Greater Fort Myers Area Real Estate Prices Remain Stable

Shadow Foreclosures are not taken into account in this article.

Buyers of vacation and retirement homes continued buying briskly in the greater Fort Myers area as May’s median price for an existing home stayed well above the rock-bottom levels of last year.

According to a report released today by Florida Realtors, the median price of a single-family home sold with the help of a Realtor was $114,900 in May, up 19 percent from $96,900 in May 2010.

But May’s price was down 3 percent from $118,900 in April.

There were 1,338 single-family sales in May, down 8 percent from May 2010’s 1,460 and down 12 percent from April’s 1,520.

In a separate report released today by the National Association of Realtors, home sales nationally sank 3.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million homes. That’s far below the roughly 6 million annual sales rate typical in healthy housing markets

Nationally, one sign of the housing industry’s struggles is that fewer first-time buyers are entering the market. The number of first-timers ticked down to 35 percent of sales last month. In healthy times, they drive about half of sales.

That’s also true in Lee County, said Fiona Finn, a real estate agent with Sandals Realty SWFL in south Fort Myers.

But, she said, “I’m also seeing a lot of second homebuyers. The ones coming down in the summer months seem to be the ones looking for the greatest deal.”

A lot of buyers are locking in today’s low prices as
they look down the road to retirement, she said: buying a lot to build on later or buying a house they can rent out to defray costs until they can come here permanently.

Denny Grimes of Denny Grimes & Co. at Royal Shell in Fort Myers said there are would-be first-time homebuyers, but only a trickle of them can meet today’s tough requirements to get a mortgage.

That limits the first-timers to “the ones who are squeaky clean and financeable,” a rarity because many have credit issues already with cars and boats.

Suzanne Sherer of Remax Realty Team said there isn’t much left in the way of low-end homes that typically are purchased by first-time buyers.

“Just six months ago we had a lot of entry-level condominiums for $30,000 to $40,000,” she said. “It’s just disappearing.”

Nationally, since the housing boom went bust in 2006, sales have fallen in four of the past five years.

Analysts say they expect sales to level off at about 5 million a year.

That’s not much better than the 4.91 million homes sold last year, the worst showing in 13 years.
Article courtesy of the Fort Myers News Press
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Foreclosures in Lee County Florida Decline

Foreclosures in Lee County in May continued the slow decline that started two years ago after the housing collapse sparked a huge runup, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association.

There were 345 filed in county courts in May compared to 375 in April and 847 in May 2010.

Foreclosures spiked sharply after Southwest Florida's housing bubble burst at the end of 2005. The all-time high month for foreclosures was October 2008 with 2,665.

Meanwhile, the number of properties with titles transferred after public courthouse auctions was 774 in May - more than twice the number of foreclosures filed.

That was a sharp increase in titles transferred from April, with only 535. Article courtesy of Fort Myers News Press.
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