NAPLES — It’s not a buyer’s market.
It’s not a seller’s market either.
The Naples area real estate market has reached a balance, according to a quarterly report by the Naples Area Board of Realtors.
The inventory of homes has hit a three-year low since NABOR began tracking the numbers in 2007. At a press conference Friday, Naples brokers and Realtors said the market has reached an equilibrium, with an 11.3-month supply of available homes.
The report shows the inventory dropped 9 percent in the second quarter of this year to 8,845 homes, down from 9,681 a year ago. In the quarter, the $2 million and up price range saw the biggest drop in inventory – 24 percent.
In the second quarter, from April to June, sales remained strong. But in June there was a 3 percent dip in closed sales, when compared to the same month a year ago, according to NABOR’s monthly report.
The monthly and quarterly reports track Realtor sales made through the Sunshine Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Collier County, excluding Marco Island.
In Lee County, sales slipped in June too.
Naples Realtors see the drop as more of a blip, though a year-over-year monthly decline hasn’t been seen in 17 months.
“We are selling against a tough economic background. There’s high unemployment nationwide. There’s the BP oil spill,” said Mike Hughes, a vice president for Downing-Frye Realty in Naples.
While closed sales were down slightly pending sales grew 4 percent to 847 in June, up from 813 in June 2009.
“We had a good start this summer,” Hughes said. “I really think last year is going to be tough to match.”
In the second quarter, there were 2,485 sales, up 19 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Pending sales grew 8 percent to 2,807, up from 2,600 a year ago.
The median price for the quarter was $200,000, up 14 percent from $175,000 a year ago. The median is the price at which half the homes sell for more and half for less.
“Much of that increase can be attributed to demand,” said Michele Harrison, a broker-associate for John R. Wood Realtors in Naples.
The under $300,000 market remains the most active, driven by foreclosures and short sales – sales made for less than the bank is owed on a mortgage. In this low-end market, there were 1,663 sales in the second quarter, up 11 percent over last year.
All price ranges saw more sales in the quarter, compared to a year ago.
■ In the $300,000 to $500,000 market, sales rose 30 percent to 351.
■ In the $500,000 to $1 million market, sales rose 40 percent to 264 sales.
■ In the $1 million to $2 million market, sales rose 47 percent to 131.
■ In the $2 million and up market, sales rose 49 percent to 76.
Buyers have sat on the fence, waiting for the best time to buy. That time may be passing, with interest rates so low and the inventory of homes shrinking, Hughes said.
“The buyer really should be taking notice here,” he said. “Things never stay the same.”
Even with interest rates so low, the market is still seeing a majority of buyers pay cash – about 70 percent, Hughes said.
Many buyers are coming from the Midwest, the east coast of Florida and overseas. Besides the usual buyers from the U.K., Germany and Canada, the area is attracting more buyers from Sweden and Russia, Harrison said.
The Internet has helped generate more international interest in the Naples area. “The Internet is amazing,” Hughes said. “It’s really working 24 hours a day for you.”
This time of year a lot of locals are moving around too, said Brenda Fioretti, NABOR’s president and a managing broker for Prudential Florida Realty in Naples. A lot of second-home buyers are in the market too.
The BP oil spill may have had an impact on June sales. Those sales reflect contracts written a few months ago, when the spill first made national headlines. Overall, it doesn’t seem to have hurt sales all that much in the Naples area, though it has hurt seasonal rentals, with many potential winter visitors taking a wait-and-see approach, Hughes said.
“Certainly having the oil spill capped helps,” he said. “It takes one of the question marks off the table.”
It’s not just single-family homes that are selling. Condo sales are improving too.
In the second quarter, condo sales increased 31 percent to 1,270 That compared to 968 sales a year ago.
“Buyers were clamoring for condos in the East Naples area,” said Kathy Zorn, broker/owner of Florida Home Realty of Collier County.
North Naples was the leader for sales in the second quarter with 669, up 31 percent from a year ago. Central Naples came in second with 479 sales.
In the Immokalee/Ave Maria area, sales doubled to 18 in the second quarter.
“The more successful the university is and the more it grows it seems the real estate would follow,” Hughes said.
Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden.