In the Know: Mind-boggling, soaring house prices in Southwest Florida

Phil Fernandez
Naples Daily News

The average single-family house sold in Lee County soared deep into the $500,000s in the latest figures, a year after crossing the $400,000 level.

Selling typically in 22 days, the price: $536,680. In November 2020, going in 49 days: $419,306, according to the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association.

The median for such abodes hit $379,900, 18.7% higher than a year ago.

The lack of supply is certainly playing a role, with 4.5% fewer new listings compared to November 2020.

Townhomes and condominiums are also selling quicker, 16 days as compared to 72 a year ago. Average price: $337,121, more than $50,000 higher than November 2020.

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While it has completed an overall summary, the Royal Palm group hasn't posted more detailed info yet. The Naples Area Board of Realtors, which last weekend installed a new president in Ryan Bleggi, a broker for John R. Wood Properties, releases its November data later in the month.

However, its October numbers were following the Lee County trend of rising prices and not enough to choose from in the listings.

October 2021 represented the lowest NABOR inventory level on record: 1,240, or 76.1% less than a year ago.

“In the past, if you couldn’t find a home to buy, you’d just rent for a while until something came along," said Mike Hughes, vice president and general manager for Downing-Frye Realty. "But there are few rentals today, and this is exacerbating the low inventory issue because sellers can’t just pick up and move when their home sells."

The overall result for NABOR is sales down by a third to 858.

“Closed sales are down for one reason: we just don’t have the inventory,” said Molly Lane, senior vice president at William Raveis Real Estate.

Like Lee County, what is there is selling quickly, with an average of 23 days on market compared to 92 days in October 2020.

Overall median price was $450,000, up 17%, and a single-family home price at $615,000, well ahead of Lee by $235,100.

More In the Know:With SWFL, other markets 'overvalued,' where are the bargains?

And: As SWFL growth soars, current Naples Airport jet usage has already surpassed 2040 projection; moves into Top 10 busiest list

Collier didn't see its average price rise nearly as much

While ahead of Lee, Collier didn't see its average price rise nearly as much. With a 5.4% jump, the overall price finished at $765,631.

As we've previously reported, this is putting ownership more out of reach for an increasing number of residents.

For both counties in the latest data, sellers received 99.3% of asking price for all property types.

Nationally, the median sale price increased 18.7% in November to $379,900 for single-family homes and 27.2% to $273,550 for townhouse/condos. Days on market decreased 55.1% for single-family homes and 77.8% for townhouse/condos.

Church land converting to apartments

Other types of housing will be in play soon thanks to new transactions evolving this month, according to total data buff Paige Rausch, a Aslan Realty Advisors real estate pro and perhaps a future member of the In the Know Hall of Fame. Or maybe we'll just give her a Heisman Award for her ability to rapidly run through the stats.

► An LLC tied to the Zemel family is poised to sell hundreds of acres for $16 million to MHC Pine Lakes II LLC, which is linked to the long established 362-acre mobile home park of a similar name in North Fort Myers. Among other parcels, the Zemels, one of the region's largest property owners since the 1930s, have had plenty of land between there and the Charlotte County landfill area five miles away off the road that bears their name.

Developer Equity Lifestyle Communities has plans to build but is facing pushback, according to my colleague, Bill Smith. "They really are doubling what we have at Pine Lakes." said attorney Ralf Brookes, who represents some residents.

Former United Methodist Church in downtown Fort Myers is the planned site of a new residential complex.

► And Thursday afternoon, the former site of the United Methodist Church of Fort Myers, which held its last service in May 2016, was sold to ZP 362 Fort Myers Church LLC for $7 million, according to land records.

That LLC tied to North Carolina-based Zimmerman Construction wants to erect a $73.4 million downtown Fort Myers apartment complex, with $11 million in city tax incentives. It originally wanted more. The project includes 274 units and a parking garage on the 4.5 acres that had served as the home for a church founded in 1872 by the pioneering Hendry family.

Age 75-up account for 1 in 5 in Naples

In the Naples area, the 75+ population accounts for almost 1 in every 5 people, according to the Moore Diversified Services consulting firm.

That 17.5% of the total population in 2020 compares to the national average of 6.8%.

This would explain a few things, such as not having enough working-age employees in the job market or to serve them and increasing construction targeted to the age group.

And a recent report by real estate's CBRE Group found that the 65-plus age group is estimated to exceed 85 million by 2050, more than a 50% increase over 2020.

Hence, this month's start of construction of Grand Living at Naples, a senior living community at 15150 Tamiami Trail N., north of a Mercedes Benz dealer, Kane's Furniture and an adjacent restaurant-laden shopping center. Work should be complete by summer 2023.

Construction started in December 2021 of Grand Living at Naples, a senior living community at 15150 Tamiami Trail N. Completion target: Summer 2023. The plan: a 241,071-square-foot, four-story community with 206 units.

The plan: a 241,071-square-foot, four-story community with 206 units, including 166 for independent and assisted living and 40 for memory care.

As we've previously reported, the area is experiencing a surge in these types of developments.

The big dog in all this, Ryan Cos., has completed 56 senior living communities across the country, with more than 500 units currently in Florida. This project will be the 12th in partnership with Grand Living Management and the fifth in the state.

The developers acquired the 7.9-acre land for $5.2 million in November, according to county public records. Industry publication Multi-Housing News reported that a five-year, $48.7 million construction loan was secured from Trustmark National Bank for the project.

“We are licensing the entire building with an assisted living license that allows our residents to age in place, with the exception of memory care. Our prototypical customer is late 70s to mid-80s,” said Eric Anderson, a Ryan vice president overseeing development.

The closest Grand Living communities are in Lakewood Ranch that opened in October 2019 and southern Sarasota County, where construction began in September with a completion date of March 2023. What residents will pay has not been released, but when Lakewood Ranch debuted, prices ranged from $3,000 to $6,000 a month.

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Marijuana options grow in SWFL

Columbia Care Inc. officially opened two Lee County Cannabist outlets for medical marijuana Wednesday.

Located at 2126 Del Prado Blvd. S. in Cape Coral and 8800 Terrence Court in Bonita Springs, the purveyors hosted Columbia Care’s Chief Growth Officer Jesse Channon for the openings.

The latter is part of a Reefer Triangle of about a dozen dealers in Lee, lining up along the county line with Collier, where there are more restrictive weed rules.

Cannibist's regular hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. It will serve patients with a medical card issued by the state of Florida. 

More of In the Know:Growing number of Cannabis options on Bonita 'Buzz' Road

'Whole Foods of pet supplies'

A pet retail store that bills itself as the "Whole Foods of pet supplies" is coming to Southwest Florida.

Minnesota-based Pet Evolution said it has signed a franchise agreement to bring 20 locations over the next 10 years to what it defines as its Tampa region including Naples and Fort Myers.

Franchise owners Teri O’Donnell and Gary Meyers said they'll be selling healthy and natural pet foods.

Pet Evolution, based in Minnesota, is entering the Florida market.

The company was founded in 2012 by friends Rian Thiele and Mike Osborn, who wanted to do something to help pets after watching their childhood dogs suffer from itchy paws, chronic ear infections and undiagnosed allergies, even after multiple vet trips. 

Meyers, who has 20 years of experience in franchising, has owned The Joint Chiropractic franchises and both he and his current business partner O'Donnell worked at Massage Envy, where she was owner and he was regional developer.

O'Donnell was also a regional developer for Amazing Lash Studio and WaveMAX Laundromats.

Based at the Naples Daily News, Columnist Phil Fernandez ( writes In the Know as part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, which supplemented this report. Support Democracy and subscribe to a newspaper.