Everyone seems to ask how the market is doing.  Usually the answer depends on where you live, price range, and several factors.  It’s not always as cut and dried because within the overall market we have several sub-markets that fluctuate independently of each other.  Here are Southwest Florida October Housing Statistics by City.

We decided to release some numbers we look at each month.  One of these metrics is the breakdown by city.  Before we discuss the numbers, we must first be careful not to read too much into one-month data.  If a city has a low number of sales each month, the data can fluctuate wildly any given month.  Secondly, in 2017 we were impacted by Hurricane Irma.  In some cases, it hurt sales last year, and in others it increased sales last October because they were delayed from September.

Southwest Florida October Housing Statistics by City

Southwest Florida October Housing Statistics by City

Since all that is out of the way, here we go.  Bonita Springs led the way with a 43.9% increase in closed sales, but again, it’s a small data set.  Sanibel/Captiva slowed the most followed by Estero, again with small data sets.

Moving over to price changes, Sanibel/Captiva led the way with a 59.7% increase in median price.  This might explain why fewer sales, although we think it has more to do with the mix that sold that month.  Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, and Pine Island saw price decreases while the rest of Lee County saw mild to moderate increases.  Fort Myers and Cape Coral did particularly well given that each has a large data set, and both scored gains in closed sales and pricing.  Lehigh Acres and North Fort Myers were the only two areas besides Fort Myers and Cape Coral to record gains in pricing and sales activity.

A lot of people made a big deal about water quality and how it affected home sales.  By the numbers, it didn’t seem to harm Fort Myers, Cape Coral, North Fort Myers, or Lehigh Acres.  Did it hurt Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel/Captiva, Pine Island or Bonita Springs?  Possibly, but the numbers are mixed, and again it’s only one-month data.

Search Homes by City

We have a section on our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com where you can search for homes by city, neighborhood, or even get neighborhood market reports.  We have several neighborhoods setup and saved, and you can create your own as well if you don’t see your neighborhood listed.

The neighborhood market reports are nice because they show you active listings, pending sales, and sold listings along with data and photos of each.  You can signup to have these reports emailed to you monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly.  These are different than neighborhood saved searches in that they contain much more data.  Saved neighborhood searches can be emailed to you daily.  Market reports can only be emailed weekly or greater because of all the extra detail.

We provide more data than any other website we know of, and yet there is no substitute for speaking with us if you’re considering making a move.  The data we provide is Free to use. We hope it helps you in making the best decision for your family.  Sometimes it’s the experience, wisdom, and marketing behind the data that matters.

These homes don’t sell themselves.  Even when people think a home sells itself, there was still marketing involved to expose the buyer, negotiating the contract, inspections, etc.  A lot goes into making a transaction come together.  Most people don’t realize only 4% of prospective buyers can buy.  They need help, perhaps selling another property, getting financed, etc.  This is where agents come in, and experience matters.

If you’re looking to purchase, sell, or both, you should call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty. 239-489-4042.  We don’t sell anything.  We listen, educate, and help you achieve your goals.

Good luck and Happy Selling!

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday Dec 8th 1-3 PM

2008 Bolado Pkwy Cape Coral, FL 33990

Open House Sunday December 9  12-3 PM

908 SE 21st PL Cape Coral, FL 33990

Official sales numbers were released today and median home prices were up 19% over last year, rising from $96,900 in May 2010 to $114,900 May 2011. Prices were down from April 2011 level of $118,900. Transaction volume fell slightly too, down 8% from last year. This is not surprising as inventory levels are down sharply from year ago levels.

Meidan Single Family Home Sale Prices Fort Myers - Cape Coral
SW Florida Real Estate Prices 2009-2011

We have been predicting all year prices would rise, which they have from $88,500 in January 2011. These prices increase are due to lower inventory, and lower priced properties at the bottom end of the spectrum. Median home sale prices are up 29.83% since January, but this doesn’t mean all homes have gone up nearly 30%. It simply means there are fewer homes available at the bottom end of the spectrum.

All through the foreclosure height it was not uncommon to find many $30,000-$50,000 homes in Lehigh acres, and a few in Cape Coral. Last year it became harder to find homes under $70,000 and this year it’s become difficult to find homes under the $90,000-$100,000 mark. When they do become available they are snatched up immediately, or they have significant repairs pending.

A typical $200,000 home, depending on where it is located, may have risen or fallen slightly; however we haven’t seen 30% price swings as the market has stabilized in many sub markets. These price increases are more a function of the definition of media, which is defined as half the sales under and half the sales over a given point. When the lower end disappears it doesn’t necessarily mean there is rise in the moderate to upward end, although it is also possible.

