Classic mania, classic bubble, and now a classic crash underway in Florida and around the nation. No matter what realtors on commission try to tell you.
Post-boom hangover lingers - Once ground zero for speculation, now in the throes of an epic slump
NORTH PORT -- The first thing you notice as you drive the hundreds of miles of crumbling roads in this once rapidly growing city is the enormous number of "For Sale" signs.
Every 9th or 10th house is either listed for sale or will be as soon as foreclosure proceedings are concluded.
"Drive any block in North Port and you will see four or five 'For Sale' signs in every direction," said Michael Tenn, a Daytona Beach resident still trying to sell the house his grandmother moved out of last year. "Everybody is trying to get rid of property."
A few years ago, it was just the opposite.
Speculation was rampant and home prices were bid up rapidly on the theory that retiring baby boomers would pay anything for a place in the sun.
It is a game that was played throughout Florida and across the United States during the boom. In North Port, it proved especially attractive because of the lower cost of land and houses, which allowed people of more limited means to play.
The victims of the bust are myriad.
"It's pretty doom and gloom," said Jason Painter, an agent with Program Realty LLC in North Port.
Convinced that wave after wave of retiring baby boomers would continue to spur growth for years to come, builders kept building.
Today, all that has come to screeching halt.
In the meantime, he is trying to rent the houses to cover his expenses. But rents have also plunged. "I have one house on a deep water canal that I'm renting for $895, and I used to get $1,100. The others I used to rent for $1,000 and I'm now getting only $800."
"There's a tremendous supply of homes on the market and demand is way down," Clyne said. "Property values are melting like ice cream, and no one knows how far they will drop. The only way to attract buyers is to keep moving the asking price below the rest of the pack."
A 1,600-square-foot home built in 2004 that might have commanded $203,000 during the boom is now worth $60,000 less, Black said.
An acre of land that went for $50,000 two years ago can now be had for $10,000.