Thursday, July 30, 2009

Foreclosure rates grow in Florida

I almost did not put this article in todays blog. I want to try and keep this blog as up-beat as possible, but I feel that both good and bad need to be reported.

One good thing about this article, that if you are in the home purchasing scene right now, then you do have several homes to choose from in Florida. Florida does offer a good investment in home buying.

Foreclosure rates in Lakeland, Sarasota, Tampa continue to grow
Tampa Bay Business Journal - by Michael Hinman Staff Writer

Ten of the nation’s top 25 metropolitan areas ranked by foreclosure rates in the first half of this year are in Florida. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Lakeland are among the 10.
While Las Vegas-Paradise has the highest rate in the nation with one in every 13 homes facing foreclosure, Florida and California dominate the top 25. Cape Coral-Fort Myers is tops in Florida and finished second in the nation with one in every 14 homes in foreclosure.

The Orlando-Kissimmee area is second in the state with one in every 23 homes in foreclosure and just made the top 10 in the nation. It’s followed by Port St. Lucie at No. 11, Naples-Marco Island at No. 12, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach at No. 14 and Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach at No. 19.

In the Tampa Bay area, Lakeland had the highest foreclosure rate with one in every 37 homes facing foreclosure, representing 7,407 properties and placing Lakeland No. 21 in the nation. Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice was right behind with one in every 38 homes facing foreclosure, good for No. 22 in the nation.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater finished No. 23 in the nation with one in every 39 homes facing foreclosure, representing 33,906 properties.

Every Florida metro area had higher foreclosure rates than the first six months of 2008, climbing as high as nearly 92 percent in Gainesville — which finished No. 68 nationally — but as low as 18 percent by Sarasota-Bradenton.

New areas around the country are growing in foreclosure rates, especially as unemployment rates rise in specific areas, James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a release. That might explain why Texas, which has an unemployment rate well below the national average, doesn’t show up on the foreclosure list until Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington at No. 96 — that despite being one of the country’s most populous states.

Tallahassee had the state’s best foreclosure rate with one in every 114 homes in some form of foreclosure, ranking No. 84 overall.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is the ocean Florida's untapped energy source?

By Azadeh Ansari

(CNN) -- The answer to easing the energy crunch in one of the nation's most populous states could lie underwater.

Imagine if your utility company could harness the ocean's current to power your house, cool your office, even charge your car.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University are in the early stages of turning that idea into reality in the powerful Gulf Stream off the state's eastern shore.

"If you can take an engine and put it on the back of a boat or propel a ship through water, why not take a look at the strength of the Gulf Stream and determine if that can actually turn a device and create energy?" asked Sue Skemp, executive director at Florida Atlantic University's Center for Ocean Energy Technology.

The demand for energy in Florida -- the fourth most populous state, with an estimated 19 million residents -- is quickly outpacing the capacity to create it, according to experts. Watch how the proposed ocean turbines would work »

"Right now in Florida, we are at the cusp of an energy crisis. Our energy demand keeps growing," said Frederick Driscoll, director of Florida Atlantic University's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology.

Beginning in the Caribbean and ending in the upper-North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream lies on the eastern shore of Florida.

Its powerful currents have been used by many fishermen, sailors and explorers to expedite their passage in the Atlantic north and east to Europe, but scientists say the energy within its currents could propel Florida out of its potential energy crisis, powering 3 million to 7 million Florida homes -- or supplying the state with one-third of its electricity.

"The predictions at this point estimate that the strength of the Gulf Stream could generate anywhere between four to 10 gigawatts of power, the equivalent of four to 10 nuclear power plants," said Skemp.

"The Gulf Stream is the strongest current in the world, so we want to harness our greatest resource. It's renewable, emission free and reliable," said Jeremy Susac, executive director of the Florida Energy and Climate Commission.

At the university's Center for Ocean Energy Technology in Boca Raton, Florida, ocean engineers are working with marine, environmental and material scientists to develop cost-competitive technologies to commercialize the energy within the Gulf Stream.

Though it has been considered for more than a century, harnessing the energy of the Gulf Stream is no easy task, and no sustainable system has been implemented.

