A couple frightening statistics for homeowners in Central Florida today. Home prices have declined so much that nearly half of all homes bought since 2003 have mortgages larger than the home's current value. This could lead to another wave of foreclosures.
Sue Ragone and her husband refinanced their Titusville home in 2004 for $189,000. At the time, the home was appraised for $220,000. Today, it's worth $150,000, she said. She was afraid they were going to lose the house last year when her husband was laid off from his job at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. "He got called back to work in the nick of time."
"The only thing keeping us here in Florida is our house," said Maria Acevedo of Palm Bay. Acevedo and her husband moved from New Jersey to Brevard because they thought the schools would be better for their two children. After renting for a year, they bought a house in 2004 for $114,000. They later refinanced and now owe $160,000.
Acevedo said she doubted she could get $80,000 for the house right now. "There are so many houses on the market that have been foreclosed." Acevedo said she and her husband took pay cuts when they moved here. That was fine at first, she said, since the cost of living here was low. But as the cost of living has increased -- especially homeowners insurance, gasoline and food -- salaries haven't kept pace.
"The jobs just aren't cutting it," she said. Now Acevedo wants to move back to New Jersey, but doesn't see it happening soon because of her house. "If I could, I'd leave here in a heartbeat."
As dire as the current housing situation may be, most experts expect the prices to rebound eventually. Their advice: If you don't have to sell your home now, don't worry about it. "If you have no reason to move in three to four years, you should be OK," said Zillow's Bohutinsky. "It's not fun to look at these numbers. You shouldn't do it if you don't have to."
Not comforting thoughts to those who are at risk of losing their jobs when the space industry downsizes again after the shuttle program ends its run in 2011. That's a long time to be stuck upside down in a house with no prospect of a good job in your future.
Meanwhile the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that plans are underway to build a whole new community the size of Orlando to its east. This is in addition to the planned community called Harmony being planned in Osceola County. A) where are the jobs for these people going to come from and B) what are they going to drink when our water supplies are tapped out?
Someone needs to get a handle on housing and urban planning around here and fast.