Nine slow months have passed since a small-time investor cautiously waded back into the real estate market, paying $42,500 in cash for a foreclosure off Georgia Avenue in West Palm Beach.
Sagging floors are now stable. A stuck circuit breaker moves freely. The ceiling fan is centered.
"Right now, I feel OK about the housing market; not great, but OK," the investor said Tuesday, shirtless, sweaty and speckled in pale yellow paint.
Tuesday marked the release of the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller price index, a barometer of housing health that this month reflected some of his guarded optimism for South Florida.
Home prices in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties showed a 2.5 percent increase in March compared with 2011.
It was the fourth straight month of index increases for South Florida and followed a report last week that found Palm Beach County's existing-home sales in April were up in volume and median price - breaching $200,000 for the first time this year.