Lee County's median home price spikes

The median price of an existing home sold in Lee County spiked past $100,000 in April — the first time in more than a year it reached that level.

In a report issued Monday, the Florida Association of Realtors said the median price of a single-family home sold with the help of Realtor was $101,500 in April. The last time prices were that high was December 2008, when it was $106,900.

Meanwhile, 1,473 houses were sold in April, almost the same as the 1,468 sold in April 2009, the report states.

The sharp increase in price was a rare break in the generally downward trend that has prevailed since the median price reached its all-time high of $322,300 in December 2005.

Part of the increase is a result of keen competition by investors that’s reduced the number of low-end houses for sale, said Steve Koffman, a real estate broker with Century 21 Sunbelt in Cape Coral. “The house that was $80,000 that was selling with 40 offers is gone and the next one’s $85,000 or $90,000.”

Brett Ellis, a real estate agent with Re/Max Realty Group in Fort Myers, said some people are looking at homes as a conservative way to invest their money.

“People aren’t really happy with the stock market,” he said. “They think it’s not a good place to park your money.”

Sal Fabozzi, 51, an information technology worker who lives on Long Island, N.Y., last month bought a lakefront house for $260,000 in the Somerset at the Plantation subdivision off Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers.

He closed on the house in March and had a sense that his timing was good. “I take it right now is a very good time to buy,” he said.

The lack of other good places to put his money also figured into his decision, said Fabozzi, who plans eventually to retire here. “If it’s in the bank getting 0.25 percent interest, better to buy something.”

Like many buyers this year, Fabozzi is applying for the first-time home buyer’s federal tax credit.

In a separate report, the National Association of Realtors said today that national sales of previously owned homes in April rose 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million. That was the best showing in five months and better than the 5.63 million homes economists had expected.

The national increase in sales also sparked a rise in home prices. The median price for a new home rose to $173,100, up 4 percent from a year ago.

Statewide, the median price increased 1 percent to $140,100 in April from $138,100 a year earlier.

The federal government provided a big boost to home sales this spring by offering first-time buyers a tax credit of as much as $8,000. Homeowners who had purchased a home before but were looking to upgrade were able to qualify for a credit of as much as $6,500. The deadline for getting a signed sales contract was April 30.

Sales were up in all parts of the country except the West. The gains were led by a 21.1 percent jump in the Northeast and a 9.9 percent rise in the Midwest. Sales also rose 8.6 percent in the South.

In the West, sales dropped by 6.2 percent from March. Thank you to the Associated Press and News Press for this article.
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