REAL ESTATE Digest: Florida & Jacksonville Area Housing News

What will Floridians do? Florida Amendment 4 looms on the horizon, a highly controversial issue.

Florida Real Estate News, Jacksonville, Amelia IslandReal estate news in the Florida market, including Jacksonville MSA, and Amelia Island area in Nassau County._________


Florida’s registered voters this fall will have to decide on a highly controversial issue.  Amendment 4 is a proposed amendment of Florida’s constitution on the November 2010 ballot.  Some feel the outcome may have a profound impact on Florida’s business environment and repercussions of this vote could impact Floridians for a long time.

One of the main challenges for Florida voters, however, will be deciphering fact from fiction and getting it straight before walking into the voting booth.

There’s a lot of confusion about what will really happen if Amendment 4 passes (the task of the public having to vote on referendums and just how many that could be).  Some say only a few, others say hundreds of votes, even more. It appears that no one knows for sure what is going to be included, or not (the rules and regulations have not been written, yet).

Of course, there are those for and against Amendment 4. Proponents want “a seat at the table” within their local government to approve or deny projects and changes. Opponents say will increase uncertainty and is a job killer that will devastate Florida’s economy, one that already has been pummeled by the recession and housing bust.

Here locally in Nassau County, Florida, the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce wants people to VOTE NO, read more about their position.

The Amendment 4 issue is being debated in Fernandina Beach, Florida at a special forum September 13, 2010, and will be broadcast on the city’s PEG TV channel 29 on Comcast cable from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, find out more about the panel (three people on each side of the issue, read more…“Amendment 4 Debate: Unwanted growth control or special interest initiative”, a Florida Times-Union article.)


Proponents are groups such as “Florida Hometown Democracy” who want to give taxpayers a final veto or approval of new projects and changes to existing developments within their local counties. (They were the force who petitioned to get this on the Florida November ballot.) On the other side are opponents such as Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, Inc. and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

A “watchdog” group, 1,000 Friends of Florida,  just changed stance on Amendment 4, going to a “neutral” position (from initially being opposed), according to a September article in the Herald Tribune.

Here’s an editorial opinion about Amendment 4 from a Jacksonville, Florida business writer at the Florida Times-Union, along with reader comments,”Amendment 4: A gamble Florida can’t afford to take.”

Too Much Florida Sprawl? The following article (link below) provides four examples of huge real estate projects used by Florida Amendment 4 proponents as a case in point: Rivertown (St. Johns County), Nocatee (St. Johns and Duval counties), Eagle Creek (Orange County) and Farmton Tree Farm (Volusia and Broward counties).

SOURCE: “These projects created controversy, led to push for Amendment 4.” Jacksonville Business Journal Jacksonville Business Journal September 10, 2010


Florida’s Population Grew 2009-2010, Says University of Florida Researchers…

Last year the news that Florida had lost population for the first time since the 1940s made a big splash in the national press, with speculation that Florida had lost its luster, i.e. a cloudy outlook in the Sunshine State.  It appears now that may have been a blip. A year later, even though the economy remains sluggish and unemployment is high, more people moved into Florida.

“After declining for the first time since the end of World War II [between 2008 – 2009 period], Florida’s population grew once again last year, a hopeful yet tentative sign that the worst of the recession may have passed, according to the latest preliminary population estimates from the University of Florida.

The Sunshine State is estimated to have had the modest addition of more than 21,000 residents between 2009 and 2010…”

SOURCE:  University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Did you know the city of Jacksonville, Florida has almost double the population of Miami? Jacksonville’s 2009 population ranked the city 13th out of 19,507 places in the U.S.A with an estimated population of 813,518 (vs. Miami’s 433,136 people, ranking 42nd.)

“Jacksonville’s population grew by 10.6 percent between 2000 and 2009, according to revised population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.” SOURCE: Jacksonville Business Journal September 9, 2010.


So if you’re a foreign real estate investor, where are you going to buy? FLORIDA is reportedly the number one choice. And most are paying cash for Florida properties. Within the international buyers, it appears Canadians really like to warm their toes in Florida. They are the largest group of Florida real estate buyers, other than U.S. citizens

“International buyers have helped buttress Florida’s real estate market with 22 percent of all foreign clients nationally choosing property in the Sunshine State.”

That makes Florida tops for attracting foreign interest, according to a summer 2010 report by the National Association of Realtors. California came in a far second with 12 percent of the international market….[i.e. almost twice as many foreign real estate buyers prefer FLORIDA over CALIFORNIA.]

The National Association of Realtors “showed 31 percent of Florida’s international buyers are Canadian, compared to 24 percent nationally.”

“Nationally, about 55 percent of foreign buyers pay with cash, possibly because it can be harder for international clients to get financing here. In Florida, about 82 percent of international buyers paid in cash.”

SOURCE: “Almost a quarter of all foreign buyers in U.S. choose Florida property,” Palm Beach Post, September 6, 2010.

$1 Million-plus luxury home sales up almost 57% this year in Jacksonville area of Northeast Florida

“The luxury home market is making a rebound in Northeast Florida. The Charys’ new home is one of 58 luxury homes — those priced at $1 million and above — sold from Jan. 1 to Aug. 12, 2010  in the Jacksonville, Florida area. That’s a 56.8 percent increase over the 37 luxury homes sold during the same period last year,” according to data from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors…”

SOURCE: ”Luxury home sales rising. Buyers feel market has bottomed; banks resume jumbo loans” – Jacksonville Business Journal August 27, 2010


Clear CapitalTM Reports “U.S. Double Dip Not Likely in 2010”

“Clear Capital, a provider of data and solutions for real estate asset valuation, investment and risk assessment, released its Home Data Index™ (HDI) Market Report with data through August 2010. Report highlights include:

• National / Four Region Overview: National quarter-over-quarter price gains (5.7%) were down 2.2 percentage points from last month’s report. National year-over-year price gains remained positive, but slowed to 6.1 percent. Additionally, REO saturation dropped slightly to 22.1% for the nation, a slight 0.6 percentage point reduction from last month’s report.
• Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) drilldown: Many of the 15 highest performing major markets continue to post double-digit quarterly gains…”

SOURCE: Clear Capital September 9, 2010