Official numbers for April were just released and median sales prices were up 14% over 2014 numbers.  As you can see from the sales prices graph, median home prices have more than doubled since 2011.  In fact, they’ve gone up 157.63% since January of 2011 which is a nice gain by any standards.

May 2015 SW Florida Market Real Estate Update Fort Myers Real Estate Prices

People often call our office asking for homes they can flip.  They are surprised to learn how low inventory is right now.  They immediately ask about short sales and foreclosures and we tell them there aren’t many anymore.

The economy has improved and so has people’s job outlook.  Secondly, home prices have improved such that if they were underwater before, they may be able to sell now without being a short sale.

Most of the people who were in trouble have sold via short sale or lost their homes via foreclosure awhile back.  The public simply needs to know that SW Florida has recovered and it isn’t that kind of market anymore.  Most locals know that but visitors who aren’t familiar with our daily headlines are not.  Sometimes they read old stories on the Internet or watch old videos on YouTube.

May 2015 SW Florida Market Real Estate Update


May 2015 SW Florida Market Real Estate Update

Here is a graph that shows perfectly traditional sales versus short sales versus foreclosures in Lee County Florida. Back in January of 2011 normal sales were only about 35% of all sales.  Short sales were actually more than traditional sales and foreclosures were about 20%.  Fast forward in time and you can see the trend. Normal sales started picking up steam in November of 2011.

Speaking of old stories and old videos, we have them up on our website.  Simply go to our Lee County Florida real estate website  and click on the video tab or our video playlist on the right side of the screen.  It’s fun to go back in time and see what we were talking about years ago and how far this market has come.

Real estate is all about education.  The market is rarely static and is always changing.  The listings change daily and market trends develop over time.  The public has a keen interest in their property value if they are an owner and where values are headed if they’re considering buying.  Just like the stock market, most people don’t have time to study each property or each stock, so they rely on headlines and news articles for general information until it’s time to get serious.

Our website has a tool to find out what your home is worth online.  Owners really love this free tool because it gives you a value today and updates you each month as the market changes.

Buyers love the website because they can search for homes and condos online without a bunch of agents calling them like on the national websites.  Sellers can also search for homes as they may want to see what’s available before they decide to sell.

2 weeks ago we told you about our Buyer Advantage Program.  We informed buyers of listings we were working on as listings go fast in today’s market.  We listed one of the properties and it sold in 1 day on the market.  We have more coming to market in the next few weeks.  If you’d like to get advanced notice, be sure to signup at in the Buying section.

We’re looking forward to a fabulous summer season.  You can always call us at 239-489-4042 if you’d like to speak with us.  We hope you enjoy the Free online tools we provide but remember there’s no substitute to talking with an experienced Ellis Team professional.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

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By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907


When the headlines come out in a few weeks experts will be talking about how sales prices are up over last year’s numbers, and that would be true.  At the Ellis Team we like to study the market and identify trends for our customers, and today we’ll pass that along to you. Fort Myers Real Estate Prices and Cape Coral Looking Flat.

Fort Myers real estate sales prices Cape Coral real estate

We first reported some possible trends we’d be keeping an eye on back on Feb 26th in a blog post Are SW Florida Real Estate Sales in Trouble?

Again last week we wrote about some subtle changes we’re seeing in the market. Listing Inventory Rises Slightly in February, Sales Increase- Is the SW Florida Real Estate Market Changing?

Today we’d like to talk about some pricing trends we’re seeing.  I pulled up March 2014 sales data the morning of April 1. Keep in mind it takes many days for some agents to input closings into MLS after they close at the end of the month.  Not sure why, but it’s been a reality for years.  Based upon preliminary numbers we’re seeing, median price for closed single family homes in Lee County Florida remains at $185,000.  This is the same number as officially reported in February.   In other words, median prices did not increase in March.

Fort Myers Real Estate Prices and Cape Coral Looking Flat

Average sale prices came in at $265,386 in March, down from February’s $311,536.  While both numbers are higher than March 2013, they are the same or lower than February 2014.  So what does this tell us?

