Already Happening

NAR Economic Forecast: Consumers Will Propel 2021 Growth

By Kerry Smith

After the quickest recovery in the nation’s history, consumers with pandemic savings will “do more shopping, restaurant dining, traveling and in-person house hunting.”

WASHINGTON – After recording the quickest recovery in the nation’s history in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. economy is expected to kick into high gear in 2021, according to analysis from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) at its Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum.

Thanks to the number of vaccinated Americans increasing and new coronavirus cases decreasing, the economy will grow 4.5% in 2021, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

“Consumers will begin to spend massive savings, and do more shopping, restaurant dining, traveling and in-person house hunting,” Yun says.

While home sales have been, and will be, an economic bright spot, unemployment remains an issue, Yun adds. Eight million jobs were lost during the pandemic and have not yet been recaptured. Yun maintains that job recovery is taking longer due to some friction in the labor market, including some workers still unable to return to their jobs, with work-from-home not an option for them. As economic growth strengthens, however, NAR projects 4 million jobs will be added this year.

Unexpectedly and despite high unemployment, the economic recovery – propelled by favorable monetary and fiscal policies – created the hottest housing market in nearly 50 years. The market surpassed pre-pandemic levels in terms of sales, but the fast-paced recovery has also contributed to historic home price growth. In fact, an NAR report released Tuesday found that 89% of metros saw prices climb at double-digit rates on a year-over-year basis during the first quarter of 2021.

Thursday’s presentation noted that the economic recovery, both in the U.S. and globally, has raised inflationary pressures which will ultimately lead to an increase in the 30-year fixed mortgage to an average of 3.2% in 2021. Consumer price inflation is accelerating due to higher costs for a number of goods and commodities, including oil, gasoline, lumber, moving and storage fees, household appliances, rents and houses, which have reached record-highs.

“As mortgage rates increase, the frenzied multiple-offer situation will become less prevalent by year’s end, as affordability challenges squeeze out some buyers and more inventory reaches the market,” Yun predicts.

Although a low housing supply has played a significant role in home price surges, Yun expects more home construction, a growing willingness among homeowners to list properties due to an increase in vaccinations, and a gradual decline in mortgage forbearance.

“With more inventory and some easing in demand, home prices are expected to shift to mid-single-digit appreciation by the fourth quarter and in 2022,” Yun says. He predicts that:

  • Median existing-home sales price will increase 7% in 2021
  • Existing-home sales will grow by 10% as more homes reach the market
  • New home sales will increase by 20%

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

Since I’ve found Sharks Teeth in The Peace River and in Gainesville, FL I figure that we will be underwater again in the distant future.

More Relocators than Locals Ask About S. Fla. Climate Change

By Alex Harris and Rebecca San Juan

Some agents say “elevation, elevation, elevation” is replacing “location, location, location” in S. Fla. But it still doesn’t top most buyers’ lists as a must-have.

MIAMI – In South Florida, top considerations for choosing a new home have shifted, thanks to climate change.

“Before it was location, location, location. Now, it’s about elevation, elevation, elevation. The new buyer has to worry about both,” said George Jalil, broker and president at Miami Way Realty.

Sea level rise doesn’t top the list of buyer or seller concerns in South Florida – especially if you’re rich enough to afford the ever-skyrocketing costs of waterfront property – but for budget-conscious buyers, choosing the wrong home could have expensive consequences.

In the 30-year lifespan of a typical mortgage, some parts of South Florida could start to see floodwaters regularly soak their streets, yards or even their homes. Local governments are planning on more than a foot of sea level rise by 2050, and Miami alone could see high-tide flooding about 150 times a year by then, according to a NOAA analysis.

After years of stiff-arming the issue of climate change, South Florida real estate professionals have finally begun talking to buyers about their concerns with the rising sea and flooding, according to Jalil. “Folks that are looking to relocate to South Florida have more questions [about sea level rise and flooding] than the local people.”

Realtors suggest flood insurance, technology to keep floodwaters out and above all – looking for a home on high ground. The concept of “flood-safe” neighborhoods for ownership is a fraught one, but five Miami-Dade Realtors, insurance and flooding experts interviewed by the Miami Herald recommend these strategies for choosing a home.

Location, location, location

For most buyers, budget determines neighborhood. When they factor in commuting time, schools, places of worship and proximity to family, options narrow considerably. Adding heightened elevation shortens the list further.

