Some economists are ready to proclaim victory in our war against General Recession. Break out the tuba and the tympani — it's time for a victory parade.
So why does our real estate landscape look so battle scarred with its maimed industry veterans and financially pulverized neighborhoods?
We'll take whatever uptick in economic growth we can get, but we should probably hold off on the ticker tape. The recession may be over, but the post-recession doesn't look promising so far. Something's still rotten in the state of real estate:
The recession's over but 6,767 Tampa Bay area homeowners slunk into foreclosure in July, only a slight improvement from the 7,200 in June. The grand tally of local foreclosure filings so far: more than 100,000.
The recession's over but Tourtelot Brothers, an 80-year-old St. Petersburg real estate agency that eked through the Great Depression, was crushed by the Great Recession this month. The rump of the agency is now part of the Coldwell Banker empire.
The recession's over but banks still lose hundreds of millions of dollars in bum real estate deals across the bay. On Wednesday, Corus Bank swallowed a $75 million loss when it repossessed the Lansbrook Village condo complex in north Pinellas County. After making tons of lousy real estate loans, First Commercial Bank got placed in Federal Reserve custody this month.
The recession's over but local home builders have been dropping like boll weevils behind a crop duster. Smith Family Homes, Nohl Crest Homes, Windjammer Homes and Tripp Trademark Homes went out of business. Engle Homes and Mercedes Homes declared bankruptcy. Centex Homes arranged a hasty wedding this year with Pulte Homes.
The recession's over but foreclosure and pre-foreclosure homes represent nearly half of all home sales. That's helped pummel housing prices by more than 40 percent since they topped out in the summer of 2006. Price declines are more severe in farther-flung suburbs like Port Richey and Brooksville.
The recession's over but shopping centers and office complexes are tenant-hungry. Departing retailers like Circuit City and Linen 'n Things left gaps in our neat rows of storefronts. Developer Crescent Resources, builder of upscale Tampa office complexes, headed for the haven of bankruptcy this summer. Commercial landlords fear they could be next on bankers' "pay up, sucker" list.
Good thing the recession's over.