Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Local Real Estate Buyers - Endangered Species

In more than 5 years, I haven’t sold a single home to a local resident. 
Let me repeat not even one person or one couple living in the area of South Florida has bought a house using my services since 2007.
I have done fairly well as a realtor, however, but it has only been the providential arrival of the foreigners, out-of-town buyers, snowbirds, Canadian, French, British, and affluent clients from Northeastern states.

Hard to explain? Of course not.

The first reason we will jump on is the newly found toughness of banks and lenders and their reluctance to assume any kind of risk that is not 110% covered, endorsed and required by every existing state or federal law or statute, internal rule and regulation, and this oh so pure newly assumed purist attitude of appraisers and underwriters. 
How ironic is the 180 degree turn from the thrill and craziness of those loans with “no-income-verification”, “zero-down”, 107% loan to value, “ no-interest payment” that allowed completely ineligible applicants with horrendous credit history to acquire thousands of high priced homes and condos, just five years ago.
Well we know the story, and it isn’t the subject of this article.

The second reason is even more powerful. 
Very few persons nowadays feel secure in their jobs. 

Productivity is the word that has driven small and large businesses – perhaps more so the larger corporation – to squeeze  their human resources to the maximum, pay them less, work them harder, make them feel that they are expandable, that they can and will be fired at the will of any low level supervisor, manager, director, or just by a new policy of “personnel reduction”, which will get rid of  5, 10 or 20 percent of the workforce, every now and then, so the same amount of work will be performed by the remaining and grateful ones who have perhaps escaped to the previous purge performed in  accordance with the "outsourcing" solution that feed the soul of our business elite and has turned to be the nightmare of our working class.

The pain is less felt by younger workers than by the middle-aged. It is easy to imagine the anxiety, and stress caused by the possible loss of employment which hangs on the head of any 45 or 50 years-old loyal worker who can be fired at any time for a younger, fresher and cheaper replacement.
Can you find a better reason not to get into long term debt that could leave you homeless, credit-less and hopeless?

The third reason is affordability. 
I am not into statistics and numbers, but I can say with certainty that salaries have not kept up – and by large – with inflation during the last 30 years.
People are just underpaid. 
I get working class Canadians clients looking for condos in the range of $100,000, $200,000 and more. These are their “vacation homes”, “their investments for retirement time”. (Words that have almost disappeared from the vocabulary of an American common person).
Many of these Canadians are just plain middle class, but when they present their income information to the condo associations, you will see yearly revenues of $80,000, $120,000, $150,000.
They are white or blue collar employees, working in all kind of  companies, or they are small business owners, but you don’t see the stress in their eyes. Their healthcare is free, their kids' college education is almost free, and if that doesn’t make a big difference, they also get much longer vacations, and we just look at them with envy, enjoying them here. 
Shall we say that these guys are at the point where we should have been if all our wonderful policies of "less-government" , free-market, globalization, banks supreme power and corporate monopolistic control  hadn’t been implemented in the same period?
But again, this is not a political or an economical discussion. Just some remarks on why I can’t sell a home to my fellow Florida residents.

In fact, so many “people spending so much of the country's budget
 in food stamps” are in their vast majority just trying to make ends meet because they are prisoners of the miserable seven dollars minimal hourly wage.

The so called “entitlements” that are “feeding our deficits” are undoubtedly the result of the low salaries that enrich corporations, forcing people into public health services, food stamps, and other “subsidies” or "entitlement programs"

Let's face it: the ”productivity gains” have only benefited business but massively impoverished my potential local buyers. Low paying jobs, part time jobs, unstable jobs, this is what has replaced a vibrant economy that was once the envy of the developed world.

I can't by conclude that this whole scenario is threatening our economy which is  based in the consumption and reasonable standard of living of the majority.

Are we going to address these issues? All of them?

Otherwise, it is evident that nothing is going to stop the trend of local residents renting foreign-investor-owned homes.

Here is the article I read today in, that triggered this unprofessional anger.

Survey: Economic uncertainty keeps renters renting 
CHICAGO – Feb. 6, 2013 – The average monthly apartment rental cost in the U.S. was $1,048 in fourth quarter 2012, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to Reis. At the same time, the nation’s apartment vacancy rate continued a steady decline to 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter – its lowest level in more than a decade.

In response, conducted a nationwide survey of more than 1,300 renters to gain insights into their moving plans this year. In looking at the survey results, says a growing number of former homeowners are choosing to rent, while others make a move based on employment relocation, cost savings and apartment size.

“There is a growing trend toward previous homeowners choosing to rent after carefully considering economic factors such as affordability, employment opportunities and unaffordable homeownership expenses,” said Dick Burke, senior vice president and general manager, “The fiscal cliff our country was headed toward in December seems to have motivated all renters to take a realistic approach toward budgeting for 2013.”

Top 5 reasons renters choose to rent

• Renting is a more affordable option: 22.2% (down from 26.3% in 2012)
• Flexibility: 15.7% (down from 21.2% in 2012)
• Can’t afford to keep up with homeownership expenses: 14.2% (up from 10.5% in 2012)
• Relocate for employment: 13.3% (down from 20.5% in 2012)
• Lost home due to foreclosure or divorce: 11.2% (up from 5.9% in 2012)

Reasons renters plan to move in 2013

• Relocating for employment opportunities: 15%
• Shopping for a less expensive apartment: 13.2%
• Looking for a bigger apartment: 11.2%
• Change in marital status: 10.8%
• Wanting to live in a different neighborhood: 9.8%
• Relocating for educational reasons: 6.7%
• Other family reasons: 5.2%
• Recent college grad moving to their own place: 4.6%
• Looking for a smaller apartment: 3.3%
• Wanting to live alone: 2.5%

Resources used in an apartment search

All renters surveyed had used, but they also reported using other online apartment listing websites (such as Craigslist), search engines and review websites.

The opinions of others seem to play a more important role in searches than in previous years. More than half of respondents said they use review websites during their apartment search, versus 32.6 percent in 2012; 45.1 percent relied on word of mouth versus 31.5 percent in 2012.

Apartment share arrangements nearly identical to 2012

• Husband/wife/significant other and/or kids: 49.6%
• Living alone: 40.3%
• Roommate(s): 10.1%

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