From a climate standpoint, environmental consultant Albert Slap said he doesn’t consider any neighborhood in South Florida a universally “bad” or “good” place to buy a home.

“It’s not about doom and gloom, it’s about what is right for a particular family, company, whatever,” said Slap, president of Coastal Risk Consulting. A buyer’s appetite for buying a house in a flood-prone area can depend on multiple variables: how long he or she plans to live there, whether they can afford flood insurance or if they have a safety net to fall back on if a hurricane or flood destroys the home.

“Is this someone who is investing all of their equity into this home? Or is this someone who doesn’t care?” Slap said. “You see celebrities on Star Island spending $20 million on properties that aren’t going to last 30 years; they just aren’t. There’s a lot of people in Miami and South Florida who have got so much money they just don’t care.”

Part of that calculation is deciding how much flooding you’re willing to tolerate, even outside of your property line. While a home can be elevated and safe from floods, nearby roads could be swamped in a strong rainstorm. Or the local soccer field could go soggy in a king tide.

As Slap puts it, “You don’t wanna buy a castle with a moat around it.”

On a map, Miami-Dade is bordered by blue – indicating water – to the east and south. When sea rise is factored in, the blue invades, surging the banks of rivers and canals, pushing the shoreline inland and even seeping in from the Everglades side.

A review of two popular climate change mapping services – Climate Central’s Surging Seas and First Street Foundation’s Flood Factor – reveals a few areas of high elevation. Most of it is clustered around the coastal ridge, a spine of higher ground that cuts through the center of the county. It’s where Henry Flagler built his railroad, and in many places, it’s about a dozen feet above sea level, far above the county average of seven feet.

Based on those maps and market trends, a panel of two local Realtors and an insurance expert created a list of neighborhoods they would recommend to clients. Allapattah, Coral Gables, Homestead, Pinecrest, South Miami and Wynwood were tops. The panel included Jalil, Keyes Company CEO Mike Pappas and JAG Insurance Group Partner Luis Gazitua.

Some activists and residents warn that as the tide turns on what kind of land is most desired, it could lead to a phenomenon called climate gentrification that pushes up values beyond the means of lower-income residents.

For buyers on a budget, Homestead should be “ground zero,” Pappas said. “The best value is Homestead,” he said, highlighting how buyers can still find fincas, or ranches, and relatively large homes compared to other neighborhoods on the list.

First-time home buyers already know the city. Homestead ZIP code 33033 had the most single-family home sales below $400,000 from the first quarter through the third quarters of 2020, according to data provided by the Miami Association of Realtors.

Prices in Homestead typically fall 29% below the county’s median sales price for a house of $450,000, according to the latest Miami Association of Realtors sales report. As of May 2021, the median sales price of a house in Homestead was $350,000, according to Multiple Listing Service sales data.

“Homestead is very good,” Jalil said, “because you have a balance of non-flood areas combined with well-priced homes.”

Allapattah is an even bigger bargain, with sales prices 32% below the county median, at $340,000 according to Realtor.com.

Buyers with more generous budgets may opt for Coral Gables, Pinecrest or South Miami, Pappas said. Average prices are much higher, with a median sales price of $1.1 million in Coral Gables, $1.4 million in Pinecrest and $884,000 in South Miami, according to MLS sales data from April 2021.

Most climate change experts see Miami-Dade real estate as a declining proposition. But that risk doesn’t kick in for most properties for a while.

Only a small fraction of South Florida properties are at risk from serious, permanent inundation in the next 30 years. Flood Factor’s Flood Risk Explorer Miami map shows that by 2051, 8,045 buildings have a 20% chance of flooding. Of those buildings, 60% face a chance of seeing one to four feet of flooding, which could be devastating.

While there’s uncertainly over the timing, current models from international climate scientists and local experts show the problem is forecast to get worse. At six feet, the amount expected by the end of the century, there’s very little dry land left.

“I would be very cautious about purchasing property in South Florida because of sea level rise,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist from the Union of Concerned Scientists. “That said, that hasn’t slowed the real estate scene down in South Florida.”

Buyers and Realtors don’t see an issue. Sales and property values have continued to skyrocket over the past year, rising to an all-time median high of $490,000.

Still, one Harvard study found that single-family homeowners are starting to pay more for high elevation properties in Miami-Dade, a sign that those homes are becoming more valuable. Another study from Columbia University suggests the threat of flooding is holding down coastal home prices from rising as high as they could.