"First we have to do a resource assessment and understand how much energy is in the Gulf Stream current on a minute-to-minute, day-to-day, hour-to-hour and yearly basis," said Driscoll.

In April, researchers at the center deployed four acoustic Doppler current profilers in the Atlantic off the east coast of Florida.

Using high frequency, low-power sonar, these large orange ball-shaped objects measure the speed of the ocean currents.

"We are looking at how much energy we can safely extract -- what is the sensitivity of extraction versus the environmental effects?" said Driscoll.
The vision for the pilot program is to develop and test a 20-kilowatt underwater turbine by spring 2010.

Sound familiar?

The concept behind underwater turbines is similar to that of wind turbines on land.
As water flows by the turbine, it turns a rotor blade. As the rotor blade turns, energy is generated.

That energy can be transmitted from a generator inside the turbine to electrical conducting cables, where it's captured, harnessed and distributed for future use.
Researchers also are looking at ways to use the electricity that is generated underwater to generate and store hydrogen in the ocean. The hydrogen could be used to fuel clean-running cars and trucks.

"Because it's such a new endeavor, there's a lot of knowledge gaps not only in terms of the technology side but also on the ecological side of things," said Driscoll.

Completely reliant

Florida is completely reliant on out-of-state fuel sources (coal and natural gas), but generates more than 90 percent of its own electricity, according to the Florida Energy and Climate Commission. It ranks third nationally in total energy consumption.
So how much will this endeavor cost? And what kind of impacts will it have on the local marine environment?

"Those are the questions we don't have answers to," said Skemp.

There are some hurdles that need to be cleared before the technology can get approval and become commercially available.

"This area is so new, we're still finding out what needs to be done," said Skemp.
"It's not like an established industry, like the aerospace industry or the automotive industry or others, where you have models which you could base cost on," added Skemp.

So far, the state of Florida has allocated $13.75 million in grants toward research and development of the pilot project, but the cost to implement the project on a large scale could be much higher.

Before a project like this can go forward, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will have to look at a whole range of factors, from the effects it will have on wild and marine life to recreation activities and shipping, said an environmental specialist with the commission.

If the pilot program is successful, it could take another five to 10 years before the technology can be implemented.

The Gulf Stream is something that has been taken for granted, said Skemp.

"The Gulf Stream is on 24/7. It's flowing 365 days a year, so it's a continuous source of energy."

Florida home, condo sales rise for 10th consecutive month

South Florida Business Journal - by Susan R. Miller

To view this article please click: HERE

Sales of existing homes continued creeping up statewide and in South Florida, according to data from the Florida Association of Realtors.

Even better news, the statewide median sales price for existing homes was higher than the previous month’s, though prices remain depressed when compared to last year.
Distressed sales make up the lion’s share of the purchases across the state, real estate analyst Jack McCabe said. And, he noted that the clerk of courts offices across the state are swamped with foreclosures they have not been able to process. Add that to the large number of REOs that banks are holding, and McCabe expects the pipeline of inventory will remain blocked well into next year.

“In my mind, we are still going to see pricing pressures until about this time next year,” he said.” That’s when I think we will get through this big wave of foreclosures.”
Miami led the pack in the tri-county area, with sales of existing homes up 54 percent in June, to 680 from 442 a year ago. Median home sale prices rose to $211,400 in June, up from 194,700 in May. However, June prices were down 28 percent from $293,200 in the year-ago period.
Fort Lauderdale existing home sales rose 35 percent, to 862 last month from 639 in June 2008. Median home prices rose to $204,800 from May’s median price of $190,000. But, prices were down 33 percent from a year ago, when the median sales price was $305,400.
West Palm Beach realized a 15 percent gain in sales, to 859 from 744 a year ago. The median price of a home rose to $250,300 in June from $232,900 in May, but fell 25 percent from last June’s median sales price of $334,300.
Existing condos also are selling, with Fort Lauderdale leading the way. Sales rose 58 percent, to 933 in June from 591 a year ago. The median price plummeted 46 percent, to $83,900 in June from $156,200 in the year-ago period. However, prices were up from May’s median of price of $80,400.

