Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Orlando Home Values Remaining Steady

Despite record-high inventory and slowing sales, home prices in Metro Orlando are not collapsing under the pressure so far, a University of Central Florida economics professor says.

In his latest analysis for the Mortgage Bankers Association of Central Florida, professor Stanley D. Smith concludes that "the current numbers suggest that in general Central Florida housing markets are currently experiencing the soft landing that many had hoped for."

But his December report, released this week, repeats the cautionary language of his previous studies, noting that, "as we watch the effects of higher inventories and discounts on new homes, it is possible that the situation may change."

Smith examined the most recent numbers from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, reflecting its members' October existing-home sales, as well as statewide Realtor sales and a housing-price index favored by many economists. That index, by the Office of Federal Housing Oversight, is based on repeat sales of the same single-family homes over time, all financed or refinanced with conventional loans. That approach removes some of the variables that make Realtor sales reports more volatile.

The federal index showed that, in the third quarter, Metro Orlando's home prices still rose 1.6 percent -- down sharply from the 8.5 percent appreciation rate of last year's third quarter, just after the market peaked, but still in positive territory.

Metro Orlando's third-quarter rate was slightly better than the statewide growth rate of 1.2 percent. Also, the index revised upward Orlando's price appreciation rate for the second quarter from 3.7 percent to 3.8 percent, and the state's from 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent.

But east Central Florida's coastal metro areas were far weaker in the third quarter. The index showed that the Brevard County metro area posted no home-price appreciation during the three months that ended Sept. 30, while Volusia's resale prices rose just 0.8 percent. Metro Orlando comprises Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties. Courtesy Orlando Sentinel 12/2/06.