The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group released the April 2009 SW Florida Real Estate Current market Index which accurately predicts the local real estate market’s future direction, and once again the index improved. Fort Myers and Cape Coral recorded their lowest numbers since October 2005. In October 2005 the number stood at 3.44, and the index today stands at 3.72 The lowest on record was July 2005 when the index stood at 1.07. The lower the number the better the market is for sellers and the higher the number the better the market is for buyers. The lower numbers are a result of higher transaction volume combined with declining inventory levels.
Lee County Florida index numbers for single family homes stands at 4.26, down from 5.07 in March. We’re seeing tremendous sales numbers for a variety of reasons. Not only do we have home affordability back in the market, but also the perception that we’ve seen drastic price cuts and the end in price declines may be near. Buyers do not want to miss out on the possible buying opportunity of a lifetime. Along with attractive pricing is record low interest rates, declining property taxes, and a decent but dwindling supply of homes to choose from. Lastly, the government passed a 1st time home buyer tax credit that gives buyers up to $8,000 tax credit to buy a home and if the home is kept for three years does not have to be repaid to the government.
Rarely do all the stars align for a perfect buying opportunity, but that’s just exactly what we have right now. The SW Florida real estate market has been heating up for some time, and in 2009 we’re seeing some dramatic results on the transaction volume side. Pricing is a lagging indicator and will follow once inventory is depleted further. We’ve already seen a 2.74% rise in prices in March over February 2009 numbers. Total single family home inventory in Lee County fell to 12,356 in April, down from 13,019 in March.
Cape Coral is again leading the way as the CMI index numbers for the Cape stands at 2.88. Fort Myers CMI numbers stand at 7.26 Inventory is dropping in both Fort Myers and Cape Coral, and pending sales are increasing. We believe when official sales numbers are released later this month we’ll see record sales for March, and sales activity going forward for April and May looks to be very strong. Current home prices are so far below replacement cost that builders are not even attempting to build yet. Once this inventory is depleted prices may begin to rise on a gradual path towards replacement cost, and when that occurs builders will again start building. We believe we are still some time off from that point; however we are amazed at how quickly homes are selling and how the SW Florida real estate market has heated up. Once the overall economy improves and businesses start hiring again in force, we believe prices could rise at a quicker pace and approach replacement prices. Until then, home sales will be great as long as the price is attractive, and we may enter No-Man’s land once we deplete existing inventory and the market absorbs what to do once the bargains are all gone. The economy and employment will eventually drive home sale prices, and home sales may help drive the economy back to health.
Stay tuned as the market is definitely heating up, and the Current market Index points to more good times ahead.