It tells us experts will be telling us how much better the market is this year because prices are up over last year, but it doesn’t give us perspective.  Typically prices begin an upward trend in February culminating around April-May, and sometimes June.  This year we’re not seeing that.

Season tends to set the trend for the rest of the year.  For the past several years we’d see our big price gains during season then the market would ride the train for the rest of the year, typically with prices dipping back down a bit after season until the following season.

If preliminary numbers for March pan out, we appear to be flat lining at a time when prices normally increase.  It’s called seasonality of the market, and we’re not seeing the seasonality.  If this trend holds true, our market may have peaked and retrench a bit later this year.

Or, it could be a blip on the radar and mean nothing.  I try not to read too much into data until a developing trend emerges.  I do like to inform readers and agents as to some of the trends I’m watching.

A good agent shouldn’t be tied to the outcome.  Far too often I’ve seen agents make predictions and then choose data that supports their predictions. Right now we’re not predicting anything, just reporting some things we’re keeping an eye on.  As a seller, this is information you might want to consider when pricing a home.  We do similar analysis at the subdivision level as well, as all real estate is local and just because one area of the county is hot or cold doesn’t mean all subdivisions are at the same rate. Last week we posted a more complete analysis on our YouTube channel with graphs and trends you might find useful.  Go to to watch that video.

Where is the market headed?  Will it pick up steam or cool off in 2014?  Nobody knows the answers, however we will keep you posted every step of the way.  Knowledge is power.  Not having knowledge can cost you money, both on the buyer and seller end.  People think the value of a Realtor lies in their MLS data.  Sure, you can search the MLS at That’s not the value of a Realtor though.  The true value is a Realtor’s ability to guide you through the tricky real estate maze and help you make the best decisions for you.  We take that very seriously as do many full-time Realtors.

Always hire an experienced agent.  Finding out the hard way later on can cost you in more ways than you know.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!
If you’re considering buying or selling in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Ft Myers Beach or anywhere in Lee County Florida, give us a call. 239-489-4042 or visit our website

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Yes, we said it, and don’t be alarmed as we’ve said for months we wouldn’t be surprised to see prices pull back a bit due to seasonality.  Median sale prices are still up 20.7% over last year.  As you can see from the single family homes median price chart, most of our gains occur in season January through April.  That’s because more of the expensive homes sell that time of year pulling the median price up. SW Florida Sale Prices Retreat.

SW Florida Sale Prices Retreat

We’re still receiving multiple offers on many properties and inventory is as low as ever.  Last year there were 5,668 active homes on the market and this year there is only 4,924.  Closed sales are up 6.8% over last year and they’d be much higher if we had more inventory to sell.

Cash sales accounted for 51.7% of all single family home MLS sales which is really helping with appraisals.  In a rising market it’s sometimes difficult on appraisers because they’re using comparable sales from the past even though the market is rising now.  Cash sales typically aren’t subject to appraisal, so as they close they provide fresh new sales data that is sometimes more indicative of the market.

In July 1,466 new listings came on the market.  Some of these aren’t actually new listings as they could have been withdrawn or expired and re-listed.  July also saw 1,149 listings go pending, so approximately 78.4% of the new listings went pending.  In reality it wasn’t because some of the pendings would have been on properties listed before July, but it does show that the market is turning over at a high rate.

Average days on market are falling to 49 days now, down from 57 in June and 60 in May.  This is a result of buyers having fewer choices when searching for homes.  Buyers are really surprised when they find out there are only a few homes on the market that match their criteria.

If you’re considering selling now may be a good time to research your options.  Inventory is critically low and we’ve been selling our listing inventory to the point we have few listings left.  We’re selling them as fast as or faster than we can list them.

Just because it’s a seller’s market it isn’t a license to get crazy on pricing.  Prices are going up however we don’t have runaway prices as the overall economy still limits how fast and how far prices will rise.  If we had a great economy prices could be much higher, although we would see more sellers entering the market which would add supply.

