In The News...

Southwest Florida makes Top 10 for housing price increases Cape-Fort Myers and Naples see increases during 2nd quarter

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Naples areas were both in the top 10 nationwide for home-price increases in the second quarter as Southwest Florida’s battered housing industry came back with a vengeance.

A National Association of Realtors survey showed that the Cape Coral-Fort Myers median existing single-family-home sale was up 36.1 percent to $177,900 compared to a year earlier.

Naples was seventh with a 29.3 percent increase to $346,600.

Nationwide, home prices continued to rise in the majority of metropolitan areas in the second quarter, with the national price showing the strongest gain in 7½ years, according to the survey.

“The Naples-Fort Myers market was one of the worst beaten-up markets in the downturn,” said Brad Hunter, chief economist for Metrostudy, a national housing data and consulting firm that maintains statistics on residential construction. “And it’s my view that what drove prices to extremely low levels then let them come up from the bottom faster.”

Brett Ellis, head of The Ellis Team with Re/Max Realty Group in Fort Myers, said prices in Lee County are still rising but not as fast as they did at the beginning of the year.

Still, he said, it’s a seller’s market as the inventory of homes for sale continues to decrease: 4,956 in June compared to 5,448 a year earlier.

“We’ve got buyers that are really looking to buy now because they’re afraid,” Ellis said. “They see the price increases, and they’re also afraid the interest rates are going up.”

He expects prices to continue rising throughout 2013 as those buyers get in the market. “It’s all encouraging, but there are not a lot of choices for buyers.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said tight inventory is continuing to drive home prices.

Those trends are in force throughout the country, Yun said in a release. “There continue to be more buyers than sellers, and that is placing pressure on home prices, with multiple bids common in some areas of the country.”

Hunter said rising prices likely will stimulate the purchase of homes as owners find themselves able to sell at a good price.

“The higher prices go, the more people are no longer underwater and can pay off their mortgages,” he said. “I do think you’ll see more sellers.” 

Dick Hogan,

Seawalls are Back!

On February 25, 2013, the City Council meeting resolution 8-13 passed unanimously, authorizing the City Manager to enter into a local operating agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to once again begin reviewing and permitting certain marine activities within Cape Coral. Please be advised we have received a fully executed copy of this agreement and can begin permitting authorized activities immediately. Respectfully, Michael Ilczyszyn City of Cape Coral Business Manager

Lee County & Cape Coral Impact Fees

Lee County Commission cuts impact fees by 80% Lee County Commission slashed impact fees by 80% - a $10,000 discount on a new single family home.

Question: Who does this effect?

Answer: A new home buyer or builder will receive an approximate $10,000 discount from the cost of their permit. These fees were meant to build public facilities that support development for the growing population. It will not effect fire districts or emergency services.

Question: How does this effect new construction in Cape Coral? Will these new residents get the same discount?

Answer: The 80% discount only applies to the school impact fees, in Cape Coral.  The city is still fighting to receive the same discounts as Lee County. As of today, a single family home will get an approximate $3,000 reduction to the cost of their new construction permit.

Cape Coral's Leapin' Lizard to become Ford's Garage

Ford’s Garage plans to kick start renovation at Leapin’ Lizard in Cape Coral this week so that its second gourmet burger joint can take its place.“It’ll look like a 1920's gas station with a prohibition theme with the old Model-A cars,” said Mike McGuigan, owner and partner at Ford’s Garage in downtown Fort Myers.He estimates the restaurant company will pour in $750,000 into the renovation of the 6,432-square foot restaurant at 1719 Cape Coral Parkway E. It’s about double the size of Ford’s Garage in downtown Fort Myers, and the owners plan on renovating quickly, hoping to have the restaurant up and running sometime in May or June. With patio space, the restaurant has closer to 9,000 square feet and is permitted for 455 seats, said Mary Ann Evans, co-owner of Leapin’ Lizard, who has run the restaurant with her husband, Jack. “It’s an ideal location and it’s one of the largest free-standing locations in the Cape,” she said.The owners plan on staying true to the look and feel of the Ford’s Garage in downtown Fort Myers. While the restaurant plans on giving the building a drastic makeover, the existing layout of the restaurant and the kitchens are a good fit for Ford’s operations – especially the location of the grills and the hood system put in when it was Bubba’s Roadhouse, he said.Leapin’ Lizard currently employees about 25 to 30 employees, Evans said.Sometime in April, Ford’s Garage will begin hiring for the new location, which could total as many as 50 full-time and part-time employees, McGuigan said.“Their location to the area will be helpful in making Cape Coral more of a destination point,” said Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag. The location was a big draw for the restaurant owners, because of its proximity to a diverse demographic at a location with high traffic counts. “When you come off the Cape Coral Bridge, that’s the first restaurant you see in South Cape,” said Helen Ramey, economic development manager for the South Cape Community Redevelopment Agency. Ramey said roughly 35,000 cars trek across the bridge every day.

Lee County Permitting Stays Steady

Foreclosure lawsuits in Lee County drifted down in April to 448, down from 562 in March and 656 in April 2012, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association.

Meanwhile permitting for single-family homes in April stayed steady as the 80 percent cut in impact fees in Lee took effect.

Permitting numbers from Bonita Springs weren’t available but 66 permits were pulled in the unincorporated part of the county, compared to 79 in March and 39 in April 2012, according to the county Department of Community Development.

In Cape Coral there were 33 permits, compared to 30 in March and 25 in April 2012. Fort Myers had 38; Fort Myers Beach, three; and Sanibel, two.

During April, 65 multifamily units were permitted in unincorporated Lee, compared to eight in March and two in April 2012. This includes 32 condo units to be built by Taylor Morrison of Florida and 25 condo units by D.R. Horton Inc.

