We have already seen a few car haulers unloading the snowbirds’ vehicles. That means the Northerners can’t be far behind! Brenda and I are eager to catch up with our friends from up North while they return to Bonita Springs, Estero and Fort Myers. On the real estate front, we will be able to tell them that there is improvement in real estate sale, albeit modest.
“Florida’s housing market continues its momentum,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President, Summer Greene. “Buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines should see this as a sign to jump in before the market escapes them again. Sellers who have been hesitant to sell should put their homes on the market now. Next, our biggest challenge will be appraisals keeping up with the pace of this market.”
Statewide, closed sales of existing single family homes were up 10.8% in August, compared to August of 2011. Closed sales typically occur 30-90 days after sales contracts are written. Meanwhile, pending sales, contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed, of existing single family homes last month rose 40.2% over August of 2011. The statewide median sales price for single family existing homes in August was $147,000, up 5.8% from a year ago. (Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis Department)
For our readers who are most interested in our local markets (Lee/Collier Counties) or even their micro-markets such as Estero/Bonita Springs, the real estate recovery story is going to be different from the national or even statewide real estate recovery story. I find it fascinating that even though statewide closings and home prices are up compared to August of last year; in Lee County, closed sales of single family homes are down 17.5% and condo sales are down 1.7% compared to August of last year! Sales prices in Lee County are up approximately 11% compared to August of last year, but that is not the complete story. The median price of short sales is up 10.5%, foreclosure median sales price is up 18.7%. Yet, the median sales price for traditional sales is down 1.5% compared to August of 2011.
So, in order to completely understand your local real estate market, you must be willing to drill-down on the local statistics. The national real estate headlines and even the statewide headlines are interesting, but if you are a buyer or a seller you are making a serious mistake in not knowing your community real estate statistics.
Even in the foreclosure arena, we must understand the impact that foreclosures have on our local market. Shadow inventory, homes not yet in the “for sale” inventory, but are at some stage of foreclosure with a likely chance to enter the market, has been an ongoing threat to the real estate recovery. Nationally, JP Morgan Chase released a report saying, “The US Shadow inventory declined by 1.2 million in the first half of 2012.” Chase expects this national trend to continue. Unfortunately for us, foreclosures are trending up in SW Florida.
Foreclosures have been on the rise year-over-year since January in Collier County, hitting their highest number in August. In Lee County, new foreclosure cases have also ticked up with monthly increases year-over-year since January. In August, they jumped to 701 up from 518 a year ago. Experts say much of the increase over 2011 is because a slow-down in filings after last year’s “robo-signing” debacle, which saw mortgage holders and their law firms accused of falsifying documents to speed up the process. Brenda and I believe that the local “shadow foreclosure” inventory will be better managed by the banks this time. However, the introduction of bank-owned real estate will cause a continued downward pressure on prices.
Clearly, new home builders in the Bonita Springs/Estero communities sense a pent-up demand for new residential real estate. West of Belle Terra, Cameratta Properties is building two communities, which will bring another 1300 homes to the Estero area. Near Three Oaks Parkway and Corkscrew, a Sarasota developer has proposed to build 110 patio homes along the Estero River. In 2009, the new housing market in Estero bottomed out. Only 86 units were built that year compared to 2005 when 1645 units were constructed. So far in 2012, 205 units have been built with another 60 permits granted in July and August. So, as you can see, new home construction may be turning the corner, but it still has a long way to go.
Estero community leaders believe the local economy is on the mend and construction is slowly returning to the area. “The spike in development is driven by a consensus that the local economy is turning around”, said John Goodrich, Director of the Community Planning Panel and a member of the Estero Council of Community Leaders. Brenda and I agree and would take it one step further. We believe that as the real estate market continues to recover and gain momentum, the Estero area will lead the real estate recovery.
We would be remiss if we didn’t add one very important statistic. In Lee County, the average days on the market for a single family home are 49 days and 81 days for a townhouse/condo. If your home or condo has been on the market longer than that, it is important that you direct your real estate agent to lower your listing price.
If you desire the real estate statistics for your neighborhood, or a comparative market analysis for your home, please call The Brown Team. We can answer any or all of your real estate questions.
Rick and Brenda
View our website: www.RickBrownRealtor.com