Builders are building again which is helping pick up the slack as today’s market just can’t fill the demand.  Buyers are often left scratching their heads wondering how they’re losing homes to other buyers.

If you’re a buyer and you want the house, don’t leave the door open for the seller to entertain other offers.  If you’re offering below asking price and the home is priced fairly, expect that someone else will offer full price or more.  More buyers are losing their first or second choice by leaving the door open.

Price isn’t the only way to make your offer look good to the seller.  Offer friendly terms, larger escrow deposit, and position yourself from strength.  Sellers not only look at price but how likely the buyer is to actually being able to perform.  If your offer is light on down payment, has contingencies, or other outs the seller may question your ability compared to other buyers.

Ask your Realtor to make your offer look good to the seller.  If you need help, feel free to call the Ellis Team.  We’re here to help. 239-489-4042

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

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Official August 2013 SWFL sales numbers  have been posted from Florida Realtors and as expected the Fort Myers and Cape Coral real estate market is holding its own.  Listing inventory is down again and it’s causing prices to rise.

August 2013 SWFL Sales Numbers

Single family home listing inventory stands at 4,956 currently compared to 5,763 last year.  That’s a 14% drop in listing inventory.  Median sale prices rose 32.1% in the past year.  June sales numbers indicate a median sales price of $185,000 compared to $140,000 last year.  Average mean sales prices increased 17.1% to $271,896

Mean sales tells me that there were less higher priced homes selling pulling the mean average up because the mean average only went up 17.1% while the median average shot up 32.1%

In either event lower inventory and strong demand are pushing up home prices.  Builders have reported strong sales this year and are filling in the gap as current demand is outpacing current supply.

As prices rise and inventory dwindles look for building construction to pickup again this year.  While building is taking the pressure off the resale market and should continue to do so moving forward, there is some risk in the construction industry.

Building a home today takes approximately 6-9 months from contract to completion.  Most builders require a down payment to begin construction.  There are two ways to finance new construction.  One is called an end loan and one is a construction/permanent loan.  Today the most common is the end loan whereby the builder uses their own money to construct the home and the buyer obtains one loan at closing.

The problem with an end loan today is there is no way to predict what interest rates will be 6-9 months from now. Rates have gone up over 1% in the past month or so and we expect them to rise again as the Fed curtails buying mortgage backed securities which has artificially kept rates low as the Fed has tried to stimulate the economy through lower interest rates.  The Fed has announced on two separate occasions this summer their intention to stop this program once there is recovery in the economy, and we are seeing some mixed signs of recovery.  Just when the Feds will kill this program has led the markets to speculate and bid up rates.  Rates are determined by the value of the security.  When the value is bid lower the return (or rate) goes up.  10 yr note buyers have been paying less than they were a few months ago due to volatility in the markets.  The Fed has fired the warning shots over the bow and the markets have responded.

We knew this day was coming, we just didn’t know when.  With uncertainty in the interest rate market, it’s impossible for buyers to know how much more their borrowing costs will be next year when a house is completed.  It can make the difference whether a buyer qualifies for the mortgage at all.  The buyer may qualify today and not next year when the house is complete, so the builder is taking a big risk.

A buyer doesn’t know how much they need to scale back today so they qualify next year.  Imagine being a buyer and being told you qualify for a 3,000 sq ft home, however because rates are going up you need to scale back to a 2,500 sq ft home, or maybe even less.  Perhaps you don’t like the 2,500 sq ft floor plan the builder is offering.  You don’t want to sacrifice your lot location, or the pool you’ve chosen.  What do you cut back on today, and how much?

This is the dilemma buyers are faced with today.  It is terribly expensive to lock in a rate longer than 45 days out, which most builder homes are going to be.  This is pushing many buyers back to resale homes, and we have a shortage of inventory.  It’s a double edged sword.  If you’re a buyer paying cash you have more options and aren’t as concerned with rates.

If you’re a buyer or seller needing to talk to a professional about your options, give us a call at 239-489-4042.  We’ll be happy to help you sort out your options.

