October 08, 2007

2007 Third Quarter Sales Statistics for the Upper Keys

How does the third quarter of 2007 compare to the same time last year? The waterfront single family market compares fairly closely.

During the third quarter of 2006, 124 new listings entered the market. There were 31 sales, with and average price of $1,496,016 (lowest price was $525,000, highest price was $4,400,000). The average time on the market was 248 days. The highest price sale during that time was a bayfront home on 4.3 acres in Key Largo, offered by our Key Largo office, Marr Properties, Inc.

Fast forward to the third quarter of 2007 in the waterfront single family market. 153 new listings came on the market. There were 28 sales, with an average of $1,339,768 (lowest price $675,000, highest price $5,700,000). The average time on the market was 287. The highest price sale during the time was an oceanfront home on 3 acres in Key Largo, offered by our Islamorada office, American Caribbean Real Estate. Click here to see a list of the waterfront properties that have recently sold.

How do the non-waterfront communities compare? They were also close, but there has been a noticeable reduction in sales prices in the non-waterfront homes. In third quarter 2006. 91 new listings entered the market, and there were 26 sales. The average sales price was $482,573 (lowest sale $290,000; highest sale $825,000). The time on market averaged 148 days.

In 2007, the number of new listings that came on the market was 83, with 27 sales. The average sales price was $366,843 (Lowest sale $200,000; highest sale $710,000). Click here to see a list of the non-waterfront properties that have recently sold.

September 17, 2007

Mortgage Woes? Not Necessarily. . . .

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the mortgage crisis. Yes, the mortgage industry is changing. While rates are still low, some of those creative financing opportunities of the past have started to disappear, or become much harder to obtain. Lenders are looking more closely at applications and using different guidelines in the approval process.

But this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to obtain financing, and should not deter qualified buyers from purchasing. Financing is still available in a variety of packages.

“It is very important in today’s market to work with a reputable Realtor and Mortgage professional,” states Ana Zalesky, a Residential Lending Specialist at TIB Bank in the Florida Keys. “We are in a buyer’s market, which means that there are better deals for the borrower.”

There is currently a huge inventory of homes in all price ranges available, making it a great time to buy, especially with today’s lower interest rates. Your mortgage professional can advise you know how much house you can afford, what programs are available for your individual needs and how they work.

There may even be certain tax benefits available to borrowers. Mortgage insurance is now tax deductible. Be sure to check with your tax advisor to see if you qualify for these benefits.

Contributing content by Ana G. Zalesky

Ms Zalesky can be reached at 305 394 1404 or email her at azalesky@tibbank.com


September 14, 2007

NAR Finds That Despite Rising Gas Prices, More Home Buyers Want Oversized Garages

WASHINGTON, August 07, 2007 - David Greer dgreer@realtors.org

Home buyers in increasing numbers want garages with two or more spaces in their homes, according to the 2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, released today by the National Association of Realtors®.

Since the last survey in 2004, oversize garages saw the biggest growth in terms of what recent buyers considered very important in a home, gaining 16 percentage points to 57 percent. Among buyers who purchased homes without this feature, 56 percent of them said they would have paid more for an oversize garage, compared to only 6 percent in the 2004 survey.

Other priorities for today’s home buyers include air conditioning, with three out of every four respondents ranking this as “very important,” and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, which was very important to 53 percent of respondents. Hardwood floors and granite countertops each gained 7 percentage points from the 2004 survey, with 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, of buyers viewing these features as “very important.” Gaining 6 percentage points was cable/satellite TV-ready, at 46 percent.

The survey reports responses from buyers who purchased homes in 2006. Home buyers were asked about 75 features and room types to assess the importance of each.

“Realtors® see hundreds, if not thousands, of houses with their buyer clients every year and know exactly what buyers are looking for in a home,” said NAR President Pat V. Combs, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt. “This insight is one more way Realtors® add value to the real estate transaction and why nearly eight out of 10 recent buyers used a real estate professional when buying their home.”

According to the survey, nearly six out of 10 recent home buyers took on remodeling or home improvement projects within three months of their purchase. Close to half of home buyers who remodeled or made improvements updated their kitchen, and nearly half remodeled or improved their bathroom. New homeowners spent a median of $4,350 on home improvement or remodeling projects undertaken within three months of purchase.

More than half of home buyers believe their home has high investment potential, and another four out of 10 believe it has moderate investment potential. Only 3 percent felt their home’s investment potential was low.

“The fact that a majority of home buyers quickly remodel key areas of their homes ties into the fact that their home is a good, long-term investment,” said Paul Bishop, NAR manager of real estate research. “Regardless of market conditions in the short term, when purchased for the long term, housing is one of the safest investments consumers can make.”

Energy efficiency was more important to new-home buyers than buyers of existing homes, with 65 percent of new-home buyers saying it was very important compared to 39 percent for buyers of existing homes. Older buyers placed a higher priority on energy efficiency than did younger buyers – 63 percent of buyers 75 and older said it was very important, but only 32 percent of buyers who were 18-24 agreed.

The survey identified some regional preferences in home features. For home buyers in the South and Midwest, central air conditioning was a priority, with 91 percent and 81 percent, respectively, saying this feature was very important. Sixty-six percent of buyers in the South thought a walk-in closet in the master bedroom was very important, while 61 percent of Midwesterners valued an oversized garage. In the Northeast, the highest percentage of buyers placed a premium on a backyard or play area (53 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 41 percent. Two-thirds of buyers in the West want oversized garages (66 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 59 percent.

