Dashboard, rankings, points and market ramblings. Any comments?

 Hi folks. Today, I have given myself a challenge. I'm going to see if I can put together an interesting post about Poinciana Fl. You see, this is where I'm coming from. For the last couple of months I had been comfortably perched as the "Top Blogger" on the dashboard, for whatever that's worth. The system was pretty straight forward, write controversial and conversational posts, for rankings and comments, down rank a few fellow Rainers and send out E-mails spamming for comments. OK, maybe I didn't use ALL of those strategies. Pretty simple stuff though. Now, the Rain gods have stirred things up a bit and put in one those algorithm "thingies" and are basing dashboard positioning on average post points, going back 15 days, and are only using "For Real Estate Professionals" posts. Also, with the Beta launch of Localism.com they are encouraging more consumer content related posts.

This is all good stuff, by the way. Localism.com is going to be…….well, to quote Paris Hilton…….."THAT'S HOT!" Attracting the consumer and getting business for all of our efforts is what it's all about, for some of us.

Anyway, one of the problems I have, with market and consumer content, is that I do all of my business in Poinciana, Fl. Poinciana is the second fastest growing PUD in the country but doesn't have interesting things like movie theaters, up scale restaurants, museums and the such. Poinciana is more of a family oriented community. In fact, out of our current population of 65,000 people, 50% of them are under the age of 18. So what do I write about? Can I write about all the parks and ball fields? Or, maybe, I can write about the community recreation center where the kids can go for weekend dances, sporting events and after school functions? Would anyone be interested in our Little League, baseball, football and soccer teams?

I was thinking about this post yesterday, while I was riding around Poinciana, looking at all the new construction that is taking place. It got me thinking about when I started selling Real Estate in Poinciana Fl., back in 1994, and how the population at that time was only 7,000 people. It was very peaceful. We had cows, deer, rabbits, bald eagles, osprey, sand hill cranes, wild hogs, snowbirds and many more native critters running all over the place. Then, at the turn of the century(sounds old doesn‘t it?), we had a major building boom and Poinciana, Fl exploded. Housing prices were still very affordable with most being in the low 100's. Builders started building model homes and selling houses. It was ideal for them because Poinciana  was miles and miles of paved roads and most of the lots had been sold off to individuals during the early 70's. So all a builder needed to do was build a model and start selling. They didn't need an inventory of lots, since they were readily available on the re-sale market, for prices below $10,000. They could build on a standard 70×100 lot and the utilities and infrastructure were already in place. Poinciana experienced this building frenzy for a few years. Prices still remained low due to all the builders competing against each other and the availability of inexpensive lots. There were, and are, thousands of lots to build on. Poinciana was growing at a nice steady pace.

Then, on 14 August 2004, BAM!!! Mother Nature hit Poinciana and hit it hard. Hurricane Charley, a fierce, compact, category 4 hurricane with sustained winds over 120 miles hour, hit Poinciana, Fl., with a direct hit. Poinciana was devastated. The destruction was heart breaking. Roofs were ripped off houses and trees were leveled. Poinciana looked like it had been bombed. I spent the next day riding around, and folks, I don't admit things like this very often, but I was crying. My market had been destroyed and families were walking around like zombies not having a clue of what to do next. Over the next couple of weeks, folk's life possessions were thrown to the curbs and discarded like common garbage. It really was an emotional time.

I'm still not quite sure what Mother Nature was pissed off about but on September the 5th, less than 3 weeks later, she sent Hurricane Frances, to finish up what Charley had left. A direct hit by a category 4 hurricane. All the houses, that had sustained roof damage from Charley, now got hit with 100 mile an hour winds and two days or torrential down pours. The already curbside debris, turned into missiles and flew around Poinciana for 2 days breaking out windows and destroying cars. Frances actually did more property damage than Charley, due to all the previously damaged roofs. More homes and lives were destroyed. Poinciana looked like a war zone. But, once again, folks started to get their lives and belongings together and the clean up began. It would be OK. Houses would be gutted and repaired and belongings could be replaced. Fortunately, we only had a couple of deaths.

Within a few days, of Frances leaving, we started hearing reports of another major category 5 hurricane, Ivan. It too was entering the Gulf of Mexico and the tension and stress of the people in Poinciana was almost unbearable. This couldn't be happening. We hadn't had a hurricane in central Florida for 60 years and here was the third major storm lurking. Fortunately, for us, but unfortunately for the Panhandle, Ivan headed North West and left us alone. On September the 15th Ivan hit the Gulf coast. Prayers were said a nd the folks in Poinciana got on with restoring their lives and property.

Now folks, I grew up in the Carolinas and have lived the last 30 years in Florida. Hurricanes are something we just have to deal with. But I have to say, 2004 was a year to remember. On 25 September just 31 days after Charley and 10 days after Frances, Poinciana, again, had another direct hit, from Hurricane Jeanne. Fortunately, this storm had lost quite a bit of strength before it hit Poinciana and it was mostly a rain event. But you can just imagine how stressful this was on the residents of Poinciana. Three direct hits, from major hurricanes, in 31 days!!! I hope I never have to live through anything, even remotely like this, again.

But surprisingly, this was the beginning of a major boom period for Poinciana. Investors from south Florida and New York descended on our little town like locust. They were eating up everything in sight in 2005. Property values shot off the charts. Vacant lots were being bought on a Monday for $30,000 and sold on Tuesday for $65,000. Folks bought new homes in January of 2005 for $110,000 and sold them for $220,000, ten months later. It was truly a boom market. Average inventory in 2005, had about 175 homes on the market, at any given time. I would list a property and have multiple offers the next day. I was offering 7 day listing agreements. All the old houses had new roofs and things were looking up.

That brings us up to 2006. The market changed and it changed quickly. By mid 2006 we had over 1400 houses on the market and the builders were pulling out. The market was, and is, satiated with over priced flips that flopped. Values are down 10% to 15% on houses and 50% on lots. In 2005 we had 1619 closed resale house transactions. In 2006 there were 1358. Down 16%. In 2005 there were 797 lots sold. In 2006 there were 214. Down 73%. As of this morning there are 1586 houses for sale and 503 lots. We have 122 houses pending and 67 lots pending. As you can see things have changed quite a bit.

So, there you have it folks, my meager attempt at doing an informative, entertaining and comment generating consumer post. How did I do? Now if I can just figure out this point "thingie" I will be able to rise to the top again. Or not.

Dashboard, points, rankings, and market ramblings. Any comments?

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