Sales volume has slipped this year primarily because inventory levels are down. However, we have noticed a slight trend in the past few months worth noting.
Inventory levels actually rose in September for single family homes, albeit only 5 homes which is rather insignificant. Because sales are less, it did raise the standing inventory to a 3.5 month supply, up from 3.4 months the previous month. Both numbers are low.
Another trend we are watching is the median sales price, which has fallen for 2 consecutive months. This is a seasonal trend we see this time of year so we are not alarmed. Heading into season we’re going to need all the inventory this market can muster, and right now it may not be enough. Prices are still much higher than last year.
We would have liked to see home prices rise the past few months, but not for the reasons you might think. Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, and all of SW Florida is considered a declining market by FNMA and Freddie Mac. The appraiser usually notates this on the appraisal report to the lender. According to guidelines, and area must have 3 consecutive quarters of rising prices to break a declining market tag.
Lee County had a strong 4th qtr 2011 and 1st qtr 2012 but came up short in 2nd qtr. This contradicts our data so I’m not sure how they calculate this. I’m hearing whispers that the tag may come off Collier County Florida in January, but we’ll wait and see if that actually happens.
The reason this is important is because it removes additional restrictions and paperwork requirements when the tag is lifted. FNMA is already making loans tougher this November with new guidelines. For instance, self employed borrowers will find it more difficult and cumbersome to receive a mortgage. They will require personal and corporate tax returns for last 2 yrs no matter what. Lenders are just now receiving the new guidelines and sifting through the changes.
September is seasonal, and it’s not uncommon for sales to lighten this time of year. It does feel on the street as though there’s a dichotomy to the market. Agent listings seem to either get a ton of activity and offers or very little. This may change in the next few months as snowbirds tend to scoop up higher priced inventory for second homes and investment.
The upcoming election may have also stifled buyers who are afraid to make a big purchase until the see which leadership will guide the country and what the new economic landscape may look like. We’ve seen on TV many company CEO’s waiting to make hiring and firing decisions until after the election, and it’s quite possible buyers will do the same. If you’re worried about your job, chances are you’re not in the market to change your housing.
Once the election is over, the direction the nation and economy goes in may become clearer, and consumer confidence could rise. If and when that happens we believe SW Florida is poised to take advantage with lots of potential for price appreciation. All signs point to higher once the job outlook improves, and help may be just around the corner.
Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!