Cape Coral-Fort Myers Leads In All-Cash Home Sales

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Cape Coral-Fort Myers leads the nation in all-cash home sales, according to statistics released today by Irvine, Calif.-based housing data company RealtyTrac.

Nationally, the share of all-cash sales reached a new high in the first quarter even as the share of institutional investor purchases dropped to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012, said RealtyTrac’s Q12014 U.S. Institutional Investor & Cash Sales Report.

Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the top five highest percentages of cash sales were all in Florida: Cape Coral-Fort Myers (73.6 percent), Miami (67.1 percent), Sarasota, (65.1 percent), Palm Bay, (64.1 percent), and Lakeland, (61.8 percent).

“Strict lending standards combined with low inventory continue to give the advantage to investors and other cash buyers in this housing market,” Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in a written release.

“The good news is that as institutional investors pull back their purchasing in many markets across the country, there is still strong demand from other cash buyers — including individual investors, second-home buyers and even owner-occupant buyers — to fill the vacuum of demand left by institutional investors,” Blomquist said.

15 percent of all-cash purchases in the first quarter were properties in the foreclosure process, and 10 percent were bank-owned properties.

Other findings in the report:

  • 11 percent of all-cash purchases in the first quarter were to institutional investors, investors buying at least 10 properties in a calendar year.
  • 52 percent of all-cash purchases in March (most recent month’s data only available for this metric) were sold to buyers with a different mailing address than the property address — indicating investors or second-home buyers. That compares to 34 percent of all sales — cash and financed — sold to investors or second-home buyers in March.

The average sales price of an all-cash purchase in the first quarter was $207,668 — 13 percent below the average estimated full market value of the properties that were purchased: $237,900.

Condo Market In SW Florida On The Rebound

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Mike Banson recently handled the last sale of a bank-owned condominium at the 13-floor North Star Yacht Club on the Caloosahatchee River in North Fort Myers.

That’s a sign of the times in Southwest Florida, where the condo market has enjoyed a resurgence in the past year as single-family prices bounced back from the depths of the recession.

“I was the on-site agent for about six years, selling out all the bank-owned units,” said Banson, of Vision One Realty Group — the last unit, a penthouse, went for $531,000.

Naples-based land-use consultant Michael Timmerman, president of MJT Realty Economic Advisors, said the condo sector is doing well for sales prices, although for larger projects the cost of construction still makes it impossible to build new ones.

Projects building on a smaller scale have had better luck.

Jeff Barney, spokesman for Santa Luz LLC, said the company’s condominium Santa Luz, which started sales in February, is sold out of all but two units of the 20 in its first phase.

The project, off Daniels Parkway east of I-75 near JetBlue Park, consists of buildings with four units in each one.

“We had a very busy season,” said Barney, adding that another eight units will go up for sale within three weeks with 36 more to come.

“Most of the buyers we have are snowbirds and what they really get drawn to is the maintenance-free lifestyle,” he said. “They can leave for six months and come back and everything looks exactly the same.”

Because of its location in Gateway, Barney said, “We’re getting some young families. The last two we sold have been to folks about 40.”

Commercial real estate broker Steve Luta said he thinks there will be interest by builders in smaller projects in and around downtown Fort Myers.

That could offer a more urban lifestyle with buildings situated near the jobs, restaurants and nightlife of downtown, he said. “Some people don’t want the single-family home, lawn maintenance, pool, and all that stuff.”

Gary Tasman, founder and executive director of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida, said new construction such as Santa Luz and Neill Communities’ Villa Palmeras, are selling well in Lee County.

“There are already home builders building condos and they’re selling as fast as they can get out of the ground,” he said.

There would be a market for new high-rise condos as well, Tasman said, but that sector — hard hit when the market imploded at the end of 2005 — is still being sold cheaply enough that the cost of new construction is far more than buying an existing one.

Banson said that’s the case at North Star, where “a lot of the units may be in the $150-per-square-foot range. It would take $300 a square foot to build this product again.”

Towers will first rise again directly on the Gulf of Mexico between Estero to Marco Island, he predicted.

For that type of construction, “The prices need to push $500 a foot to be viable right now,” he said. “It’s probably $400 right now.”

Still, Tasman said, prices are rising fast and new Gulf-front towers may come sooner rather than later. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear an announcement of a new Gulf Front tower within the next 12 months.”

