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Palm Beach Roundup
Even if we have been experiencing some unseasonably warm temperatures lately, that doesn't mean we shouldn't think about flying south for the remainder of the winter. But the future of the real estate market is no more certain in Florida. Well, it depends on whom you ask.
David Seiders, the chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, has changed his prediction of the housing market hitting bottom in 2008 and moved it forward to 2009, although he still does not believe the country will slide into a full recession. According to Seiders, the currently stalled market is largely due to the heavy backlog of unsold homes (in Palm Beach County, there is said to be about a five–year supply).
National Association of Realtors' senior economist Lawrence Yuh has a different take on how 2008 will play out. "Now that market conditions have improved, some postponed activity should turn up in existing home sales over the next couple of months and I expect sales at fairly stable to slightly higher levels." Taking it one step further, Yuh predicts that 2008 will be the fifth–best year on record for existing–home sales, drawing a reaction from local Palm Beach housing analyst Jack McCabe.
Says McCabe: "The only voice suggesting that conditions are going to improve is the realtor association." Local realtors are frustrated, but remain optimistic about the local market. "Buyers are showing up to appointments with a list of dozens of properties you know they are looking at," according to Don Gorbach of The Corcoran Group's Palm Beach office. "It is taking a longer time to close a deal as prospects consider it a buyers' market and they are looking at everything on the market before making a decision. I am sitting on four possible deals that I believe will happen—but in this market you have to be patient and wait it out. It's a great time to be a buyer." Other brokers offer similar views. Says one, "Last year, sellers were holding on to their former valuations. Now, they are getting realistic. When they do, more deals are getting done."