The state of real estate: Prices are through the roof, with lack of inventory the only problem

Lance Shearer

As the 2022 “season” begins on Marco Island, the state of real estate is absolutely boffo, with properties snapped up faster than they can get entered into the MLS (multiple listing system), and sales above asking price becoming the norm rather than the exception. There is only one downside, from a salesperson’s perspective, but it’s a big one –they are running out of homes to sell.

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The market is “at a point where no one has ever seen it,” said Jack Winnik, president of MIAAOR, the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors. “It’s booming through the roof, and the shortage of inventory is creating a feeding frenzy.”

The clamor to “own a piece of the Rock” is “causing issues for a lot of buyers,” said Winnik, who works as an agent for Keller-Williams. “We’re seeing bidding wars, and a lot of upset buyers” who have been outbid, often after making a full-price or higher offer on a home. “We’re used to gauging a listing by days on the market, but currently we’re going by hours on the market.”

Many homes, he said, will have five to seven showings on the first day they are listed.

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The MIAAOR year-end real estate report for 2021 shows the median price for homes was up 49 percent over 2020, the number of sales was up 17 percent, and average days on the market was down 51 percent. The number of condos sold was up 42 percent, and the median price was up 26 percent, with average days on the market down 40 percent from 2020. For lots, the number was up six percent, median price up 29 percent, and average days on market down 43 percent.

Tellingly, while total closed properties at 1,434 was just six percent higher than 2020 at 1,434, the total dollar volume sold was up 60 percent at approximately $1.8 billion.

While this is a moving target, one day in January, there were 55 single family homes listed, 53 condos, and 75 vacant lots, said Mike O’Rourke, team leader for the Sandlin team with ReMax Affinity Plus. “It’s a hyper-competitive market, and we’re not seeing any slowdown. Buyers know they need to act quickly.”

“These are historically low levels of inventory,” said Natalie Kirstein of William Raveis. “There’s so much demand and not enough inventory. It’s a cash market, so we’re not affected by interest rates.”

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Realtor Jim Prange, a longtime agent with Premier Sotheby’s, confirmed the heated nature of the market.

“I just had a property that sold in half an hour for 20 percent above list. We had 13 offers – all cash, no contingencies. So now there 12 other people who didn’t get that house,” and are still in the market. As a seller, he said, “you can pick the best offer, so as a buyer, you better make a strong offer.”

Again, said Prange, the problem is finding homes to sell.

“Last year, 842 condos sold on Marco. On January 10, there were 50 total on the island, with 64 condos pending.”

With about 550 real estate salespeople registered on the island, the number of realtors might shrink, said Bill Filbin of Remax Affinity Plus.

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He was having dinner with a couple he sold a home to 20 years ago, he said. “I told them what the house was worth now, and she literally dropped her fork. We put the house on the market, and sold it in six hours, full price, as is. If you price things right, they’ll sell in a day.”

Pat Wilkins with ReMax Affinity Plus had a stellar 2021, including a home that went for $10.5 million.

“I broke $105 million last year in closed sales,” he said. “I have $40 million in pending sales this year.” He didn’t know the numbers, he said, “until a week ago when my secretary did the numbers. I just keep my head down and keep plowing.”

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“We’re setting records every week,” said Prange. “This had been a speculative market – flippers – but these buyers are users, and they’re paying cash.” People are leaving their primary homes up north, perhaps keeping their vacation cottage, and coming to Florida as they realize they can work from anywhere.

“Right now, Marco is doing a lot of catchup,” he said. Prices have climbed substantially, but “we’re still nowhere near Naples prices.”