Florida Real Estate: Heading into 2012
Posted by Benjamin Dona on Saturday, December 31st, 2011 at 3:47pm.
After our last post reviewing some of the major stories that affected the Florida real estate market in 2011, we thought we would give you a rundown of some additional news items as we head into 2012 here in Southwest Florida.
- The website TripAdvisor.com has named Fort Myers the No. 3 destination in its list of "Destinations on the Rise." Their review cites the deep-sea fishing, white beaches and golf courses as major reasons for travelers to choose Fort Myers. It also notes the renovation of the downtown area has helped to make the city a more prominent choice for visitors.
- The Fort Myers area was also ranked in the top 5 as one of the best markets to invest in rental property by the Local Market Monitor and HomeVestors of America, Inc., better known as the "We Buy Ugly Houses" company.
- Both Lee and Collier counties have fallen dramatically in terms of the national foreclosure rankings as we end 2011. Lee County, which includes the cities of Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Estero and Bonita Springs, has fallen to 24th and Collier County, which includes Naples has fallen to 39th in the rankings. That's quite an improvement over almost always being included in the Top 10 over the last few years.
- Mortgage rates hit an all time low this month - 3.91% for a 30-year fixed rate. So, if you're in need of financing, rates are currently at unbelievably good levels.
- Builders have jumped back on the new construction bandwagon here in Southwest Florida. There are at least five new communities set to break ground in 2012 offering over 8,000 new properties to the marketplace.
- While you may have missed the bottom, there are still good opportunities available. Just not in the quantities that we saw in the last couple of years. Inventory levels have fallen well below the peaks of both the boom and the bust. Naples inventory dropped 18% year over year and is down over 30% from its high. Fort Myers inventory has fallen 34% year over year and is down over 52% from its high.
- Falling inventories mean short supply and that leads to rising prices, which is already occurring in many Southwest Florida areas and in almost all price ranges. According to a Realtor.com survey, the Fort Myers and Cape Coral market ranked sixth nationwide for rising median home prices, up over 24% year over year.
- While the downturn in the residential housing market was prolific, the commercial side of things has been fairly stable. Investors seeking multi-family unit investments are seeing low vacancy rates and very competitive rental rates, both of which are leading to nice near-term returns.
The bottom line is the market here in Southwest Florida continues to change, both for the good and the bad. Your outlook really depends on whether you're a buyer or a seller. For those of us who work in this terrific marketplace, we'd say the future looks so bright, you definitely have to wear shades.
Happy New Year to all! It looks like it's going to be a great year here in Southwest Florida.
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