The Florida Association of Realtors released their monthly home sales report, and SW Florida posted a 36% increase in sales of single family homes over last October, 2005.  Numbers for October 2005 may be skewed due to Hurricane Wilma.  One such anomoly is the October 2005 single family median home price which was adjusted to $445,100 last year.  Previously it was reported around $311,000.

The median price of a single family home in Lee County slipped to $249,200 in October, a 4.67% price drop from the previous month of September, 2006.

As you can see from this chart, home sales in SW Florida have leveled off.  Showings have picked up, and buyer calls have really picked up in SW Florida.  For the first time in a long while, inventory levels have topped in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral Geo areas, and Pending Sales have bottomed.  This could be a sign our market has bottomed.  Buyers seem to be aware of this now and are getting back in the buying game.  We believe there is some pent-up demand, and once more buyers discover what’s going on, more buyers may jump in.

Condo sales in Lee County rose 76% to 153 sales.  This is a 155% increase from September 2006 numbers.  Median prices were down to $269,000, and this is why we’re really starting to see sales occur again in SW Florida.

Naples single family home sales are another story.  Fort Myers – Cape Coral sales increased 36%, while Naples dropped 27% down to 204 sales in October 2006 compared to 280 sales in October 2005,  Median home prices dropped 17% in Naples down to $420,000, down from $505,400 in October 2005.

Naples condo sales were down 43% from 266 last year to 152 this year, and median sales prices eased only slighty 6% down to $355,600

The Ellis Team has noticed phone calls picking up, and buyers making offers.  Pending sales have increased in the last two weeks.  We certainly have a buildup of inventory, and this market won’t turn overnight, however we are encouraged by some positive signs in the last month.

Here’s the latest look inside the numbers ahead of the sales report expected to be released tomorrow at 11:05 AM by the Florida Association of Realtors.  Based on latest MLS statistics, inventories have grown in the last few weeks slightly, and pending sales have remained relatively steady.  We’ll post an update tomorrow after the official numbers are released showing median sales price and number of closed transaction for Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, and the entire SW Florida real estate market as well as the state of Florida.

Lee County Florida Current Market Statistics.

 

November 27,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,186 1,031 17.49*
Condo 8,344 535 31.85*

 *We project there will be approximately 9,048 single family closings reported in Lee County MLS, and approximately 3,144 condo sales reported.  Months supply of inventory are based upon these projections. 

November 9,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,148 1,046 17.44*
Condo 8,096 534 30.90*

October 18,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,669 1,128 16.80*
Condo 7,834 543 29.90*

 

August 23,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,168 1,261 13.10
Condo 7,391 557 14.18

 

 

July 25,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,053 1,343 12.97
Condo 7,387 591 14.17

 

 

May 27, 2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 11,838 1,426 12.74
Condo 7,414 644 14.22

 

Naples Florida real estate sales for both homes and condos were of 50% for the first 9 months of 2006.  Inventory of properties on the market is up 300% to over a 21 months supply.

The Fort Myers Cape Coral real estate market hasn’t fared much better, although sellers have adjusted quicker than Naples sellers.  Both markets will be hit hard.  Fort Myers and Cape Coral has already adjusted.  The end result will be similiar, the time it takes to recover will be different.  Naples market will stay down longer because they’ve been slow to respond,  Fort Myers and Cape Coral is already showing signs of recovery as buyers are coming into the market.

Affordability is up as prices have come down.  When inventory levels start coming down and pending sales start going up we’ll have a more definitive answer, and until this happens we can’t say the worst is over just yet.  We are seeing signs of increased buyer calls, and increased showings, which is a ppositive sign heading into season.

2007 is already starting off much better than 2006 did.

Resale properties are expected to increase at a 1.6% rate in 2006 and a 1.7% rate in 2007.  2006 will be the third highest year on record for number of sales, and 2007 levels are expected to match 2006 levels of about 6.47 million homes.

"We now have the most favorable market for home buyers in several years, and most sellers — who’ve been in their home for a normal period of homeownership — are still seeing very healthy returns on their investment. Conditions for buyers have improved because sellers are flexible now and mortgage interest rates are near historic lows. The market promises to be more balanced between buyers and sellers by early spring, supporting future price growth," according to David Lereah, NAR chief economist.

SW Florida real estate sales climate is expected to improve significantly in 2007.  We are beginning to see the tell tale signs of buyers realizing now is a good time to enter back in the SW Florida real estate market.  We’ll explain those signs in further detail in a future Blog article.

As you can see from the charts below, the SW Florida real estate market continued adding inventory since our last report, and pending sales have fallen again.  This has led to sellers lowering asking prices to attract buyers.

 

 

Lee County Florida Current Market Statistics.

 

November 9,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 13,148 1,046 17.44*
Condo 8,096 534 30.90*

*We project there will be approximately 9,048 single family closings reported in Lee County MLS, and approximately 3,144 condo sales reported.  Months supply of inventory are based upon these projections. 