A recent Realtor.com study showed that between 2014 and 2019, sales price per square foot grew about 52% for Miami-Dade single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes at low risk of flooding. Homes with the highest flood risk, researchers found, only grew 5% in value over that same time frame – the most dramatic disparity of the 78 counties included in the study.

Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, said the company recently introduced data on flood risk for every parcel on the site through a partnership with Flood Factor because buyers were asking for more information on flood risk.

“It’s important for home buyers to be aware of that among all the other things,” she said. “Especially in an area like Miami where you have lots of properties that are more obviously at risk because they’re close to waterfront.”

Still, Realtors say they receive few questions regarding flooding during the home shopping process.

“People are more interested in having impact windows and protection against hurricanes, said the Miami Realtors Association’s Wollmann. “The last buyer that brought up flooding was from Boston and it was five years ago.”

The top three concerns for buyers – and local Realtors – include first-time homebuyer assistance programs, condominium homeowner’s association issues and condominium financing, according to a Miami Association of Realtors 2021 Advocacy Survey, which surveyed nearly 1,200 members. Resiliency ranked 14th out of 20 concerns.

“Years ago you never heard these questions,” Pappas said. “People are more educated and concerned, but we don’t see it being a limiting factor.”

Insight on flood insurance

Flood insurance is a must, said Gazitua of JAG Insurance Group, and should not be confused with homeowner’s insurance, which covers water damage and leaks due to hurricanes but not sea level rise or flooding.

“You would be surprised that some areas that are not in flood zones have flooding issues,” Gazitua said. “The assumption is that the farther you are from the ocean, the safer you are from flooding, but the truth is that there are some pockets in neighborhoods that flood due to [issues with] drainage systems, it’s raining more or the area is nearby a lake.”

Buyers can get flood insurance estimates for homes with the help of a Realtor during the search process, said Jennifer Wollmann, 2021 Chairman of the Board Miami Association of Realtors and Realtor-Associate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty.

Generally, that estimate comes from insurance brokers, but recently the Miami Association of Realtors partnered with CartoFront to allow its members access to automatically generated flood insurance estimates on any home in South Florida. The service shows estimates for flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, run by FEMA, and private flood insurance companies for any property in Miami-Dade through the realtor’s private site, the Multiple Listing Services.

“Realtors have had contracts pulled because buyers later say that the flood insurance is higher than they expected,” said Luis Gazitua, partner at JAG Insurance Group.

Flood insurance rates for new property owners are set to rise in October, but Gazitua said sellers can transfer their policies to the buyers to keep prices lower.

“If you are getting a 30-year mortgage on the beach, let’s say you are paying $3,500 per year on flood insurance, you can transfer that to the buyer,” he said. “Not a lot of people know that you could inherit the policy. It is the only policy that could be transferable. The only thing that would change is the name on the policy.”

© 2021 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

We Could have told him, if he asked.

Fla. Host of ‘Zombie House Flipping’ Can’t Find Homes to Flip

By Trevor Fraser

Justin Stamper says he’s digging through court cases to find flippable homes, but even those owners say, “‘Get off my phone! You’re the 26th person to call me today!’”

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Stamper, star of the “Zombie House Flipping” TV show, says finding places to renovate and sell in Orlando has become so hard that he sometimes has to dig through court cases in search of properties.

“I’ll get word through an attorney about a probate case, call the [homeowner] that day, and they respond, ‘Get off my phone! You’re the 26th person to call me today!’” said Stamper, 31, currently filming the fourth season of his show on A&E.

“We’re back to our grassroots,” he said. “We’re literally knocking on doors [for leads] in some cases.”

Soaring home prices and a shortage of inventory in Central Florida and across the nation is wreaking havoc on house flippers and wholesalers, people who make their living buying places at a bargain and fixing them up or selling them to other investors.

“We have investors calling us nonstop,” said Tammy Kerr of Sand Dollar Realty Group. “Unfortunately, we have way more buyers than houses to sell them.”

In metro Orlando, the median home price rose more than $30,000 from March 2020 to March of this year, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA). Over the same year, inventory dropped to fewer than 3,000 housing units for sale in the region. Stick to just single-family homes and that number drops below 2,000, just three weeks’ worth of inventory.

