Free Hurricane Inspection for Your Home

6 09 2006

How will your home fare in a hurricane? Find out by applying for a free home inspection. Through the My Safe Florida Home Program, “wind-resistance” experts will inspect homes and suggest ways to strengthen the structure against the damaging effects of a hurricane. Who’s eligible: Floridians who own a single-family, site-built home with an insured value less than $500,000 or owners of a home located in a multi-family complex of up to four units. If you live in a high-risk area and the inspection reveals upgrades are in order, you may apply for a matching grant of up to $5,000 for the improvements. This state program will serve up to 12,000 homes with open enrollment until November 15, 2006. More info: or (800) 342-2762.

Pending Home Sales Index Points to Easing Market

6 09 2006

Home sales should level out in the months ahead at a lower pace, according to an index based on pending home sales, a leading indicator for the housing market published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), based on contracts signed in July, is down 7.0 percent to a level of 105.6 from a downwardly revised reading of 113.5 in June, and is 16.0 percent lower than July 2005.

The index is derived from pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed and the transaction has not closed; pending sales typically are finalized within a month or two of signing.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, the first year to be examined, and was the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said there’s a closer relationship between annual changes in the index and actual market performance than there is with month-to-month comparisons. “In looking at year-to-year comparisons, the pending home sales index has been very close in predicting the actual pace of home sales,” he said. “Based on recent changes from a year ago, the index shows existing-home sales should continue to ease after a stronger-than-expected decline in July, but are likely to flatten in the months ahead.”

Lereah said psychological factors account for much of the decline in July home sales. “We’ve never seen a general decline in the housing market against a healthy economic backdrop where jobs are being created, the economy in growing and interest rates are favorable,” he said. “Psychological factors are causing some buyers to remain on the sidelines, waiting for prices to stabilize or for more favorable news about the market and the economy. Contributing to this hesitancy is a lot of negative news stories, but in the end we believe that underlying market fundamentals will prevail.”

Regionally, the PHSI in the West declined 5.5 percent in July to 103.1 and was 20.3 percent below July 2005. The index in the South dropped 6.4 percent to 122.3 in July and was 11.3 percent below a year ago. In the Northeast, the index fell 7.7 percent in July to 92.1 and was 15.5 percent below July 2005. The index in the Midwest dropped 9.0 percent to 93.3 in July and was 20.1 percent lower than a year ago.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors

Jacksonville’s Port is 38th-busiest

6 09 2006

Jacksonville’s port is the 38th-busiest in the country, according to rankings compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The rankings are based on figures from 2004. The Corps’ figures typically come out within a year, but the 2004 data was delayed because of Hurricane Katrina.

Jacksonville’s 21.4 million tons of cargo made it the third-busiest port in Florida, behind Tampa and Port Everglades.

Other Florida ports listed included:

• Port of Tampa, No. 16, with 48.2 million tons

• Port Everglades, No. 32 with 24.8 million tons

• Port Canaveral, at No. 81 with 4.6 million tons

• Port Manatee, at No. 82 with 4.4 million tons

• Panama City, at No. 108 with 2.7 million tons

• Weedon Island, at No. 146 with 999,612 tons

The Army Corps of Engineers ranked South Louisiana, La., first with 224.1 million tons, followed by Houston (202 million tons), New York/New Jersey (152.3 million tons), Beaumont, Texas, (91.6 million tons) and Long Beach, Calif., (80 million tons).

The world ports ranking has Singapore as No. 1 with 393 million tons, followed by Shanghai with 378 million tons and Rotterdam with 352 million tons.

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