In the Manatee-Sarasota market, builders are finding that low interest rates and bargain pricing is stirring buyer interest.
“Three months from now people are going to be saying, ’I wish I would have bought two or three months ago,” said Jerry Blumberg, co-owner of Lakewood Ranch-based Gibraltar Homes.
“December didn’t do much for us but January is going well,” Blumberg said.
Among local builders who have reduced their prices or offered buyers incentives are Neal Communities, Bruce Williams homes, Gibralter Homes, and Lee Wetherington Companies.
National builders doing business in Manatee County, WCI Communities and Lennar, announced layoffs in 2007, and Levitt & Sons filed for Bankruptcy.
The downturn in the economy and an increase in foreclosures and bankruptcies are affecting local governments’ revenue streams. Government agencies, such as the city of Palmetto, are finding themselves having to petition the bankruptcy court to recoup unpaid utility fees and code enforcement fines.
“This is a direct correlation between the economy and market, and what’s happening in the city,” said Palmetto City Clerk Jim Freeman.
In the meantime a Sarasota real estate firm is planning to develop a 120-room hotel near the intersection of Interstate 275 and U.S. 41 in northern Manatee County. Renee Richardson-Kling, broker with the Richardson Group, says the firm is currently seeking a brand name hotel to take on the project to be located on a vacant 35 acres near 77th Street East and 7611 U.S. 41, pending zoning approval by the Manatee County Planning Department. In addition to a hotel, the developers envision 30,000 square feet of retail space for Restaurants etc. and 144,000 square feet for 0ffice space.
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Still new home sales plunged in 2007 by the largest amount on record while home prices tumbled sharply in December. Analysts forecast more trouble in 2008 as housing tries to emerge from its worst slump in more than two decades.
The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new homes dropped by 26.4 percent last year to 774,000. That marked the biggest decline on record surpassing the old mark of a 23.1 percent plunge in 1980.
In yet another development, Seattle businesses are learning that condominiums aren’t just places to live anymore. The condo concept is migrating to the workplace. Businesses looking for office space don’t necessarily have to lease it or buy an entire building. Now there’s a third option: Buy an office condo.
Herald staff report, Bradenton Herald, January 29, B1
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Brian Neill, Bradenton Herald, January 29, B1
Carl Mario Nudi, Bradenton Herald, January 29, C1
Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press, Bradenton Herald, January 29, B1
Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, January 29