Palm Coast/Flagler July Real Estate Report

More media malarkey about Flagler foreclosures. RealtyTrac numbers are bogus. Don’t pay any attention to them.

Palm Coast, FL – August 16, 2012 – Palm Coast and Flagler County home sales in July continued the same pattern seen since the beginning of the year according to statistics from the Flagler Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Single-family Flagler County home sales, buoyed by an ongoing abundance of distressed properties (short sales and lender owned sales) outpaced July 2011, rising 8.2% to 185 sold. July was the 15th consecutive month of increased year-over-year sales. 2012 year-to-date sales are 1,222, up 28.8% from the same period a year ago.

Palm Coast and Flagler County home sales

The total value of home sales is also increasing consistently. July single-family home sales totaled $28.96 million compared to $27.08 million last July. Year-to-date sales were $187.14 million, up 22% year-over-year.
Other market indicators point to a strong housing market. The inventory of homes available for sale remains low; only 712. This represents less than four months worth of sales at current prices. A "normal" market is represented by about six months of inventory. By this measure alone, we are in a "seller’s market." The median "days on market" for July was only 61.5 days, another sign of a seller’s market.
Yet home prices remain stubbornly stuck. Median selling prices vary from month to month, but the median selling price for single-family Flagler County homes through the first seven months was $120,000, unchanged from the first seven months of the prior year.
There is simply too much price competition from the abundance of distressed homes in the market. 48.6% of the 185 single-family homes sold were either short sales (46) or foreclosed lender-owned properties (44). The national average is closer to 30%, but Flagler County is not alone. Our market profile is shared by many other markets that lead the real estate bubble.
Misleading media foreclosure reporting
Misleading media reports to the contrary, Flagler County is not the epicenter of foreclosures in the state. An August 9th News-Journal story says that Flagler county "Tops state in foreclosure activity – again." It states, "One in every 128 homes in the county was in some stage of foreclosure in July, compared with 1 in every 572 homes in June, according to a report issued Thursday by RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that describes itself as an online marketplace for foreclosure properties."
Let’s look at some real numbers; from the Flagler MLS, Flagler Property Appraiser and Flagler Clerk of Court to make some sense of RealtyTrac’s numbers. The Flagler County Property Appraiser lists 38,107 single-family homes in the county. Thus RealtyTrac is telling us that the number of Flagler homes in some stage of foreclosure rose 446.8%, from 67 (38,107 ÷ 572) in June to 298 (38,107 ÷ 128) in July. 446.8% in one month? Really?
These numbers can’t be correct. The Clerk of Court reports 104 foreclosure filings in July, representing the number of homes entering the foreclosure process; ten fewer than in June and the lowest number of filings in seven months. The foreclosure process typically takes several months, even years. The July foreclosure sale schedule included 120 properties, including some with foreclosures initiated five years ago.
Tracking foreclosures is difficult. Properties enter the foreclosure process as new filings. But some filings are re-filings, not new ones.  Others leave the process via withdrawal, short sales, deed in lieu, refinancing, restructuring and foreclosure sales. Statistics reported by RealtyTrac are not even close,. They defy common sense. Unfortunately, they are reported by the N-J (and most other media) as fact, resulting in misleading, alarmist headlines. Don’t pay any attention to them.
Bright Spots
There are bright lights too. Palm Coast and Flagler County residents will no longer have to drive to Daytona Beach or St. Augustine to enjoy dining at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Palm Coast has issued a development order permitting the construction of a new Carrabba’s in Cobblestone Village, next door to the new medical building (and across from Golden Corral). A site development permit was issued August 6th. The Palm Coast Carrabba’s will seat 234 diners within its 6,930 square foot building and outdoor patio.
Zaxby’s , a chicken specialty restaurant chain, has submitted a site plan to the City of Palm Coast. If approved, the new restaurant will be located next door to Carrabba’s. As submitted, Zaxby’s will seat 217 diners and feature a drive thru window in a 6,392 square foot building.
The re-launch of The Conservatory is bearing fruit. I’m told that there are seven deals in the works, including one existing lot owner and one builder committed to begin construction soon.
Building permits have been issued to eight separate homebuilders in August. Both the average and median stated values are running above those of August last year. Three new homes are under construction in Yacht Harbor Village. New home construction in other parts of The Hammock is evident as well.

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