There was a business aspect to our weekend trip to Florida, namely, to check out the state of Florida real estate and the prospects of getting in to an investment property.
The verdict on real estate prospects? Poor. I've read that the Fort Myers area of Florida is one of the worst hit real estate markets in the US. Knowing this, one would expect to see some signs of slowdown in economic activity, but this was not to be found. Everywere we looked was a parade of new cars, motorcycles, and people spending money. The shopping malls were packed to the point of hardly being able to find a parking spot. Restaurants were full, people looked happy, and there were few building vacancies to be seen. There were more "For Sale" signs up than in recent years, but nothing like what we were expecting. While it's true that you can buy a house for under a hundred grand, this will still only buy you a beaten up house in an undesireable suburb, miles away from the ocean. The premium properties are still commanding premium prices, though not as high as a couple years ago. Properties that were selling for 750k are now a steal at 600k. To me, the prices still seem well out of range for the average person and far, far below what I would consider to be a great deal.
It makes you wonder, how bad is this recession really? This past weekend every single WestJet flight to southern destinations, and most in Canada too, was 95% full. This is not a sign of penny pinching consumers and the populace facing economic oblivion. Maybe people are just enjoying their unemployment and spending their severance pay on enjoying life for a while.
Is it possible the real pain is yet to come?