Age was the biggest differentiation in what buyers were looking for in a home. Buyers 75 years old and older wanted a single-level home (74 percent) that was less than 10 years old (43 percent) with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (74 percent). Most buyers between the ages of 25-34 wanted a backyard or play area (60 percent). More than half of buyers over 65 wanted a separate shower enclosure in the master bathroom, compared to only one-fourth of buyers ages 25-34.

For those who purchased a home without it, 65 percent of buyers said they would be willing to pay a median $1,880 extra for central air conditioning. One out of four buyers was willing to pay a median of $4,760 more for waterfront property.

Homes are getting bigger, but have fewer bedrooms. From 2004 to 2006, the size of the typical home purchased increased by about 100 square feet to 1,840 square feet, while the median number of bedrooms dropped from four to three during the same period. The median home age reported in the current survey is 12 years, down from 15 years in 2004.

To order a copy of the report, visit www.realtor.org/research and click on “Latest Research Products” or call 800/874-6500. The cost is $50 for members and $125 for non-members.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate industries.

David Greer
Speechwriter/Staff Writer
Public Affairs
National Association of Realtors®
500 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001-2020
(202) 383-1128


August 09, 2007


American Caribbean Real Estate is pleased to announce that they have just been hired as exclusive marketing agent for Key Largo’s Ciudad Mar, located at Mile Marker 97.8, Oceanside.

Ciudad Mar offers 19 exceptional southern coastal style single family homes within a private waterfront enclave. Construction is currently underway and a completed model home is expected within the next few months.

“We are very excited to be adding this to our portfolio of other new Keys developments we are currently offering”, says broker Joy Martin. “These homes are going to very quite spacious and well appointed and are sure to standout in the local community”.

The project is being reviewed to add more common areas within the community as well as to maximize the water views for each home. A pricing plan has been implemented as well, giving these homes even more appeal to both full-time and part-time home buyers. Priced from $1,098,000, Ciudad Marr offers a choice of 4 floor plans ranging from 3,502 square feet to 5,025 square feet under air.

American Caribbean Real Estate and their sister company Marr Properties Inc. in Key Largo also offer Mahogany Bay in Key Largo, a luxury development in Key Largo consisting of 5 oceanfront homes; The Pier in Islamorada, a luxury development in the heart of Islamorada offering 8 oceanfront and oceanview homes on 4 acres; and Tarpon Basin Villas, an exclusive condominium hotel in Key Largo.

June 04, 2007

NAR Index: Market Shows Signs of Stabilizing

A forward-looking indicator based on pending home sales shows the housing market could edge down but appears to be in the process of leveling off, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in April, stood at 101.4, down 3.2 percent from an upwardly revised March reading of 104.8. The index is 10.2 percent lower than April 2006 when it registered 112.9. The revised March index was 10 percent below a year earlier.

Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, says the current index appears to be a fair representation of overall housing market conditions. “It looks like we may be leaving a period of market disruptions," Yun says. "For the past two months the pending home sales index has been similar in year-ago comparisons, which means home sales might ease but should be fairly stable in the months ahead."

Will Sales Bounce Back?

In April, existing-home sales declined in part because some subprime lenders went out of business and disrupted the market, Yun says.

"But the impact appears to be diminishing and mortgage applications have risen in the last month,” he notes. “This tells us that some borrowers who originally planned to finance with subprime mortgages are finding suitable loans in the conventional market, which will help to stabilize home sales.”

On the other hand, Yun says psychological factors seem to be holding buyers back as they look for clear signs that the market has bottomed. That varies from one area to another, he adds.

Across the Region

The index is based on pending sales of existing homes; a sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales.

Here’s what the index indicated by region:
  • Midwest: rose 2.3 percent in April to 98.1, but was 4.4 percent below a year ago.
  • South: increased 0.7 percent from March to 116, but was 10.4 percent below April 2006.
  • West: fell 10.2 percent in April to 91.4, and was 11.7 percent lower than a year ago.
  • Northeast: dropped 10.4 percent from March to 89.3, and was 15.4 percent below April 2006.

Tighter Lending Rules Keep Some Buyers Out

Mortgage lenders are tightening standards in ways that can make it much more difficult for potential borrowers to get approval for loans.

The new standards fall into the following areas, according to Wells Fargo & Co. and other large lenders:
  • Ability to repay. Buyers are no longer being qualified at the low initial rate. They must qualify for the loan payments at rates equal to what the loan would be if it reset at a higher rate.
  • Down payment. Lenders want buyers to put some money down, even as little as 5 percent or 10 percent. Loans for 100 percent of the price are very hard to get.
  • Credit score. Credit scores range from the high 300s to the low 800s. Borrowers with a credit score above 680 are likely to qualify for a reasonable deal. Between 660 and 680, they may qualify, but the deal could be pricey. Potential borrowers with a score of 620 or less need to raise their scores before they can qualify.
  • Income and income verification. Producing proof that a borrower has a job is key; “stated income” loans are much more difficult to get. Also lenders are unlikely to approve a loan in which the home buyer will spend more than 45 percent of his gross income paying off debt, including paying the mortgage.

January 02, 2007


Wondering what the highest residential sales of 2006 were? From multi-acre bayfront estates to oceanfront getaways, there was something for everyone. Here are the top ten highest priced closed sales that took place in the Upper Keys in 2006, as found in the Florida Keys Multiple listing service.

Click here to view the properties

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