A "Normal Market." It's hard to define.
When Linda and I arrived here in Cape Coral in 2002, we didn't know what to expect. We got our real estate licenses and went to work. Having never been Realtors before, it was simply "nose to the grindstone" and try to develop relationships. Help ANYONE who needs it, no matter their price range.
We needed to build our business. That's how you do it. Hit the streets and work.
We got past that 1st sale, and were encouraged. Early in our careers, we had some deals fall through, some buyers "cheated" on us and went elsewhere, buying a For Sale By Owner, calling on another Realtor sign in some yard, or using multiple Realtors without telling us. We used to let it get to us.
But some more knowledgable agents told us there was always another buyer or seller behind that one, so you have to put it behind you and not take it to heart. So that's what we did. Hard at first, but they were right. There was always another deal, and that was the focus.
Then things began escalating big time as loans became easier and easier to get. 2003 passed, we changed agencies, and then 2004 came. Sales started jamming! We were so busy, and worked with many, many people. So many investors were buying land -- particularly freshwater-front lots in Cape Coral that had been $12,000 when we arrived, and kept increasing until they were $150,000 in early 2005! Speculation homes were being built hand over fist, and if you stood in any one spot in North Cape Coral, and turned in a circle, you would see no fewer than FIVE homes under construction. That is absolutely true.
So it was an investor driven market, and we knew it . . . but everyone was making a lot of money -- not only the Realtors like us, but the people who put their money out there and flipped properties in mere weeks, often earning 30% to 70% in quick turnarounds.
There were those who actually moved here . . . construction was booming, and buying was easy, so our population blossomed from just over 100,000 people to around 160,000 in just a few short years! This was encouraging, because it meant the boom was not exclusively investor driven . . . right?
Sort of. But mostly wrong. Jobs depend on growth, and when growth stops and jobs go away, so do the people. Add to that the adjustable rate mortgages folks were taking, the minimal investment they had to make to obtain the "American Dream," and the very clear point in time -- August 2005 -- that the investors decided to get out, and you have the end of the boom.
That was over four years ago. We were the number one growth area in the nation, and we were the first to hit the wall. Is Cape Coral any less desirable than it was then? No. Are prices back to a point where the boom began? Yes. That's the good news.
Investors are back, and they are buying the foreclosures quickly, and with cash. This makes it tough for those who actually want to move here to compete -- banks are taking the cash offers over financed ones. I've personally had multiple buyers become disheartened and give up after making up to 15 offers on different homes, only to lose them all to other buyers.
Listings? Harder to get, too. Those who do not have to sell in this low-priced market aren't. Bank foreclosure listings tend to go to the same companies -- whether they are responsive and good agencies or not. In short, this market has become very tough for many Real Estate agencies, as the old adage goes, "Listers are Lasters." If you have listings, you get buyers, and everything balances nicely.
Literally hundreds of small agencies have gone by the wayside . . . and even some pretty established Real Estate companies are now gone. Many of the model homes that once lined Cape Coral Parkway and Chiquita Parkway are closed and for a while, were overgrown and just plain sad looking. Today, most are now just residences.
So - what is our new "normal" market? We will not likely know for some time. We need to get rid of the foreclosures first so that building begins anew. Jobs will then return in the construction sector, and new communities may once again spring up. The Cape Coral CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) may then return to the once grandeur plans they had to beautify and enhance our city to become a destination rather than a bedroom community across the river from Fort Myers.
So what exactly is "normal?" I'm not so sure we've actually experienced it since around 2003 when things began to pop, and prior to that, we were newer agents so did not have enough experience in the market to judge. I do know agents who worked this area before that, and they had taken 2nd jobs a few times in those years to make ends meet.
So, I'm sorry that this article really draws no conclusions, but I believe it is a good and accurate recounting of what we've gone through in Cape Coral -- a city with over 400 miles of waterways, and one in which I just love living. The people are good, the restaurants and stores are now plentiful, and the weather remains fantastic.
It is still Paradise here in the City of Cape Coral! And we welcome you to experience it.
Thanks for reading!