Governor Crist eyes $2billion first-year tax relief

Governor Charlie Crist proposed property-tax relief Tuesday of about $2 Billion in the first year for homeowners, landlords and business.
Those savings are estimated to increase to $4.7 Billion annually in five years.
Crist said "This money's going to the people. They've had it taken from them and taken from them and taken from them, whether by insurance premiums or property taxes."

Prices rising and home inventory decreasing

It is impossible to predict a bottom in the real estate market. The following article in the Fort Myers News Press is encouraging.

News Press 1/26/2007. December median home price $262,500, up from $258,600 in November. This is two months in a row of price increases. In another sign the slide may be almost over, the number of homes on the market decreased for a second month.

Property Taxes State's Next Target

Fort Myers News Press January 25, 2007
With insurance checked off the to-do list, Florida lawmakers are turning to another issue that's enraging the electorate - soaring property taxes.
Easing property tax increases is part of a larger plan on which Gov. Charlie Crist and many lawmakers campaigned last fall to ease the spiraling costs of owning a home.
"Property in our state has exponentially increased in its value, so I think that is very doable (lowering taxes) and something we will be able to achieve".

Lower Real Estate Prices Prompt Lee County Schools

On January 9th, the Lee County School District bought 16.3 acres on Gunnery Road in Lehigh Acres for $3.4 Million. Minutes later, school board members authorized spending $6.1 million for 101.8 acres on another future school site off Joel Boulevard in Lehigh Acres.

Insurance-rate drop done deal !

Fort Myers News-Press. 1/23/07. Insurance-rate drop done deal! For customers of state created Citizens Property Insurance, the average savings could be about 18%. The measure would reverse a recent 21 percent rate increase and cancel a 56% increase that was schedule for this year.

Existing Homes Sales to Trend Upward in 2007

Existing-home sales are expected to rise gradually in 2007 from current levels, with annual totals slightly lower than 2006, while new-home sales will continue to slide, according to the latest forecast by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, says market conditions will vary around the country next year.“Roughly three-quarters of the country will experience a sluggish expansion in 2007, while other areas should continue to contract for at least part of the year,” he says. “Most of the correction in home prices is behind us, but general gains in value next year will be modest by historical standards.”For Buyers, a Window of Opportunity“Buyers, especially first-time buyers, with the combined benefits of seller flexibility and an unexpected drop in mortgage interest rates, have a window of opportunity,” he adds. “These conditions will persist in many areas until early spring when inventory supplies are likely to become more balanced.” Existing-home sales for 2006, finishing the third-best year on record, are projected at 6.47 million, a decline of 8.6 percent from 2005. For 2007, sales expected to rise steadily to an annual total of 6.40 million, which would be 1 percent lower than this year’s total. “By the fourth quarter of 2007, existing-home sales will be 4.6 percent higher than the current quarter,” Lereah says.Builders Slow New-Home ConstructionNew-home sales in 2006 are expected to fall 17.7 percent to 1.06 million, the fourth highest total on record, before sliding an additional 9.4 percent in 2007 to 957,000. Much of the contraction in the new housing market results from cuts in builder construction to support pricing for current inventories. In addition, high construction costs in many areas are taking a bite out of potential profits. Total housing starts for 2006 are likely to drop 12.3 percent to 1.82 million units, with another 15.1 percent decline in 2007 to 1.54 million.Mortgage Rates Seen Rising to 6.7%The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is forecast to gradually increase to 6.7 percent by the fourth quarter of 2007. Last week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed rate dropped to 6.11 percent.The national median existing-home price for all of 2006 is projected to rise 1.4 percent to $222,600, with another 1.0 percent gain next year to $224,700. The median new-home price should ease by 0.5 percent to $239,700 this year, and then rise by 0.8 percent in 2007 to $241,700.“Keep in mind that overall home prices were still appreciating at double digit rates in the first quarter of this year — prices in this buyer’s market are temporarily a little below a year ago when we were in a strong seller’s market,” Lereah says. “This correction is one of the factors drawing buyers into the current market, but most sellers are still seeing very healthy long-term gains.”Unemployment, Inflation ForecastsThe unemployment rate is expected to be 4.8 percent in 2007, after averaging an estimated 4.6 percent this year. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is forecast to be 3.4 percent for 2006 and 2.3 percent in 2007, while growth in the U.S. gross domestic product is likely to be 3.3 percent for all of this year and 2.3 percent in 2007. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is projected to grow 2.6 percent for 2006 and 3.5 percent next year.Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine [December, 2006] with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Analysts, U.S. builders believe worst of housing slump is over

Bloomberg News Service - "The worst of the drag on the economy from construction is behind us," says Chris Varvares, President of St.. Louis based Macroeconomic Advisors, LL. As a result he says growth should pick up to an annual rate of more than 3 percent in the second quarter from 2 1/4 percent in the current quarter.

Top home sale prices for 2006

Top 4 Lee County home sales for 2006. $5.35 Million 16590 Captiva Drive. $5.1 Million 5063 Joewood Drive, Sanibel. $4.9 million 17004Treviso Way, Bonita Springs. $4.5 million 16910 Captiva Drive.

Lee County sees Hot Tourism Season

Lee County's tourist-drawning barrier islands are expected to host more tourists this season than since 2004. "Our web site activity and request for visitor guides is way up. Airlines we've been talking to are filling up", said D.T. Minich, executive director of Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau.

"For sale" glut slowed home building in '06

Lee county's pace of construction slowed last year as a huge inventory of unsold housed piled up - but it still was the strongest on record except 2005 according to the Fort Myers News Press.

Fort Myers River District in state of transition

News Press December 31, 2006. Now that the market for high rise condominiums is no longer investor and speculator driver, 2007 and beyond will be transitional years for the city until more real end users provide the backbone of sustainable growth. This is important because the revitalization of the Fort Myers River District depends on new residents, not speculators.