By Jessica Rosato Special to The Pineapple Everyone wants to know what’s going on with the real estate market in general, and especially, close to home. What’s hot, what’s not, what’s selling, what’s sitting, and most importantly, what is their home worth under today’s current market conditions. Just a few months ago, I was invited to be the guest speaker for PNC Bank where I delved into those exact topics. I can’t stress how important it is for buyers and sellers to keep up with these market trends so that they are informed and know how best to proceed and when. And it is even more important for buyers and sellers to have an agent who is constantly educating themselves, keeping up with the latest stats. You have to know the numbers! As a Delray Beach resident for over 10 years, I am very passionate about my community. I am also very passionate about real estate. As I serve my buyers and sellers locally, nationally and internationally, it is critical for me be informed. For example, mortgage rate are still extremely low, averaging back and forth between 4.00% and 4.125% on a 30 year fixed loan. Although mortgage rates are up 1 per cent from spring of last year, the current numbers prove to buyers that it’s still a great time to buy. We anticipate rising rates, and so many buyers are pulling the trigger now to take advantage of a positive buying environment, not missing out by waiting and buying at a later date. Oddly enough, although mortgage rates are in great standing, cash buyers are at a high. In Florida, cash buyers equaled 33% of all sales last year. This is partly due to market conditions and party due to more stringent mortgage underwriting. We have cheap prices, a cheap dollar and low interest rates . . .a scenario that hasn’t been seen in about 50 years. Foreign buyers, especially those from South America and Canada, are taking advantage of this. Influx of foreign money has certainly boosted demand and helped push up prices. South Florida home prices are up 19% from last year at this time, although they do remain about 40% below the 2006 peak. Sales are up 6%. Also increasing are the average list prices and average sold prices. The average list price for all current active listings in Palm Beach County is $601,413 with 14,227 active listings currently on the market. New construction is up and will continue to increase in 2014 and 2015. Average days on the market have gone down from 130 to 110 year to date, and inventory is at a low. Just in Delray Beach alone, inventory is at 4081 whereas last year at this time it was 4567! And what’s selling the fastest are the condos/single family homes in the $500,000- $999,999 range which have seen the largest increase. The second largest increase is in the $1 million – $2 million price range. According to the Case-Shiller Real Estate Index, we are now in active recovery, and I would have to agree. Overall, things are much better in today’s market. Home prices are inching up, sales are rebounding, and while foreclosure is still a problem, it’s much less of a problem than it has been. There’s a lot of positive news about housing all over the United States. Expect even more as we move through 2014. For me personally, in my business, the end of the 4th quarter of 2013 was very successful with 3 closings just in the month of December. The first quarter of 2014 is starting off on the heels of 2013, with already 6 newly acquired listings and many closings on the horizon. Buyers are active and present and serious, and sellers are listing their homes for sale because they see the solid market conditions. Also expect to see changing trends in 2014 . . . old-world elegance design and style is hot as is the truly vintage, the minimal, the textured, the handmade, the colorful, the patterns, and the luxurious. They even say that yellow is the color of 2014 – bolder, happier and more energized! Here’s to happy home buying and happy home making! Jessica Rosato is a Luxury Residential Real Estate Specialist for Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty of Delray Beach. Visit her website at www.bocadelrayluxury.com.