Thursday, October 22, 2009

Florida's Unemployed Hits Record

Link here.

During the mid 90's I spent much of my time in Miami. In 2006 a friend sent me the real estate listings of a few condos they were looking at. Coincidentally, one was in the same building as one I was considering a decade before. The asking price had increased almost 400%. Anyone who has been to Miami in recent years knows that the new high-rise condos, hotels and land redevelopment has been nothing short of astonishing. Truly the greatest land boom in its history. Much greater than the one in the 1920s before the Great Depression. Yes, we have seen this game before. As my link in the Columbus Day post cited, history is indeed a weapon. Politicians and Wall Street can line up their lies but I can find substantial historical comparatives to everything we see today. They were lying then as well. A timeless characteristic of a politician is to realize every time their lips move, something dubious is happening. Most likely spin.

At one time I saw a statistic that 17 years of condo supply were either in the process of being built or were planned to be built in the Miami area. I have no idea how this statistic resolved itself with actual units built but I do know many new high-rise buildings are near empty. A friend told me just a few weeks ago that when they look out their window at night some of the new high-rise's on Brickell, a stretch of beautiful high-rise condo buildings has three or four lights on. It's a 50 story building.

"With over twenty-five Brickell condo towers currently completed and ten more planned or under construction, Brickell Avenue has reached a "tipping point" or critical mass to become the most desirable residential neighborhood in Miami."

Miami Beach in particular has gone through boom and bust cycles before. In fact, less than twenty years ago, the city of Miami Beach was falling apart. The Fountainbleu (Where they shot the Bond movie Goldfinger, Eden Roc and others fell into disrepair. Miami Beach's South Beach area had more boarded up store fronts than it did stores. In fact, driving through the area, it looked more like an art deco tenement until revitalization started in the early 1990s.

Miami's real estate market became a magnet for Europeans and South Americans looking to play the weak dollar trade and purchase vacation homes this past cycle. That party is over. Now what? Well, cycles of boom are followed by cycles of bust. Will we get to the point where South Beach properties are again boarded up and the U.S.'s premiere warm weather playground again looks like a tenement? Well, that's really up to the economic policy decided in Washington. But, I wouldn't want to be betting on the Florida economy or sweeping in to buy distressed real estate only to find out there is no recovery. And, there is a lot of big money purchasing distressed real estate right now. They are likely to be punished mercilessly. We wrote on here three or four years ago that real estate isn't likely to recover for a few decades. A fool and his money soon part ways................

As I said on here four years ago, were I to buy real estate anywhere in the world, it would be downtown Detroit, Michigan. End of the world pricing is built into that economy and the skyline is battered. And while it may seem completely hopeless today with neighborhoods crumbling, rampant crime and houses selling for less than $20,000, I believe Detroit is far from dead. But for now, Michigan's unemployed just hit a record as well.
posted by TimingLogic at 9:00 AM