Keep pushing

When Amy and I moved here just over two years ago, we were told by family, friends, and every story in the news media that we had to buy a house now because we were going to be priced out of the market if we waited. As it turned out, we were already priced out of the market--well out of it--so we had no choice but to wait.

Then the bubble started oozing air. The papers kept saying it was temporary. The realtors who were interviewed were confident that the market was only in a lull, and that this was the perfect time to buy, since the boom would crank up again any second. Months passed, and the realtors were saying the same thing, but there was a tinge of desperation in their quotes. And then, about a year ago, the Sun-Sentinel started writing about how the boom was over, and started asking "experts" how long it would take the real estate market to recover. First it was late 2006, which became early 2007, which became late 2007. See a pattern here? Me either.

Well, actually, I do. But condo builders apparently didn't, because they're still building, at least in Miami.

Just how many other speculators face the same dilemma in the nation's most glutted condo market will become clear during the next two years. That is when 25,000 new condo units, most of them rising in or near Miami's downtown, will flood an area already saturated with 23,000 condos listed for sale. An additional 40,000 units have been approved, but analysts doubt the majority will break ground.

I wonder how many of these condos are priced for low-to-middle income buyers?

48,000 condos for sale in a place where an analyst warned back in 2004 that as much as 70% of the units were being bought by speculators who weren't going to live in them. And this is all happening next door to Broward county, which some have speculated has a vacancy rate somewhere north of 20% itself.

We've watched prices fall, steadily, for the last year, both in rentals and to buy. We moved a few weeks ago because the apartment which had been such a deal when we came down here was less of one now--we basically bought central A/C, a pool, and modern appliances for an only slightly less desirable neighborhood (we downgraded from amazing to fine) and twenty-five bucks more a month. And we think that in a year, we can seriously consider buying something, especially if this area follows the southern California model and starts seeing triple digits a month in foreclosures.

The most recent estimate for the recovery of the south Florida real estate market is now late 2008. Given what I'm seeing, I'd say that's optimistic.

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