Naples real estate market activity increases in October

— Leaves may be falling, but home resales are rising.

In what has traditionally been a slow time for sales, local Realtors say they are writing more contracts and showings are up.

“We are seeing year-round residents purchasing, perhaps those who have not been able to purchase a home before, and we are also seeing seasonal buyers starting to come in and take advantage of the good prices,” said Kathryn Zorn, a broker and owner of Florida Home Realty of Collier County Inc.

Foreclosures and short sales — sales made for less than the bank is owed — continue to drive the market. Homes under $300,000 have led the way in sales for months.

But there are promising signs of improvement in sales for higher-priced homes, which is building more confidence among buyers and real estate agents, Zorn said.

“Overall, people are feeling more positive about the whole economy, too,” she said.

In October, home and condo resales — those made with the assistance of a Realtor — rose more than 41 percent in the Naples area to 555. That compares with 392 sales made in the same month a year ago, according to a monthly report by the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

The report tracks sales made in Collier County through the MLS, or multiple listing service, excluding Marco Island.

North Naples saw the most sales last month — 237. Central Naples was second with 203 sales.

The median home price in the Naples area was $190,000 last month, down 14 percent from $221,000 a year ago. The median is the price at which half the homes sell for more and half for less.

“The median price has not shown an increase yet,” said Brett Brown, NABOR’s president. “But it almost has to soon. We are seeing a lot of people come into this market basically thinking this is the bottom.”

In every price category under $2 million that’s tracked by NABOR, pending sales — those that have yet to close — increased at least 100 percent.

“This could have turned out to have been one of the best Octobers for contracts written that we’ve seen historically in a long time,” Brown said.

Overall, pending sales grew to 904 last month, up from 409 in October 2008.

Single-family pending sales increased 73 percent to 475 contracts, up from 274 a year ago. Pending condo sales grew more than 217 percent to 429, up from 135 in October 2008.

Meanwhile, members of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach Inc. reported a 63.6 percent jump in single-family home sales in October, compared with the same month a year ago. There were 1,371 sales last month, bringing the total for the year to 14,056.

Single-family home resales in the Fort Myers area for the year are now 60.3 percent above all of 2008 and 42.8 percent above 2005 when the market was booming.

Realtors attribute the bump in sales to many factors, including low interest rates, a federal tax credit for first-time buyers, better pricing by sellers and low interest rates.

Nearly 70 percent of the single-family home sales made last month in the Fort Myers area involved foreclosures or short sales. More than 48 percent of last month’s sales were bank owned and a little more than 30 percent were traditional sales, according to the Realtor association.

Many first-time homebuyers scrambled to take advantage of an $8,000 federal tax credit that was scheduled to expire on Nov. 30, but which now has been expanded and extended until next year.

Pending sales are 8.3 higher than last year in the Fort Myers area. There were 1,643 single-family contracts pending last month.

Meanwhile, the number of active properties in the Fort Myers area market has dropped by more than 50 percent when compared with October 2008. There are now 6,706 homes available for purchase through the MLS, or multiple listing service.

The Realtor association estimates there is now a 4.1-month supply of homes on the market throughout the greater Fort Myers area.

In the Naples area, inventory declined 14 percent to 9,347 homes last month, down from 10,815 a year ago, according to NABOR.

In the Fort Myers market, the median price of existing homes sold last month was $85,600 -- up by $100 from September.

In October 2008, the median price was $119,900 _ nearly 30 percent higher.

“We are very pleased that Congress has extended the tax credit to April 30, 2010 and that it has been expanded to include a new $6,500 credit for owners of existing homes who are purchasing a new principal residence,” said Suzanne Sherer, the Realtor association’s president, in a statement. “We expect that homes sales will continue to be strong during season as the influence of distressed properties continues to put downward pressure on home prices, while the expansion and extension of the tax credit will enable more local residents to purchase a new home.”

Earlier

Overall pending home sales increased at least 100 percent in October 2009 compared to October 2008 in each price category under 2 million, according to a report released by the Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island).

“The number of contracts written in October 2009 (904 contracts) was more than twice the number of contracts written in October 2008 (409 contracts). The volume of activity is significant at what is usually a slow time of year,” acknowledged Mike Hughes, Vice-President of Downing-Frye Realty.

The properties in the under $300,000 market have led the way in sales for the past few months. However, the market recovery is now working its way up to the higher priced properties. Pending sales in the $300,000 to $500,000 price segment have increased 150 percent from 48 contracts in October 2008 to 120 contracts in October 2009.

“Low interest rates and the federal tax credit are helping to drive more sales. Buyers are getting off the fence,” stated John Steinwand, President of Naples Realty Services. “Inventory continues to go down from its peak.”

The available inventory has declined 14 percent to 9,347 in October 2009 from 10,815 in October 2008.

The October report provides annual comparisons of single-family home and condo sales (via the SunshineMLS), price ranges, geographic segmentation and includes an overall market summary. The statistics are presented in chart format, along with the following analysis:

Overall home sales under $300,000 saw a 42 percent increase with 555 closed sales in October 2009 compared to 392 closed sales in October 2008.

Single-family pending sales increased 73 percent with 475 contracts in October 2009 compared to 274 contracts in October 2008.

Condo sales increased 49 percent with 254 closed sales in October 2009 compared to 170 closed sales in October 2008.

The overall median closed price decreased 14 percent to $190,000 in October 2009 from $221,000 in October 2008.

The median refers to the middle value in a set of statistical values that are arranged in ascending or descending order, in this case prices at which homes were actually sold. It should be noted that in any given period the median could vary greatly if there is an anomaly, a single sale that is significantly higher or lower than other properties in the area.

According to Brenda Fioretti, Managing Broker of Prudential Florida Realty, “Educated consumers are contributing to the market rebound as sellers price properties competitively and realistically.

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