That has meant there are fewer possible investment homes available. In the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro, a total of 3,219 homes were flipped, a drop of 8.7%, according to Attom Data Solutions, which analyzes the U.S. real estate market. Home-flipping activity around the country declined for the first time in six years.

The inventory crunch has hurt more than just investors, said Foster Algier, a real estate agent and owner of First Alliance Capital in Orlando.

“Say you sell even 3,000 houses in a month,” he said. “There are thousands of real estate agents in Orlando not getting a paycheck that month.” ORRA has 19,000 member Realtors, and they don’t account for every real estate agent in the area.

Algier points to low-interest rates as one of the main drivers of the housing shortage, with 30-year mortgage rates falling to less than 3% last year. “When money gets cheap, home prices go up,” he said.

Stamper said part of the problem stems from people who see real estate investment as a quick way to make money.

“There is such a low barrier of entry,” he said. “All you have to do is go on YouTube and there’s a million videos on how to wholesale.”

Algier also pointed to a glut of buyers and investors as reducing options.

“We’re paying more because we’re competing against buyers who will buy anything,” he said.

Kerr, who has worked in Orlando real estate for 20 years, said one advantage to the current market: flippers don’t have to do much work fixing up houses they sell. “People are buying up anything, they don’t care,” she said. “They’ll do the work for you.”

House flipping did continue to turn a profit for the people who were lucky enough to get properties to sell. In the Orlando area, Attom reports that the median profit from a flipped property rose to $54,500 in 2020, reflecting an 8% year-over-year increase in the return-on-investment ratio.

“Home flipping remained a good investment in 2020, while resale values rose and raw profits hit a highwater mark not seen since at least 2005,” said Attom’s chief product officer Todd Teta in an email.

Still, the lack of inventory makes finding properties a real challenge. Stamper, a lifelong Orlando resident, continues to hunt for houses in his hometown for his show. But with his business, Blueprint Real Estate Group, he’s been expanding his vision.

“I’ve started buying a lot more houses in the Tampa Bay area, to be honest,” he said.

© 2021 Orlando Sentinel, orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Listings continue to fall

We are at 519 Residential listings at the time of writing this. Absorption rate is 17.47 this is crazy

click the link to see the trends.

Interesting

Zillow Responds to Real Estate Startup’s Antitrust Suit

REX’s lawsuit against Zillow alleges that separating MLS listings from other listings gives the MLS listings an unfair advantage. Zillow says MLS rules leave it no choice.

NEW YORK – In April 30 court filings, Zillow said an antitrust lawsuit it faces over how it displays real estate listings could debilitate its platform.

REX, a real estate startup, asked a federal court to compel Zillow and its subsidiary, Trulia, to stop separating homes for sale into those listed by National Association of Realtors® (NAR) members and those listed by others. The NAR listings come from local Multiple Listing Services (MLSs).

In January, Zillow altered how it displays listings after it gained access to the MLS Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds, which it uses under rules established by NAR. Those rules prevent websites that use its data feeds from merging NAR listings with those offered by non-NAR agents.

Zillow said it believes the rules are obsolete, but it had to agree to IDX display licenses to get access to the IDX data. Zillow also said that access to MLS listings expanded its offerings. In Seattle where Zillow is headquartered for example, the company said it was able to add 3,000 more home listings after converting to the IDX feeds.

REX sued Zillow in federal court because it alleges that Zillow’s current arrangement favors listings by brokers who belong to NAR. REX says Zillow’s January change places non-NAR listings in a “hidden tab,” making it more difficult for consumers to find those homes for sale.

In an April 15 filing, REX said listings that moved from the “hidden tab” to Zillow’s primary listings tab experienced as much as a 500% increase in views. As a result, REX asked the court for an injunction that would prohibit Zillow from separating the listings.

Source: Politico (05/01/21) Nylen, Leah

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

NO

Big RE Question: Will Workers Return to Offices?

By Paul Davidson

Future demand for both the residential and commercial markets is based, in part, on the number of workers who commute again – but their numbers remain low so far.

NEW YORK – A growing number of states are lifting business constraints as the numbers of Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to rise, leading people to shop, dine out and travel.

But the revival of one activity has been agonizingly slow: Working from the office.

The number of employee office visits in 10 large cities reached 26.1% of the pre-pandemic level the week ending April 21, according to Kastle Systems, the largest provider of technology that tracks such data through swipes of keycards and other devices. While Dallas and other Texas metro areas have solidly topped that average, cities such as San Francisco and New York have lagged.

