Home for sale sign

 

By June Fletcher of the Naples Daily News

Single-family home sales dropped by a larger percentage in the Naples area than anywhere else in the state last month, a new report said.

Existing single-family home closed sales were down 16.8 percent in February from the same month a year earlier, Florida Realtors said Monday.

Closed sales for the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area dropped to 297 from 357 the year before. It was the largest drop out of 22 metro areas the trade group tracks.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers had the fourth largest percentage decrease in closed sales in the state for single-family homes.

Closed sales fell 12.5 percent, to 825 from 943 the year before.

Statewide, closed single-family sales were up 0.4 percent, to 18,159 from 18,078 a year earlier.

Brad O’Connor, chief economist of the trade group, attributed the decrease in closed sales in Southwest Florida largely to a lack of inventory in lower price ranges.

“There’s a critical shortage of inventory under $200,000,” he said. “You don’t have much in that price range there.”

Median single-family prices were up throughout Florida, to $200,000 from $179,999, an 11 percent increase.

But Southwest Florida’s median single-family prices and price growth outpaced the state.

In the Naples area, they were up 17.9 percent, to $460,000 from $390,000 a year earlier; in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area, they rose 11.8 percent, to $216,810 from $194,000.

Naples’ single-family home prices were the highest in Florida; Cape Coral-Fort Myers’ the sixth highest.

O’Connor said he doesn’t expect to see the sort of double-digit price growth that Southwest Floridians have become accustomed to beyond April or May.

“Rising inventory and slower sales will mean a relaxation of pressure on prices,” he said. “I expect more traditional levels of price increases, in the 5 percent to 10 percent range.”

That doesn’t bother Rick Fioretti, president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

“We can’t knock it over the fence every year — it wouldn’t be normal,” he said. “I’d rather be taking our foot off the gas slowly. It’s more sustainable.”

O’Connor said that by his calculations, the Naples area has become a buyer’s market, with 8.4 months of supply, adjusted for seasonality.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers is a balanced market, with 5.4 months of supply.

Statewide there are 4.5 months of supply, which also is in the balanced range, O’Connor said.

A balanced market is in the four- to six-month range, he said. Lower than that range, the market favors sellers; higher and it favors buyers.

In the town house and condo market, closed sales fell 5.4 percent statewide to 7,658 from 8,099, Florida Realtors reported.

They dropped by a much bigger margin in Southwest Florida.

In the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island market, closed sales were down 21.4 percent to 324 from 412; in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, they decreased to 385 from 521, a 26.1 percent drop.

Yet prices continued to rise for town houses and condos, albeit at a slower pace than they did for single-family homes

In Cape Coral-Fort Myers, they increased to $192,000 from $169,900, a 13 percent rise.

In the Naples area, they hit $271,250, up 8.5 percent from $250,000 a year earlier.

Overall, O’Connor said Southwest Florida’s housing market is being affected by more jobs and economic activity, which puts people on the move.

On the upper end, “the stock market affects the luxury market” and is influencing both buyers and sellers, he said.

The strong dollar also has affected Southwest Florida, since foreign buyers always have been a factor in the housing market, he said.

His comments were echoed in a report by the Bonita-Springs-Estero Association of Realtors, which also was released Monday. The report showed a 6 percent decrease in overall closed sales on a 12-month basis for the Lee County submarket.

Elizabeth Mancini, managing broker of Premier Sotheby International Realty in Bonita Springs, said Canadian buyers, which are the biggest group of buyers in Southwest Florida, “are not buying, just selling.”

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About June Fletcher

June Fletcher is a business reporter and editor with a focus on the economy, finance, banking, wealth management and residential real estate. She produces the Minding Your Money web video series that appears in the Business section. Her Executive Suite column, which profiles business leaders in the community, appears Mondays.