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Wall Street Journal story (Was it the cause)?

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Thomas N. Morgan

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Some of you may know that here in Marion County, FL there was a period of feverish speculative buying of vacant lots that began in the Fall of 2004.

(To illustrate what I'm talking about, vacant lots that in 2003 had been selling for $6,000 to $7,000 in Silver Springs Shores (35,000 platted lots) and Marion Oaks (27,000 platted lots) were selling for $35,000 to $45,000 by early 2006) Now, the market has tanked. Some of the speculators were from south Florida, seemingly with unlimited funds. Now, some are left holding the bag.

To get to my question: In the Fall of 2004, I was told by some real estate sales people based in Marion Oaks that this speculative fever was touched off by a WSJ story in April, 2004. The story said vacant lots in Marion County were "undervalued".
I have not been able to track down a copy of the story, or even a reference to it. Ever heard that this was the spark that caused the speculative fever?
 

nauthead

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I don't remember one particular article but do seem to recall statements in newspapers and on-line publications that touched on the affordability of the Ocala area. If I come across any I will pass them on.

I don't think one article started the gold rush here. I think many of the South Florida developers saw oportunities because of the low land costs and the availability and pounced.

Not only have the prices returned to prior values but the number of lots for sale is staggering. Rainbow Lakes Estates, Silver Springs Shores, Rainbow Park and Marion Oaks have about a 5-6 year supply at current absorption rates.
 

Chris Colston

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Except that it's not just Marion County. Same thing happened and is happening over here in Brevard. In particular, Palm Bay, Port St. John and Canaveral Groves. Single family building sites of say 10,000 sf were selling pre-hurricanes 2004 around $6,000 to $15,000 a site depending on available utilities and if there were Scrub Jays. Fast forward to Pre-Wilma (Oct 2005) and those same lots were anywhere from $80,000 to $120,000. Oct 2005 the bottom dropped out. Why? Don't know, except I think, at least here, that the speculators all thought there was going to be some mass coastal exodus after the 2004 hurricane season that the prices on land just kept going up. When Hurricane Wilma hit the same area the following year and there was no mass exodus, the speculators were stuck with land that no one wanted. So now, land prices are back down to $5,000 to $10,000 per lot depending on available utilities.

That's my theory anyway. I have nothing to back it up except observation. I really don't think the WSJ had anything to do with it. I just think it was pure greed.
 

Tom Woolford

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Lots in Citrus Springs (Citrus County) got run up to almost $40K by the spec builders. Now they are back to 2003 levels, Homes are not far behind.
 

Dale Smalley

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They still advertise Ocala lots on TV every day down here. Mostly in Spanish. also for Cape Coral, Arkansas and Tennesse.
 
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I am one of the morons that bought into Ocala, I am probably down 50% in value,on waterfront acreage in a very questional neighborhood in the National Forest. But at least I have a killer view and we listen to the mud boggs or the Wood Ticks playing at the bar down the way.
 

nauthead

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Our market is all over the place. It varies from subdivision to subdvision, zip code to zip code and property type to property type:

Manufactured homes:-9% for the year
Country Club of Ocala:+ 5%
34480 zip code: +23%
34470 zip code: +6%
Farms: +60%
Residential acreage: -9%
Marion Oaks: -2%
Silver Springs Shores: -9%

In every case, the number of sales have decreased and the number of active listings are way up. I spend almost as much time analyzing and reporting market trends as I do on the rest of a report.
 

Thomas N. Morgan

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Chirs,

You noted in your post that speculators in Brevard County were left with land no one wanted.

Well, here in Marion County speculators were left not only with land no one wanted. The 2007 assessed values went sky-high based on 2006 sales.
So they now the are left with low-value land and high tax bills.
 
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Chirs,

The 2007 assessed values went sky-high based on 2006 sales.
So they now the are left with low-value land and high tax bills.

My 1966 single wide went up $8,000 in value. Imagine that?

Most of the upswing was a result of out of state buyers. They set the tax base.
 
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