Let he who is not poorer in real estate valuation than he was five years ago cast the first stone in rebuttal. Marco Island has lost approximately 50 percent of its property value since the last real estate price peak.
Official disclaimer – I am a proud Realtor and have been for 20-years in this community. My purpose in writing this account is not pecuniary, but rather a call to action to preserve property values in Marco Island.
It appears that the real estate down-cycle is ending (barring catastrophic economic chaos) and we need to ensure that a healthy recovery will ensue. How do we do this?
One part has, or is being, accomplished - the daunting and oft scorned septic tank replacement program. Everyone associated with this has been sufficiently vilified, but it will add essential value to every property that was previously not on sewer service. It will provide homeowners and future home builders (there are still a significant number of vacant lots) many more options in the utilization of their property. And yes, it will provide some ecological benefits as well. Ergo – boost to everybody’s’ property values.
The beautification of the Island through the planting of trees and landscaping, and the expansion of bicycle paths will further enhance the Island and make it more desirable to future residents. Ergo – boost to everybody’s’ property values.
We are on the cusp of having a very high quality K-12 educational program on the Island. Tommie Barfield continues to thrive as a Grade A School. The Charter Middle School has demonstrated its ability to provide high quality cutting edge education. The emergence and future success of the Charter Academy will complete the desire to provide well rounded education at the highest level to our children at home. This may encourage younger couples to look favorably at our Community for their growing families. Ergo – boost to everybody’s’ property values.
Now comes the hard part. The part that many current residents are absolutely myopic about. The demographic of property buyers on Marco Island has shifted dramatically. We are now dealing with the “next generation”. There are approximately 78 million ‘boomers’, the largest demographic cohort in the history of the United States. The first wave of this cohort is now retiring and many have already made decisions about their retirement years and destination. During the next 10 years the age range of 55-64 will contain 75% of this cohort. These are our future real estate buyers. In addition the 45-55 age group will be looking to buy for their future. The hard part is providing a community that meets their needs – not ours. Ergo – boost to everybody’s property values.
In the recently released 2011 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers one of the biggest factors influencing neighborhood choice was the quality of the neighborhood, cited by 67 percent of the respondent buyers. Other factors with relatively high responses include neighborhood design, 32 percent; convenience to shopping, 28 percent; quality of the school district, 27 percent; convenience to schools, 22 percent; and convenience to entertainment or leisure activities, 21 percent.
Marco Island already offers many of these ‘lifestyle’ options. However, we need to make sure that we work earnestly and with urgency towards the upgrading and modernization of our town center. We must make sure that we provide the leisure activity options that the next generation of Marco Island home owners will desire, not what we’ve become comfortable with. Ergo – boost to everybody’s property values.
Our world is being transformed, not simply changed. The rate of this transformation is going to become exponentially dramatic. We must accept that our future residents will desire a different ambiance and have different lifestyles. All this said, it does not mean that we need to step outside our comfort zone, but we must make provisions for this reality. After all, we are different than those who came before us.
I am normally not shy about stating my mind and sometimes championing controversial positions. However, dealing daily with prospective new residents I have learned that their expectations are different than what mine was when I came to Marco Island. Marco Island is a unique and precious place on Earth. But, we cannot be locked into a mold formed by pre-conceived ideas. The best way to deal with change is to be a part of it. Embrace the opportunity to look with open eyes and consider with an open mind some far reaching, possibly uncomfortable options. Some will demagogue this proposition as inconsistent with “community values”, what ever they are. We need to think radically to come up with the best alternatives to satisfy the desires of a younger group of future residents and to recover our lost property values.