Good luck and Happy Buying/Selling!!!!

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We sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving as we all have so much to be thankful for, even if times seem tough for many across SW Florida.  For those eager shoppers we hope Black Friday was a day to score wonderful bargains.

We were trying to come up with a name for the day after Black Friday this year and we decided on Grey Saturday, because official sales numbers were released for the Florida real estate and market and SW Florida scored mixed results, earning it the Grey Area status.

Fort Myers, Cape Coral Single Family Home Listing Inventory
SW Florida Listing Inventory

Last month we reported a change in direction in listing inventory and said we wanted to keep an eye on those numbers going forward.  For the 2nd straight month, listing inventory rose.  The numbers aren’t staggering as we’re talking about a difference of 231 homes, but it is a recent trend nonetheless.

Fort Myers, Cape Coral Florida Home Prices
Greater Fort Myers- Cape Coral Home Prices

Single family home prices were up 15% over last year, but they are down 7.69% from last month.  We are in a volatile market because agents can’t count on which closings will actually close in a given month.  Transactions are becoming trickier to count on as governmental regulations are holding up closings, causing delays, and wreaking havoc on the market.  It’s not uncommon for buyers to receive approval on their short sale and then walk from the deal because of the length of time, or because they became impatient and went for another deal more likely to close.

Banks have told us the foreclosure backlog was coming and we are starting to see more assignments in the 4th quarter.  Another large bank has told us to watch out for 1st quarter 2012 for even more.  These bank foreclosures may be just what the doctor ordered for our market though because in certain submarkets there is a feeding frenzy to buy.  We have short sales, and some traditional sales of which not all are priced at market value, which is typical in any market, up, down, or sideways.  We’ve had a lack of foreclosure properties as banks were stymied with the legal debacle of the robo-signing issue that caused them to go back and evaluate if they had legal standing to foreclose and the paperwork to prove it.

We’re starting to see rising inventory and it’s not because of foreclosures.  We are entering season which is a time when properties are gobbled up like a Thanksgiving turkey, so we’d expect to see inventory decline in the next few months even if the banks do release more foreclosure inventory.  SW Florida’s appetite when it comes to a bargain is insatiable, much like a Black Friday sale.

Last month we had Trick or Treat Day, so we’d like to see a solid direction in the market.  The past few months have brought ups and downs in median prices.  Combining the recent up and down price swings, rising inventory, predicted rising foreclosure activity, and tempering that with the upcoming season means we have a market to keep our eyes on.

We really believe we’re going to have a good season.  What good is a bargain basement sale to a shopper in an empty store?  Shoppers want inventory, and this year may be one of the last good years to get the bargain.  Even after a downward price drop of 7.69%, prices are still up 15% over last year’s prices.  The absolute statistical bottom of the market may have been last year, and we may look back on 2011 in years to come as a time when buyers say to themselves, “I wish I would have hung in there and bought that bargain.”

When the economy improves and lending standards get back to normal, we’ll all look back at 2010 and 2011 and say “I wish I would have bought more.”

Good luck and good hunting!


As expected, SW Florida median single family home sale prices rose in February, up 4.1% over last year’s numbers and up 3.39% from this January’s numbers. Sales volume was down 12% from last year and up 3.17% from this January.

SW Florida Real Estate Sales Prices
Single Family Home Prices in SW Florida

These sales numbers were not unexpected as we’ve definitely seen an uptick in 2nd home buyers from up North looking to secure their piece of paradise before prices go back up. Banks have also lowered inventory due to legal issues with the foreclosures which has dried up inventory at the lower end. Investors are finding it more difficult to find lower priced homes to flip. We’ve entered a period where the short term investor is being squeezed out and we’re left with long term investors who can purchase and rent the property with a positive cash flow, but can’t flip right now and make a guaranteed home run.

