Home prices fall in Collier County

Naples Daily News - Laura Layden - 16 December 2016

In November the Naples area saw a year-over-year drop in the median price paid for home resales — the first time that's happened all year.

The median price — the price at which half the homes sell for more, and half for less — fell 5 percent to $303,000 last month, down from $318,000 a year ago, according to a monthly report by the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

NABOR's report tracks trends and sales made by its members in Collier County, excluding Marco Island. It does not include new home sales.

In every other month this year, existing home prices either rose or remained flat over the year.

In November the median price for single-family homes fell 7 percent to $397,000, down from $426,000 a year ago. In the condominium market, there was a 3 percent drop to $251,000 — from $258,000 last year.

One month doesn't make a trend — and the price decline doesn't alleviate growing concerns about a shortage of affordable housing in the county, said Christopher Westley, an economics professor and director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University.

"We are seeing wages increasing at a higher rate than inflation, slightly higher than inflation. But it's still well below the inflation in real estate and home prices. So that places workers at a disadvantage down here. What it tells me is the housing market is being influenced by people who earn their money somewhere else and it's harder for people who live here to afford housing," he said.

More sellers entered the Naples market in November, with home inventory increasing 40 percent over last year. There were 5,733 properties listed, compared to 4,095 last year.

From October to November, another 300 properties hit the market.

There is now a more than eight-month supply of existing homes available. A year ago, there was a little more than a fourth-month supply, said Cindy Carroll with Carroll & Carroll Inc., a Naples-based real estate consultant and appraisal firm.

"Rising inventories require properties to be appropriately and competitively priced in order to achieve a sale," she said. "Overpriced properties tend to languish on the market, contributing to an oversupply condition."

The average number of days on market rose 14 percent to 88 in November, up from 77 last year.

The growing inventory shows that "price appreciation is good and it's a great time to sell," said Wes Kunkle, president and managing broker at Kunkle International Realty in Naples. He said many of his investor clients are adding to the area's lower-end inventory, listing properties they bought between 2009 and 2012.

More than half of the homes NABOR's members have sold in the last year have been in the most affordable category: $300,000 and under, according to its latest report. In November, the number of homes sold in that lower price range increased 8 percent to 285, up from 264 a year ago.

Overall sales have been more sluggish this year, which Realtors have blamed on many factors including the distraction and uncertainty of a presidential election that's now in the rear view mirror.

Now that the election is over Dominic Pallini, NABOR's president and a broker at Vanderbilt Realty, said he's expecting a strong and busy season.

"Normally when the stock market goes up, the sales are really brisk in the Naples area," he said.

Consumer confidence boosts real estate sales, Pallini said.

"It's all about the way people feel. They feel as though we are in a strong business climate and when people feel positive they are more apt to make a real estate purchase," he said.

One obstacle continues to be what broker analysts describe as "irrational legacy pricing behaviors," with some sellers asking too much for their homes when buyers have plenty of other more affordable options to choose from.

"The number of properties selling in under 30 days is increasing, while those in the 30- to 90-day and 90-day-and-up segments are stagnant," said Jeff Jones, managing broker at the Naples-Park Shore office of Coldwell Banker. "This tells me that there are still properties improperly priced out there."