South Florida’s Housing Comeback Among Best

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South Florida’s Housing Comeback Among Best

By Paul Owers, Sun Sentinel

The South Florida housing market is still considered weak, but its recovery rivals some of the most improved metro areas nationwide, according to a report released Wednesday.

Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties scored a 69.9 for September on Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index. That’s up 10.95 percent from a year ago, with only Las Vegas (20.98 percent) and Chicago (13.81) posting larger annual increases.

The index measures four factors in local housing markets: home purchasing applications, affordability, mortgage delinquencies and employment. A score of below 80 shows weakness in a market. A perfect score is 100.

South Florida’s gains are largely due to an increase in on-time mortgage payments, Freddie Mac said. The region ranked 27th of the top 50 metro areas nationwide, improving 12 spots from a year ago.

Len Kiefer, Freddie’s deputy chief economist, said the tri-county region is still being held back by the number of distressed homes working their way through the court system.

“But there are not a lot of new loans that have gone bad,” he said. “Unless the economy hits a real big rough patch – which we aren’t forecasting – I think South Florida will continue to [improve].”

Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University, said the tri-county region and other areas hit hard during the housing collapse tend to to show strongest gains in the recovery.

“We just got down so far, so we will improve more rapidly than others,” Johnson said. “It’s like starting a new business. I can say I had a 100 percent increase in revenue. Yeah, but I started with $1.”

In August, South Florida’s score was 69.2. The area’s all-time low is 42.2 in October 2010.

Freddie Mac released its first index in January, though the reports contain historical data going back to 2001.

San Antonio led the U.S. with a score of 91.3 Austin was second (87.6) and Salt Lake City third (84.4).





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