County Commissioners decided Tuesday to limit lawn watering to one time a day twice a week from midnight to 8 a.m.   We are more than 6 inches below our normal rainfall for the year, and this is the dry time of year.  Yesterday’s rains will of course help tremendously, but for how long?

Lehigh Acres has experienced dry conditions, and some have complained about well activity and their concern their wells could go dry.  In fact, the Ellis Team is involved in one deal now where the seller must dig a $6,000 new well that has a bigger pipe and is deeper just to keep the deal alive.  We are about 6 weeks away rom rainy season here in SW Florida, so any rain relief we receive now is welcome.

We recently came across an article recomending the Top 500 Real Estate Blogs nationwide and were suprised to see our Blog here in SW Florida mentioned, expecially coming from Pittsburgh, PA.

We are pleased and honored that our Blog made the SW Florida real estate list and we’ll continue to do our best to bring you the latest news, statistics, and analysis to the SW Florida real estate market via this Blog.

We also just made their updated 750 Blogs to watch article released yesterday from the Pittsburgh Homes Daily.

Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe this brand new 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath pool home in Gateway. From the brick paved driveway and beautifully landscaped front yard to the entry where you’re greeted with a one of a kind architectural design of columns, arches, high volume and tray ceilings, crown and base molding throughout, 22 inch tile in all wet areas and carpet in all the bedrooms, recessed lighting, and painted in a gorgeous contemporary style of warm, neutral tones. The kitchen is a taste of high class, with upgraded 42 inch, dark wood cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Master suite includes his and hers walk-in closets, tray ceiling, sliding glass doors leading out to lanai and master bath with walk-around shower, garden tub, dual sinks and granite countertops. This home is a GE Smart Home design and features a multisource audio system in master bedroom, bath and lanai. Come see for yourself why we think this is a dream home come true!

Help is on the way in Lee County, as DOT plans to improve the interchanges at I-75 and Alico Road, and at Corkscrew Road.  Recent building activity and growth have caused at least one of the intersections to receive a failing grade, and the other is close.  It’s just too much traffic at this time for these two SW Florida intersections.

Bids should go out soon for the estimated $36 million project which has been in planning for about 10 years.  The project should take about 2 years to finish and won’t affect traffic on I-75.

First Home, now a division of Hovanian Enterprises, claimed it’s first lending victim.  Investors from the credit union bought several homes with construction loans, which means the buyer financed the construction of the homes.  The problem is between the time the investor went to contract and the time it took to close-out the construction-perm loan, the market fell significantly to the point there wasn’t enough value in the home to justify the loan to value ratio.  Lenders no longer wanted to issue permanent financing, and the loan failed.

The investor can’t close-out the loan, and can’t sell the property for what they paid for it, so the buyer can’t ultimately close.

Not only will this have far reacing impacts on lenders, it may affect the builder as well when they don’t receive final draws on the construction loans and have oodles of properties tied up in court or foreclosure.

In fact, already many investors are suing alleging fraud by First Home, Construction Loan and D’Alessandro & Woodyard, a real estate brokerage that sold some houses for First Home.

More lawsuits are expected as investors from all over invested in these deals.  First Home primarily builds homes in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Lehigh Acres Florida.  Many investors had decent credit scores, but lacked the assets to carry the properties if everything didn’t work out the way they planned.  Obviously, things didn’t work out the way they planned as the market took a serious turn and didn’t pass Go.

The SW Florida real estate market has been hot and cold, up and down.  The first few weeks of March were hot, the second half was not.  Recent trends show the Lee County housing market is gaining strength, but don’t look for prices to pick-up anytime soon as we still have high inventory levels.

We expect 2007 to be a gradual strengthening market, and by strength we mean inventory leveling off and home sales picking up from 1st quarter 2007 levels.

The hot Fort Myers, Cape Coral housing market helped fuel census estimates which shows Fort Myers and Cape Coral was the third fastest growing metro area in the country, with 29.6% growth.  Naples Florida wasn’t far behind at #7 with 25.2% growth.

Data was from April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006.  SW Florida real estate is still very popular, and we are expected to grow at steady rates.  Housing supply in SW Florida may have slowed down until demand has a chance to catch-up with supply.

As this process occurs, housing affordability in SW Florida becomes more affordable, until which time we reach equilibrium again.  Housing numbers are expected to regain strength throughout 2007, while prices are expected to remain flat. 

Showings remained steady in March compared to February 2007.  We noticed March showings were particularly strong the first two weeks of March, then trailed off a bit the second half of March.

March 2007 Statistics:

Total Number of Showings February 2007 938
Average Number of Showings Before Selling 6.7
Average number of Showings During 1st Week of Listing .6
2nd Week of Listing .4
3rd Week of Listing .3
4th Week of Listing .3
5th Week of Listing .3
6th Week of Listing .3


February 2007 Statistics:

Total Number of Showings February 2007 962
Average Number of Showings Before Selling 5.5
Average number of Showings During 1st Week of Listing .4
2nd Week of Listing .2
3rd Week of Listing .3
4th Week of Listing .3
5th Week of Listing .2
6th Week of Listing .2


January 2007 Statistics:

Total Number of Showings December 2006 945
Average Number of Showings Before Selling 6.0
Average number of Showings During 1st Week of Listing .3
2nd Week of Listing .4
3rd Week of Listing .5
4th Week of Listing .3
5th Week of Listing .3
6th Week of Listing .5

SW Florida International Airport, serving Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Naples, and all of SW Florida received more visitirs in February 2007 than any other month in its history, marking over 841,000 passengers for the month.

AirTran had the most passengers with 101,261, followed by Us Airways and Delta.  SW Florida continues to a nice vacation spot, and as more people move to SW Florida, airline traffic increases as residents take business trips, and friends come to visit.

It’s always been said, just move to Florida and you’ll find out how many friends you have.