Home Prices Begin Rebounds in Florida, Lee County

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Igoe Realty P.A.

Article from Fort Myers News Press:

Another big jump in home prices could mean Lee County’s real estate market is no longer just skipping along the bottom. 

The median price of an existing house in Lee County jumped to $117,100 in June, up 21 percent from $96,600 for the same month a year ago, according to figures released Wednesday by Florida Realtors. 

Condo prices also rose — up 13 percent to $149,100 in June from $131,400 a year ago. 

Denny Grimes, a Realtor with Denny Grimes and Co., said although there’s little variation in median sales price month by month, in the six months since January, the median sales price in Lee rose more than 30 percent.  It’s a sign the housing market is no longer flat, but is showing upward,” he said.

At the height of the real estate boom, the median sales price in Lee peaked in December 2005 at $322,300. 

Data for Collier County is not made public by the real estate boards there. It is included in Florida Realtors' statewide statistics, but not broken out separately. 

Lee house prices also were up month over month: In May, the median sales price was $114,900. 

Still, the number of sales for both dropped year-over-year. 

House sales dropped to 1,325 last month, down 12 percent from the 1,501 homes sold in June 2010. Condo sales also dipped year-over-year to 407 sales last month, down 3 percent from the 420 sold in the same month a year ago.

Steve Koffman, a broker associate  in Cape Coral, said foreclosure homes are being snapped up faster than they are being put on the market, which bumps up the median sales price, but not necessarily the value of homes in Lee. Buyers chasing the red-hot foreclosure deals prominent last year will see more competition for them as the inventory dries up.

State and national data

In Florida, existing condo sales were up 8 percent in June with 7,941 sold last month compared to 7,330 sold the same month a year ago. Home sales dropped about 4 percent statewide to 17,597 homes sold in June compared to 18,402 homes sold in June 2010.

Home sales fell 0.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million homes, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That’s far below the 6 million homes per year that economists say represents a healthy housing market.

June’s decrease was the third straight monthly decline in sales. Through the first six months of the year, the sales pace is behind last year’s 4.91 million homes sold — the weakest sales in 13 years. Sales have fallen four of the past five years. 

The Realtors’ group said a record number of people who signed contracts canceled deals last month. And first-time buyers fell to a smaller share of the market. 

But Century 21 Sunbelt’s Koffman said he’s seen a steady increase across the board from second-time home buyers and investors, who are traditionally drawn to Lee’s housing market, as well as an uptick in first-time home buyers.

 Buyers are also getting more choosy. 

Amy Bending, who’s renting a home in Lehigh Acres, is home shopping now because the timing feels right. 

“The mortgage rates out there are very low now, so it’s a good time to buy,” said Bending who moved here two years ago from Ohio. “There are lots of homes to choose from.” 

Interest rates remain at record lows. The average 30-year loan decreased to 4.51 percent from 4.60 percent last week. New data from Freddie Mac will be out today. 

But Bending was looking for a home that met certain criteria: acreage in a neighborhood where her children could play. And she was willing to pay more –– about $175,000 to $200,000 –– to get it. 

“We get a better house for the money,” she said. “We knew under $150,000 we would probably be fixing up the home.”

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