FEMA is updating the flood maps for Lee County and SW Florida.  These proposed changes will affect flood insurance rates.  Some people’s rates will go up while others may go down.  Some people previously not in a flood zone will now be, and their mortgage company will require them to obtain flood insurance.

Single family home sales in the Fort Myers Cape Coral real estate market dropped 36% from 2005 levels in September, down from 1,075 sales last year to 693 sales this year. SW Florida Real Estate Market Report shows median prices dropped 9% since last year from $288,700 down to $261,400

Sales actually increased since August 2006 from 691 to 693 sales.  Prices remained relatively steady since August 2006.  September prices came in at $261,400, down from $264,100 in August.

Single family home sales and prices in Lee County seem to have leveled off, and this could be a silver lining.  Many national experts predicted sales prices would fall in SW Florida about 18% from it’s all-time high.  We’ve already seen a 15-20% price drop, so then end may be near.  Inventory is still rising, and pending sales have dropped slightly, not encouraging news.

What is encouraging is the rate of homes coming on the market is dropping, and the decrease in pending activity is dropping as well, signaling a leveling off may occur sometime in the future.  Showings have also actually increased, which could lead to an increase in pending sales down the road.

Additionally, pending sales are picking up in other parts of the country, which may affect home buyers looking to purchase here.  We still have a lot of inventory, but there are some really great buys out there now awaiting home buyers, and we think now is the time for buyers to pounce.  We won’t know exactly when the market has hit bottom and starts to go back up.  What we can say is that there are definite signs a leveling off maybe close at hand.  Until that leveling off actually occurs and we start eating into existing inventory levels, we can’t officially say we’re at the bottom.  Stay tuned.

Condo sales in Lee County were off 52% from 126 sales in September 2005 to 61 in 2006.  Sales prices of condos in Lee County were down 3% from $314,800 in September 2005 to $305,600 in 2006

Collier County single family home sales were down 37% from 377 in September 2005 to 236 in September 2006.  Sale prices were down 8% from $487,500 last year to $446,900.  Naples condo sales were down 62% from 456 condo sales last year to 173 this year.  Sale prices were actually up 4% from $365,700 last year to $378,600

We think this is partly the reason sales in Naples are down because sellers haven’t reacted as quickly to changing prices as sellers have in Lee County.  We believe sales are much closer to leveling off in Lee County than they are in Collier County because of this fact.  Affordability and price are a much larger issue in today’s market.  It’s total cost of ownership, not just the price.  As homeowners insurance goes up, property taxes goes up, interest rates, gas, etc it eventually weighs down on buyers.  There is too much price disparity right now between Naples and Fort Myers.  Soon you will see another rush of buyers purchasing in Lee County because Collier County is just so expensive.

Naples is a beautiful place to live, as is Fort Myers,  The address won’t matter as much going forward as price will.  Collier County is poised to lose buyers to Lee County, just as Lee County will lose some buyers to Charlotte County for the same reasons.  Housing affordability.

As you can see from the charts below, the SW Florida real estate market continues adding inventory, and pending sales are falling each month.  This has led to sellers lowering asking prices to attract buyers.

Lee County Florida Current Market Statistics.

October 18,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,669 1,128 16.80*
Condo 7,834 543 29.90*

*We project there will be approximately 9,048 single family closings reported in Lee County MLS, and approximately 3,144 condo sales reported.  Months supply of inventory are based upon these projections. 

August 23,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,168 1,261 13.10
Condo 7,391 557 14.18



July 25,2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 12,053 1,343 12.97
Condo 7,387 591 14.17



May 27, 2006 Active Pending Months Supply of Inventory
Single Family 11,838 1,426 12.74
Condo 7,414 644 14.22

Many experts believe the SW Florida real estate market has bottomed.  We cannot say this is true for sure, however we can say that showing activity has picked up slightly in the past few weeks which may be a good sign going forward.  In addition, the rate of increase of new listings to the market has steadied.  Once we see an increase in pending sales, we can begin to identify that the market has bottomed.  We haven’t seen that yet.

We believe based on current levels it will be approximately 18-24 months before we work off the excess inventory.  2008 could be a very good year, and we may see signs of recovery in SW Florida in 2007.

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group, top real estate agents in SW Florida offer a moving truck for free, as well as gaylord boxes, to customers who buy and sell with them.  The truck is also available to charities and such.  The Fort Myers High School band uses the truck for their road games, saving them lots of money and allowing them to spend it on band trips to London and other worthwhile costs.

Customers love free use of the truck, which is also available to them beyond the move.  Maybe they’re just out furniture shopping, or they already ordered some online from https://www.homeaccents2.com/chairs/, or moving things to their storage unit. The truck is available long after the sale, and customers rave about their experience.  One such customer was recently featured in a newspaper article.

The Ellis Team also loaded up the truck after Hurricane Charley and delivered supplies to needy recipients who didn’t fare so well during the hurricane.  It’s our way of giving back to SW Florida and making a difference not only in real estate, but as citizens.

They Ellis Team is also large contributors each year to Habitat for Humanity and Childrens Miracle Network, as well as Lee County Schools through scholarships offered through their Ellis Team Bear program.

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