Housing numbers show pullback in Southwest Florida

June Fletcher, june.fletcher@naplesnews.com; 239-263-47756:45 p.m. EDT July 21, 2016

Prices up for single-family homes, but down for townhouses and condos

Florida saw strong existing home price growth in June over the year.

But in Southwest Florida, which had big inventory increases, the numbers weren't as strong, according to reports released Thursday by Florida Realtors and local Realtor boards.

“There’s been a pullback,” said Michael Burke, president of the Bonita Springs Estero Association of Realtors. “I don’t think there’s a bubble bursting, but buyers are taking a look-and-see attitude.”

Median sales prices for town homes and condos slipped 2.3 percent, to $256,500 from $262,500 in the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area in June, compared with June 2015.

“There’s nothing good to say about condos right now,” said Naples real estate broker Bill Coffey at a Naples Area Board of Realtors event coinciding with the report’s release.

In the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area, town house and condo prices were down 0.3 percent over the year, to $181,500 from $182,000.

But statewide, town house and condo properties saw prices tick up 8.6 percent, to $164,000 from $151,000.

Median sales prices for existing single-family homes inched up 1.2 percent in the Naples area, to $425,000 from $420,000.

But the uptick was the lowest of the 22 metro areas Florida Realtors tracks.

Part of the reason for the lackluster rise is Naples resale sellers are competing with new home builders, said a panel of brokers at the NABOR event. All said about a quarter of their recent sales were of new homes.

Another is that some sellers are resistant to lowering their prices in a cooling market.

“A lot of sellers are not interested in selling unless they get a large price,” Naples broker Jeff Jones said.

Single-family prices in Lee County were up 9.8 percent, to $230,500 from $210,000.

“There’s a sweet spot — properties are still moving if they’re under $300,000 and priced competitively,” Burke said.

In Lee County, single-family prices rose over the year in Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral and Estero but fell in Bonita Springs, Pine Island and Sanibel and Captiva islands.

Statewide, single-family prices jumped 10.8 percent, to $225,000 from $203,000.

Florida sellers received a median 96.3 percent of their original listing price, while town house and condo sellers got 94.6 percent, the state real estate trade group said.

Easing inventory levels were the main driver of price performance on a state and metro level.

In the Naples area, the inventory of single-family homes was up 25 percent over the year, to 2,674 from 2,133, while the supply of condos rose to 2,309 from 1,565 a year earlier, a 48 percent rise.

The overall inventory level of nearly 5,000 homes is about half of what it was in January 2007, and is in a Goldilocks range of neither too high nor too low to sustain a healthy market, Naples broker Mike Hughes said.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Hughes said, but cautioned, “What you don’t want is a massive increase.”

In Lee County, overall inventory levels were in a similar range, growing to 5,008 from 4,301, a 16.4 percent rise.

Statewide, inventory levels also grew, but at a much slower pace — 7.9 percent, to 54,941 from 50,929.

Throughout Florida, closed single-family sales  fell 0.4 percent to 27,086 from 26,973. Closed town house and condo sales were down 2.6 percent, to 10,506 from 10,783.

Brad O’Connor, Florida Realtors’ chief economist, said the state’s sales slowdown is due to a sharp decline in bargain-priced distressed properties over the year, though demand for such properties — as well as nondistressed homes — remains strong.

In Collier County, closed single-family sales fell 5.6 percent, to 475 from 503, while town house and condo sales were down 8.3 percent, to 520 from 567.

Overall, existing home sales saw the biggest declines in the Ave Maria/Immokalee areas, where new home sales dominate, as well as the pricey neighborhoods along the beach.

Lee County saw closed single-family sales fall 12.3 percent, to 1,177 from 1,342, and town house and condo sales drop 13.8 percent, to 514 from 596.

One driver of the regional sales slowdown seems to be that buyers are aware of the slowing market and are anticipating home prices will fall, some brokers said.

“They’re waiting for happy hour,” Coffey said.

Pending sales, an indication of the future of the market, also are lagging on the state and regional level.

Statewide, pending single-family sales fell 7.7 percent, to 24,624 from 26,676, while pending condo sales dropped.

In Collier County, pending sales of single-family homes were down 10 percent, to 403 from 449, while condos fell 27 percent, to 317 from 433.

Lee County saw pending single-family sales drop 5.3 percent, to 1,292 from 1,364, and condos declined 8.4 percent, to 478 from 518.

But Burke said a summer slowdown is normal historically. He expects sales to pick up in the fall when buyers who purchased new homes move in and then need to sell their old homes in the area quickly.

“They will be more realistic about pricing,” he predicted.