33812: Wow. Just Wow.

I’m greatly indebted to Chuck for putting me onto Petra Norris’ must-read local real estate blog.

She has a great post up that includes a spreadsheet listing the decline in home value, as determined by actual sales. It’s divided up by zip code. And while every Lakeland-area zip code has seen significant sale price declines, 33812 has seen 2007’s average sold price of $250,299 crater to $162,200 in 2008. That’s a 35 percent drop, if my math is correct. Holy moley.

Lakeland zip codes

Way back in the old days, in 2007, Chuck had a post focusing on the booming population of 33812, which, as you can see from the zip code map above, straddles 540A and Bartow Highway, south of the Polk Parkway. This is the eastern portion of the Lakeland Highlands. I think most, if not all of it, is in the county. I also think, and people can please correct me if I’m wrong, this is the area former Polk Planning Commission Chairman Larry Glenn called “chaos on top of chaos,” back in 2004.

Boy, this is tough. I don’t have much sympathy for speculators and irresponsible developers who used a compliant Polk County planning division to jam these subdivisions into approval. To the extent that these would-be tycoons actually own the houses in this area, that’s life. But my heart goes out to the real people who bought, probably at jacked up terms, in the hope of building a life in a quintessential American suburb. Watching your house, your most tangible asset, tumble in value by 35 percent in a year, must be horrifying. I wonder how many people down there owe more on their homes than they’re worth. This is not good.