Actually the market is healthier and more balanced in this period than it has been since 2005. It’s always dangerous to buy something with the immediate expectation of a flip. This is all well and good when it works, but too many speculators didn’t have a plan B if the market turned, which it obviously did. Back in 2005 prices a property wouldn’t cash flow, so when the flip didn’t work, neither did the rent for cash flow. Today investors truly should focus on long term. Prices are still well below replacement cost and artificially too low, so there is automatic built-in price increases on the way, it’s just a matter of time.

Positive cash flow buys time, and a great investment provides cash flow and long term appreciation, not to mention possible tax benefits. For regular homeowners we always recommend buying a home that suits your needs and you can be happy in. Long term, a home is usually a good investment, but why suffer with a home that doesn’t meet your needs in the meantime? In the end the numbers work themselves out but you have to live with the home. You might rent a home you’re not crazy about, but why buy something you don’t like just because it appears to be a good investment?

Home affordability is high, although inventory selection has been declining. Unless banks start listing foreclosures again, we should see another decline in inventory levels this month as sales have been strong. The perfect opportunity for a buyer was probably between April 2009 when prices were at their lowest and December of 2009 when inventory was it its highest. Since then prices are higher by 7.02% and inventory countywide is down 8.70%

We’ve been hearing from banks and Fannie Mae that they could start releasing inventory again in the next month or two. We’ve seen listings trickle in, and we expect more in the coming months.

The market has always had a thirst for more inventory, so that won’t be an issue. The lack thereof will create price increases, so the true test will be how much more bank owned inventory is on the way compared to market thirst. The answer is prices will rise; the question is how high and how fast. We’ll be keeping an eye out for the inventory as that will be the leading indicator for the answer to how high and how fast.

Official sales numbers were released both nationally and at the statewide level, and the good news is SW Florida’s real estate median prices rose 3.65% from $90,400 in 2009 to $93,700 in 2010.

SW Florida Real Estate Year End Prices
Year End Prices SW Florida Single Family Homes

Does this mean we’ve experienced the bottom and on our way up?  The answer is possibly, as foreclosure sales have fallen and prices have risen in the lower end of the market.  As this lower end of the market rises, which comprises a large part of the Lee County home sales, it automatically drives the median price up.

Higher priced homes could actually be falling and also raise the media price up.  You might ask yourself, how could this be?  A Median price simply means that half the homes sold over a certain price point and half under.  So in 2010 half the single family homes sold at or below $90,400 and the other half sold at or above this number.

For the sake of illustration, let’s say 20 homes sold in a given month at $400,000.  Now let’s reduce all the $400,000 homes down to $300,000.  Do you think more would sell?  Of course they would.  So now let’s imagine the new bargains at $300,000 generated 60 sales instead of the previous 20.  This could pull the median up from $90,400 to perhaps 93,000.

I know this example is hypothetical.  We also know there are less and less $50,000 homes, so as there are less home sales at the bottom end, and more above the median, the median price gets pulled from the top end and pushed up from the bottom.  It is not however a great indicator of what could be happening at all price points.

We’re not saying the $400,000 market is still falling, although it could be.  What we know for sure is the bottom has firmed up.  It feels like anything priced correctly today at $150,000 or less is firm.  Priced correctly is the key term.  Homes priced at $200,000 today were priced much higher several years ago, and we are noticing these homes selling too.  In fact, we believe this season will produce more sales $150,000-$300,000 than we’ve seen the last several years.

Northerners are just plain tired of the awful weather up north, and they realize home prices are great deals now and they’re becoming increasingly afraid they may miss out on the bargains.

Speaking of inclement weather, this past week we had several buyers place offers from up North and they commented they just couldn’t take it anymore.  Several agents I’ve spoken with shared similar stories, so the bad weather up North may be good for business down here.

As you can see by the graph, SW Florida home prices are at 1997 levels.  This sure is a steep curve on the downside but the worst may be over.  We believe there will be more foreclosures, but it feels like we’re at about the 7th inning.  Most of the investors have already lost their homes, and now we’re down to average people who have lost a job, or lost household income and cannot afford the payments, and they just cannot sell at today’s prices.  How much more of these we see will depend on the national economy and how long the recession persists.  Uncertainty in the Middle East and oil prices will be a wild card, so let’s all hope for Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and anywhere else to remain calm and shipping lanes open.