Connect with this reporter: @DickHogan (Twitter) or email dhogan@news-press.comBy Dick Hogan

Condo costs

The cost per square foot of building a Gulf-front skyscraper condominium:

• $250 hard construction costs

• $75 soft costs (marketing, advertising etc.)

• $81 25 percent developer profit

• $101 land

Today’s Closets Are Anything But…

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More than 100 years ago a hook on the back of the door was all a person usually needed for their clothes. When closets first came in fashion at the beginning of the 20th century they were just little recesses in the wall.

These reach-in closets were about 3 feet deep, 4 feet wide and were composed of only a rod and a shelf above. The last two decades of the century came with a new trend in walk-in closets; a simple narrow space with clothes hanging on either side.

About a decade ago his-and-her walk in closets became the popular trend. Those closets still were simply a place to hang clothes and maybe a few shelves.

That’s now changed in Southwest Florida’s upscale homes, where closets are now almost as large as a room. These closets feature built-in cabinets with everything from drawers and shelves to specialty items.

“Closets are one of the new big things,” said Rob Woods, vice president of Michelangelo Custom Homes. “The well-heeled buyer does not want to feel cramped, especially the women, but now even the men.”

That’s why the closets in the Michelangelo Maison Coco model stretch most of the length of the hallway outside of the bedroom and are quite spacious inside.

The closet in London Bay’s Brighton model in Quail West is one of the most deluxe around. Along with shelves, drawers and hanging areas around the entire room, there is also an island with more drawers and shelves below and a huge countertop. There are three closets with mirrored fronts that pull out to form a three-way mirror. It has a pullout ironing board and even a window bench for relaxing.

“Our people just have a lot of clothes,” real estate agent Teri Speech said about her clients. “They are wealthy people. They would rather have a big separate closet than to transport everything.”

It’s not just single-family homes showcasing all the extra closet space. In the Aqua condos in North Naples, the closets are also like entire rooms.

“Luckily our wardrobe down here does not require four changes of seasons,” It’s shorts and golf attire, said Darline Hillard, director of sales for Aqua. “But they still want their closet space.”

Michael Hawkins, co-owner of EBL, a North Naples based business, says customers use their closets for more than storage and a place to put clothes.

“We’re seeing that more and more, people want it as a dressing room,” Hawkins explained.

While the trend started with homes in the $1 million-plus range, now homes around Lee and Collier counties that are far below that price are highlighting the extra closet space.

“There’s a big demand for closet space. This is one of the biggest closets for the size of the house,” said Diana Ibarria, senior vice president of the Naples division of CC Devco Homes, as she showed off a model home at Maple Ridge in Ave Maria.

Builders give a variety of reasons for the need for closet space. Some say the lack of basements and attics makes more storage areas a must, while others believe that people are just buying more clothes.

“His-and-her closets are a must these days,” said Jason Tracey of Tracey Quality Building in Cape Coral. In Florida you don’t have anywhere to store things. I get a lot of requests to make the bedroom a little smaller and the closets a little bigger.”

“We’re all buying more things. The master suite has larger closets,” added Dan Dodrill of Daniel Wayne Homes as he showed off his model in Horse Creek in Buckingham.

Even the interior design of these giant closets has changed from a shelf and rod to complete custom cubbies, shelves, shoe areasand more. Experts say it’s all part of their customer’s desire for better organization and an elegant space to dress each morning.

“We had to enlarge houses because people want bigger closets,” said David Gydosh, owner of Tundra Homes.

 

Lee County Real Estate Enters the Moderation Era

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Both foreclosures and new-home permits were little changed in February in Lee County as the real estate economy settled into something approaching normal after the wild swings of the past decade.

Contractors in the county pulled 213 single-family home permits in the month, up only slightly from 209 in January, the county’s municipalities reported Monday.

Meanwhile, lenders in the county filed 223 mortgage foreclosure lawsuits, about the same as the 216 in January,, according to statistics released Monday by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association.

There’s little chance foreclosures will rebound to the levels they reached six years ago when investors and home buyers were abandoning their mortgages, said Jeff Tumbarello, director of the association and owner/broker of North Fort Myers-based Steelbridge Realty.

