Hurricane Irma came and passed, and we survived.  Thank God it wasn’t as bad as it was predicted.  It’s been irritating and people are suffering, but we’re thankful for all we have and preservation of life.  So, let’s look at what we learned and talk about Southwest Florida real estate after hurricane Irma.

Many people didn’t realize flood insurance is affordable.  I spoke with some who thought it would be several thousand dollars per year and because their mortgage company didn’t require it, they were safe.  We learned that people in Houston thought the same thing.  Flooding in parts of Lehigh are horrific.  This flooding was not due to storm surge but rather rainfall.  Other areas like Island Park, Old Burnt store Rd, and several other communities experienced flooding like never before.  If flood insurance is affordable, go get it whether the mortgage company requires it or not.

Southwest Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Older Pool Cage
Older Pool Cage

Much of the damage came from trees.  Large beautiful trees are a hazard in storms.  I don’t know what the solution is.  Perhaps cutting and trimming trees would help keep some of the weight down far from the trunk and save some of these trees from hitting homes and blocking streets?  Trees caused down power lines and were probably the number one reason power was out for so long for so many.

Southwest Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Newer Pool Cage
Newer Pool Cage in Reflection Lakes

Make sure your subdivision clears its drains regularly.  This helps alleviate street flooding on private roads and can make the difference whether your street is passable after storm or not.  People in Cypress Cay in Gateway among others were stranded for days.  I’m sure there were other reasons, but anything that helps drainage is good.

Gas lines were long.  Whether you’re running generators or just trying to get to work having some extra gas around ahead of storm is a good thing.

Living close to restaurants and super markets is a good thing after a storm.  While many were slow to open, it was a huge relief when they did.  If you can walk to either, gas isn’t an issue.  If you can’t, at least you won’t burn much gas.  Cash is king.  A few restaurants were cash only because they didn’t have internet.  With banks and ATM’s closed, having cash ahead of storm is good.

Newer homes fared better.  We saw some older homes lose shingles.  Presumably this could be due to newer building codes, although we did see some homes missing tiles on the newer homes.  I saw some pool cages down built to older codes and some untouched built to the newer codes.  Of course, wind direction could affect these too.

The bottom line is SW Florida was lucky.  We are grateful.  Property damage was not as bad as expected and there was limited loss of life in Florida.  Southwest Florida real estate after Hurricane Irma will be just fine, if not better.  We will have a few weeks of rebuilding and repair but overall, we did well.

We have buyers.  If you’re thinking of selling, let us know.  Hurricane damage and flooding may wipe out some inventory for a while so we may be able to plug a buyer into your property soon.

If you’d like to search for your piece of paradise, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com or call us at 239-489-4042  Power is not on at our office yet as of day we wrote this article, however we are taking calls remotely when we can.

Additional Resources:

We found a neat NOAA website that allows you to track damage to your Fort Myers property.  Click on the Hurricane Irma Imagery and zoom in to the area.  NOAA is updating this with new flights and sensors so new maps will be posted regularly.

Lee County Schools will not reopen until Sept 25th.

Hurricane Preparation Tips- 3 Yr old video while we were still with RE/MAX.  Tips still good though

Fort Myers Beach Sunset 1 Month Before Irma

That’s correct.  Your eyes aren’t deceiving you.  Southwest Florida home prices rose $100,000 since 2013.  We could end the story right there, and it would be a beautiful story.  As you know, there’s always more to the story.

We really like where this market is right now.  We would say it is fully valued.  By that we do not mean it’s headed down.  Our market is balanced.  It’s not all the way back for some homes and for others perhaps it is.  We do not see signs of distress we saw back in late 2005 that caused us concern.

Inventory across the US is down.  Inventory in Southwest Florida went down in May to 5,369 homes.  This was down from 5,719 in April.  The number of closed homes is slightly lagging 2015 and 2016.  This is partly because of limited inventory and partly because home prices have risen so much.  Inventory was down the last few years as well, so we can’t attribute it to that.

Southwest Florida Home Prices Rose Home Prices May 2017

Lower prices means more people can afford to purchase.  Let’s look back since 2013.  As you can see by the graph, the median price of a home in January 2013 was $140,000.  In May 2013, it was $176,333.  Fast forward to 2017, in January, our median price was $227,000. That is a difference of $87,000.  The May 2017 median price was $237,500.  That is a difference of $61,167. Going back 4 years and 4 months the difference is $97,500.  Pretty close to $100k in the headline.

Southwest Florida Home Prices Rose

When we look at average prices we see January 2013 came in at $215,873.  May 2017 official numbers came in at $346,559.  This is a difference of $130,686. Maybe this isn’t fair since it’s not the same months. May 2013 average prices were $288,547.  May 2017 numbers were $58,012 higher.

Southwest Florida Home Prices Rose Homes Closed

Either way you look at it, our market has done very well since 2013.  We’ve had a good run, and there’s no reason to believe we won’t have a good market a year from now.  We may not see $100,000 price gains going forward, and that’s OK.  Our market should move in lock-step with the general economy.  As incomes rise, so should housing.  If incomes were to fall or the economy falter, it could put pressure on the housing market.

So far 2017 has been off to a great start.  The stock market has done well and housing has done well.  Consumer confidence is higher and mortgage rates have remained low.  People have money and equity they didn’t have 4 years ago, or even one year ago.  More Southwest Florida homeowners have recently gained positive equity, such that they could now sell if they wanted to.  This wasn’t always the case.

As people’s lives change so does their housing needs.  When kids go off to college parents don’t always need that large home.  Growing families can’t stay in that tiny first home they bought, and so begins the housing cycle. Southwest Florida also has baby boomers buying 2nd homes for vacation enjoyment.  We also get people retiring from Northern states.  As America changes, so too can the Southwest Florida real estate market.  We are affected by local, national, and even world events.

You can search the Southwest Florida real estate market like a pro at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Our database has all the homes for sale and is updated every 5 minutes.  You won’t be bothered seeing homes that sold 8 years ago or missing new listings that just came to market.  In a low inventory market, it pays to use the best search site and ours definitely is the Best!

You can always call us too at 239-489-4042.  We’ll be happy to walk you through what it would take to buy or sell a home in SW Florida. Always call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty!

This past week I had the chance to visit properties on Fort Myers Beach.  I’ve included a Fort Myers Beach Home Search for you here.  Here is a Fort Myers Beach Condo Search as well.

We previewed Grandview at Bay Beach.  We’ve created a special page for Grandview at Bay Beach for you here.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Gladiolus Preserve 4 Bedroom Home

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

9800 Gladiolus Preserve Cir

$ Bedrooms 2 Baths 2 Car Garage

Gated Community

South Pointe South Home

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

9950 Vanillaleaf St

2 Bedroom, 2 Bath, 2 Car Garage