October 18,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,669 1,128 16.80*
Condo 7,834 543 29.90*

 

August 23,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,168 1,261 13.10
Condo 7,391 557 14.18

 

 

July 25,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,053 1,343 12.97
Condo 7,387 591 14.17

 

 

May 27, 2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 11,838 1,426 12.74
Condo 7,414 644 14.22

 

Make no mistake, the 4 headed monster is firmly in control of SW Florida’s real estate market.  To illustrate this, we’ll explain what the 4 heads are and how it affects the market.

1.  Investors entering market.  Investors bought property in SW Florida and around the state in record numbers.  They weren’t traditional buy and hold investors who looked at rental rates, cap rates, cash on cash returns and such to make intelligent investing decisions.  These investors were simply interested in the Flip method, buy today at any price and sell tomorrow at a higher price.  This strategy worked for awhile, until someone was left holding the bag like a bad pyramid scheme.  Prices eventually became too high and unsustainable by end users.  Flippers were even flipping to other flippers, but with end users nowhere in sight, this was bound to run out.

What the investors did do was speed up the building process by several years, flooding the market with excess inventory.  This inventory would have been OK over time, but because the investors sped up that process we now have too much inventory today. Had it come at a more normal pace and over the next few years, we would have been OK because we’d have normal inventory without the big runup in prices.

2.  Investors left the market on a moment’s notice.  We’ve established that they sped up the supply, but when investors left the market they took away approxiamtely 35% of the demand.  This demand wasn’t normal demand, rather artificial demand.  Many of these investors were not sophisticated.  They simply heard about how their friend made $100,000 in real estate so they thought they’d buy something and the same would happen to them.  They weren’t all doing their homework.  Many took out equity lines of credit on their current homes to finance these purchases, and were financially ill prepared if everything did not go their way.  These investors should have never been in the market, and are the most likely to lose money and face foreclosure.

3.  Property Insurance rates have skyrocketed out of control.  Insurers blame the rate hikes on increased risk and hurricane activity.  We believe this is partly to blame.  The other part of the equation is failure of government oversight.  Insurance companies must get their rate hikes approved based upon need.  What isn’t governed is the rates re-insurance companies can charge insurance companies.  An insurance company can show how their costs have gone up, but what they aren’t telling you is their re-insurance costs have skyrocketed, and the re-insurance company is often their parent company raking in billions in profits.  Re-insurance rates aren’t goverened like regular insurance rates are, so it’s a way for parent companies to pass along much higher costs to their subsidiary.  State Farm Mutual can rake in billions while State Farm of Florida policy holders pay the difference.  And we wonder why rates are skyrocketing.  Government needs to close this loophole.

4.  Property taxes are skyrocketing, not so much from higher rates but more from higher assessed values.  Local governments have grown accustomed to much higher tax bases without cutting rates smiliarly to make up for the windfall.  The result is much higher taxes.  Adding to the inqequities is the unfairness with the Save our Homes Act. 

Let’s take an example of two exact homes located next to each other.  We’ll assume the home and land are exaclty equal in value.  Let’s say home A has been owned by the same owner the last 10 years, and the taxes on it are $2,000 because the owner of home A has filed homestead exemption for the past 10 years and is shielded from more than 3% assessed value increases per year.

Home B is owned by a seller, and he/she wants to sell.  Their taxes are also $2,000/yr.  As soon as they sell, the new buyer will pay $9,000 in taxes, because the Save Our Homes Tax Act is out the window when the property transfers ownership.  They buyer for Home B is moving across town, and is now currently paying $1500/yr in taxes,  He’s willing to pay an extra $500/yr in taxes because he’s upgrading homes, but not an extra $7,500.  So, he decides not to buy, and the seller of Home B still sits on the market.

Scenarios 3 & 4 all add to the total cost of ownership.  Buyers cannot afford to buy.  Home prices have retreated from their 2005 highs.  It used to be home prices were holding buyers back. Now that prices have come down it’s property taxes and insurance holding them back.  Goverment could fix both these issues, if they were motivated to.

The market will fix scenarios 1 & 2 on their own.  It’s up to each of us to speak with our elected officials to fix the homeowners taxes and property insurance debacle.  Tell your legislator you want them to enact Property Tax portablity, so any savings you receive under the Save our Homes Act travels with you so you can afford to purchase another home in the same area.

September sales data released in October show national exisiting sales dropped , but inventory also dropped 2.4% to a 7.3 month supply of homes on the market according to a National Association of Realtors report.  This is welcome news and a positive sign going forward into 2007.  It was the second consecutive drop in inventory.

Inventory levels have been creeping up in SW Florida, although that trend could change as pending sales are anticipated to increase in coming months in SW Florida.

The National Association of Realtors created a Pending Home Sales nNdex which tracks pending sales.  This is an indicator of sales scheduled to close and accurately predicts the market in the next 30-60 days.

NAR’s index slipped 1.1% to a level of 109.1 in September.  The index is measured against pending sales back in 2001, and anything over 100 is greater than the pending sales back in 2001, the start of the real estate boom nationwide.

The south weighs in at 125, which is actually down 9 compared to September 2005, a record year.  National economists predict theis index to remain fairly stable the rest of the year, signalling a bottom in the real estate market.

Pending sales in SW Florida real estate remain steady as well.

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Search MLS for Pine Island real estate.