NABOR: October home and condo prices up 20 percent over a year ago

— Home prices are moving on up in the Naples market.

In October, the median price for homes and condos rose to $192,000, up more than 20 percent from $159,000 a year ago, according to a monthly report released Friday by the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

The report tracks home sales in Collier County, excluding Marco Island.

In the year ending in October, the report shows the median price for single-family homes rose about 10 percent, with increases seen in all ZIP codes.

The median is the price at which half the homes sell for more and half for less. In October, that price was at $153,000 for condos and $235,000 for single-family homes.

The higher prices, in combination with a lower inventory of homes, are making it less of a buyers' market, local Realtors say.

The inventory of homes shrank from 12,157 in February 2007 to 6,409 in October, which has left some buyers "desperate for inventory," said Jo Carter, president of Jo Carter & Associates, in a statement. In general, homes are selling more quickly, with the average number of days on the market declining for homes selling for more than $300,000, she said.

Craig Jones, vice president of Premier Sotheby's International Realty in Naples, said the numbers are a little bigger and more robust for her company, with its dominance in the luxury market.

"Our median price is well over $1 million — at about $1.3 million," she said.

The company's closings were up 31 percent in October year-over-year, with dollar volume rising 32 percent, Jones said.

"The condo market, it's still extremely strong," she said.

That market has improved because condominiums damaged by past hurricanes have been repaired, getting a fresh look, and storm-related insurance claims have been resolved. As a result, they are attractive again as an "easy-care buy," Jones said.

She noted her company is seeing more international buyers looking for second or third homes and they like the ease and convenience that comes with owning a condo.

There has been a "flight to quality property," she said, especially to homes and condos along the beach, which are being snapped up by wealthy buyers. In the year ending in October, sales in coastal Naples were up 10 percent.

In the overall Naples market, there were 642 home and condo sales in October, up from 537 a year ago. Of those total sales last month, 305 were single-family homes.

Pending sales — or new contracts written — for both homes and condos increased to 920 in October, up from 770 a year ago.

With the busy season starting to kick into gear, Jones said her company has taken 129 new listings during the past week.

"So perhaps the inventory is shifting," she said. "We are putting a little bit more on the market for people to choose from."

__ To see NABOR's full report, go to www.NaplesArea.com

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