Cheap no more: Florida ranks as one of least affordable housing markets in Realtors’ new measure

money-house-ntIt’s no surprise that property is prohibitively priced in Hawaii and California, or that homes are very affordable in Indiana. But here’s a shocker, from a new affordability measure by the National Association of Realtors and Florida no longer is a bastion of cheap housing.

In fact, Florida ranks as the nation’s sixth least-affordable market, behind only Hawaii, California, the District of Columbia, Montana and Oregon. By this reckoning — which attempts to correlate incomes with the supply of homes affordable to buyers in that income range — Florida is less affordable than New York, Massachusetts or Colorado.

Blame fierce competition for entry-level homes, which are in particularly short supply in regions such as Palm Beach County.

“Consistently strong job gains and a growing share of millennials entering their prime buying years is laying the foundation for robust buyer demand in 2017,” Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said in a statement. “However, buyers with a lower maximum affordable price are seeing heavy competition for the fewer listings they can afford. At a time of higher borrowing costs, this situation could affect affordability even more as buyers battle for a smaller pool of homes and bid prices upward.”

Florida long has ranked high on affordability measures, thanks to home prices that are a fraction of those in San Francisco and Manhattan. But Florida incomes also skew low.

Texas, another state with seemingly cheap housing, also ranks as unaffordable in the new metric. It comes in as 13th least-affordable market.

The measure uses a not-especially-easy-to-understand scoring system. Scores range from Hawaii’s 0.52 to Indiana’s 1.23. Florida’s score is 0.71. The lower the score, the less affordable the state’s housing market. The national average was 0.92.

For Palm Beach County banks, big bucks but fewer branches

SunTrust’s branch on Belvedere Road is scheduled to close in May 2017.

SunTrust this month notified customers that its branch at 422 Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach will close in May, a move that reflects the dwindling importance of brick-and-mortar banking in an increasingly cashless society.

Here’s the trend for Palm Beach County, according to an analysis of data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.: For the year ended June 30, 2016, bank deposits reached a record $49 billion, eclipsing the record of $45 billion set the previous year. Yet the number of bank branches in the county fell to 475, the lowest level since 2004.

The trend of more deposits and fewer branches has held statewide, too. Florida had 5,286 branches with deposits totaling $541 billion last year. A decade earlier, 5,310 branches held just $363 billion in customers’ money.

Bank branches won’t disappear any time soon, analysts say, but the rise of PayPal, Apple Pay, direct deposits and smartphone banking have conspired to make visits to the teller window a quaint relic.

Consolidation has been another culprit: BankAtlantic was swallowed by BB&T, for instance, and Grand Bank and Trust became part of Seacoast National Bank. Former rivals often close overlapping branches.

What’s more, the launch of startup banks has ground to a halt since the Great Recession.

Two Jupiter scientists win $3.3 million for breast cancer research


Two scientists from Scripps Florida in Jupiter won up to $3.3 million to create the next generation of breast cancer treatments for the thousands of patients whose treatment options are limited.

Ben Shen, co-chairman of the Department of Chemistry, and Christoph Rader, an associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, will co-lead the new five-year study, Scripps Florida said Tuesday. The grant was awarded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

“The researchers aim to develop a potent type of therapy known as an antibody-drug conjugate” Scripps says in a news release. “This new class of anti-cancer drugs combines the specificity of antibodies, which attack only cells they recognize, with a highly toxic payload designed to kill specific cancer cells with far greater efficiency than most currently available treatments.”

Nordstrom’s move to dump Ivanka Trump brand makes more sense if you look at the merchant’s geography

Ivanka Trump (Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump (Getty Images)

Nordstrom’s decision to drop the Ivanka Trump line of apparel enraged Donald Trump and stunned marketing experts. After 46 percent of voters went for Trump, observers wondered, why risk antagonizing a large swath of the shopping population?

But a look at Nordstrom’s geographic footprint shows snubbing the president might not be such a risk. That’s because the map of Nordstrom stores looks curiously like the map of Hilary Clinton supporters.

To wit: Nearly two-thirds of Nordstrom’s 319 U.S. stores are in California, New York, Illinois and other states that voted for Clinton. Just one-third of Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack locations are in states that voted for Trump.

And the demographics grow even more skewed when you look at regional voting trends. For instance, Florida is home to 23 Nordstrom stores, but many of them are in the South Florida counties that bucked the rest of the state by supporting Clinton. And Pennsylvania’s five Nordstrom locations are centered in the Philadelphia area, where voters supported Clinton.

Even in solidly red Texas, Nordstrom stores are clustered in Dallas, Houston, Austin and El Paso, all areas carried by Clinton.

Meanwhile, Nordstrom operates no stores in eight states that voted for Trump. Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming are home to nary a Nordstrom location, according to the Seattle-based retailer’s latest annual report.

And the red states of Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky and Louisiana were home to just one Nordstrom store each, according to the merchant’s store count as of Jan. 31, 2016.

Breitbart: Trump supporters cutting up their Nordstrom cards

New York Daily News: Actor Scott Baio boycotts Nordstrom