We feel this market will lead from the bottom up. We refer to it as the “Bunching Effect”, a term we came up with several years ago to describe how the real estate market works. The real estate market is not as efficient as the stock market where everyone can look up on the Big Board and see what the value is at any given second. In real estate, market reactions take time, and they don’t always move in unison. One segment may move, and when the market figures out there should be more separation between two segments, another segment will move. Two segments can become too “Bunched” together, and when the market realizes this, it reacts. It is not always done in real time second by second, but it does react just the same.

Buyers look at what they can buy at any given time and they make decisions. For instance, they may be looking in the $150,000 price range and see one home for $145,000 and a much nicer home in same neighborhood for $150,000. In their mind there should be more than a $5,000 difference, so either the $145,000 needs to come down or the $150,000 should be priced higher. There could be multiple offers on the $150,000 home and it may indeed go higher if enough buyers come to same conclusion at same time. If not, the next few homes that come on the market may figure it out. In any event, something has to give. This leads to upward pricing pressure on one or downward pricing pressure on the other until the market finds equilibrium, and so the process repeats itself day after day.

Our job is to watch the market and not focus on any one given sale, but look for trends in the cycle which would indicate movement. Markets can become “Bunched” and they can “Unbunch” This is a natural phenomenon and buyers and sellers can sometimes get too caught up in one sale or one listing on the market and rely on that data as a market trend, when in fact it may just be a single event.

We also need to keep in mind that anyone can list a property for any price. The seller determines the price, but the market determines the value, so be careful not to get caught up on what the neighbor down the street listed one house for.

The market will always speak to you if you’re willing to listen. Under pricing costs a seller equity, and over pricing insures property will sit and may take a lesser price down the road when the listing grows stale. Proper pricing is just as critical to a seller as proper offers are for a buyer. Failure on either end of the spectrum leads to disaster. An over priced home helps sell the competition, and a low ball offer helps another buyer purchase your 1st choice. The real question is, do you want to buy, or do you want to sell. And the answer is, objectively determine what the market really is and go from there.

Happy house hunting or house selling, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The market is on the move, and figuring out your next move is half the fun.

Tune in and watch our June 2011 SW Florida Real Estate Market Update

One of two things will happen, and possibly both. Banks may start releasing more inventory in the coming months, and home prices could begin to rise as inventory levels drop off.

Listing Inventory
SW Florida Residential Single Family Home Listing Inventory

We’ve been noticing a distinct pattern the past few months. Inventory levels have been dropping just as pending sales have been increasing. We can thank the banks for this as they’ve withheld inventory due to legal concerns over title and the foreclosure process. We’ve also seen an increase in closed short sales. Lastly, we’ve seen a rise in regular sales, all leading to a decline in inventory levels. County-wide levels were down 4.32% from last month, and yet we’re seeing sharper declines like Cape Coral which had a 7.18% drop, or Lehigh Acres which experienced a 10.22% drop in available listings.

Combine this with season and buyers from up North scooping up bargains and it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that home prices have to rise. In fact, we predict they already are. Last month’s numbers showed a drop in prices, but we’re not too concerned with that. Next week official numbers will be released and we believe they will be higher. Sales may be down from last year because the inventory isn’t there, but prices could very well be up. We wouldn’t be surprised to see prices gain close to 10% from last year’s numbers.

If you read this article weekly, or our blog, you know that we’ve been predicting a decline in sales transactions combined with price increases at some point in the future. That point could be now. We would say definitively, however there are still some external wildcards that can influence transaction volume and prices in the short term.

Those wildcards are banks releasing backlogged inventory once the title issues are worked out, and every indication is banks will start releasing again in the next month or so. The question is how much do they have left in SW Florida. We believe nationwide there is much left, however nobody knows about SW Florida as we’ve been in this crisis the better part of 4 years now. Possibly we’ll emerge as the rest of the country deepens, but something tells me we still have more to work through as well.

Other wildcards include the US economy, oil, and Mideast stabilization as it pertains to energy. If the Mideast settles down and oil returns to normalcy, there are signs the US economy is headed for a modest recovery. Combine all this with the fact we believe we’re in about the 7th inning of the SW Florida foreclosure crisis, and we could be on our way to higher prices. We’re not predicting a return to 2005 prices, but rather a sustainable march to replacement cost prices. Once we reach replacement cost, builders will start building again, which will further fuel our local economy.

Should the governor be successful in landing some companies to relocate to Florida, this could be a wildcard on the positive side. Bottom line is many factors are at play, but for the past year or so investors and Northern friends have realized Florida is on sale, and they’re buying.

