In February 2009, five years ago, The New York Times offered a story under a Lehigh Acres dateline: “In Florida, Despair and Foreclosures.” The first sentence was not just a report but a harbinger of unhappiness still to come: “Despair has moved into this once middle-class exurb of Fort Myers.” That sentence might have been written to introduce horror stories about other exurbs or suburbs or the cities of the Southwest coast themselves, Naples or Bonita Springs, Fort Myers or Cape Coral or Port Charlotte. The real estate market, which had suddenly begun to resemble an unhappy rodeo bull, had thrown the economy of the region, the state and the country on its head.
But that was then. Now, the unemployment rate hovers around 6 percent and real estate statistics continue to rise as well. From south to north the numbers have changed. Buyers, significant percentages of them, are “end users” as the parlance goes, not just investors, but whoever they are, many are buying land in Florida with cash. Mortgages are secured only with solid credit, and now in each market here, slowly shrinking inventories have reached roughly a six-month supply, a comfortable base from which to do business.
But numbers are always tricky and sometimes even misleading. Since inventory is down prices are rising at 8 to 12 percent, depending on where one is in the market. If you want to sell a home below $200,000 (the sweet spot is $150,000) you will be happy to be in a seller’s market because the inventory is four to six months. If you are selling between $200,000 and $350,000, you’re in a pretty even market. But if you own a home valued at above $350,000, the inventory is 12 to 18 months and buyers are still in control.
To learn more about the Lee County real estate and purchasing Lee County real estate contact a member of the Gratia Group Sales team at (239) 333-2221.