In the Know: No slowdown in spending meant no September swoon for SW Florida real estate; prices surge
No September swoon this year. Far from it for Southwest Florida real estate.
The traditionally lackluster month instead continued the fierce 2020 purchasing pace sparked by the pandemic as the median price for Collier County single-family structures now approaches a half-million dollars.
At the same time, Lee County had its best selling single-family September since 2016, according to the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association.
And with folks more comfortable in the safety of their masks, they're not as hesitant to wander through strangers' homes as they had been earlier during the coronavirus crisis to get the deal they want.
"September is typically the slowest month," said Brenda Fioretti, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty. "But agents were very busy this September as the number of showings increased 80% to 35,465 appointments compared to 18,745 appointments in September 2019."
No shyness illustrated in those latest Naples Area Board of Realtors numbers or with wallets these days around here.
The big money's traditionally spent during the cooler snowbird months that bring those wonderfully comfortable nights and more buyers. Lots and lots of buyers.
"Beyond pent-up demand from COVID-19, there is a clear change in buying behavior as a result of the pandemic resulting in a departure from normal seasonality," said Budge Huskey, CEO of Premier Sotheby's International Realty. "It's unclear whether this unprecedented pace of sales is sustainable, as some of these buyers were held over from last winter season while others appear to be buying early in advance of the upcoming season."
Buying early is defined in a different way by Bex Realty Florida's West Coast Sales Manager Adam Vellano.
"I believe that the pandemic pushed some people to make buying decisions a few years early," Vellano said.
As first reported by the In the Know several months ago, residents from larger metros have been making their way to Southwest Florida in droves to get away from the uncomfortable tight spaces of big city living to try to avoid a contagious killer virus. Herding of any kind, especially into elevators and subways, never was much fun anyway.
Our lifestyles have dramatically changed as well.
"There has been a 19.6% increase in closed sales of homes with a minimum of four bedrooms over the last year," Coco Amar, a vice-president for William Raveis Real Estate, said of NABOR statistics. "This data reflects another shift in buying behavior as a result of the pandemic. The demand for single family homes with additional space to accommodate a home office and a virtual schoolroom is increasing."
That's draining the available supply. The September report showed a decrease of 37.9% to 779 properties on the market with four or more bedrooms compared to 1,255 in September 2019. Overall, it's all down by almost one-third in Collier.
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This is all driving median prices, up, up, up. For in-demand Collier single-family abodes: $474,000. A year ago: $402,000.
The current overall median of $384,000 for all NABOR housing is close to that old single-family price tag. The median had been $325,000 in September 2019.
Sellers are now seeing multiple bids for their properties more often. And in some cases in the competitive market, clients aren't even touring houses before submitting a contract offer, especially at the luxury level, said broker Spencer Haynes, director of business development for John R. Wood Properties.
"Multi-million properties are being grabbed up with many buyers making an offer sight-unseen," Haynes said. "There are currently less than 500 properties on the market over $2 million."
Closed sales of dwellings in that NABOR category have increased 30.7% in the 12 months ending in September.
Overall, closed NABOR sales increased 52.9% to 1,096 closed sales in September 2020 from 717 closed sales in September 2019. Pending sales activity also increased a whopping 83.4% to 1,509 pending sales in September 2020 from 823 in September 2019.
The Bonita Springs-Estero Realtors group saw similar September single-family success, with closings up 46% and pending more than doubling from a year ago. The median was $435,000 for that segment as compared to $260,000 for condos.
For that classification, Lee County tallied 1,440 sold, the best September in four years, and up more than a third over 2019. The median: $295,000, or 17.5% better than a year ago. Condos finished at $215,500, according to the Florida Realtors organization.
Don't forget to vote
Much bigger than the World Series and a COVID-19-infected Josh Turner field celebration, the election is finally here Tuesday. Like many of you, would have loved to see the underdog Tampa Bay Rays pull it off, but onward.
The Naples Daily News and the Fort Myers News-Press will be providing regular updates from all over Southwest Florida throughout the day and into the night. With the help of my colleagues, I'll be producing a live blog at naplesnews.com starting in the morning to help you track all the action.
For those of you who have already cast your ballots, congratulations. If you are headed to the polls, don't hesitate to share with me what you're seeing. Are there long lines? How long did it take? And any other observations you might have. Photos are cool, too. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Addicted to Fitness update
One of the most asked questions has been whatever happened to Jon Bates and his Addicted to Fitness that I featured about a month ago as he worked through unexpected challenges.
In the middle of a pandemic and with Mercantile Plaza, his location, up for sale, shopping center owners who didn't agree to be interviewed abruptly told Bates he had to move his business out in 30 days after almost a decade at the 337 Airport-Pulling Road address.
Hundreds of you offered your help including LandQwest Commercial's Adam Palmer who proposed donating his fees back to Bates. The merchant has been providing regular updates on Facebook as he vacates the locale.
"It was extremely emotional to see this space that was filled with love and equipment and know that there had been many years of hard work and fun and laughter and friendships made. It's extremely tough for me to close this chapter, but I'm also trusting that there's a reason that this has happened, something that I can't see right now, I'm not aware of, but I'm trusting that there's something bigger and better for us in the future," Bates said.
"I've had so many people reach out in the kindest, most generous way during this process, and it's been incredibly humbling and touching. People that I've never even met have been so incredibly kind and supportive."
In the meantime, Bates has partnered with AAH Fitness in what's known to most everybody as the Naples Outback plaza at 4910 Tamiami Road N. while he continues the search for a new spot. His Addicted to Fitness also took charge of launching the wellness center for the Royal Wood Country Club off Santa Barbara Boulevard near Rattlesnake Hammock Road.
"We have the opportunity every day to touch people's lives. This is especially hard for me because this was so much more than just a job and is a business that I've worked extremely hard with lots of people's help and lots of support over nine years to make it happen," Bates said. "We're going to continue to do what we do to make a difference in people's lives on a daily basis through health, happiness, gratitude, positivity. Right now the world needs this more than ever."
The company's digital site can be found at addictedtofitness.com, which links to its Facebook page.
Based at the Naples Daily News, Columnist Phil Fernandez (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes In the Know as part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Support Democracy and subscribe to a newspaper.