BY Douglas Hanks
Florida real estate brokers may be the cheeriest in the South. The latest Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve once again has the Sunshine State avoiding the general gloom hitting the housing industry throughout the Atlanta district, which spans the Southeast. While brokers in the region said November and December brought “soft” home sales, Florida said sales actually “rebounded” after a brief soft patch. The reason: international buyers and cash deals. Florida’s housing shout-out came in a relatively upbeat Beige Book, which the Fed issues about every six weeks as an anecdotal report card on the nation’s economic health. Most districts reported somewhere between “modest” and “moderate” growth, suggesting the recovery is holding steady. South Florida received two mentions, both tied to the region’s strong tourism rebound. Describing encouraging dispatches from tourism businesses throughout the Southeast, Fed authors wrote “South Florida in particular experienced greater travel activity from Canadians and South Americans.” In a more discouraging passage, the Fed said most Atlanta district business “contacts” said extra hiring in the winter was mostly “temporary and seasonal.” “However,” the report continued, “there were some scattered reports among healthcare and hospitality contacts in South Florida that hiring was occurring as a result of increased demand or expansion.” Indeed, healthcare and hospitality companies have accounted for almost 60 percent of the 28,000 jobs added in Broward and Miami-Dade counties in 2011. Only Nevada and California vied with Florida for being hardest hit by the housing crash, so it’s natural Florida enjoy a stronger turnaround than places where prices didn’t fall as far. Florida’s relative optimism on the sales front has been a recurring theme in the Beige reports this year.
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