A Florida scouting report…

images-7thumbnail1.jpegPitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training tomorrow, so I decided to do a bit of scouting of my own. On Friday, I headed back down to Anna Maria Island in Florida to get some much-needed sun and check on the foreclosure situation first-hand. First stop? Countrywide’s (CFC) sex party house, which I first footnoted back in July.

According to Countrywide’s REO site, the house is now listed at $851,900, and judging by the fact that practically every other house on this small island had a “for sale” sign in front of it — the number of “open houses” on Sunday was dizzying — my guess is that the price is likely to continue falling. Remember that the original mortgage was for $1.1 million and that just last year, the house was listed at a whopping $1.89 million. That kind of rapid price drop causes people to do rash things.

Over dinner at Star Fish on Friday night, I wound up talking to one long-time island resident about the real estate market down there and she thought that the worst was far from over. There had been too many speculators ripping up the modest duplexes and replacing them with things like this 1 bedroom “home” which is a few doors down from where I used to live back in the 1990s, or building something even more garish.

Given that this area — which largely attracts vacationing mid-Westerners — is not ground-zero for the sub-prime mortgage mess and the large number of foreclosures listed on the Manatee County Clerk’s website as well as by my former employer, the Bradenton Herald, the area hasn’t come close to hitting bottom yet.