If we don’t see the negative wildcards, prices almost certainly have to rise. The reason we don’t believe they’ll double or triple anytime soon is because appraisals won’t support that, consumer spending may not support that, and we have hidden inventory that may enter the market. No, we’re not talking about the shadow inventory of banks, but rather shadow inventory of regular sellers who would sell if they could, but can’t because they’re currently upside down on their mortgage and do not want to suffer financial implications of a short sale. Once prices rise, we could see more sellers test the waters and attempt to sell.

That’s a lot of variables influencing the market, and the most likely outcome we believe will be modestly rising prices, at a sustainable and healthy level. Once this becomes well known, more buyers will line up because they will have seen we’ve hit bottom and bounced back up. They will have missed the bottom, but this will be close enough to make them feel good and jump back in.

We also believe banks will loosen credit standards this year. They’ve been too tight with the money looking for any reason not to lend, and this will change in 2011. Combine this with buyers realizing the bottom has passed, and we the conclusion we jump to is modestly rising prices. Let’s watch for the numbers next week. What conclusion do you reach?

This month is particularly interesting to study the latest real estate statistics as we really wanted to see what effects if any the foreclosure moratoriums would have on the market, and already we’re seeing some interesting data.  Watching these stats move feels similar to watching a heart monitor and patient’s vital signs.  I guess these statistics are the vital signs of our local market, so let’s dig in and see what the signs are telling us.

October Distressed Sales Chart Lee County Florida Real Estate
October 2010 Distressed Sales Chart- SW Florida

Some of these statistics interact with each other in a cause and effect way.  For instance, some foreclosure listings were pulled in October and distressed sales were down in October.  Distressed sales were up in Cape Coral, partly because foreclosure closings rose by 34 sales, and partly because short sale closings rose by 14.  Everywhere else short sales and foreclosure sales were down.

Inventory levels rose in Fort Myers 3.12%, but fell in Cape Coral and Lehigh.  Countywide inventory levels are up less than 1% from the previous month.

Closings were down about 8.45% in October from September levels.  Fort Myers sales were down 16.49%, Lehigh down 20.21%, but Cape Coral was up 6.88% over the previous month.  Cape Coral can be explained by the increase in foreclosure sales and short sales, and this may account for why the rest of the county’s sales were down as well, because the rest of the county’s distressed sales dropped.  So there seems to be that cause and effect in play we mentioned earlier.

Going forward pending sales are up county wide, and Lehigh Acres leads the way with pending sales up 5.44% over pending sales last month.  Cape Coral is up 1.92%, and Fort Myers is flat.  We track pending sales as pendings lead to closings, however not all pending sales close, so it’s just a vital sign we track.

We have noticed an up tick in buyer call activity and Internet traffic, so there is definitely buying interest in our market.  Banks have begun to release the foreclosure moratorium, so inventory levels may stabilize which will help transactions move forward.

Total distressed sales have fallen 4 straight months, but this could change as inventory levels have been driving sales numbers.  Demand is in the market and this is a case whereby supply is dictating certain aspects of the market.  Any disruptions to supply will temporarily affect sales numbers, and this should not be misinterpreted as decreased demand.  This past month’s results were supply driven.

Keep in mind these are internal tracking we compile and not official sales numbers which won’t be released until next week.

Where will the market head from here?  We believe supply will even out as banks get on top of some of the affidavit issues which plagued some of their foreclosures, and it may force some banks to work a little harder at completing short sales, which would be a good thing.

We are heading into season, and if this year is anything like last year, there was serious demand from our northern friends last season which could bode well again for this season.  This season “Feels” a lot like last season, as traffic has picked up on our roadways, as has real estate traffic, phone calls, and Internet traffic.  This season could be a chance to work down even more inventory, and it would be nice if that excess distressed inventory is available while the visitors are here rather than gracing our presence after they leave.  We’d just as soon sell and dispose of it now than have it come back and haunt us later when the demand might be less.

When it comes to supply, I say “Bring it on”.  We don’t feel holding it back shadow inventory serves any greater good and only prolongs agony later.  Others may disagree and argue that saturating the market further drives down prices, but so does an expanded process.

Ask anyone in the job market if they’d rather have a very deep recession lasting 3 years or a deep recession lasting 6 years.  I think most would rather take their medicine and get it over with so the healing can begin sooner rather than later.  Here in SW Florida we’ve been dealing with a declining market for 5 years now, and many would like to just get it over and begin that healing process.  We don’t want banks or government deciding to prolong the agony SW Florida has suffered for 5 years, as jobs and our local economy takes its cue from real estate.  The sooner we heal this market, the sooner construction jobs and the economy bounces back, and who wouldn’t be in favor of that in SW Florida bout now, or anywhere for that matter?

Visitors are here, pending sales are rising, and inventory is stabilizing, so let’s hope for a great season and a good 2011.