By Tom Bayles, Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stan Humpfries, Zillow.com chief economist

Stan Humpfries, Zillow.com Chief Economist

Home values are still falling in the Sarasota-Bradenton market, but the trend is showing signs of slowing — and might slow further with the recent passage of an extended home buyers tax credit, Zillow.com’s chief economist said Monday.

Stan Humphries, who last month predicted through an analysis of the regional market for the Herald-Tribune that a new wave of foreclosures would further depress prices in Manatee and Sarasota counties, said Congress’ move to extend the tax credit both in length and breadth could ameliorate some of the potential drop in Southwest Florida.

“We could see a bump in demand that could partially offset the increased supply of foreclosed homes on the market,” said Humphries, chief economist for the online home valuation service. “The credits are likely to bring continued stabilization in prices over this period versus the price declines that we almost certainly would see otherwise.“  Zillow released an analysis on Monday that showed home values in Sarasota-Bradenton fell 14 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2008. Prices in the Charlotte County market dropped 10 percent during the same time frame. But prices in the region were near what is considered statistically flat from the second quarter to the third, which ended in September.

Meanwhile, another set of data from housing tracker Metrostudy also found some signs of life in new home construction in Southwest Florida.

Builders in the region started more homes in the third quarter than in the previous two quarters combined, and the boost was not limited to the lower price ranges, which has been where the builders who have remained busy during the downturn have focused.

There were 155 new homes started in the region at a price below $200,000 during the most recent quarter, a 9.9 percent increase from the second quarter. In the $200,000 to $350,000 range, there were 131 starts, up 4 percent. Forty-three homes priced above $350,000 were started in the third quarter, nearly double the second quarter tally, Metrostudy reported.

The company also uses finished vacant inventory as a fundamental indicator to monitor the health of housing markets. That inventory in this region dropped 30 percent in all price ranges, though the total still remains above a level of equilibrium, Metrostudy said.

HOME FACTS

The Zillow Home Value Index measures the value of all homes, not just those those that were on the market and sold. The online home valuation service released this data Monday on Southwest Florida’s real estate market.

SARASOTA-BRADENTON

Nearly 50 percent of single-family homes with mortgages were underwater at the end of September.

Homes that sold for a loss numbered 47.2 percent of all homes sold in September.

Home values dropped an average 14.3 percent in September compared with the same month in 2008 to $155,300. But in the short-term, home values were nearly statistically flat with a drop of 1.1 percent from the second quarter to the third.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY-NORTH PORT

About 40 percent of single-family homes with mortgages were underwater at the end of September.

Homes that sold for a loss numbered about 41 percent of all homes sold in September.

Home values dropped by 10.6 percent in September compared with the same month in 2008 to $122,400. But similar to Sarasota-Bradenton, the drop was nearly statistically flat with an increase of 1.1 percent from the second quarter to the third.

SOURCE: Zillow.com