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.