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Southwest Florida Property Sales on the Rise

Posted by Benjamin Dona on Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 5:08pm.

For all the doom and gloom you hear about home sales from the national media, the old adage that all real estate is local, could not be more evident than here in Southwest Florida. Homes sales in our local markets, including Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples have picked up quite nicely since the beginning of the year. In fact, for many areas and property types, the local market is moving ahead at a very nice pace. A quick look at the numbers, from actual and pending sales to available inventory, in many instances, is pointing in a positive direction. Does this mean the bottom is here?

A simple answer is both yes and no. The bottom has definitely occurred for many of our areas' more exclusive and desirable neighborhoods. However, it's not even close for neighborhoods located in Lehigh Acres or Golden Gates Estates. Those areas, along with a few other specific locations, were hit hard by overzealous builders and speculators during 2005-2007 and will most likely take a few more years to fully recover. They are what make us one of the foreclosure capitals of the country. The good thing about them is, as the local economy continues to recover, working families will have the opportunity to purchase properties in these areas at substantially lower prices.

So, let's review some of the good news that's currently happening in our local Southwest Florida real estate markets: Prices have fallen substantially from the highs in 2005 and 2006. Many homes are now priced 40% to 60% below their peaks and buyers are taking advantage by purchasing these properties at prices not seen since 2003 and 2004. Likewise, new home builders have slashed prices and are offering many upgrades in order to entice buyers. The problem is that the availability of these desirable properties has declined substantially and builders have all but ceased adding to their ready to move into inventory.

Sales of homes and condominiums for the 1st quarter of 2008 in Bonita Springs are up 20% and 23% respectively. In Naples, they're up 33% and 12% and for Estero the stats are 40% for homes and a stunning 270% for condominiums. Pending sales (those scheduled to close in the next few months) are also up nicely. For the Bonita-Estero area, they were up 12% and for Naples, they rose by 7%. The other outstanding issue is that while prices have come down and buyers are back in the marketplace, The Bonita-Estero and Naples markets have held their value quite well when compared to the rest of the state.

For instance, in Bonita Springs and Estero, the median price for homes came in at $417,000 and for Naples it is currently at $370,000. All three areas are well above the state average of $198,000 and show that while things have become more affordable, these markets' affluence, amenities, and desirability are highly sought after by buyers who are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of their location.

Sales Data Statistics from SWFL MLS.

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