Existing condo sales in West Palm Beach rose 29 percent, to 746 from 577. The median price slid 24 percent, to $116,400 from $153,2000, but was up from May’s median price of $107,500.
Miami’s existing condo sales rose 19 percent, to 645 from 542. The median price of a condo in Miami rose to $141,000 in June from $140,400 in May, but fell by 49 percent from a year ago, when the median price was $275,600.

Statewide, existing home sales rose 28 percent last month, with a total of 15,850 homes sold statewide, compared with 12,339 homes sold in June 2008, according to FAR.
Condo sales statewide also rose 39 percent in June, to 5,241 from 3,771. Existing condo sales last month rose 8.3 percent over the total units sold in May.
Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month fell 28 percent, to $148,000 from $205,300.

However, the statewide existing home median price in June increased 2.49 percent over May's median price and was higher than the statewide median price reported each month since the start of 2009.

“Yes, we have seen an increase statewide in sales of 28 percent, but we have also seen a drop in the sales price by that amount,” McCabe noted.
He points out that the person who purchased a home a year ago, when the median home price was $205,500, is now about $57,000 in the hole.
Still, McCabe said, “we are starting to see glimmers of hope that six months ago weren’t visible.”
Nationwide, existing home sales rose 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised pace of 4.72 million in May, but was still 0.2 percent lower than in June 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The national median existing home price was $181,800 in June, down 15.4 percent from a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors latest housing industry outlook notes the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers is boosting the sector. "Strong activity by entry level buyers is helping to absorb inventory and allow some existing owners to make a trade," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a news release. But, he added, “the increase in sales is less than expected because poor appraisals are stalling transactions. The big question is how much the appraisal issue will impact the ability of contracts to go to closing."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cigars - Ybor City Tampa

Ybor City is known for several things but, one thing it really is known for is their cigars. Ybor City, is a historic neighborhood which has been known as a cigar manufacturing town since 1885. In 1886 cigar makers Vicente Martinez-Ybor and Ignacio Haya moved their cigar factories from Key West to Tampa, this gave the name Ybor city to an area of Tampa that at one time had over 140 cigar factories. Ybor became home to Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigrants who worked in more than 140 cigar factories in and around the area, producing 250-million cigars a year. This multicultural enclave started out as 40 acres of swamp and scrub trees northeast of Tampa. Today Ybor is an old historic landmark; you know you have entered Ybor when the streets turn from asphalt to hand laid brick.

One of the great attractions in Ybor is the Ybor City Museum. Today the museum is a state park in the heart of Ybor. The State Park contains permanent exhibits on Vicente Martinez Ybor, the founding and early history of Ybor City, the cigar industry, the social clubs of the city, and the Ferlita Bakery itself. Two years ago, the Ybor City Museum Society initiated changing exhibitions in the Museum space; these change twice yearly. The Ybor City Museum also houses a museum store with a variety of items for sale reflecting the ethnic heritage of the community, the cigar trade, and the site's history.
Here are some great links for Ybor City Cigars:

If you are a cigar aficionado or just love the smell and taste of a great cigar next time you are in Tampa make sure you stop by Ybor City.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Alternative fuel event coming to USF in St. Petersburg Florida

Do you have an interest in Alternate Fuel Energy like I do. Back eight years ago I was introduced to Hydrogen Fuel Energy in a college class I was taken. I was so fascinated in this energy source and I could not figure out why we could not use hydrogen as an alternative energy source. I know hydrogen is quite explosive, but if used properly it is very safe. Hydrogen is extremely clean, uses roughly 40 to 60% less fossil fuels and is much better for our environment. One form of research for hydrogen energy is called Fuel Cells. Since eight years has passed and much research has gone into studies of hydrogen and with our fossil fuels getting depleted we are now starting to see great interest in alternative fuel sources.

Well July 17th - 19th the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg will be hosting The Alternative Fuel Energy Event for HHO Games & Exposition With such great interest in Alternate energy sources this is the third event this year for the University. The event will be showcasing investors and inventors from around the world who are working on alternative fuel sources.

To read more about this event please click here.