Local real estate sales ‘better than last 3 years’

ENGLEWOOD — The housing market in Englewood has seen an improvement in home sales, with prices increasing and inventory dropping, local Realtors say.

‘We’ve done better in the last six months than in the past three years,’ said Charlie Bray of Surfside Realty. ‘I think people just don’t have any other place to put their money.’

Take Rotonda, for example.

‘Three-bedroom, two-bath, two-car garage houses that sold at $145,000 to $155,000 are now selling at $185,000 to $200,000,’ Bray said. ‘I believe they have gone up about $40,000 to $50,000.’

Buyers have taken advantage of foreclosures, and the courts are cracking down on bank activity.

‘The foreclosures, they kind of turned the spigot off on them about a year ago,’ said Pat Bienamen, mana-ger of Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty and director of the Englewood Board of Realtors. ‘The banks are being a lot more careful in being sure that their paperwork is in order before they go through with (foreclosures.) The courts are saying, ‘We’re not taking it unless you can prove it.”

Bienamen said several factors weigh on the decision for new homeowners in the current climate.

‘We have a ‘wait-and-see’ approach with the election, and the other force being driven by all of this is new construction is starting to happen,’ Bienamen said. ‘If you have someone looking in the $100,000-$150,000 (range) at resale properties, there’s nothing there to speak of or to pick from. It’s usually the ones nobody wanted, if you will.’

Bienamen cites numerous construction projects in development like Hampshire Homes, Neal Communities and Steiner Communities.

‘Something that’s driving price increases is that we don’t have a lot of inventory right now, believe it or not,’ Bienamen said. ‘If you’re under $200,000 the pickings are very slim. What’s happening is that a good listing comes in the market, it sells within a matter of days and oftentimes, (it has) multiple offers on it.’

Despite reports of increased prices, John Towers still considers the market depressed.

Towers bought three homes in Boca Royal Golf and Country Club over the past 11 years.

‘The home we built in 2006 is on the market … at a depressed value, versus what we built it for six years ago,’ he said.

Towers said he’s lost about 35 percent on the home.

‘The market is what the market is,’ Towers said. ‘Certainly the last two or three years, there haven’t been a lot of buyers looking. I know they’re looking more now. There are more contracts and people are buying. The inventory is going down.’

Bienamen said home sales prices have gone up 3.7 percent on average, and the average sale price this year is $193,381, as of Sept. 28, according to the Englewood Board of Realtors. Realtors tend to lean toward cash offers since banks have tightened restrictions on giving loans, she said.

‘They come in with cash offers, which gives them an advantage over someone who’s coming in wanting to do an FHA loan,’ Bienamen said. ‘The banks will jump all over that cash and the person who needs to borrow money is still hanging in the wings. So we’ve got some investor-driven stuff. A lot of people who couldn’t afford a second home in Florida, they can now.’

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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