The local real estate market nearly screeched to a halt in late 2005, said Alvin Arner, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Stuart, Fla., and has since been climbing back toward normal conditions. There was a temporary standstill in 2004, too, after the double blow of hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in the area. The "snowbirds" -- property owners and vacationers who travel to Florida from colder-climate areas -- have been slow to return. Speculators have mostly skidded out of the market, new construction projects have slowed down, and prices have retreated about 15-20 percent, said Arner. He expects 2007 to be a better year, though, and 2008 to be better still. Coastal regions tend to experience sharper pains and gains from real estate gloom and boom than those regions with more moderate swings in market conditions. No two local markets are the same, though, and some market areas are tracking with the general slowdown in the U.S. housing market, while othe...
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