Banks look like they’re bulking up to increase short sale business, although we’ve heard the talk before.  We can say Bank of America has been much better to deal with recently and we’ve gotten several short sales approved and closed.  It would be nice if other banks sped up their processes too.

Inventories actually rose in December despite an increase in distressed closings due to backlogs.  We expect this inventory could go down; however we believe there is much shadow inventory.  Many refer to banks holding back properties from the market as shadow inventory, but the shadow we’re referring to is regular homeowners who would put their home on the market if they could, but they just can’t because they owe too much and can make the payments.  There is now way to measure this, but typically most in SW Florida would move around every 3-5 years, and people just haven’t been doing that these past five years.  The reason:  See Graph.

We’ll be coming out with a new SW Florida Real Estate Video update, but until then you can view our December 2010 Video Update.

This is the question most often asked, by both buyers and sellers.  The truth is nobody knows for sure, but the market usually leaves clues.  Sometimes the market leaves strong clues a kindergartner can figure out, and sometimes they’re more obscure only a tea leaf reader might understand. 

So what clues is the market leaving right now?  Median single family home sale prices are up about 10% over last year in June.  July numbers haven’t been released yet.  Prices are down .31% over last month, so we’ll call that about even.  Home sales are down 12% over last year, but home sales are up 2.81% over last month. 

SW Florida Real Estate Sale Prices
SW Florida Median Sale Prices 2009-2010

As you can see by the attached chart, last year home prices rose steadily in 2nd half of the year, perhaps due to the home buyer tax credit, low interest rates, and bargain buys in the SW Florida market. 

Prices continued to rise this year right up until the home buyer tax credit ran out.  Is this coincidence?  We don’t know.  Some speculate it is due to the expiration of the tax credit, others speculate it could be effects from the oil spill, while still others wonder if it’s not the economy and the job situation.  Perhaps it’s all three, or perhaps its simple supply and demand at equilibrium in this new economy. 

Banks have slowed down bringing bargain homes to the market, and we’ve long wondered what will happen to our market when the bargains are gone.  Because we don’t have sustained employment opportunities, it seems almost impossible for prices to shoot up drastically once the distressed sales are gone. 

The distressed sales are not gone; it’s just that foreclosure listings have slowed recently.  We’re hearing that FNMA has more properties coming to the market soon, and we have seen a slight jump in pre-listed foreclosures we’re working right now.  We’ve also seen a slight increase in short sale transactions, although not enough to make a dent. 

HAFA, the government program designed to make short sales easier to sail through with the banks has been a huge flop.  It’s almost to the point the government should stop trying, because they’re making things worse.  Last year the government intervened and tried to instill loan modifications and workouts, but it was a flawed theory and failed miserably.  Because of this, we said 2010 was the year of the transaction either a short sale or a foreclosure.  Short sales have not worked like intended.  It was a voluntary program and had no teeth or real chance.  It was just an arbitrary deadline designed to make the politicians look good, but now they just look bad. 

Right or wrong, this all leads up to more eventual foreclosures.  We believe more are coming, and they take time to work through the process.  The Lee County Clerk’s office has been working down the backlog of files lis pendens, and this is a good sign.  Unfortunately, there are more to come.  The stimulus has not worked, nor has the governments plan to revive housing.  It’s time for a new plan, a plan that can actually work.

 We invite local, state, and federal officials to sit down with those on the street and think about the big picture.  Theory should align with reality, and implementation should be realistic, and have teeth.  Otherwise politicians are kicking the can down the road, prolonging the housing crisis, and adversely affecting the economy.  Housing is 32% of GDP, so it makes sense to work on a comprehensive solution that helps both, not one that sounds good for votes but does nothing. 

Where is our market headed?  We’ve identified some clues, and maybe there are others.  You can read the tea leaves and decide for yourself which elements will win out.  We can say we have record low rates, below replacement cost prices, and affordability is at an all-time high.  So if a buyer has a job, has good credit, and wants to buy, now is a good time.  I just want to get more people good jobs so more people can take advantage of this market.

