Florida’s latest insurance crisis was decades in the making
Florida’s crumbling homeowners insurance market is exposing one of the state’s long-running flaws: its reliance on a single company to certify the majority of the state’s insurers. For the last few weeks, state regulators and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration have been scrambling to contain the fallout after the state’s primary ratings agency, Ohio-based Demotech Inc., warned of downgrades to roughly two dozen insurance companies, according to the state. The downgrades would have triggered a meltdown of the state’s housing market, a pillar of Florida’s $1.2 trillion economy. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.
Florida has the most overvalued rental markets in the nation, FAU study shows
Florida is a boom state when it comes to rental rates. “I’m not shocked that rents went up. I am shocked by how much they went up,” said Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist with Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business. Johnson uses Zillow’s Observed Rent Index to track rental trends across the nation’s largest metro areas. According to the latest data collected in June, 9 of the top 15 cities with the highest premiums are in the Sunshine State. [Source: Click Orlando]
South Florida flea markets targeted for redevelopment
Some of the oldest flea markets in South Florida are being snapped up by investors. But the buyers aren’t interested in the income generated from the rent paid by vendors offering goods, services or entertainment to bargain hunters. Instead, they’re preparing to build more lucrative projects that will serve the people and companies flocking to the region. [Source: South Florida Business Journal]
Florida housing costs squeeze older adults on a fixed income
Aging Floridians on a fixed income are having a hard time keeping up with cost of living increases. “If you’re on Social Security, honestly, I don’t know how you can afford to live in Florida because the housing costs are high,” said program director Kathleen Sarmiento at the Miami-based Alliance for Aging. The agencies serving Florida’s two largest metropolitan areas report that more seniors are seeking housing assistance, citing circumstances like rent increases at an address they’ve lived at for years. [Source: WMFE]
Citizens Property Insurance has more than 1 million policies and counting. “The Florida property insurance market is in peril,” Mark Friedlander from the Insurance Information Institute said. “The crisis we are facing is escalating.” The government-run and regulated Citizens is supposed to be a “last resort.” But with private insurance companies going under or dropping in ratings, Citizens has added 241,000 new policies since the beginning of this year. Friedlander says that’s not good. [Source: WTSP]
› Wells Fargo Center in downtown Tampa sold for $120 million [Tampa Bay Times]
The latest skyscraper in downtown Tampa to change hands: The Wells Fargo Center. The office tower at 100 S Ashley Drive has been sold to New York real estate investment firm the Feil Organization for $120 million, according to Hillsborough County records. The seller was a group of investors led by Feldman Equities — which is headquartered in the building — and Orlando’s Tower Realty Partners.
› Well-known realty firm promotes Sarasota executive [Business Observer]
A top-notch realty brokerage announced it promoted Shelley Whiteside to senior regional marketing director for the Sarasota region. Whiteside has been with Naples-based Premier Sotheby’s International Realty since 2016. With the promotion, she’ll oversee regional marketing plans, media buying and corporate training for the office locations in Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Sarasota and Venice Beach.
› Fake landlord scams Orlando resident who thought he rented a home [Orlando Sentinel]
Isaac Aviles thought he found a good deal on a rental home in Orlando: a three-bed, two-bath house in Meadow Woods for $1,200 a month. Aviles, 19, didn’t meet the landlord but said he got “a chill vibe” over the phone. He paid a $500 deposit and his rent through apps such as Zelle and CashApp, except once when he was asked to pay in Apple gift cards. Then one night, Aviles’ girlfriend called him at work to say a notice had been posted on the door.
› Northeast Florida ‘settling into a much more stable real estate market’ [Jacksonville Daily Record]
The housing market in Northeast Florida is stabilizing, according to the July 2022 Market Review report from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. Houses are staying on the market longer and inventory is growing. The median price of houses, town houses and condos in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and Putnam counties rose a half-percent to $376.600.