Vacation rentals, not property sales, hurt by BP Gulf oil spill, Realtors say

— Realtors in Southwest Florida say the oil spill isn’t chasing buyers away.

But renters may be another story. Bookings for vacation homes could suffer.

“I think people will drag their foot a little bit for next season, waiting to see what happens. I haven’t seen a lot of it yet. But that is something I’m kind of monitoring,” said Mike Hughes, a vice president for Downing-Frye in Naples.

Few buyers have backed out of contracts because of fears about how the BP oil spill could hurt values, he said.

“It really hasn’t been much of an issue,” Hughes said. “I can tell you out of 1,500 transactions, I could count on one hand the number that have fallen through, and I don’t know if the oil spill was the reason.”

The transactions he’s talking about are closings at his office since Jan. 1. Since then, he’s only seen three deals fall apart, he said.

As the oil slick moves toward the Panhandle’s pristine beaches, Hughes fears what might happen to the real estate and tourism industries there.

“It’s tragic what has happened with the Panhandle,” he said. “There’s no question.”

In the Panhandle, Realtors have lost buyers and contracts because of the oil spill. It also has hurt vacation rentals. The busy season for visitors just started there.

Deborah Orr, a broker for Unique Panhandle Properties, said her company alone has seen at least four residential deals fall through since June 2. Three of them were still in negotiations, and the buyers put them on hold. One buyer decided to cancel his contract on a home, she said.

“The beach is the big attraction. Our beaches are studied all over the world,” Orr said.

During the past week, she’s seen more homes coming back on the market through the local multiple listing service, or MLS, in the Panhandle. She suspects it’s because of deals that have crumbled over fears about the oil spill.

“We did put a claim in (to BP),” she said, adding that her office already has lost $48,000 in commissions.

Among Realtors in Southwest Florida, there’s a more positive feeling that this area will be spared because the Loop Current is projected to keep the oil far from this coast. The current, a stream of warm water that acts like a conveyor belt, is about 200 miles away.

“The hurricane season is the wild card,” Hughes, the Naples Realtor, said. “None of us really know what to expect, but so far it looks pretty good.”

In Southwest Florida, rumors have circulated about deals that have or could fall apart because of the oil spill, especially those involving Gulf-front lots or homes. But sales continue.

“In my particular business, there has been no impact whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I have written over $20 million worth of contracts in the last two weeks,” said Philip N. Collins, a broker associate for Premier Properties of Southwest Florida Inc.

He isn’t hearing many concerns or getting many questions about the oil spill from prospective buyers that he’s dealing with.

Even if the oil spill reached the beaches, it could be easily cleaned up, Collins said. His bigger concern would be the estuaries, he said.

Naples Realtor Craig Jones, with John R. Wood Realtors Inc., said the oil spill hasn’t hurt her sales either.

“I just closed on a Gordon Drive lot 10 days ago, where it wasn’t considered an issue at all,” she said.

The Naples Area Board of Realtors hasn’t been able to document any lost sales from the millions of gallons of oil that have poured into the Gulf of Mexico.

“I think overall people are confident it’s not going to come to Naples,” said Brenda Fioretti, NABOR’s president.

Her concerns are in the “rental department.” It appears some would-be visitors are holding off on renting vacation homes for next winter and more of them have a “wait-and-see” attitude, she said.

When season ends, bookings for next season usually begin for the most desirable homes and condos in the winter months.

“Obviously, we’re hearing that in Pensacola it’s a much bigger issue,” Fioretti said. “We are just very thankful to be in Naples.”

Tom Bringardner, president and CEO of Premier Properties of Southwest Florida, said his company’s rental division is seeing more hesitation in advance bookings for weekly rentals.

He said the next month or two should be more telling about how much rentals will be hurt this summer or in the winter.

“Gosh, we might be struck by a meteor, too. But I’m not sure whether we will see that oil here on our coast or not,” Bringardner said.

“The whole thing is just a tragedy, but it’s just an aspect of the business that we have to deal with and allow potential renters and buyers to make a decision,” he said. “Right now it looks like it’s pretty far away from us.”

__ Connect with Laura Layden at

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 8

happy6 writes:

AND they just figured out we have a problem marco..

deltarome writes:

Realtors are experts at spinning news to suit their needs-Its all about COMMISSIONS s-----!

GoldDustWoman writes:

Don't agree? See article by Jon Bruner, Forbes Magazine, published 6/14/10:

deltarome writes:

Goldy, From your comments, you sound like a realtor. The article was based on 2008 data and you are trying to spin this to include something that has occurred since April 2010!!

dkg1960 writes:

Get used to it folks. Now everybody and their brother, and sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, etc. will be looking for a way to claim their piece of the BP pie! This sickens me almost as much as the oil spill - Realtor claims? - GIVE ME A BREAK!! Calling all ambulance chasers ...

ratsnake writes:

This is not Pensacola. We have mostly snowbirds, not tourists. Many vacation renters in this area are repeaters who know what's going on down here. Also, the reason the article says rentals "could" suffer is because it's way too early to know if they will or not. We'll know by the end of August - not becasue August is when the well will be sealed, but because that's about the time every year when we have enough bookings to gauge what the upcoming rental season will look like. Stay tuned.

firebrand writes: Offers Relief to Vacation Rental Owners in Gulf States Adversely Affected by Oil Spill

UniquePanhandleProperties writes:

DKG, I am the realtor in the Florida panhandle that was interviewed for this article. I'm not angered by your comment. I'm sadded because there are judgemental and discompassionate people like you in the world. I'm not a used car salesman. I was a pharmacist for 20 years, 13 of those years as a white collar drug investigator protecting people like you from counterfeit prescription drugs. I have been qualified as an expert witness in state and federal courts (both civil and criminal). I became a realtor and opened a real estate brokerage in the Florida panhandle about 6-7 years ago because I tired of fighting the system to do my job. I assure you that I'm not selling real estate because I'm too s----- to do anything else. I made the choice to exclusively represent buyers because there are often inherent conflicts in representing both sides of a real estate transaction and I pride myself on my integrity. I can provide many references of buyers whom I've advised NOT to purchase a property.

Your profiling of all realtors as ambulance chasers is simply inaccurate and I suspect that your real estate holdings are rather small since most people investing a lot of money in real estate wouldn't buy without a professional.

There are dead dolphins washing up on shore, numerous suffering seabirds and our beautiful landscape has been raped by greed. I simply can't comprehend people who aren't saddened by what has happened in the gulf. Many spiritual leaders believe that this disaster will result in mankind returning to compassion for all living things as well as a respect for the environment but comments such as yours tend to disprove that theory.

My loss of income (and that of the people that work so hard for me) is as real as fishermen and oil workers. Hard working people are going broke over this. I cry almost daily over what has happened here and I would cancel my claim in a minute if I could stop the suffering of the people and animals up here and the destruction of the beach that I love.

BP is giving everyone they have hurt the runaround. They have come into our Gulf and irresponsibly put our entire coast at risk and they are doing nothing but lying about what is going on and making idle promises of making it right. And our government isn't doing anything meaningful to help. Before you speak, maybe you should come up here and help us clean this poison off of our beaches.

And before you say more about what you don't know, I don't eat meat or fish, I grow my own vegetables and I ride my bicycle more than I use my car. I minimize my use of plastic and I volunteer my time and money to many causes even though I'm not even close to being well off. I'm doing what I can to leave a planet for our children. How bout you?

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.