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WEST PALM BEACH, FL-With conditions in the housing market continuing to slow, developers are searching for ways to cope with softening conditions, according to Bradley Hunter, director of Metrostudy’s South Florida division.

Among ways developers are trying to address the soft conditions are adjusting price levels and attracting new homebuyers by offering incentives, such as reduced closing costs and more enhanced standard features in homes. “It’s back to fundamentals,” Hunter says. “Builders who are waiting for buyers to come to them are going out of business.”

Locally based consulting firm Metrostudy tracks the housing market throughout Florida. In addition to tabulating building starts, Metrostudy tracks move-ins by driving by properties to determine whether there are visible signs of occupancy. One aspect of the Florida market that has become important to note is the number of finished units that are vacant. Some of those units have been purchased by investors, who are essentially competing with builders in their sales efforts, Hunter says.

In Palm Beach, there are 77 active and 148 proposed condominium projects. In Broward County there are 93 active and 249 proposed projects and, in Miami-Dade, there are 203 active and 312 proposed projects. “You can back off of at least half of those because they won’t move forward,” Hunter says.

Among factors contributing to soft conditions are the retreat of New York buyers into the Florida market and hurricane season. “The New York feeder market is starting to slow down,” Hunter says.

Hunter adds that sales are being slowed by the hurricane season, which started June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. Although Florida has not experienced a major storm this year, hurricane activity has been strong in the past two years, which has detracted some buyers from the market. “We’re in the middle of hurricane season so nobody’s buying,” Hunter says. “If we get through this season without a storm, I expect demand to return by December.”

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