Home sales spiked 50% in March of February, and condo sales spiked 48%.  Prices were up too.  The media noticed, as the Fort Myers News Press, Naples Daily News, and Bonita Daily News all ran stories on the latest numbers.  Home sale prices were up 4 out of the last 5 months in Lee County.  Buyers are gaining confidence in the market.  The Ellis Team has noticed a spike in home sales in the last 30 days, as has RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers.

As predicted, March turned in some stellar numbers.  Single family home sales in Fort Myers Cape Coral MSA posted a 50.35% rise in sales from February 2007, and median home prices were up 4.65% to $268,000 in March.

Condominium sales in Fort Myers and Cape Coral MSA were up 48.32% from February 2007 numbers, and the median sales price for a condo in SW Florida rose 1.29% to $250,800.

Pending sales are on the upswing.  Buyers in SW Florida have discovered that now is one of the best opportunities they will have in a long time.  Buyers are in control with excellent selection due to an over-supply of homes and condos on the market.  Buyers also enjoy low interest rates, decreasing cost of insurance, and housing affordability as prices are down substantially from 2005 levels.  Buyers may never be able to enjoy all factors working at once in their favor for a long time.

In cycles past, traditionally high supplies of inventory were caused by rising inflation and high interest rates.  This is not the case as this over-supply of homes came from speculators and investors who sped up supply.  They also created a false sense of demand, and once that demand quit, we were left with real over-supply and normal demand.

Just because prices appear to have bottomed does not mean there won’t be more price reductions for some sellers.  We know where the buyers are, and the sellers who price their homes where the buyers are at are selling.  These sellers don’t need to reduce any further.  The market appears pretty well set in many segments. 

The sellers who are not priced where the buyers are need to adjust their price, or take their home off the market as it is essentially off the market anyway.  If a home is not priced "At the Market" is is "Off the Market."  Buyers will not overpay for a home that isn’t priced at today’s prices.

Buyers will jump at properties that are priced correctly.  Buyers are gaining confidence again in this market.  By mid-year we expect home sale prices to be even with prices from 2006.  This market has followed our predictions very well since 2005 when we predicted 2006 would be a year of transition to lower prices.  Last year we predicted prices would bottom out 4th quarter of 2006 and remain flat until 2nd qtr of 2007, then begin a slow rise throughout the year.  It does appear that median home prices bottomed out October of 2006, and have begun a slow ascent back up.

Home prices are up 4 out of the last 5 months and are up about 7.5% from the lows last October.The Florida Association of Realtors released sales statistics today for single family home sales and condo sales.  See How Lee County staks up this year Vs. last year, and how every district in the state did.

WINK Radio inadvertently aired the 1st half of last weeks show in place of the first half of this weeks show.  It was unfortunate for two reasons.  In the first half of last weeks show we talked about the Relay For Life Event that took place last week, and invited people to come out and participate.  That was last week’s news.

Secondly, in the first of this weeks show, we interviewed a top attorney in SW Florida about Foreclosures and Bankruptcy.  Listeners completely missed the first half of what the attorney said in the first half, so the second half didn’t have the context it should.

Most likely we’ll replay the entire show from this past week’s show next week so listeners get the benefit of what the attorney said.  It was a fantastic show.

We apologize for the onconvenience.

NBC-2 has long been considered one of the premier news organizations in SW Florida.  NBC has a history of digging deep to bring to life stories that matter to the viewer, along with colorful and technical techniques that makes the story interesting.

A recent study showed NBC was the news leader in SW Florida.  The Ellis Team provides data and analysis on NBC-2.com Real Estate section.

Last week we focused on one of Fort Myers newspapers, the Fort Myers Florida Weekly.  This week we’ll provide links to the Fort Myers News Press, the long-time established Bell Weather newspaper in SW Florida.  The News Press focuses on daily news and advertising, while the Florida Weekly focuses on weekly events and summary analysis.

Both are excellent newspapers and serve a varying niche.  Currently the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group advertisies its properties in the News Press, however the Fort Myers Florida Weekly is an alternative and will be considered in the future.

For Better or Worse, seems like we hear that everyday.  Latest numbers pulled from the MLS shows our market is no better, nor any worse than back in January 2007.  There have been some changes though, and we’ll discuss them here.

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers Florida long ago developed a system that accurately gauges market activity relative to Supply levels, and we deemd this index the Current Market Index.  We developed this index because it helps tell the story of where we are today, not just where we’ve been with closed sales reports.  The higher the CMI Index, the more supply we have relative to demand.

April 15, 2007 Active Pending CMI
Single Family 15,896 1,152 13.80
Condo 9,660 569 16.98

January 23, 2007 Active Pending CMI
Single Family 13,769 1,016 13.55
Condo 9,002 529 17.02

November 27, 2006 Active Pending CMI
Single Family 13,186 1,031 12.79
Condo 8,344 535


Since January 2007 we also changed the MLS reporting system, as the MLS of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach became part of a larger system called MLS Alliance.  Local Boards no longer data share with each other, but rather this new entity.  We’ve tried to align the fields up accuratley to reflect the same data, even though each Board reports slightly differently.  We have no less than 6 Boards that post Lee County properties into this database, so it is broad based and very useful.

A Miami couple is alleging they were turned down by three lenders, then miraculously approved for three loans to purchase homes from Builder First Home using a mortgage company First Home’s parent company has a 49% ownership interst in. 

The couple alleges that the loan officer for Builders Mortgage, LLC falsified documents and changed numbers without their knowledge to get them the loan.  Of course, K. Hovnanian Enterprises, the parent company of First Home, takes issue with that fact.  K. Hovanian alleges the buyer is simply trying to get out of a contract they signed.

What is true is that the SW Florida real estate market has taken a tumble, and many buyers are looking for ways to get out of closing on properties they’re under contract for.  What is also true is mortgage fraud has been rampant accross the United States, particularly among investors.  What is unclear is which set of facts, or both, are at play in this case involving First Home and this Miami couple.

Last week Brett Ellis, a member of The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers spoke at Illinois State University’s College of Business as an Alumni for their annual Business Week Festivities.

Students, professors, alumni, and local business professionals got their chance to ask probing questions from each of the panelists about business conditions, hiring practices, competing in a changing world, and specific academic questions relating to today’s business climate.

"It was great to go back and offer insight into the real estate industry, and the business climate as a whole.  It is fun to give back, expecially to such bright, inquiring, and young minds.  I remember sitting in their seat 19 years ago and listening intently to any nuggets I could find.

As a leader in the real estate industry, I was able to offer information and advice on a personal level to students entering the work force.  That was personally rewarding, and our way of giving back.