Lee County sets home sales record in '09

Nevertheless, price of houses plummets

Sales of existing homes in Lee County ended the decade with a bang — a record 16,260 were sold with the assistance of a Realtor in 2009, according to statistics released Monday by the Florida Association of Realtors.

That shattered the old record of 12,123 set in 2005 at the top of the residential real estate boom that collapsed the following year.

Meanwhile, prices were moving in the opposite direction. The median sales price for an existing house was $278,200 in 2005 but only $90,400 in 2009.

Nationally, sales of previously occupied homes took the largest monthly drop in more than 40 years last month, sinking more dramatically than expected after lawmakers gave buyers additional time to use a tax credit, according to a separate report today by the National Association of Realtors.

That report reflects a sharp drop in demand after buyers stopped scrambling to qualify for a tax credit of as much as $8,000 for first-time homeowners. It had been due to expire Nov. 30, but Congress extended the deadline until April 30 and expanded it with a new $6,500 credit for existing homeowners who move.

In Lee County, prices finally reached a point in 2009 that triggered a wave of buyers, said real estate broker Denny Grimes, president of Fort Myers-based Denny Grimes and Co.

“We had the banks setting loose the foreclosures for the first time,” he said. “The prices were coming down and you had sellers (the banks) who were determined to find the market. Everybody wondered if there was a market there — they were hoping and praying there was.”

The moral of the story, he said, is that, “There’s never a shortage of buyers, only of willing and realistic sellers.”
Courtesy of Fort Myers News Press