Net worth is increasing for some as home values rise

Sun Sentinel

The net worth of some South Floridians may be increasing without them realizing it, an economist said.

There has been so much bad economic news recently that the good has been overlooked: Some in South Florida are enjoying rising home values, said William B. Stronge, a professor emeritus of economics at Florida Atlantic University.

It adds up to South Florida slowly emerging from a devastating recession although Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade lag behind much of the rest of the nation in rebounding from the Great Recession, Stronge said.

But, then, housing prices didn't escalate as much in those areas as did South Florida -- until the bubble burst, piercing prices, killing many jobs and destroying many South Floridians' accumulation of assets, from property values to deflated stock prices, the economist said.

"We were the high fliers when we were flying high,'' Stronge said. "Then we fell even higher."

Now, he added, "We have to be patient."

But almost four years after the Great Recession officially began, Stronge said, more South Floridians have rising net worth -- that is, the value of their assets minus their debts is increasing with rising home values helping.

Last month, county tax assessors sent out notices to tens of thousands of South Florida owners showing their home value had gone up in the last year, said Stronge, whose Boca Raton home was one that grew in value.

Ten Broward cities and five in Palm Beach reported rising property values.

Parkland enjoyed a 4.3 percent increase in total appraised property values, the highest in Broward, partly because of new development. Cooper City, Hallandale Beach, Weston, Plantation,  Coconut Creek, Pembroke Pines, Lighthouse Point, Lazy Lake and Sea Ranch Lakes also had rising property values.

Stronge said people should check their notices that were mailed last month to see if their homes went up in value.

"It's getting all the time a little better," he said. "The economy is coming back -- not at its peak. But things are much better" than at the worst of the recession in 2009.

Homeowners can also enjoy a higher net worth because of paying on  their mortgage for the last year, reducing how much they owe, especially if they have a 15-year loan that pays more of the principal than a 20- or 30-year mortgage., 954-356-4205



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