Wondering where the real estate market is going? Clark W. Toole III, president and chief operating officer of Sarasota-based Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, thinks Florida is poised for a recovery.
"The basic fundamentals driving Florida's real estate market, which are historically low interest rates, stabilizing prices and reductions in inventory, indicate a positive environment for a recovery," Toole says.
He also thinks the recent lowering of the discount rate by the Federal Reserve will help draw more buyers into the market.
It "will reinforce already historically low interest rates and help some home buyers to make a decision," he says. "A quarter or half of a percent change in interest rates translates directly into significant savings for potential home buyers."
Toole also sees a return to a more traditional real estate market.
"Today, more customers are interested in purchasing a home as a long-term investment, as real estate continues to be an outstanding long-term wealth generator," he says. "While real estate is a commodity, it cannot be traded like a stock. I think overzealous investors and speculators found that out the hard way, and now, we are returning to a more traditional market."
Florida also has the added benefit of attracting foreign home buyers, Toole says.
"According to the 2007 National Association of Realtors' 'Profile of International Home Buying Activity,' Florida accounts for the largest percentage of international home-buying transactions, with a 26 percent share of the total," he says. "In a recent internal survey, 47 percent of our 1,237 sales associates who responded reported working with international home buyers from 90 countries in the past six months."
And while many have fretted over the numbers of foreclosures in the state, Toole says that the total is less than 5 percent of all residential properties.
"Our affiliated lending service companies, Coldwell Banker Home Loans and Sunbelt Lending Services, opted not to get involved in the sub prime lending market, and we are very pleased that they made this very prudent decision," he says.
For sellers, Toole advises them to work with a real estate estate professional to properly price and position their homes in this tighter market.
"Remember that in this market, your sales associate may encourage a list price in accordance with other homes currently on the market, rather than those previously sold," he says. "Don't worry. Properly priced homes that stand out from the competition are selling."
Coldwell Banker has offices throughout Florida, including in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. For information, visit www.floridamoves.com or call 1-800-624-5292.