Many people in SW Florida believe we have a Turkey of a market. They can list all the things that are wrong with the market, wrong with the economy, wrong with what the government is doing to fix things, and wrong with how the banks are handling things. And, in many cases these people would be right. There are lots of ideas on how to fix things, and in fact we’ve covered many of them here. We’ve been quick to point out what is working, and what needs to be fixed or tweaked, so we’ve participated in these discussions just like everybody else who has lived here for the last 5 years or more.
This being Thanksgiving weekend, we thought it might be nice to go over some of the things we can all be thankful for in the real estate market. Transaction numbers were just released for October, and home sales in Lee County were up 96% over last October, so we’re continuing the trend of record setting sales, eclipsing even lofty 2005 numbers. Sales were up 7% vs last month, partly because the 1st time homebuyer tax credit was thought to expire by end of November which motivated people to close in October.
If you’ve followed these weekly articles, or listened to our radio show “The Future of Real Estate” you’ll also know that we’ve been predicting since June that the median single family home sales price would begin going up instead of down, and we gave statistical reasons why we thought this would occur. As you can see from the chart, median home prices in SW Florida have risen every month since June, which is definitely something to be thankful for as well.
Condo median prices in SW Florida rose 14.07 % last month, but you won’t see that reported many places. Condo sales were up 143% over last year, so it’s not just single family home sales that are doing well.
The first time home buyer tax credit was extended until April 30 of next year, and buyers have until end of June to actually close on those properties. Additionally, the tax credit was expanded to existing owners under certain conditions. We were fighting for provisions like this, and while Congress didn’t go far enough, the fact that they did what they did is also something to be thankful for. We expect this to help the market going forward.
This year’s holiday season may be leaner and families have accepted that they’ll be giving their children less this year. Children have responded and they know times are tough. A parent’s greatest fear is they won’t be able to give their children everything they so very much want to provide for their children, but children are resilient and are supporting their parents through lean times. The truth is, children don’t need all that stuff to be happy. What they really crave is family time, and this tough economy has brought parents closer to their children.
A parent who has been laid off may now take a child to school, and we’ve seen many reports where parents are now more involved at school because they have the time. Parents are spending less on fancy tech toys and kids are having fun the old fashioned way, by playing ball in the yards, card games, board games, etc. We don’t mean to trivialize the pain many SW Florida families are going through, but rather point out a few of the silver linings in a tough environment. This is Thanksgiving after all, a time to be thankful for what we do have, and forgetful of what we used to have.
If nothing else, this economy has taught us to get back to the way it used to be decades ago, not 4 years ago. Society was caught up in how much we could buy, how much we could borrow, and it was fueled by rapidly escalating equity in our homes, among other things. We were taught on how to spend vs how to save. We bought things we didn’t need or even use. The market has corrected itself, and the question is, have we corrected ourselves?
I think the answer is yes, many people have made corrections. When this economy returns, and there are indications some things are getting better, will we be better as a community, as a family? Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to learn a life lesson, and lord knows SW Florida has been hit hard. At a time when few see the positives, let’s take Thanksgiving to reflect on all that we do have, and be thankful that life has taught us to get back to the basics. Tell your loved ones you love them and how thankful you are to have them. Be kind to your neighbor, as they’ve probably gone through tough times like you have. We’re all in this together. We’ll come out stronger than before, because I believe at the height of the market is precisely the point we were weakest as humans.
I am thankful to be here in SW Florida. I am thankful for the friends and family I do have, and I am thankful to be back to basics. I look forward to brighter days, and together we’ll get there. Thank you SW Florida, and God Bless.