Entry level homes are driving the demand for homes in Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral Florida real estate.  Several lending institutions asked us to do some analysis on the foreclosure market here in SW Florida, and by far Cape Coral leads the way in the county for transactions.  In fact, it can be said that Cape Coral is the hottest market in Lee County.  Lehigh Acres is much more soft.  We’ve uncovered some interesting facts exploring this data.

Here is a graph of all SW Florida real estate homes on the market.  This data was pulled from the Greater  Fort Myers and the Beaches MLS.  As you can tell, Cape Coral has the most listings on the market, and Lehigh Acres is home to some of the most affordable homes in Lee County.  As you can see from the April 2008 closings graph, 371 of Lee County’s 677 transactions were in Cape Coral.  This means that over half of SW Florida’s closings occurred in Cape Coral Florida.  Another startling graph is the SW Florida real estate months supply of inventory graph for homes under $200,000.  As you can tell, Lee County is down to 9.69 months of supply and Cape Coral is even better at only 7.74 months of supply for homes priced under $200,000.

What this is telling us is that buyers are definitely off the fence and buying now, and most of these buyers are end users.  It’s also telling us that they prefer to buy in Cape Coral over Lehigh Acres.  In the Boom market, Lehigh did very well because Cape Coral was priced about $85,000 higher for the same house.  The difference was in the land prices.  Now that price differential has come down to about $15,000, and buyers are saying to themselves, for only $15,000 difference they’ll choose Cape Coral.  For $85,000 difference Lehigh Acres looked affordable and attractive.

This also tells us that either prices will go up in Cape Coral, or prices must come down further in Lehigh Acres, or a combination of both until we hit equilibrium.

Feel free to check our SW Florida real estate housing statistics webpage for lots of other charts and graphs.

This article is the first in a series utilizing this new data, so check back often for more updates to the entry level home pricing market in SW Florida, or subscribe to receive e-mail updates to this Blog.

Sales numbers released by the Florida Association of Realtors for April 2008 shows the Fort Myers and Cape Coral real estate markets sales increased dramitically.  In fact, sales are up over March numbers as well.  SIngle family homes sales in Fort Myers and Cape Coral increased 41% over last year’s numbers, and Condo sales in Fort Myers and Cape Coral increased 57 % over last year’s numbers.

The Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index is an accurate indicator or future sales, and has been improving steadily since January 2008.  In January we began reporting that sales numbers should begin picking up, which has been the case.  Pending sales started increasing, followed by rising closed sales.  Inventory levels have been falling in 2008 which is a good sign for sellers.  We still have a high level of inventory, but it is getting more manageable everyday.

Median home prices have fallen, but that does not mean that all home prices are declining.  We have seen solid sales in Cape Coral.  Lehigh Acres home sales have fallen behind Cape Coral.  We’ll be posting some very interesting numbers within a week or so illustrating those differences.  Median home prices have fallen, and that is an indication that more of the home sales have occurred at the bottom half of the spectrum.  As the bottom has firmed up, it will eventually translate into firming in the higher price ranges.  We are getting more offers today in the $300,000+ range and that is encouraging once again.  It all started with that $100,000 range which led the charge.

Many properties in the $100,000 range have multiple offers on them and buyers are scrambling to get these properties.  In fact, buyers display desperation when competing against other buyers to get in on these deals.  The Fort Myers News Press did a home sales story on the April Fort Myers and Cape Coral numbers.  Money Magazine also did a story on national home sales and it talked about how Cape Coral Florida is leading the nation as one of the bright spots.

Stay tuned as we look for more good numbers being reported in when May’s numbers are reported next month.


The Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index showed improvement once again.  We decided to illustrate what is going on in Southwest Florida real estate in graph format this time.  Basically inventory is falling and pending sales are remaining steady as closings are picking up.  Read below graph for further analysis.

Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate May 2007 Current Market Index

The latest Fort Myers – Cape Coral data shows a Current Market Index down to 7.47, down from 7.71 in April 2008.  The lower the number the better the market is for sellers.  The higher the number the more of a buyers market it is.  Lee County Florida numbers have fallen steadily as well.  Actually home sales numbers in Cape Coral Florida are some of the strongest numbers in the county right now.  The Cape Coral CMI index stands at 6.32 which is less than the rest of the county.  Lee County overall stands at 9.57. 

Single family homes on the market dropped to 15,340 while pending sales stood at 1,603.  To put that in perspective, pending sales back in January were 821, so you can really see sales have picked up significantly in the last few months.  Most agents, mortgage companies, and title companies I speak with are busy again, although prices are down.  Agents essentially have to do twice as much work and close twice as much to compensate for the losses in sales prices.  Additionally, it takes time to educate buyers as to what is ocurring in today’s market, just as it took time to educate sellers when the market turned in 2005 and 2006.

Short sales also create extra work as many times there can be multiple offers on the property and no guarantee the bank will accept any of the offers.  Overall this is welcome news because real estate fuels the rest of the SW Florida economy, and a surge in real estate activity can only help the rest of the economy over time, even if at lower prices.

Last week the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach made a significant change to the Realtor lockbox system in SW Florida that will affect the way homes are shown.

Realtors across Southwest Florida used a grey lockbox that only Realtors had access to show.  Realtors used a Supra key to unlock these boxes, and each night the system would update the Supra key boxes and transmit data on who showed the listing, etc.  It would also grant access to the Realtor for the following day.

Last week the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach changed lockbox systems and keys.  Realtors have a new key, and some new phones will also operate as a key using the infrared feature.  I particularly like this feature.  Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Lehigh Acres Realtors as well as Fort Myers beach made the switch to the new lockboxes.  The old key will open both the new and old lockboxes.  Bonita Springs, Estero, and Naples did not upgrade yet to the new lockboxes.  What this means is All Realtors will be able to show proeprties with the new Blue lockboxes, but any Realtor using the old Grey lockboxes will not work with the new keys.  Make sure your lockbox looks like this one.

Fort Myers Realtor Blue Lockbox

 If your Realtor isn’t using the new lockbox, your house cannot be shown by any Realtor from the Lehigh, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach area unless they are also a member of the Naples or Bonita Estero Board of Realtors and purchse that lockbox key as well.  Clients who have listings in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Lehigh Acres will be at a significant disadvantage because Realtors in those areas will not be able to show those properties.

Homeowners in Bonita Springs and Estero, as well as San Carlos Park and South Ft Myers also will want the new lockbox system as there could be many showings from South Fort Myers brokers who will not have access to the old lockboxes.  The Bonita Springs, Estero, and Naples Board of Realtors will be making a system wide changeout next year, but homeowners should request the new lockboxes now for maximum exposure.

Whew, another week has blown by.  By now I had intended on posting the Ellis Team’s latest Current Market Index numbers, information about the new lockbox system, and much more.  We’ve just been swamped with offers on properties and BPO"s (Broker Price Opinions) on foreclosure property, as well as contracts and inspections that we haven’t had the time to post to the Blog in awhile.

Last Monday I had offers on 4 different properties on my desk, so it pretty much took all of Monday to negotiate those deals.  2 of the 4 went pending on Monday, and a 3rd went pending just yesterday from those initial offers on Monday.  Throw in a few closings this past week, and you can see why we’ve been hopping.  Sande has been working lots of offers too.  I’m not sure how many she put together.

OK, here’s a teaser until we get the latest CMI numbers posted.  Cape Coral is hot right now.  Lee County’s inventory levels fell once again, and pending sales have remained stable.  We think April and May’s closing numbers will be good.  Prices are off significantly from last year, but transactions should be up as the pendings have gone up.

That’s all for now.  Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on what’s happening in the market.