Watch this week’s The Future of SW Florida Real Estate Video Show August 13, 2010

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.

SW Florida Real Estate Monthly Median Prices 2009
SW Florida Real Estate Monthly Median Prices 2009

 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.

The most asked question I get, both in daily business and on Facebook is, “Are prices about to spike up?”  People are reading that inventory is shrinking, and buyers are buying all the foreclosures faster than the banks can bring them to market.  People assume the foreclosure pool is diminishing and we’re about to run out, and of  course they want to know how fast and how much prices will rise once that happens. 

It is true, to date buyers have been soaking up the incoming foreclosure inventory and whittling down the existing inventory.  Banks have been allowing short sales to some degree for qualified sellers, and in some sub-markets we are running low on inventory.  The chatter these days seems to be that prices are headed up in a big way, so let’s explore what’s really going on in the market today, and what may happen in the future and why. 

Median single family home sale prices have gone up for two straight months, but only marginally, up 1.25% in July and up .34% in August.  The median sales price now stands at $89,300, up from $87,900 in June.  Are all prices going up?  The answer is no.  The definition of median sales price is that half the sales occur over the stated number and half occur under, which now stands at $89,300. 

Median Home Sale Prices SW Florida Real Estate
Median Home Sale Prices SW Florida Real Estate

What is actually happening is the bottom has firmed up, and it’s getting tougher to find some of the bargain basement deals.  Homes in Cape Coral under $90,000 are getting harder to find, as they were somewhat plentiful last year. The bargain deals have swung to Lehigh. 

The other interesting phenomenon is that mid and upper priced homes are falling in value.  As these homes become bargains to their selective buyers, they are selling.  As these mid and upper priced homes sell, they actually pull the median sales price up, even though those home prices are falling.  Remember back to the definition of median sales price. 

In a few months people will start reading that prices are on the rise, when in fact prices are falling in the mid to upper tiers, and prices are rising in the lower tier.  Very soon the median sales price may begin to rise as it gets hit from both sides of the curve, however when you read that prices are rising, you have to remember that all real estate is local, and even Lee County has submarkets that are different. 

In some cases properties are cash flowing for investors at today’s prices, which was unheard of in years past, even before the run-up.  We believe now is an unprecedented time to be buying real estate in SW Florida as prices are so far below replacement cost that builders cannot compete, so building has been silent. 

We believe there will be more mid to upper priced foreclosures coming to the market in the next year, as more Alt-A mortgages are foreclosed on as scheduled interest rate resets take effect.  We’ve seen most of the sub prime loans already come and go from the market, so the next wave should be the Alt-A and the  economy driven foreclosures as regular people who have lost their jobs due to the falling economy. 

As you can see from the chart, median home sale prices are back to 1993 levels, but replacement costs to build are still at 2003 levels.  Our market won’t fully take off until we reach equilibrium on a broader scale reaching not only the bottom tier, but also the mid to upper tiers as well. 

So the answer as to when will our market spike up to where it was at the height is complicated.  The answer is it may never spike up to where it was, as those numbers were irrational and not supported by any sound financial basis.  However, the opportunities that lay before us may also be unprecedented, and because of the over-correction of the market dues to the financial crisis, foreclosures, credit becoming scarce, and over-supply, prices in many sub-markets are already on the rise.  Prices in the mid to upper markets will rise again; after they potentially fall some more, and the opportunity for home buyers to purchase at affordable prices and potential investment opportunities have many insiders excited. 

Remember the herd mentality.  When prices are at their height, most think it’s the time to buy, and when prices are at their low, most believe the sky is falling and time to run for the hills.  The smart money is back in, selectively, and they’re buying.  The opportunities today exceed perhaps any other time in the last 40-50 years.  

So when you read, prices are falling, or prices are rising, be sure to dig deeper and analyze what it really means.  Chances are, both statements are right, but in the analysis lies the true opportunity and wisdom.


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