South Florida Home Prices Climbing Back

MIAMI – July 31, 2013 – Seven years after the South Florida real-estate bubble stretched as far as it could, buyers continue to pump more air into the deflated market.

New numbers from the S&P/Case-Shiller real-estate index for South Florida show home values up 14 percent this year. That’s the best 12-month gain since July 2006.

“I don’t hear people say they’re worried anymore,’’ said Charlette Seidel, a co-managing broker at Coldwell Banker’s Coral Gables office. “Buyers are confident.”

But even with prices on a steady climb since early last year, the damage from the bust remains.

Case-Shiller, the most closely watched real estate index in the country, shows South Florida values remain 41 percent below where they were at the peak of the boom in May 2006. Case-Shiller released its May 2013 numbers on Tuesday, offering a detailed look at seven years of what might be the worst real-estate crash in South Florida history.

The grimmest reading came in November 2011, when the Case-Shiller index showed a 51 percent decline from South Florida’s May 2006 peak. The rock-bottom prices brought another boom in sales, largely fueled by foreign investment dollars. But with prices so low, few homeowners are opting to sell. Realtor groups cite a lack of listings as the main reason sales aren’t even higher.

The combination – high demand and low supply – finally brought momentum to the recovery in early 2012, with both sales and prices heading higher.

May marked the 17th straight month of gains in South Florida’s Case-Shiller index. That’s the best streak for South Florida since the market peaked in May 2006. At the time, Case-Shiller showed values going up every single month since August 1999 – 82 months in all.

But even with Case-Shiller showing steady improvement in South Florida and across the country, the gains have some real-estate watchers warning of another bubble. A year ago, Case-Shiller, which tracks sales of single-family homes, showed prices up only 3 percent in South Florida. Now, they’re rising at a pace almost five times faster, with a 14 percent surge.

Jonathan Miller, a New York appraiser who tracks South Florida’s market, said the economy is too weak to be fully confident in a real estate rebound.

Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., said he won’t join in the conventional wisdom of “calling this a housing recovery.”

“I call it a period of better housing stats,” he said.

Copyright © 2013 The Miami Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.