General commercial activity in the unincorporated county was valued at nearly $1.2 million for 12 permits, compared to about $2.2 million in March and $352,000 in April 2012.

Jeff Tumbarello, director of the Real Estate Investors Association, said the foreclosures were in line with the numbers the county has been seeing for the past two years.

Foreclosures spiked up in Lee County for two years after the end of the home construction boom in 2006, but then slowly declined before leveling off for the past two years.

The relatively small numbers of foreclosures won’t hurt the real estate market, Tumbarello said. “We’re still below replacement cost and we’re funded by cash” to a large extent so there’s little chance of another wave of foreclosures.

Heather Mazurkiewicz, executive vice president of the Lee Building Industry Association, said the sharp cuts in impact fees made by the county commission in March likely were already stimulating the home-building industry by April.

“I think it had an immediate effect both in residential and nonresidential,” she said, because people knew the impact fee cuts were coming and decided to wait to buy in April rather than purchase earlier.  

Source: South West Florida Real Estate Investment Association

Cape Coral Market Update Fla.’s market shows momentum in 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. – May 9, 2013 – Florida’s housing market gained strength in first quarter 2013 with increased closed sales, more pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced supply of homes for sale compared to the same quarter in 2012, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“The first three months of 2013 demonstrate that Florida’s housing market is gaining momentum and continuing to bolster the state’s economy,” said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “More people went back to work as more jobs were created in Florida during the first quarter, and our population is also growing – which provide a solid foundation for growth in the housing market. It’s taking less time to sell a home and, coupled with tight inventory, that shows buyers are eager to lock in historically low mortgage interest rates and take advantage of favorable, but rising prices.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 48,976 in 1Q 2013, up 10.2 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes rose 26.8 percent in the first quarter compared to the 1Q 2012 figure. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 1Q 2013 was $153,000, up 13.4 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 24,655 units sold statewide in the first quarter, up 3.2 percent from the first three months of 2012. Pending sales for townhouse-condos in 1Q 2013 increased 13.7 percent compared to a year ago, while the statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $116,000, up 18.4 percent over the same quarter last year.

In 1Q 2013, the median days on market (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to sell that month) was 60 days for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo properties.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.3-months’ supply for 1Q 2013; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.8-months’ supply for the same period, according to Florida Realtors.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo said, “In a sense, these numbers are old news since we release the monthly numbers separately. But they are important in that they confirm the sales and price trends we have seen shaping up in the market. If you look back at the quarterly numbers, comparing year to year, you see, at least in single-family sales, the steadiness of the market since 2009. We expect that the year-over-year increases we have seen for the past several years will continue into 2014.”

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

July Foreclosures Sharply Down in Lee County

Lenders filed 244 foreclosure lawsuits in July in Lee County, down from 362 in June and 584 in July 2012, according to a report released today by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association.

That continued a trend of decreasing numbers of foreclosures – 1,877 were filed in July 2009.

Foreclosures spiked up starting in 2006 after a sharp fall in home prices and rising unemployment left many investors and homeowners unwilling or unable to continue paying on their mortgages.

Written by Dick Hogan, August 1, 2013

Where The Jobs Will (And Won't) Be In 2013

Though Florida is still recovering from the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 and the state unemployment rate sits at 8.5%, almost a point higher than the national rate of 7.7%, some pockets of the state are experiencing strong job growth. In fact employers in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area are projecting a net job increase of 23%, the highest in the nation, according to the latest employment outlook survey by the giant employment services firm, ManpowerGroup. One other Florida metropolitan area, Lakeland-Winter Haven, also landed in the top 15 cities for job growth, according to Manpower.
To gauge companies’ hiring plans, Manpower surveyed more than 18,000 employers in 100 metro areas. It used a research firm that questioned hiring managers and human resource professionals by phone and email. Over the first two weeks in October, the firm asked four questions about companies’ plans for the first quarter of 2013: do you plan to add to your staff, do you plan to reduce your staff, keep your staff at the same level, or are you unsure. Then Manpower crunched the numbers and came up with a “net employment outlook.” The survey is by definition a rough measure, since it doesn’t count the number of jobs employers plan to add or subtract, but simply asks whether they plan to hire or fire.
Nationwide, 17% of employers said they expected to add to their workforces next quarter, while 8% forecast a decrease. Seventy-two percent expected no change while 3% were undecided. That results in a net employment outlook of 9%, but when seasonally adjusted, the number climbs to 12%, the best first-quarter showing in Manpower’s survey since 2008, and significantly stronger than the weakest in the history of the survey, 4% in the first quarter of 2010.
Employment services firm ManpowerGroup surveyed more than 18,000 employers in 100 metropolitan areas to find out who's hiring, who's firing and who plans to maintain their current staff levels in the first quarter of 2013, January through March. Here are the cities where employers are most optimistic about hiring this fall. 
In Cape Coral, employment has gotten a boost from the recovering housing market and the fact that the city has a low density rate, at 45%, so there is plenty of room to grow. As home construction has revived, property values have climbed, going up 18%-20% since the trough, says Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce President Mike Quaintance. Housing growth has also fueled growth in restaurants and retail chains, including 7-11, Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree. Cape Coral is getting a new Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club store. Jobs at those budget retailers don’t tend to pay well, concedes Quaintance. But the housing recovery is also funding better-paying construction-related jobs and home-based businesses like landscaping.
In neighboring Fort Myers, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Colleen DePasquale says job growth may in part be seasonal, because the population always swells in the winter months, and two baseball teams, the Twins and the Red Sox, go to Fort Myers for spring training. At the same time, clothing chain Chico’s is based in Fort Myers and doing well, and the city just opened a new waterfront development, with plans for a hotel and other businesses. Susan Adams,

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