Fort Myers area homes prices fall. Sales up.

Article courtesy of the Fort Myers News Press.
The median price of existing homes sold in Lee County in August fell 3.5 percent to $103,200 from July while the number of homes sold rose 2 percent to 1,122, according to statistics released today by Florida Realtors.

Statewide, the median price increased less than 1 percent to $137,500 and the number of sales increased 4.4 percent to 16,206.

The Naples Area Board of Realtors submits its numbers to Florida Realtors but doesn’t allow them to be published, although the Collier County total is included in the statewide statistics.

Florida Realtors figures include only houses sold with the assistance of a Realtor.

In a separate report also released today, the National Association of Realtors reported that the number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes rose in August. But sales were driven by an increase in foreclosures, a sign that home prices could fall further next year and slow a housing recovery.

Home sales rose 7.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million homes, according to the association. That's below the 6 million that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market.

Last month's pace was slightly ahead of the 4.91 million sold in 2010, the worst sales level in 13 years.

Homes at risk of foreclosure made up 31 percent of sales. That's up from 29 percent in July. Many are being bought by investors.

At the same time, activity among first-time buyers, who are critical to reviving the housing market, didn't budge. First-time buyers made up only 32 percent of sales, matching the July level. They normally make up 50 percent of home sales in healthy markets.

The median sales price dropped roughly to $168,300 in August from July. A key reason was the rise in foreclosures and short sales — when a lender accepts less than what is owed on the mortgage. Those homes sell at an average discount of 20 percent. Search Greater Fort Myers Real Estate

Fort Myers area Foreclosures steady. Permits rise

Fort Myers area foreclosures steady.
Single-family-home permits pulled by builders in Lee County increased slightly to 100 in August — but developers said it’s still tough to sell houses these days.

Lee County and the city of Cape Coral on Thursday both reported increased numbers of permits pulled by builders in August for single-family homes.

In the county, contractors pulled 37 permits compared to 29 in July and 17 in August 2010, according to a release by the county Department of Community Development.
Cape Coral reported 28, up from 17 in August and 18 in July.

Fort Myers reported 22 permits, down from 34 in July but up from 20 in August 2010.
Meanwhile, the number of foreclosures rose to 505 from 438 in July, but that’s down sharply from August 2010’s 834, according to a report released Thursday by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investment Association.

August’s number is in the range that foreclosures have been in for the past few months, said association director Jeff Tumbarello.

“I really think we’re at a point where this is the new normal,” he said, noting that before the boom that ended in 2005 and the subsequent crash, the county averaged 200 to 300 foreclosures a month.

Although permits were slightly higher, there still aren’t enough to sustain a healthy residential construction industry, said David Kraizgrun, general manager of Fort Myers-based Pinnacle Development, which is developing the Cascades at River Hall community off State Road 80 east of Fort Myers.
Pinnacle has sold only seven homes since buying the project from Bank of America in April 2010 after original builder Levitt & Sons went bankrupt.

But he doesn’t intend to sacrifice quality or price for short-run sales, Kraizgrun said.
As more people move into the county, the glut of homes inevitably will dry up and prices will pop back up, he said.

At that point, the county likely would return to a normal 200 to 300 home permits a month, Kraizgrun said.

“I think the future’s bright,” he said. “I think we just need to get the confidence back.” Courtesy of Fort Myers News Press.