Sunday, October 4th13.7°C

Economic tides roll in on U.S. sunbelt

The epic beach party might not be over yet, but the economic tides are starting to inch a little closer for aspiring Canadian snowbirds.

A pair of concurrent trends over the last year have chipped away at the historic buying power Canadians enjoyed in the American sunbelt since the financial crisis: a 10 per cent decline in the loonie coupled with a roughly 10 per cent rise in U.S. housing prices.

Each percentage point washes away a piece of the bargain.

There are still deals to be had, as sunbelt housing prices haven't fully recovered from the 2008 crash — but Canadians should be aware that they're entering a much more competitive market.

To illustrate that point, one longtime real-estate agent points at a Boca Raton highrise.

"If you ask me about that apartment (and say), 'I'd like a two-bedroom,' what you're asking for might be sold," says Sandy Yacker, motioning toward a random building as she drives up Florida's coastal highway.

"I'd have to show you another building. We don't have any inventory. The inventory was plentiful two years ago — now there might not be any in that building."

Yacker's seen a lot in her 74 years, nearly all of it spent in Florida and much of it spent working as a real-estate agent.

She remembers seeing the elegant clothes along Miami's South Beach, in a distant era when women wore gowns and men wore suits instead of today's dental-floss fashions along Ocean Drive. She believes that was Harry Truman's presidential motorcade she saw as a girl once, rolling by on Flagler Street.

But she's never seen anything like 2008.

In her own condo complex, one-bedroom villas that had gone for US$280,000 were suddenly being panic-sold at $110,000 by frail seniors who had to sell in a hurry, because they needed to move into specialized homes.

She says those units are now going for about $170,000, after a bounce last year. The latest trend might mean lesser deals for bargain-hunting foreigners, but what a relief for homeowners pounded by the crisis.

"It was a shock to your pocketbook," she says of 2008.

"It's no question.... It was disturbing if you were trying to sell if, God forbid, an emergency came up — if a person got sick and couldn't stay in their home," Yacker said.

"But it's started to rise in price."

Bob Slack, a retired school principal from Ontario who has a home near Lakeland, Fla., concurred with that assessment.

Slack bought a home in Florida 16 years ago and has witnessed economic shifts before. He said people might spend a little less on a house, a little less on meals in restaurants, and a little less time on the golf course.

But they'll mostly keep coming.

"There are many ways snowbirds cope with a fluctuating dollar," Slack said. "People just adapt."

The Canadian Press


Comments on this story are pre-moderated and approval times may vary. Before they appear, comments are reviewed by moderators to ensure they meet our submission guidelines. Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic and be responsible. Comments are open and welcome for three days after the story is published. We reserve the right to close comments before then. Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of Castanet, but only of the comment writer.

Read more Business News

Recent Trending

Today's Market
S&P TSX13339.74+97.85
S&P CDNX525.56-0.33
S&P 5001951.36+27.54
CDN Dollar0.7605+0.0003
Natural Gas2.466+0.033

Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.215+0.000
QHR Technologies Inc1.19+0.01
Metalex Ventures0.06+0.00
Russel Metals21.48-0.07
Copper Mountain Mining0.42+0.03
Colorado Resources0.08+0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.004-0.000
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.02+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.095+0.005
Decisive Dividend Corp3.49+0.45
Diamcor Mining0.90+0.02


2298536351 Hillside Avenue
4 bedrooms 4 baths
more details
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading

Living beyond 100

Photo: ContributedThere was a time most careers involved an apprenticeship of one sort another. Some official, others involving years of servitude, and others time simply spent watching and emulating ...

Collateral mortgage

Photo: Thinkstock.comMost of the time I recommend that my clients not take a collateral type mortgage product, as it locks you in with the current lender and at maturity the mortgage is costly to tran...

5 Claim misconceptions

Photo: Thinkstock.comIf you have been hurt in an accident or as a result of medical negligence you will likely look to your friends and family for some advice on how to deal with the situation. These ...




Member of BC Press Council