaign and NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program is available at:
Property Insurance Crisis Tops Trends

Spiraling insurance rates threaten Florida’s vast real estate market and, ultimately, the state’s economy, says a University of Florida researcher.
“The entire economy will have to adjust to these higher insurance costs,” says Wayne Archer, director of UF’s Center for Real Estate Studies, which recently completed a new quarterly survey of Florida real estate trends. “It’s a big enough hit, just like gas prices, that it will ultimately affect every business and every price that is property intensive.”

The unusually active 2004-2005 hurricane seasons precipitated the higher rates, and while these have already struck homeowners and apartment owners (who are passing costs on to tenants by raising rents), commercial tenants haven’t been affected on a large scale yet, Archer says.

Industry executives, real estate lawyers, market analysts, title insurers, financial advisers, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts in the field from around the state were asked a series of questions by UF’s Survey Research Center in July.

Commercial leases are usually for longer periods, of at least five years, and as these agreements are renewed over the next few years, building owners are likely to respond to the cost by increasing rents, resulting in their tenants raising the prices of their products, Archer says.

“The most dramatic increases will be in the cost of real estate, but consumer prices will also go up some, just as rising gas prices put pressure on costs across the board,” says Archer.

The center’s new statewide quarterly survey identified the insurance crisis as the biggest trend in Florida’s real estate market. The softening housing market was the second most mentioned trend.

“The respondents were very conscious that the housing market is softening,” Archer says. “With inventories of single-family homes building up, they’re apprehensive about what might begin to happen to prices and sales. They’re even more concerned about condos and think prices could begin to fall in some cases.”

While 69 percent of the survey respondents expect condo prices to lag behind inflation or even decline, only 47 percent were as pessimistic about single-family home prices, Archer says. And while nearly 70 percent expect a downturn in absorption rates—the rate at which properties can be leased or sold—61 percent expect the same pattern in single-family housing, he says.

Condo Conversions Losing Pace

Condos typically are a more volatile market than single-family housing and frequently a magnet for speculators who have no professional real estate experience, Archer says.

The recent explosion in apartment-to-condo conversions is beginning to slow, says Archer.

Unusually low interest rates over the past few years encouraged many people to buy homes, which left a weak market for apartments, encouraging apartment owners to convert their rental units into condos to capture would-be buyers.

For more information, go to: costs. To get a look at what Realtor®-led groups around the state are proposing to the legislature, see the article “Property Insurance Crunch”.