The 10-city average is up from 22.9% in mid-January but has bounced around in the low- to mid-20s since last June, rising as much of the economy reopened last summer and dipping during events such as the winter storm that battered much of the country, particularly Texas, in mid-February.

“While the return to office is picking up slowly, we have not seen meaningful movement yet,” says Kastle Chairman Mark Ein. “It’s a very low number.”

Higher office occupancy is critical for the survival of downtown restaurants, shops and other businesses that rely heavily on purchases by office workers. Many outlets have permanently closed during the health crisis as central business districts turned into ghost towns. Office building owners are hoping for a comeback to minimize bankruptcies in that industry.

The outlook should brighten in coming weeks, Ein says, as a growing portion of the working age population gets their COVID-19 shots. President Joe Biden told states to make every adult eligible for a vaccine by April 19. By early June, most workers should be vaccinated and many could be back at their offices by July, at least some of the time, Ein says.

So far, 68.4% of people 65 and over – who typically are retired and not working in offices – have been fully vaccinated, compared with 30% of the total population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We think you’re going to see many more people coming to the office in the summer,” Ein says.

Another hurdle for America’s return to the office is that many companies and their workers have said they’re satisfied with remote work, believing it has improved productivity.

Paul Leonard, managing consultant at CoStar, a commercial real estate research firm, thinks office visits may remain depressed over the summer but should reach at least 50% after Labor Day and 80% by the end of the year. A Gartner survey of HR leaders at 130 companies in December found 90% plan to let employees work remotely at least some of the time even after much of the population is vaccinated.

Leonard reckons 10% of the workforce will work from home all the time, a third of the remainder will return to the office five days a week and two-thirds will let workers split time between the home and office. Based on those assumptions, 34% of the workforce would be remote on any given day.

Since Kastle’s systems track office visits rather than individual workers, a company that lets employees work at home two days a week would record visits that are 60% of their pre-pandemic level.

Lone Star State leads

Texas metro areas have well exceeded the 10-city average of 26.1%, with Dallas, Houston and Austin at 41.2%, 39.3% and 38.8%, respectively. The cities rely mostly on cars, rather than mass transit, where COVID-19 is easily spread, to get people to work, Ein and Leonard say.

Also, they say, the state lifted restrictions on shops and restaurants earlier and more aggressively than other states, an approach that combined with Texas’s more libertarian culture may have affected the views of professional service firms. Many office districts in Texas are also located in less dense suburban areas that are deemed less contagion-prone than urban cores.

“In Texas, there’s a little more risk and less concern about the virus,” says Stephen LaMure, CEO of Dominus Commercial, a Dallas commercial real estate firm, adding that most tenants in the buildings it handles have returned to the office.

Lisa Hall, CEO of Bene-Marc, a Fort Worth-based insurance firm for sporting events, says she asked her eight employees to come back to the office April 18 after they told her they were comfortable doing so.

A big factor, she says, was “the availability of vaccinations and the ability of anyone that wants to get one” to be inoculated. Also, Hall notes, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state’s mask mandate and all capacity limits early last month and COVID-19 cases have been falling.

She says she wanted employees to come back to the office so she could assess their work load and productivity to determine if she needs to hire more workers now that revenue is gradually rising after plunging 80% early in the pandemic.

In Houston, when Masroor Fatany, opened a The Halal Guys franchise in a downtown office district in late January, one or two tables were typically occupied for lunch in the 40-seat eatery. But he has seen a gradual increase in the area’s office workers. Most tables are now filled and sometimes there are lines to order the restaurant’s gyros, falafels and other dishes, he says.

Although the rebound still has a long way to go, “We have turned the corner,” Fatany says.

San Francisco, New York City lag

At the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco and San Jose are at 14.2% and 17.4% of pre-crisis office visits, in part because they’re high-tech hubs where companies and their workers were used to telecommuting even before the health crisis, Ein says.

Other industries are more inclined to return to the office swiftly. Office occupancy among law firms in the 10 cities it tracks is at 39.3%, Kastle data shows. The companies tend to be less tech savvy, they’re more reliant on paper documents, and they have more rigid policies, Ein says.

New York City also lags, at 15.8% of pre-pandemic office visits, in part because it was hit hard by COVID-19 early in the pandemic and has been cautious about reopening, Ein says.

