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"Everybody can't be Donald Trump," said Henry Fishkind, an Orlando economist who spoke at an Urban Land Institute seminar at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. "I'd be cautious right now."
Fishkind and other analysts agree that the housing sector has peaked and predicted problems for the condominium markets in West Palm Beach and Miami, where thousands of units are expected in the next few years.
The condo market in Fort Lauderdale is in better shape, mostly because of restrictions on supply imposed by the city, analysts said.
In Miami-Dade, more than 71,500 units are built or planned, Miami real estate consultant Jack Winston said, adding that only 9,100 units were completed countywide in the past 10 years. He did not release figures for Broward or Palm Beach counties.
Some small banks will be in trouble because they've loaned money to condo developers who won't follow through on building plans as the market softens, analysts said Friday. They think falling land prices are inevitable during the next year.
Likewise, real estate speculators will take hits if supply continues to outpace demand, hurting their ability to resell or rent units. Already, agents are reporting price reductions in some condo resales.
"Miami is ground zero for the housing bubble," Winston said. "It's going to be severe in Miami, and it's going to be problematic in West Palm. We've built too many units compared to the projections for real users."
More than 6,000 units are coming to West Palm Beach, mostly in the downtown corridor, officials have said. But unlike Miami, West Palm can't count on a large contingent of international buyers to scoop up condos, Winston said.
Developers point to the growing numbers of young professionals who want to live in downtown condos, Winston said. "The problem is, while they are an emerging market ... they can't afford the product," he said.
Mortgage rates could climb above 7 percent this year -- which would be enough to slow housing growth but not enough to cause markets to crash, Fishkind said.
Converting apartments to condos was one of the industry's hottest trends in 2005, but it will slow somewhat throughout South Florida this year, Deerfield Beach consultant Jack McCabe said. As a result, condo converters will head to other areas, such as Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.
The cost and scarcity of building supplies, particularly cement, will continue to affect development for a third consecutive year in 2006, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.
Simonson is more optimistic about the national housing market than other experts, saying he expects no more than a minor decline of 1 to 3 percent in 2006.
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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