At present, he said, “Over 60 percent of the home sales are cash. At some point there’s just not enough leverage to do it.”

Bob Knight, vice president and co-owner of Cape Coral-based Paul Homes, said the month’s steady numbers showed there was relatively strong demand three months ago when those home buyers were signing the deals that led to February’s permits.

Now, he said, further growth will depend in part on getting enough qualified tradesmen back in the market to support the “nice normal pace of 400” homes per month that the county sees in a healthy housing market.

That hasn’t happened yet, Knight said, because the plumbers and electricians who were working during the boom by and large have either gone on to new occupations or left the area entirely.

Now the construction jobs here are back but some of those workers are reluctant to get back into the business – still wary of another crash.

Even so, Knight said, the industry is starting to ramp up as demand grows: Some developers are building “on spec” (without a specific buyer committed. “Quite a few are rolling out right now and they’re being absorbed.”

Tumbarello said that normal market forces are starting to reassert themselves after years when foreclosures and a huge inventory of unsold homes created atypical conditions.

“Right now you’re looking at a rational market that’s driven by supply and demand, buyers and sellers,” he said.

Another wild wave of construction likely won’t happen now, Tumbarello said, because in most areas the price of existing homes still isn’t as high as the cost of replacing a typical home with new construction.

How to Tell When a Neighborhood Will Be Hot!

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Bargain-hunting home buyers willing to purchase in an up-and-coming neighborhood can get a good deal and, as Trulia’s Michael Corbett says, “get in on the ground floor of appreciation.”

Here are five signs that a neighborhood is about to take off:

  1. An up-and-coming neighborhood often is characterized by retail or residential construction that is already in progress.
  2. They also often are found where trendy establishments, such as wine bars or farm-to-table restaurants, are opening.
  3. Buyers also should look for neighborhoods adjacent to big cities or those where crime is on the decline.
  4. Public building projects are on the rise.
  5. Renovated homes are going on the market.

America’s Fastest Growing Cities 2014: Cape Coral, FL

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14. Cape Coral, Fla.

MSA: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
Median Pay: $52,100
2013 Population Growth Rate: 2.41%
Unemployment Rate: 6.22%

It should be no surprise, Cape Coral is a growing community and has landed at number 14 of the fastest-growing cities in the USA. Contact us today for all of your Real Estate needs in and around beautiful Cape Coral Florida.

Florida boasts FOUR cities on Forbes’ Fastest Growing Cities of 2014 List.

Condo Revival Slowly Emerging

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The condo market is on an upswing, but sales are still more than 30 percent short from its peak.

From 2009 to 2013, condo sales increased more than 55 percent, while total existing home sales rose by 29 percent during that time period, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. In comparison, during the boom years between 2001 and 2005, condo sales rose more than 50 percent and existing-home sales increased by 37 percent.

While the share of condo sales to total existing-home sales is nearing pre-recession levels, the number of sales is still not at its peak, the CoStar Group notes.

“Today’s condo market does not involve the irrational speculation of the mid-2000s, when renters fled apartments to get a share of the expanding home price pie,” CoStar Group reports. “A portion of the current sales are often to foreign investors in condo-rich markets like South Florida and to current home owners looking to downsize.”

In its latest existing-sales housing report, NAR reports that the median existing condo price was $198,600 in December, up 10.9 percent over year-ago levels.

The State of the Union is Getting Better for Homeownership

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WASHINGTON (January 28, 2014) – The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown:

“NAR commends President Obama for highlighting two key policy reforms during his State of the Union address tonight that support the future of homeownership and the business of real estate.

“Realtors® welcome the President’s call for legislation to keep the dream of homeownership alive for all Americans while protecting taxpayers from the risk of costly bailouts. NAR supports bipartisan legislation in the Senate that will restructure the secondary mortgage market to encourage private capital while also preserving the government guarantee so that middle-class homebuyers continue to have access to safe, reliable mortgage products, such as 30-and 15-year fixed-rate loans.

“President Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation to curtail the frivolous patent infringement lawsuits and licensing schemes that have unnecessarily cost Realtors® and other main street businesses valuable resources. NAR is working closely with legislators and allies to draft patent reforms that will combat these abusive trolling practices.

“NAR is ready and willing to work with President Obama and Congress to develop sound policies to promote and protect the American dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.