Copyright 2021, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY

# of Listings continue to drop

As of this morning we have 547 residential single family listings in Indian River County FL. That makes 11 straight business days under 600. With an absorption rate of 17.34 days we only have 31.55 days of supply.

Check the graph for details

I always thought this was big power grab

Court Strikes Down CDC’s Eviction Ban

A U.S. District Court judge called the CDC’s eviction ban unlawful, effectively ending it. The DOJ already appealed the decision, but a stay has not yet been requested.

WASHINGTON – U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia struck down a nationwide eviction moratorium Wednesday, calling it unlawful. Friedrich’s ruling applies nationwide, though the Department of Justice has appealed the decision.

The eviction ban was put in place last year by the Trump administration using public health powers granted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during health emergencies.

The ban was most recently extended by President Biden through the end of June.

In her 20-page ruling, Friedrich said, “It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic. The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not.”

The Georgia Association of Realtors® and Alabama Association of Realtors®, two housing providers and their property management companies, filed the suit in defense of mom-and-pop property owners around the country struggling to pay bills without rental income for more than a year.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) – which helped secure nearly $50 billion in rental assistance provided by Congress since December to help tenants pay their bills and provide relief to housing providers who have lost income – supported the lawsuit, saying the ban was no longer needed.

“NAR has always maintained that the best solution for all parties was rental assistance to cover the rent, taxes and utility bills for tenants struggling during the pandemic,” says NAR President Charlie Oppler. “This decision prevents two crises – one for tenants and one for mom-and-pop housing providers who do not have a reprieve from their bills. With rental assistance secured, the economy growing and unemployment rates falling, there is no need to continue a blanket, nationwide eviction ban. With this safety net firmly in place, the market needs a return to normalcy and stability.”

Oppler adds: “Our attention now should turn to the swift and efficient implementation of rental assistance.”

Read the court opinion.

Source: National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

Florida Gets Even More Popular

Gov. DeSantis Blocks Local COVID-19 Orders

By Jim Turner

The Executive Order doesn’t block individual businesses from requiring masks or social distancing, but it limits the authority of cities and counties to mandate them.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended all local-government coronavirus emergency orders on Monday as he signed a bill that makes permanent his ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports” and limits the authority of cities and counties in future health-care crises.

“My message is that the vaccines protect you. Get vaccinated, and then live your life as if you are protected,” DeSantis said during an event at the Big Catch at Salt Creek, a St. Petersburg restaurant. “You don’t have to chafe under restrictions infinitum.”

DeSantis announced an executive order suspending local-government orders about coronavirus precautions and signed an emergency-management bill (SB 2006) approved Thursday by the Legislature.

While the executive order won’t block businesses from requiring customers to socially distance or wear masks, DeSantis said he will call at the next state clemency board meeting for lifting outstanding COVID-19-related fines that local governments have imposed on businesses.

Democrats called the executive order “premature” and a separate so-called vaccine passport-ban “strange” as Republicans advocated for business freedom. The vaccine-passport ban prevents businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring people to show proof of vaccination before gaining entry.

DeSantis on April 2 issued an executive order blocking vaccine passports, which he said would create “huge” privacy issues that could result in people handing over medical information to a “big corporation.” The bill makes that permanent. The bill signed Monday by DeSantis will allow the governor to override local orders during health crises if they are determined to “unnecessarily restrict individual rights or liberties.”

House Minority Co-leader Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, said the executive order will pressure businesses to lift COVID-19 requirements to avoid confusion.

The bill signed by DeSantis will require local emergency orders to be narrowly tailored and to be extended in seven-day increments for a maximum duration of 42 days. Currently, such orders can be issued initially for seven days and extended indefinitely in seven-day increments.

Also, state agencies will be required to develop by the end of 2022 public health emergency plans, and the Division of Emergency Management will have to stockpile personal protective equipment.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.4 million people in Florida have been fully vaccinated, 29.86% of the population, the 36th-best rate among states.

The state Department of Health reported Monday that nearly 2.6 million people have received the first doses of a two-dose series.

Source: News Service of Florida

Tracking The MLS

For close to 30 days I have been tracking the MLS for Indian River County, FL and the trends have become clear.

The number of residential listings started at 673 and as of this morning we have 549. The number under contract/pending started at 1,306 and as of today is 1,178. The absorption rate was 14.59 and as of today is 17.24. Click the link to see the daily trends.